Landing a graduate job as a software developer

Career Advice
08 February 2021 | Career Advice | Guest Author

Congratulations! You’re a developer, fresh and inexperienced but full of enthusiasm and ambitions. Yet, what is next? When checking job proposals and requirements, it’s crucial to stay positive. Being an experienced developer, it’s no sweat to find a good job, and it’s quite the opposite when it comes to newbies. The companies usually prefer workers with some experience in the field. What to do if you’re a fresh specialist? We've prepared some tips on finding your first software engineering job.


7 tips on how to land a graduate job as a software developer

A degree in computer science gives in-depth knowledge, analytic skills, deep but still theoretical understanding of the development process, documentation, design, testing, and so on. However, students receive too little practice. Here are 7 working tips on how to land a graduate job as a software developer and stand out.

1. Choose an area of specialisation/technology to work with

The very first step on your way to applying for any job is to set priorities. So, understand what exactly you want to do every day and what kind of company to work at. Thus, for example, there are many different kinds of software developers running from front-end and back-end engineering to security engineering, DevOps, and so on.

Besides, you should choose the programming language you would like to work with. It’s where you should also consider the easiest and hardest languages to enter the market. Not all programming languages are in demand equally.

The next step is to choose the industry. What are you passionate about (software, hardware, research, or development)? Depending on the field, you may get specific knowledge, search for relevant case studies, and so on. It’s a way not only to gain new skills but to expand your professional horizons, build direct connections.

What’s more, you need to research and understand which technologies are emerging and in-demand nowadays both in the world and in your area. It may help you to narrow down your interest by the industry, language, or field, making your job search much less daunting.

2. Find out what skills and knowledge you need to get a job

It’s a good idea to do research and find out what exactly skills and/or knowledge you need for a job you’re applying for. Sometimes the knowledge you get while studying is not enough and some courses are needed to get the desired job. In case you have a dream company then monitor the open positions and learn about what skills are to be improved.

3. Make yourself visible online to stand out

It’s time to create your CV so that you can send it to the recruiters and companies. If you think that it's a quick and easy task, then you know nothing about what a “good resume” looks like.

Do you know that you have only 6 seconds to catch the attention of recruiters? Yes, that's how much time both hiring managers and recruiters spend to learn your CV and move it into either the “maybe” or “no” pile. So, here are a few tips on how to create a standing out resume:

  1. Design and structure do matter. You should be consistent in your font types and sizes, tense, and design. Break your resume up into commonly used and relevant sections (education, skills, soft skills, projects, courses, etc.)

  2. Briefly write about yourself and why you’re suitable. You can do that at the top of the CV or in a cover letter.

  3. Add figures and facts, and keywords. Use keywords in the resume so that recruiters can find you faster among the thousands of CVs. Also, if you scaled a site from 200 to 20,000 daily users then mention it in the resume. If you know several programming languages like Python, React, JavaScript, and others, then tell the recruiters about that as well. Besides, it’s better to skip any qualifiers.

  4. Choose and highlight only 2-3 worthy projects that you know front to back. Don’t describe everything you’ve ever done or touch, pick the hits among the courses, classes, projects, and so on and leave the rest for the interview.

  5. Always check spelling or ask somebody to proofread your resume. In case there are a lot of mistakes in your CV then you can say “bye-bye” to a good job. You can prevent that from happening by using different programs/services/applications to exclude the grammar/spelling mistakes.

  6. It’s better to save a resume as a PDF. It’s vital in case you want to save the design and overall structure of the CV whatever reader and gadget is used (phone, tablet, or desktop).

Having a good resume and cover letter is just a part of the work. As soon as you create a standing out CV, start to post it on the job boards, send it to recruiters, etc. Also, you can find HRs via LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor, and other social media as well as follow companies of interest to establish direct communication and just become visible online.

4. Use in-person networking

If you’re ready to look for a job, then let the whole world know about it. There are a lot of platforms and services to publish your resume but don’t be shy to tell your friends, relatives, colleagues that you’re looking for a job as a software engineer. So, tap into your own in-person network and ask for a referral. Also, you’d take advantage of networking events and various career fairs related to software development.

