How to Land a First Software Engineering Job

How do you land that first software engineering job before acquiring much knowledge? This article will help you know what to expect and how to prepare for that first developer job

Land that first software engineering job
Land that first software engineering job

Software Engineers have become increasingly in demand over the last decade. Software developer jobs are projected to increase by 22% by 2030. The process of a software engineer's job is challenging. The process of building the skills necessary to land those jobs can be challenging as well. How do you attract potential employers before acquiring much knowledge? This article will tell you about employment preparation in software engineering that a beginner should consider when looking to enter the field.

What is software engineering

The Purpose of Software Engineering

Software Engineering generally consists of constructing, managing, and improving systems and network infrastructures. Software developers themselves possess vast technical knowledge of programming languages and software development principles. By applying these principles, the software engineer can perform complex analysis and custom software product development based on the needs of its clients. A software engineer also learns how to manage the entire software development lifecycle, from initial requirements gathering through architecture design and programming and including post-production maintenance of the software product. Although software engineers' job descriptions may vary from industry to industry, most professionals generally share the same core responsibilities.

Getting a software engineer education

Obtaining An Education

The most common paths for aspiring software engineers in learning software development are to take bootcamp courses or to attend college. This choice will vary according to your preferences and lifestyle conditions (e.g. schedule conflicts, expected timeline & finances). Every route has its own advantages and cons, so be careful when considering these points. A third path is a self-directed path, where you take to the Internet or to books or self-study to learn the skills you feel are necessary to get a job as a software engineer. This also has advantages and cons. For another site article that includes a more in-depth discussion of these 3 learning paths, CLICK HERE.

Applying to a Coding Bootcamp to Become a Software Engineer

Do programming boot camps have value? Yes! Programming bootcamps give aspiring programmers an excellent way to improve their skills to get into entry-level jobs quickly. Boot camps come in all shapes and sizes so there could well be one that fits your situation. Some are free and on-site and very collaborative in their training style. Some are online. Some are even sponsored by potential employers. You should definitely research coding bootcamps to see if one fits your situation and learning style. It could be a great way to help you get into a software developer career.

Getting software engineer experience

Gaining experience

Your training should not end in a coding BootCamp or formal class. Software developers can acquire real-world experience through volunteer work, personal projects, and internships. The use of coding skills in classrooms can help you increase the credibility of your job application by enhancing your skills. Even doing your own projects at home can improve your coding skills and prove very beneficial when taking coding tests as part of potential job opportunities. So look for any opportunities you can find to build your programming skills and your soft skills as well.

Most employers are not looking for a "feed pizza under the door and they get things done" software engineer. Employers also want developers who:

  • understand the software development lifecycle
  • can communicate well with their peers
  • aren't afraid to bring new ideas or to question existing ideas
  • can work in a team environment

Getting Certified

How can you increase your job chances? You can get certified in in-demand skills for your target jobs. Certifications are important to employers because it confirms your knowledge and your commitment to being a higher-level job candidate. Getting certified can also help you stand out from the crowd in a job search for a related job in a different industry too. So are certifications required? Absolutely not. But when you have them, they could make the difference between you and another equally-skilled candidate who does not have any certifications.

Planning a software engineer career path

Plan Your Software Engineer Career Path

Although most of the skills in software development are transferred between jobs, it is wise to consider an overall career trajectory.

Set goals!

You may be excited about learning Python or building web pages. But set some short-term and long-term goals for yourself and then let those goals drive the languages and jobs and even organizations you target in your career path. Having a plan in place will give you much more confidence in your decision-making, and make those decisions much easier to make.

Goals are a major component of my Software Engineer Career Booster course. CLICK HERE to read more about it.

Building your software developer portfolio

Building Your Software Developer Portfolio

Programming portfolios can be critical in the careers of aspiring developers. This extensive workbook can be the first impression employers will have of you. It can also be a good way to demonstrate previous work and convey your versatility and general skill set. As a potential candidate, you should prove as much of what you are capable of as possible and therefore make sure it fits in with the needs of the employer. A great way to do this is to build your portfolio on GitHub! Create one or more public repositories or work that shows programming you have done. Or, keep your repos private but make them available as necessary. Look for opportunities to participate in open-source projects where you can contribute to larger codebases too.

