10 Effective Job Search Strategies, According to a Software Engineer
After selling the tech start-up he co-founded, Charles Gedeon wondered what to tackle next. While handling operations at his company, he’d always been fascinated by the work done by the coders on his team, so that seemed like a good place to start.
“That whole process pulled me in,” Charles said. “So I started dabbling with it on my own.”
Charles googled classes and found the Berkeley Coding Boot Camp. He liked that the three-month, full-time program would allow him to attend in person, rather than simply working through the material online.
“I wanted to come into an actual classroom,” he said. “I learn more and get more excited about what I’m doing.”
The fact that it was conveniently located down the street from where he lived sealed the deal. He signed up.
Today, Charles is working as the chief technology officer at DocTalkGo, a health services app. Transitioning careers is always a challenge, but thanks to the program, he came out on top. To help others making similar career shifts, here are Charles’ top 10 tips for conducting an effective job search after boot camp.
1. Build an online portfolio—and feature your projects
During coding boot camp, Charles and his classmates built Mood, a facial recognition-powered journaling app that provides emotional analysis to users. There is no shortage of real-life uses for apps like this in the healthcare field. Therapists and other professionals could use Mood to track their patients’ mental well-being, while patients could use it to support their self-care regime.
“For example, if your mother passed away on a certain date, the app could send a small message to help you tackle depression,” Charles explained.
Since this project was related to the medical industry, Charles leveraged it during his interviews with DocTalkGo. Regardless of what kinds of projects you work on at coding boot camp, Charles highly recommends showcasing them during your job search.
“I built a website for myself and definitely featured my projects on there,” he said. “Mood impressed my interviewers because they saw that I was already interested in the medical field.”
2. Maximize job app features like scheduling and alerts
During the job search process, Charles read numerous blogs and forums about different strategies other people have used. In doing so, he found a common thread.
“One thing I realized,” he said, “was that everyone who succeeded sent out a lot of resumes by scheduling through different platforms.”
After signing up for Indeed, Authentic Jobs, and LinkedIn, Charles used the tagging and scheduling features extensively, creating alerts for the type of jobs he was looking for. This ensured he would be one of the first people to know about exciting new opportunities.
“Essentially, it would send me an email notification as soon as the job was posted,” he said.
There is one caveat to this plan: job alerts can sometimes wind up in your spam folder.
“You have to monitor it all the time,” Charles said.
3. Create a routine—and stick to it
Humans are creatures of habit, so Charles carved out the same block of time every day to get into the habit of applying for jobs.
“You have to put some type of regimen in your life. Like you’re going to the gym every day,” he said.
By sticking to this routine and setting strict deadlines for himself, Charles was able to stay on track and land a great job sooner rather than later.
“As soon as you get out of the coding boot camp, you tend to lose the rigidity and stability of what you were doing,” he said. “I made sure that every morning I would send out all my resumes and work on my personal portfolio. I sent out roughly 307 resumes. It’s worth it if you put in the time.”
4. Track your responses—and don’t grow disheartened
Considering how many resumes he sent out, it’s unsurprising that Charles received an overwhelming number of responses. To keep track of which companies he’d heard back from, he created an Excel sheet detailing his responses. This allowed him to spot opportunities to follow up.
Unfortunately, not every response is going to be positive. Charles advises anyone going into the job search to do so with an iron will.
5. Keep practicing
Evolutionarily speaking, humans forget skills quickly when they’re not being utilized—it’s called the forgetting curve. Charles had to keep coding throughout his job search to make sure his new skills would stick.
“Once you stop coding, you forget it faster than you learn it,” he said.
To help combat this problem, Charles reached out to his fellow classmates, who were conducting their own job hunts. They would meet up every day at noon to code together for a few hours.
“A lot of it is just making sure you never stop,” Charles said.
6. Don’t get lazy—jam-pack your days
Charles knows firsthand how tough job searching can be when you’re unemployed. It’s easy to give in to inertia.
His solution? Making sure every day was packed with things to do.
“I started filling out my days,” Charles said. “In the morning, I made sure to apply for jobs and that my resumes and cover letters were always updated. In the middle of the day, I would code with my classmates. In the evenings, I would work on building my own personal game and focus on learning different code for that.”
7. Cast a wide net
Charles realized pretty quickly that he shouldn’t be overly picky when looking for a new job. He began applying for any job he was qualified for, just to get his foot in the door.
“You can’t be too specific,” he said.
That doesn’t mean you have to settle for less, though. Charles rejected seven offers before accepting the one for his current role.
“Depending on the feedback, then you can be picky,” he laughed.
Charles also recommends looking beyond big-name companies during your search. Certain tech companies may seem sexier than others, but you might be surprised how much you can learn working at places you’ve never heard of before.
8. Reach out to companies directly
Early on, Charles found himself getting cast aside when he applied via job boards. It was rare to even receive a rejection letter.
He knew he needed a new strategy.
“I realized I was getting zero feedback every time I replied through the actual job sites,” he said. “I felt like I was losing my mind. So I would go directly to the company’s website, find their hiring manager’s email, and send my resume directly to them. That’s when I really started making headway. There is more incentive for the company to hire you because they didn’t have to pay a recruiter’s fee.”
9. Do your homework
It may be tempting to send a copy-and-paste email to every company you apply to—especially when you’re applying to hundreds. Unfortunately, this won’t make your resume stand out from the pile.
“You get more responses if you take the time to dig through to find out who the company is and why they’re hiring,” Charles said.
Even taking a couple of extra minutes to tweak your resume and write a personalized email can make all the difference. If you show companies you took the time, they’ll be more inclined to spend their time reading it.
10. Lean on your classmates
Charles’ last piece of simple: don’t go it alone.
“My classmates from the coding boot camp are still some of my closest friends. They are invaluable,” Charles said. “No one else is going to understand what you’re going through. The three months after the coding boot camp was this grueling fight to not lose my mind. Your parents, loved ones, and girlfriend won’t understand. Your friends will help you push through.”