How to Get Your First Interviews as a Software Engineer

Finding a job is never easy - finding the first job is a thousand times harder. Getting those automatic rejection emails without having a chance to interview can be an emotional roller-coaster that makes you doubt your skills, abilities, and intentions. This is why striving for visibility is key when trying to land that first job interview.

The greater the number of people who view your resume, the greater the chance of being offered an interview - it’s as simple as that. Thus knowing how to be visible in a sea of other candidates like yourself is detrimental to getting a positive response to your application.

Here are three tips that will help you stand out and be invited to the technical rounds of interviews.

1. New Grad, Internship, and Returnship sections in career page

Every major company has separate sections for:

  1. New grads [for people who graduated last year or are going to graduate in the upcoming summer]
  2. Internships [for students who are still in the process of getting their knowledge]
  3. Returnships [for people who left the workplace for some time and now they’re returning back].

There are usually deadlines when to apply based on the company. If deadlines are not mentioned - you can get in touch with the recruiting team(every career page has some sort of “Contact us” section). In the case of a missing “contact us” page - then you can get in touch with the company via social media. This will help you get in the bucket with the rest of the new grads.

If you have no experience, not even an internship - I suggest adding a small note alongside your application that states you’re open for one. The response rate works well with smaller companies, where hiring managers directly review the application.

2. Quantity over quality

Apply at as many places as possible. Don’t disregard small companies.

Set a goal to apply to at least 20 companies a day. Set a goal to keep reapplying to the same company if needed.

It all may seem repetitive and/or redundant, but as mentioned earlier, recruiting is a number’s game - so the point is to get visible.

3. Make Github your best friend

Aside from learning the essentials of the git version control system, you should also focus on capitalizing Github ’s wonderful exposure to the programming world. Being publicly active on Github shows tech recruiters and observing developers that you’re genuinely interested in programming. So here are 2 ways how you can do just that:

  1. Reporting/fixing issues on open-source projects whether it’s through code changes or through documentation (even if it’s just grammar corrections), is a great way to show that you’re ready to contribute to a company’s product.

  2. Creating your own project from scratch and pushing it to Github is probably the most important requirement for achieving the best visibility possible. Just ensure you treat this personal project with standard industry practices such as not committing private API keys, leaving adequate documentation, formatting your code, unit tests, etc.

Remember, it took Thomas Jefferson 1000 failed attempts to make a light bulb. Similarly, it may take you 1000 rejections before finally getting a job offer.

It won’t be easy, but by persistently following the above tips, your visibility to recruiters will shine exponentially, and with it, your chances of landing that job interview!

P.S. Huge thanks to Eugenio Lopez for being so patient and reviewing the article many times 🙏

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