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Are you a software engineer? Engineers are a hot commodity. Fortune 500 Companies and small businesses alike seek out these highly-trained professionals who invent, design, analyze and build complex systems. And the demand for talented engineers is growing: in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects nearly 140,000 new jobs expected for engineers in the next decade, especially for software engineers. So why do fledgling engineers fresh out of college (and sometimes engineers with years of experience) struggle with finding jobs?

Matching with the right job and company can be challenging, no matter your experience or education level, however, rest assured that it is not impossible. It’s not easy – it certainly takes a level of diligence, research, outreach, follow-up, and grit. It also helps to demonstrate a great work ethic; of all the things employers look for in new talent, “soft skills” such as communication, flexibility, teamwork, and a great attitude are valued significantly. Jennifer Floren, founder and former CEO of Experience Inc. put it succinctly, “Employers understand that everything else can be taught, so they look for the most promising raw material to work with.” With the right approach and the right attitude, engineers of any kind can launch a successful job search that ends in a hire.

Here are a few foolproof strategies that can help a software engineer, test engineer, or full stack engineer, and many more in landing that first engineering job.

1) Start with career planning.

Career planning helps job seekers to understand their values, interests and skills to make a knowledgeable career decision. Whether you are just starting out or looking for a career change, moving towards a clear goal can help you navigate the job market with greater confidence and ease.

  • Refine your options. Although it’s generally recommended that job searchers cast a wide net, you should still consider your qualifications and interests before sending your resume to every recruiter on LinkedIn. Try a self-assessment to identify your priorities in a potential career. Whether it’s benefits, a salary increase, intellectually stimulating work, or flexibility to work from home, it helps to have a cut and dry idea of your absolute priorities and your automatic deal-breakers.
  • Search for clear, succinct job postings that speak to you. To organize your search, make a spreadsheet of the jobs that match your priorities, interests, and skills. Research and identify each job’s benefits and perks, company culture, and potential for growth. Once you decide to apply, notate when you contacted each company and when you will follow up.
  • Make an action plan. Once you have a clear vision of your current skills, ideal career, and a realistic trajectory for your general career development, make a plan to implement this decision. Identify specific, time-bound steps and goals to accomplish your plan. What do you envision in the next year? The next five years? What specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals can you set for yourself to put you on a path towards success?

2) Build a career portfolio that tells your unique story.

Having an updated career portfolio during a job interview is a definite competitive advantage. With in-depth records of your relevant accomplishments and experience, you open the door to a more substantive discussion about your experience – and that lets you drive your own interview. This is a tangible way to direct the interviewer’s attention to the projects and achievements that you are most proud of.

  • Include visuals. Videos, images, drawings, or strategic formatting make your portfolio visually appealing. More importantly, they articulate your problem solving process: how you approached the technical challenge or task, what obstacles you faced or solved along the way, and how you were able to reach the ultimate solution.
  • Show your range. Interviewers appreciate when clients have well-rounded work experience. Your portfolio should effectively communicate your range of experience and any unique or technical skills.
  •  Tailor it to the job. What are the company’s core values? What skills or technical knowledge is necessary for the job I am applying for? What soft skills do I have, and how does my range of experience show those qualities? Ask yourself these questions when putting together your portfolio, and include the projects and relevant experiences that demonstrate how you are the perfect fit.

3) Apply to a lot of jobs, but not too many.

It takes between 100-200 applications to get a job. Yup – and each application has about an 8.3% chance of turning into an interview. Some job-seekers might hear that statistic and start frantically applying to every job they remotely qualify for. The thing is, sending out more applications doesn’t necessarily give you a better chance of getting hired. What does give you a better chance is making your application stronger than everyone else’s.

Rather than trying to do the math of figuring out how many roles to apply for if only 8.3% of them will turn into interviews, shift your approach to quality. Ask how you can turn that 8.3% into 15% or 20% or 25%. This method requires you to think deeply about how your skills and experience uniquely match the position better than any average candidate. Utilizing your network, acquiring certifications or taking classes related to your desired career, and tailoring your application to the job can increase your chances of getting called in for an interview.

4) Work with Engineering Staffing Services

Working with specialized recruiters is a great way to streamline your progress towards a meaningful career. These professionals have years of experience and a network of leading-edge companies, and they can take the hard work and frustration out of the job search process. Whether you want to work solo, be part of a team, be a consultant, or get directly hired, engineering staffing services are uniquely placed to match you with an exciting new project.

We Can Find Exciting Gigs For a Software Engineer

At OSI Engineering, we’re first and foremost engineers. We can put ourselves in the shoes of you, the candidates. We match professional software engineers, test engineers, full stack engineers, and many more to exciting projects with global companies and startups. Our technical knowledge of industry-specific technology streamlines the process to provide the ‘right’ software engineer with the ‘right’ technical expertise to add value with minimal ramp-up time. To speak to a member of the team, call (408) 715-3451 or use this contact form.