Yes, the job market for tech professionals is strong. But that doesn’t mean companies are rolling out the welcome mat to just anyone who’s spent a few hours in school banging away at code. Even those developers and programmers who have the technical chops may find their practical experience and business skills (or lack thereof) questioned by hiring managers who want new hires capable of doing pretty much anything an office requires.
So what does it take to land a new position when you’re still early in your career, before you’ve built up the network of friends and former colleagues through which most experienced tech workers find jobs? The answer, even in a low-unemployment economy, is a whole lot of footwork, as well as a little bit of luck. As your summer job hunt begins, here are some tips for landing the position you want.
Develop a Strategy
No matter what their career stage, many tech pros make a very simple mistake at the beginning of the job-hunting process: they start applying for jobs without taking the time to think about what kind of job they want.
This urge to plunge into the market is understandable, especially when you consider that most people want to land a job as soon as possible (we all have bills to pay). But taking a little time to figure out what you want out of a job, and your ideal employer, can save you a lot of hours and effort later.
Some data-minded tech pros handle the research portion of the job search by asking the following questions:
- Do you want to work for a large firm, or a small one?
- Do perks matter to you?
- Are you interested in the speed of a startup, or the stability of a larger firm?
- Are you willing to trade salary for equity?
- Are you looking for rapid advancement, or the chance to master a particular role or technology?
- Are you willing to relocate?
The answers to these questions will allow you to fine-target your search; some tech pros even keep spreadsheets that break out their preferences. Keep in mind, though, that even the jobs most suited to your skills and temperament won’t check off all these boxes; you’ll have to make compromises on some issues.