How To Apply for a Software Engineering Job in 5 Steps

If you are looking to break into a software engineering career, this blog will help you get started on your journey by providing tips with resources, and insights about how to apply for a software engineering job.

Software Engineering Job

Job hunting, especially in a new career field, can be stressful. You can boost your chances of landing your first software engineering position by doing some prep work before you apply. With more than 900,000 unfilled software engineering positions in the U.S. and only 165,000 potential candidates, it’s a good time to beef up your skills and start applying for jobs. This handy guide will take you through the steps.

What Is a Software Engineer and What Does a Software Engineer Do?

Software engineers are responsible for overseeing software projects. Their responsibilities include collaborating with business stakeholders and other project team members to come up with solutions that support a successful outcome. Companies such as General Motors, IBM, and Boeing are all hiring entry-level software engineers.

While they rarely get involved in software development coding, engineers review the work submitted by programmers and developers tasked with building different parts of a system or application.

Other responsibilities of software engineers include:

  • Making sure projects adhere to the requirements
  • Communicating with stakeholders about a project’s status
  • Conducting research
  • Listening to and capturing the needs of the client
  • Maintaining documentation
  • Coming up with prototypes for software solutions
  • Overseeing testing of new software or updates to existing infrastructure‌

Software engineers make sure that all components in a system or platform work together as intended. They come up with solutions for multiple technical issues. It’s a software engineer’s job to maintain awareness of how any change could impact different parts of a system or application.

What Is the Average Software Engineer Salary?

Software engineer salary

Your earning potential as a software engineer will vary depending on your years of experience, technical background, and geographic location. According to Glassdoor, software engineers earn an average of $105,000 per year. An entry-level software engineer's salary is somewhat lower at $75,000, while a principal software engineer averages $151,000.

How To Apply for a Software Engineering Job in 5 Steps

You can make the process of applying for a software engineering job less stressful and improve your chances of success if you follow the steps outlined below.

1. Learn basic software engineering skills

Educate yourself on the foundational skills required for software engineering jobs at top tech companies. The job requires familiarity with a combination of mathematics, computer science, information technology, information systems, and system design. Specific skills typically put to use every day by software engineers include:

  • Ability to code in different programming languages (Java, C#, PHP, Ruby, etc.)
  • SQL knowledge
  • Analytical skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Project management
  • Understanding of data analysis and data structures
  • Ability to create technical documents
  • Knowledge of different database architectures
  • Understanding of Windows and Unix/Linux OS
  • Shell scripting ability
  • People management
  • Oral and written communication
  • Knowledge of software and system testing
  • Understanding of cloud technology
  • Ability to use version control tools (GitHub, Subversion)‌

A good mix of technical and soft skills makes you more capable of handling problems that often arise during a project. Software engineers must constantly remain aware of new technologies that might benefit an organization. 

2. Create a killer resume

A well-written software engineering resume goes a long way toward helping you stand out from the pack. Review your resume for obvious typos that could get it sent directly to the rejection pile. Keep your resume simple so that your skills get the reviewer’s primary focus. Use a consistent font and layout to give it a uniform look.

Include a link to your GitHub profile so interviewers can get a real sense of your software engineering prowess. Add mentions about hackathons or other software engineering challenges in which you participated. 

Organize the content of your resume so that your software engineering strengths immediately catch the attention of a recruiter. Tailor your resume to fit the profile of the job for which you’re applying. 

Interviewers and recruiters typically go through hundreds of resumes each day. Many will decide whether yours makes the cut of qualified applicants within about five seconds. Make your qualifications clear so the person looking over your resume will see you as the right fit for the software engineering role they’re looking to fill.

3. Build a portfolio

Software Engineer Portfolio

Start working on building different applications that showcase your software engineering skills. Think about the kind of position you’d like to hold within a company. Your portfolio should contain a variety of applications to let interviewers see that you can back up the skills highlighted in your resume. 

‌Expand beyond the projects you built for school or through a Springboard bootcamp. Talk about how your work on different projects impacted your desire to continue pursuing software engineering. Create projects that highlight your innovation and ability to develop solutions that can benefit companies where you wish to apply. 

4. Shortlist your top job choices

Before you start scouring job boards, make a list of the priorities around your search for a software engineering position. Think about the kind of technology you’d like to work with and the career track you wish to pursue. Use that information to help you sort through different job postings and narrow your list down to those that line up with your preferences.

Networking can put you in contact with people already working at your top choices for employment. While an organization might look great on paper, you want to make sure that the culture is a good fit for your work style and personality.

5. Start planning for potential job interviews

Interview Preparation

Get an early start on preparing yourself to answer potential challenge problems presented to you at the interview. Take part in online technical preparation challenges at least a couple of weeks beforehand to get your mind ready. You should also brush up on general problem-solving methodologies to fall back on if you encounter something unexpected.

Set up some practice interviews with friends or family. Include time spent on the technical portion of the interview where you might have to solve problems. Start practicing how you want to present yourself. Read up on the company and make sure your answers reflect what the hiring manager is looking for.

Follow up with the interviewer if you don’t hear back from them. It’s OK if you don’t end up getting the job. Learn from any mistakes you made during the experience, and apply the fixes to your next software engineering job interview.

Ready to switch careers to software engineering?

Springboard offers a comprehensive software engineering bootcamp. You’ll work with a one-on-one mentor to learn key aspects of front-end web development, back-end web development, databases, and data structures and algorithms. Modules include learning resources, practice exercises, projects, and career-related coursework. 

Check out Springboard's Software Engineering Career Track to see if you qualify.

Not quite ready to dive into a software engineering bootcamp?

Springboard also offers a Software Engineering Prep Course, where you can learn the foundational web development skills (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) needed to pass the technical skills survey for the Software Engineering Career Track.

Download our software engineering salary guide

This 21-page guide breaks down the software engineering career path and how to optimize salary figures.

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