Job Tips for Software Engineers

A Dice Talent Community

It’s official: you love being a software engineer, and you’d like that to continue. There’s just one small problem: you need a (new) job. The good news is that the market for software engineers in the U.S. is white hot, mostly. There are just a few things you have to look at:
- what kind of engineer are you?
- where are you?
- what kind of place do you want to work for?
- what do you need to do?

What Kind of Engineer Are You?

Do you have a flair for design, appreciate the powers of whitespace, and have an opinion on Less versus Sass? Congratulations, you’re a front-end software engineer. You’ll be very popular, particularly in web startups. If you design but don’t code, you’ll still be popular, but you’ll probably work someplace a bit larger.

Are you enamored of the idea that the code you wrote this morning could be in actual production use by tonight? Do you ride the (Ruby on) Rails and write awesome JavaScript? Hooray, you’re a web developer. You’re all the rage.

Do you still believe in the power of installation? Do you think there’s room for software that maybe your mom doesn’t understand but that drives a $245 billion industry [1]. Cool, you’re an enterprise software engineer. Sure, insurance applications and supply chain management aren’t sexy, but they’re a huge business and there are some fascinating problems to solve there.

Do you take pride in managing your own memory? Can you argue for hours about how to save one byte of memory and think that millions or billions of operations is pretty much just normal? Bravo. You’re a systems engineer, and you’re probably one of the people who will build the next great operating system or piece of core computing infrastructure. You, my friend, probably have some pretty strange hobbies, but the rest of the world depends on you more than they know.

There really aren’t right or wrong kinds of software engineers. This is where your personal preferences and talents should really come through. Choose a kind of software engineering that really calls to you, and remember, there are interesting problems everywhere you look.

Where Are You?

The sad truth is that where you are geographically still matters. Remember how I said hiring for software engineers was white hot… mostly? This is the mostly. If you’re in a tech hub—Boston, Silicon Valley, New York, Seattle, and a few others—it’s absolutely the case. If you’re not in a tech hub, the story is a little different. There are still jobs, but they’re fewer and you’ll have to look harder for them.

Telecommuting is a nice concept, and there are some people doing very well with remote work. However, to do this you must have the right employer and you have to be the right kind of person. It’s possible, but getting and changing jobs this way is extra work.

What Kind of Place Do You Want to Work?

Some of us are startup addicts (ahem, this is me). Others want to work on huge systems with large teams. There’s no right or wrong here. IBM is the right employer for some people, and two-people-in-a-garage is for others. How you hunt for a job will vary hugely based on what kind of place you want to work.

Going through a recruiter or a large job site will get you mostly focused on mid-sized to large companies. Using niche job sites will get you focused on specific industries. Other niche job sites will show you small companies—from equity-only startups to local shops with 20 to 50 people.

What Do You Need to Do?

So now what? What do you need to actually DO? It’s time to do some actual work on the job hunt.

First and foremost, make sure you’re networking. It’s a cliché for a reason: the best way to get a job is through your network. Where and how you network will depend on where you want to work. The dirty little secret of most tech communities is that there’s not one tech community. Rather, there are several communities, each targeting different niches. For example, if you’re targeting large organizations, go to user groups and meet-ups for industries and technologies you’re interested in. If you’re targeting startups, get involved in Hackathons, Startup Weekend, and code camps. In any case, your goal is to interact with potential hiring managers and people who know potential hiring managers, and specifically to interact with them in a way that lets you show off your technical skills.

Show off a bit. It’s a lot easier to get hired if you can show off the work you did. Don’t show proprietary code from your current job, but find other ways to show off your awesome skills. Contributing to open source projects is a huge benefit—and you can show off both your code and your ability to work with teams. Creating personal projects, particularly relevant ones to the jobs you want, is also helpful.

Lastly, be open to opportunities and ideas. Contracting, apprenticeships, trial periods, and consulting projects can all be good paths to an eventual job. At least be open to these kinds of opportunities, even if your eventual goal is to be an employee.

Conclusion

It’s a good time to be a software engineer. Keep your skills current, show off those skills, and go hang out (with purpose!) with other engineers and hiring managers. There are a lot of jobs out there and the possibilities just keep growing. One of them is right for you.

[1] Gartner, 2011.