5. Find entry points for your very first job

You should be ready that you won’t get an offer from the target company after the very first interview. Herewith, you need to find entry points to break up into the field. And here is how you can do that.

Create your portfolio

Certainly, if you’re a fresh specialist with zero experience, who looks for the very first job, then it's more likely that you haven’t any project completed to create a portfolio and demonstrate your skills. Yet, you can create a website for a relative or friend as well as develop your own web project. In such a way you not only practice and improve your skills but create a portfolio for possible employers.

Find internships opportunities

Keep in mind the fact that it’s easier to find a job as a student rather than a junior. Yes, juniors cost more than students but their value is equal for the company. That’s a reason to start to seek the first job while you are a student. Get ready that it may hurt your grades, extend your studies, or something like that but be sure that it’s totally worth it. It’s a way to enter the company at a student position and gain experience.

Take IT courses that help their students to get employed

Never stop learning something new. Thus, it’s always a good idea to take IT courses to get certified in coding languages, get deeper knowledge and understanding of a particular software type, and so on. Don’t forget to list the best certificates on your resume and social media accounts like LinkedIn, for instance. Choose the courses that give referrals to their students to increase your chances of getting a software developer job.

Enter a related field to gain experience to begin with

The truth is that the experience is everything. Yet, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get a software developer job with zero experience. You can enter a related field first. Thus, you will gain some experience and knowledge as well as expand your professional skills. It is helpful in getting the desired position in the dream company.

Use freelance websites to get your first orders

While you’re sending your resume and waiting for feedback from the dream companies, you can gain some experience by working as a freelancer. Register at Upwork or other freelance platforms and search for projects that you’re able to do. It’s a way to get experience, improve skills, and get some recommendations, ratings, and so on, to say nothing of the fact that it’s a way to earn some money.

Consult with more experienced people you know in the industry you're interested in

If you know the specialist in the field you’re interested in, don’t be shy to ask questions and ask for referrals. By consulting with more experienced people, you can get insights into the field, knowledge, and skills required to be good at the job, and so on. 

Don’t know anybody in the field? Then it’s time to connect with the industry people. You can follow them on networking platforms like Meetup, LinkedIn, etc., write direct emails to HR, visit official sites as well as attend various events (meetups, seminars, conferences, and so on). It’s a way to grow your professional network and get new skills, knowledge.

6. Get ready for the tech interview

It can happen that your brain can become blank under the pressure and you’re not able to answer the simplest questions about the field. Being an essential part of the job application, the tech interview is a part you should be ready for. So, it’s better to create a bunch of common questions about your specialization (HTML, CSS, web performance, and so on) and just practice. Today there are a lot of platforms and resources like Interview Cake, Pramp, Cracking the Coding Interview, and others to do that.

7. Be able to accept an offer or a rejection

Sending a resume and passing the job interviews, you should prepare to get both an offer and a rejection. In case it’s an offer then get ready for the onboarding process and the fact that the next few weeks are likely to be difficult.

In case it’s a rejection, remember that’s normal and the best way is to treat it as a learning process. Always ask for feedback to know why you didn’t suit the company and what gaps you need to fill. You have to analyze what went wrong and what you need to improve. So, falling down, just get up and move further!

Final thoughts

Being a fresh software engineer, it’s a challenge to break the market and compete with experienced candidates. However, it doesn’t mean you have no chances to get a software developer job. Using the tips described above, you can achieve the goals and get the desired job. So, just be consistent and follow the right path:

  • Focus on your skills and interests;
  • Create an effective resume and compelling cover letter;
  • Do research about the target companies and follow them on social media;
  • Build a strong online presence;
  • Work on soft skills;
  • Keep on learning and getting new developer skills and knowledge;
  • Keep on going even after the rejection

Alexey Kutsenko is the Head of Digital Marketing of DDI Development company. He is experienced in the development of the marketing strategy for companies in different industries. He knows how to do the right marketing and watches all current marketing and industry trends.


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