That entry-level software engineer job interview

How to Get An Entry-Level Software Engineering Job Interview

Software engineering is a career path with several options. In the US, 74 percent of software engineers hold at least a bachelor's degree. If you're looking for an entry-level job in software engineering, you might be a recent graduate, someone who has completed a BootCamp, a self-directed learner, or even someone without any prior experience. Regardless, here are some ways to get that entry-level software engineer job interview.

Enhance your resume

Keep your resume current. This includes your complete body of work- both professional employment and any open-source or external software development you are involved in as well. So any time you have a role change or significant project accomplishment at work, update your resume. Any time you learn a new skill or technology, update your resume to reflect skills in that area. Any time you participate in external open-source projects, capture that in your resume as well.

Keep up to date with your industry

Another way to get that entry-level job is to keep up to date with your industry. Stay current on software developer technology through social media. Use websites (like this one!) to help you focus on those technologies and trends that are important for entry-level software engineering but also for software engineering in general. Keeping up to date will help you know what is in demand, what to focus on, and what to be prepared to discuss in job interviews.

Build the essential skills

Using what you learn by staying current in the software engineering industry, build the essential skills necessary to get that job entry-level software engineers are shooting for. Use what you learn to build those in-demand skills:

  • technical competency
  • problem-solving skills
  • specific programming languages, frameworks
  • code repository knowledge
  • continuous integration & continuous deployment knowledge
  • writing and verbal communication skills
  • people skills!
Applying for software developer jobs

Applying For Jobs

Once you have at least a general career path in mind, have set some initial goals for yourself, and have built a starter set of qualifications you feel confident about, it's time to get out there and start applying for jobs. I highly recommend using online tools to do your job search and application.

Don't get me wrong- I love in-person interviews and if you have that opportunity by all means do that. But with COVID and the huge move towards hybrid and fully remote employment, your job opportunities are exponentially larger online. Yes, the competition is larger too.

Get your resume out on LinkedIn, Indeed, and other online platforms. Make sure your resume is accurate, and your skills are updated too. Then use your career path and goals, and use that to target potential jobs and employers.

Start applying! Don't be bashful. Just get out there and start doing it. You may be disheartened at the first round of "No thank you" responses. You may be super nervous during your first few online interviews. But the best way to overcome it is to get out there and just do it. Get some practice in. And find the perfect next job for you.

How to Find Entry-Level Software Engineering Jobs

Whether entry-level or higher, the key to finding the best job fit for you is to:

  1. know exactly what you want to find
  2. accurately match their requirements with your qualifications

Have a career path in mind. Have some goals set for yourself. Have a vision of where you are going so that you can quickly see any given job as in that career path or not in that career path.

Then when you find potential jobs and organizations that seem to fit, thoroughly review their job description requirements against your resume. Focus on requirements around years of experience, specific skills, and any callouts asking for a high degree of experience in any particular software engineer discipline.

When you find a match, go for it. Even if it's close, go for it anyway. Don't be afraid to talk with employers you really want to work for and give them a chance to meet you and see you. Even if you're not a great fit for this particular role, you never know what might happen!

Who Hires Entry-Level Software Engineers?

It shouldn't surprise you that software developers are in high demand, and that includes entry-level software engineer jobs. CLICK HERE to read this related article on Software Engineer Salary and Career Statistics. Just do a quick search on LinkedIn or Indeed and you'll see the number of opportunities out there from companies of all sizes.

Additional resources, top programming languages for 2023, other articles

Additional Resources for Aspiring Entry-Level Software Engineers

Here's a list of some particular articles on this site that I think are helpful to entry-level software engineers:

Wrap-Up: How To Land That First Software Developer Job

It's really about supply, demand, planning, and guts.

The demand for software engineers is large and always getting larger.

You are the supply! Get the skills and training you need to fill that demand.

Focus your training based on good planning - career path planning and goal planning for yourself

Then get out there and apply! Jump in and have fun doing it :)

If you're interested in learning more about goal-setting, knowing what technology to focus on short-term and long-term, dealing with changing priorities, team dynamics, and more, then click here to read about my Software Engineer Career Booster free video course preview.