IT Management Community | Fundamentals and Job Hunting

THIS DICE TALENT COMMUNITY SPONSORED BY:

The Latest From Dice

Even If Nike’s FuelBand Is Failing, Wearable Tech Isn’t Dead

Nike FuelBand
Over the weekend, CNET reported that Nike planned to lay off employees working on its FuelBand, a “smart bracelet” that tracks the wearer’s physical activity. “As early as this fall, Nike planned on releasing another iteration of the FuelBand—an even slimmer version—but cancelled the project,” the publication reported. “And it appears to have shelved all future physical product projects under the Digital Sport helm, the person familiar with the matter added.” Click here for wearable tech-related jobs. A few days… continue…

Getting a Job at Google

Posted In Looking in Tech
Google NY Office
Earlier this month, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman switched from writing about globalization and international politics to a topic much closer to many a reader’s heart: how to get a job. Friedman’s interview subject for his column was Laszlo Bock, who serves as SVP of “people operations” at Google—he’s the one ultimately in charge of hiring. And according to Bock, snagging a job at the search-engine giant involves a combination of grit, cognitive ability, adaptability, and creativity. From… continue…

Business Unit Coders Are No Threat to IT

Posted In Looking in Tech
Business App
An increasing number of corporate workers are taking it upon themselves to develop business technology solutions without the participation of IT. While that could sound like a threat to professional developers, it’s probably not: Forrester Research notes there’s a dearth of development talent out there, and that most of the applications being built by these “citizen developers” address some kind of problem that’s been backlogged by the technology department. “Most of the software built by ‘citizen developers’ addresses requests on… continue…

10 Startups Leading the Way on Big Data

Posted In Big Data, Data
Data Analysis
An increasing number of startups are positioning themselves to take advantage of demand for Big Data solutions. It’s no surprise. IDC forecasts that the Big Data market will outpace the growth of the overall information and communications tech sector to reach $32.4 billion by 2017, so Big Data is a good place to be. The use of Big Data is relatively new, which means the candidate pool for solutions can be small, observes John VanderSande, a Boston-based principal consultant with… continue…

More Tech Pros Earning Six Figures Than Ever

Posted In Looking in Tech
Chart: Percentage of Tech Pros Earning 6 Figures
The number of technology professionals earning six-figure salaries has increased for the sixth year in a row, according to new data from Dice. Some 32 percent of full-time tech pros took home more than $100,000 in 2013, according to the findings, up from 30 percent in 2012 and 26 percent in 2011. For contractors, the data is even better: In 2013, a staggering 54 percent of them earned more than $100,000 a year, up from 51 percent the previous year… continue…

What PlayStation 4 Winning the Console Wars Means for Developers

EA Game Screen Shot
  Sony’s PlayStation 4 is plunging ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox One in total sales, according to reports. The PlayStation 4 has managed to sell 7 million consoles in its first five months of release, along with 20.5 million games. That’s a striking contrast to the Xbox One, which has sold 5 million units since its November debut. Click here for game development jobs. In an attempt to put a positive spin on the numbers, Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi released an… continue…

Extreme Livestock: What Happens When a GoPro Lands in a Pig Pen [Video]

Posted In Living in Tech
Pig Pen Video Thumbnail
You’ll learn several things from this video: Don’t drop your GoPro from an airplane, GoPros are incredibly well-made and when photographed from certain angles, pigs look a lot like the star of Cloverfield. Related Stories A Hilarious Video of a Business Meeting’s Lone Engineer This Hysterical Video About BuzzFeed Is Right On Target  GoPro Unveils Dive Camera Housing H/T: CNET

Americans Upbeat on Future Tech, But Still Dislike Drones

Posted In Living in Tech
Future Tech 50 Year Predictions
Americans are optimistic about future technology, according to new data from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, even if some of that technology freaks them out. Some 66 percent of those surveyed by the Pew Research Center believed that altering their children’s DNA “to produce smarter, healthier, or more athletic offspring” would represent a change for the worse. Majorities seemed similarly reluctant to embrace lifelike robots taking care of their aging parents, personal and commercial drones running… continue…

Should Employers Ban After-Hours Work Email?

Posted In Living in Tech
Employee Asleep on Desk
Earlier this month, two French employee unions decided to show how they felt about work/life balance by signing a legally binding agreement that would forbid employees from checking work email after a long day at their desks. The agreement will affect only 250,000 employees in the technology and consulting sectors, according to The Guardian, although a number of them work for Google, Facebook, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)—not exactly firms known for allowing their workers to unplug from the grid. Click here… continue…

The Future of Robots: Soft, Flexible, Squeezable

Posted In Working in Tech
Otherlab Soft Robots
If someone asks you to picture a robot, the first image that probably comes to mind is the steel exoskeleton from “The Terminator” films, or one of those creepy mechanical “dogs” produced by Boston Robotics. But if teams of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and other institutions succeed in their latest endeavors, the robots of the future could look very different: soft, squiggly, and flexible. Click here to find robotics jobs. “There are only maybe… continue…