How To Get Hired As a Software Engineer: 4 Tips & Tricks

Are you looking for a job as a software engineer? Learn about the top skills and qualities employers look for in software engineers.

how to get hired as a software engineer

Applying to software engineering jobs are notoriously challenging. Employers’ expectations seem to get increasingly daunting with each passing year—and sometimes, plain impossible to meet. For young professionals looking to start a career in software engineering, the standards can feel too high.

It doesn’t have to be. With some research and understanding of the landscape, you can identify what employers look for in software engineers, and build the skill set that prepares you for a successful career in the field. In this blog post, we’ll help you take the first step.

Technical skills

Technology roles are experiencing tremendous growth, from software developers and software engineers to almost any computer programming or computer science role. In order to excel and stand out in the hiring process, job seekers will need to impress hiring managers with a range of technical and hard skills, as well as significant professional experience.

Take this full-stack engineer role at Paypal as an example.

It demands full-stack skills and experience across React.js, Node.js, JavaScript, AngularJS, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), MongoDB, Git, and cloud technologies. It also combines practices of data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and user experience, making the role somewhat multi-disciplinary too.

To land a job as a software engineer, you need to sharpen these skills and stay on top of the latest technologies and tools to prepare for the rapidly changing software engineering landscape.

Programming languages

As a programmer, your coding skills will be your most basic qualification. Some of the most popular programming languages are JavaScript, HTML/CSS, SQL, and Python emerged as the top programming languages. Employers regularly look for candidates with skills not just in one, but 2-3 languages simultaneously. These languages are usually part of the interview process and are tested in a separate technical interview. Technical interviews for software engineers are now standard at both smaller companies and large companies in the tech sector and are usually conducted by a senior member of the engineering team.

However, don’t fret if you don’t know all these programming languages before starting out: 75% of developers learn new technologies every few months or once a year, so can you. A great software engineer is ultimately one who isn’t afraid to master a new skill.

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Source: StackOverflow

Soft skills / interpersonal skills

A highly underrated skillset that a software engineer needs is soft skills that define how you work. Every software engineer would work with a team of designers, developers, business users, clients, and other stakeholders. Successfully navigating this landscape needs one to have stellar skills in communication, collaboration, persuasion, presentation, problem-solving, critical thinking, leadership, and more.

There are also other kinds of soft skills that are exclusive to an organization. For instance, Airtable expects their software engineer to “take a thoughtful approach to decision making; knowing when to move fast and when to do things right.” While Spotify asks that you are “a great influencer with great communication skills, you love sharing your knowledge with others and helping them grow.”

Sometimes called culture fit, these are specific personality traits, habits, and values that employers actively look for while hiring.

how to get hired as a software engineer

4 Tips to Help You Get Hired As a Software Engineer

Assuming you have gained the skills you need to become a software engineer, the next step to getting hired is to build a strong resume and portfolio that gets you a job interview.

Tip 1: Create a resume that shows why you’re the best candidate for the role

Based on the role you’re applying to, create a customized CV that shows them that you’re the best fit.

  • Highlight relevant skills and experience.
  • Write a bold resume objective.
  • Include any project experience you might have.

For samples and inspiration, check out this blog post.

Tip 2: Build a portfolio to show applied experience

As a hands-on field, software engineering needs applicants to have experience in applying their knowledge to create products. This doesn’t necessarily have to be from your previous employment. It can also be a personal project, hackathon, or an internship you undertook. Bring these together and create your web presence.

  • Include at least 3-4 projects
  • Make sure they are more than just prototypes
  • Show that you are capable of production-grade programming

If you cannot think of ideas of your own, build a clone of a popular application or tool. Make it a fully functional clone that has more than merely surface-level similarities.

Tip 3: Have a capstone project

If there is one thing that’ll impress your potential employer, it is demonstrating that you are capable of building remarkable digital products. A capstone project is a great way to achieve this. Make sure you write a detailed case study about your processes and outcomes. This will show that:

  • You’re capable of thinking beyond the code and caring about your end-user
  • You can identify gaps in existing solutions and build alternatives, which touches upon your understanding of the business side of things
  • You have creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  • You have strong technical capabilities—bonus points for showing skills in all phases of software development and working with a team

There are also open projects that regularly seek contributors and getting involved in them is just as meaningful. In fact, participating in community events and public presentations can also demonstrate your communication and persuasion skills.

Tip 4: Show that you’re a culture fit

Culture fit is an integral part of being hired in software engineering today. Ultimately, no matter how skilled you are, employers need to see that you will assimilate well into their company’s culture and values.

  • Go through their website and social channels to understand their culture
  • Look for news/features published about the company and their work
  • Speak to current or past employees of that company in your network
  • Identify if and how you fit within their organization and prepare to articulate that in your interview

As software continues to shape the present and future of our lives, the demand for highly skilled software engineers is bound to grow. And therefore become highly competitive too. To be hired as a software engineer, you need more than just programming skills. You need a combination of full-stack development skills, interpersonal skills, job-readiness, persuasion, and the ability to adapt.

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.

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