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During my search for a new Software Engineering role this past year I came across a few really impactful tips and links that I wanted to share more broadly in the hopes that it will help others. While this isn’t a comprehensive guide, in this post I tried to share at least one resource for each stage of the job search process.

Preparing your Resume Link to heading

A well-written, error-free resume is crucial to the job search process. While each resume is unique, a good resume will tell a clear story about your experience, highlight actionable results, and will be a strong match for the job you are applying for. Shmuel Rosansky does an amazing job laying out some tips you can use to help your resume acheive that level of clarity in this article and I whole-heartedly recommend that you read the full article to learn more.

Applying for Opportunities Link to heading

If you find a job you’re excited about and meet at least 50% of the qualifications, go ahead and apply! If you have a connection, use LinkedIn to reach out to friends and old co-workers that are now at your target company or ask for introductions to 2nd order connections. In my experience, the single best way to get to a phone screen is to apply using an employee referral. This is true in companies of every size.

Lastly, don’t stop applying! As this LinkedIn post explains:

One of the worst things you can do when you’re in the final rounds with a company you’re excited about is to stop applying to jobs or looking for other opportunities.

🏁 My friend, this is the equivalent of slowing down in the last 10 yards of a foot race.

What this does is actually put MORE pressure on you, because now all of your eggs are in one basket.

You feel like you have less room to mess up and MORE on the line… because if this DOESN’T work out, you’re back to square one and have to rebuild all the job searching momentum

Salary Negotiation Link to heading

In order to capture your true worth you need to think about how you respond to questions about your expected salary early in the process. However, figuring out what to say and what not to say at each stage of the job search process can be daunting, and it is easy to say the wrong thing by mistake. Fortunately the folks at Interviewing.io published an amazing article detailing exactly what to say during each stage of the process to increase your chances of maximizing your expected value. For example, if you are asked about salary range early in the process you have the right to remain silent and you can just answer with

At this point, I don’t feel equipped to throw out a number because I’d like to find out more about the opportunity first – right now, I simply don’t have the data to be able to say something concrete. If you end up making me an offer, I would be more than happy to iterate on it if needed and figure out something that works. I promise not to accept other offers until I have a chance to discuss them with you.

If you ever doubt your true worth, remember that the following is true:

Behavioral Question Prep Link to heading

I came across this great resource by Kevin Conroy which contains a list of common questions you can use to practice using the STAR Format to structure your responses to behavioral interview questions like:

Can you tell me about a time when ________????

While nothing can replace practice, I also found that taking the time to prepare a list of stories from my work history helped me organize it in a way that made it easier to apply the story to any question. To organize my stories I used a Google Sheet with the following format:

Recruiting, Critical Feedback, Cross functionalWhatsApp NativeWhatsApp integration was a high profile project with a fixed deadline at the end of the year. The goal of the project …Progress was impeded by layoffs and departures as the project was in its final sprints. I had to identify areas that needed to be completed, recruit appropriate talent from internal teams, onboard them to an unfamiliar project, and task out the work within the fixed deadline.Successfully recruited a team of engineers on top of existing recruitment efforts…

System Design Interview Preparation Link to heading

In the past I had struggled to adequately prepare for system design interviews. Since I didn’t know what to expect, I was at a loss as to how better prepare. When I came across Interviewing.io’s comprehensive guide to the System Design Interview it resonated deeply with me. The approach they describe has 3 steps with a clear progression from the requirements gathering stage through final design. Once I started practicing with this structured approach I was able to join System Design interviews with a clear idea of how I would approach the interview.

General advice - Be personable! Link to heading

This advice takes a few forms:

  • Start off on a good note. Remember, your interviewer is human too. They might have had a long day, so a light-hearted joke or a casual question about the weather can set a positive tone.
  • Be mindful of your interviewer’s time. I once referred someone to a role and when their interview slot came up they showed up 30 minutes late and didn’t apologize or let the recruiter know ahead of time. This is not ok! Make sure to show up early to your interviews and try to not drag the conversation on which may make your interviewer late for other job responsibilities.
  • Express genuine excitement for the role! Use the time at the end of each interview round to ask the interviewer some reverse questions and learn more about the company, team and role.
  • Send followup emails after each interview round thanking the recruiter and the team for their time and giving them some feedback on what you learnt during the interviews. While this isn’t required, I found that it helps sets the tone for follow up conversations with the recruiter about the role.

Conclusion Link to heading

Navigating the job search journey can often feel overwhelming, but armed with the right resources and strategies, you can transform this challenge into an opportunity for growth and success. From crafting a standout resume to mastering the art of salary negotiation, every step you take is a move towards your ideal career. Remember, preparation is key—whether it’s preparing for behavioral questions or system design interviews. And never underestimate the power of being personable; it’s often the small gestures and genuine enthusiasm that leave a lasting impression.

As you embark on or continue your job search, use these tips and resources to guide you. Whether you’re a recent graduate or an experienced professional, remember that perseverance, a positive attitude, and a strategic approach can make a significant difference. Good luck on your journey, and may each application, interview, and negotiation bring you closer to the job of your dreams!