Tips for Graduate Software Developers on Job Hunting

August 21, 2013 10:20 pm 3 Comments

Most people know that the hardest job to get is the first job ever. I have been in that position myself as well. Having attained a brand new shiny university degree, I was not able to score an employment position straight away. In fact I spent a lot of time scouring different resume and cover letter websites and guides, following the advises to the dot and applied multiple positions with little success. Everyday I asked myself, what was wrong, I was great at software development in university how come I can’t score one of those graduate software engineering position? Odd isnt’t it? Well perhaps not so much now.

Let me share with you some things that I finally got right so that you don’t have to spend too long to get a position.

Show Off in Your Resume

Almost every single one of those resume guides that I have read, advised the readers that their resume must not exceed 2 pages at most. I think that’s a mistake. Having sat on the other side of the interview table, I know that rule is not always appropriate. In technical roles such as software engineering, portfolio and work experiences count a lot.

Personally, I always make sure that the highlights must not be more than 2 pages long. These 2 pages are the prime locations for your best portfolio and experiences to show off. Kind off like premium advertising pages.

The rest of the pages can be used to list more information such as more portfolio, interests, experiences that may not directly related to the job, etc. Anything beyond the 2 pages are the non-premium advertising space.

Code In Your Free Time

One of my personal annoyances is that graduate positions require some form of experiences in the industry. So in a sense, they are entry level graduate position with work experience requirement. Sounds contradictory isn’t it?

Many might argue with the claim that I have above but it is simply the reality. The good news is that in our industry it’s actually possible to generate experiences by ourselves provided we use our time wisely.

When looking for a job and not already working, we are bound to have a lot of time in our hands. Use that time by trying out different open source web applications for example.

Just by building a website using frameworks such as contradictory  symfony framework or phalcon; you have already added some extra experiences in your portfolio plus you have something to show off. Also if you are really interested in software development, building things like websites are fun anyway. Of course you have to put some meaningful contents in those sites not just hello world.

Another thing that you can do is sign up to a public repository such as github or bitbucket. Which brings us to our next tip.

Show Off Your Work

Like I said previously, your work does not have to be a masterpiece; after all, no one can write the perfect code. The work that you show off can be fun short applications, experimental codes, cool UI that demonstrates new javascript and css technologies and many more.

In addition, you can also do some contracting for friends and families too, it doesn’t have to be extremely profitable but you’ll get something for your portfolio. At this stage, I would say that a piece of work in your portfolio is worth much than cash. Of course that doesn’t mean workimg for free either.

Finally, after you have finished your application, distribute it to the web via public repositories such as Github. The best thing about sites like Github is that you can actually built a website for your application using Github’s server.

Get Listed in Social Media and Leading Online Job Boards

The world has changed so much in the past decade that companies nowadays are actually looking through social media sites. My favourite is of course LinkedIn. So make sure you show off your portfolio in your linkedIn page.

As for leading job boards there numerous different ones for different countries therefore I cannot recommend any particular one. The important thing however is to make sure you fill in the applicants profile, not only it’s useful for applying for different positions, it’s also another channel where recruiters can search you. I can personally say that this is true in most cases.

Be Truthful About Your Skills

There is nothing worse than lying about your skills and ability, especially when applying for technical roles. The thing is, in most technical positions there are bound to be some practical test before or after the interview. Advertising skills that we do not have is a bit like false advertising, it looks bad on ourselves and it would be a waste of time for the interviewer.

The best thing to do if you don’t have a particular skill is to gain one. Again this can be done by doing some coding on your free time or invest on a training course. We live in a very good time technically, information is available freely and as a matter of fact, leading universities are actually distributing their online courses for free in the Internet.


The tips that I discussed today are by no means the absolute guarantee to get your first position, instead these are the things that I had gone through when I first graduated from university. I also wished that someone shared these tips with me back then.

Hopefully this article helped someone one way or another.


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