Portrait of smiling Vietnamese software engineer

How to Position Yourself as a Software Engineer

The job market is hot, hot, hot

There’s no denying it – the job market is on fire for job seekers. The beginning of 2022 in the Netherlands brought record-setting job openings. 387,000 vacancies, to be precise. What’s more, the rate of vacancy was greatest for the information and tech sector, with a significant number of openings for software engineers. With such a hot market, one might think that software engineers can snag those dream jobs with relatively little effort.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Now is definitely the time to score that perfect position, but to do so you still have to position yourself correctly on the market. 

What does it mean to position yourself? 

You’ve studied the right programming languages, you write clean, beautiful code and you have references to back yourself up.  It may seem at first glance that you’re ready to start applying, but first you need to create a strategy. This strategy should be based as much on your strengths and abilities as it is on what you’re really seeking from an employer. Enlisting the help of a recruiter can be especially helpful in creating this strategy. 

Before you send out your CV, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What programming language am I currently working with? Do I want to continue working with this language or do I want to learn something new? 

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth considering. It’s easy when looking at an attractive job opening to tell yourself things like “I already know C+, how hard could it really be to learn C++?” However, do you really want to learn another language? And is this employer willing to teach you? 

2. Do I work best in a large corporate environment, in a small team or as an independent freelancer? 

Consider your personality and how you work best. If you’ve always worked in a team with a structured hierarchy, making the switch to independent freelancing might come with some challenges. In today’s job market, with more and more corporations adopting hybrid and remote work policies, it’s not just the independent freelancers anymore who can work from wherever they want. 

3. What concrete results have I achieved as a software engineer? What are my strengths?

This needs to be in your CV, but you also need to be able to back it up with anecdotes in an interview. If you have firsthand experience, make sure to detail how your clients have benefitted from the work you’ve done, whether projects or maintenance. If you’re breaking into the software engineering world, be sure to list any test scores and certifications you’ve achieved. 

4. Does my CV and cover letter present me in a positive light? 

When a potential employer opens your CV and cover letter, you only have a few seconds to get their attention. A friendly looking photo, a nice layout and judicious use of color will go a long way in the design of the CV. If you don’t have an eye for design, this is one area where it’s definitely worthwhile to enlist professional help. You need to stand out from the crowd. 

Employers need to know what you did, how you did it and what the results were, but they also want to see your personality. Why do YOU want to work for THEM? Will you fit in with their team? 

Going to market

Once you’ve answered these questions, then you’re ready to apply. A few other tips can help you maximize your job prospects.

1. It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. 

This is only partly true. What you know is still very important, however having the right connections is essential. Many of the most coveted and rewarding employers hire through recruiters. A recruiter will not only help you develop your personal strategy and brand as a software engineer, but also save you valuable time.

2. Practice makes perfect

Always practice before an interview. Come up with a 30 second to one-minute-long introduction that tells your story and gets the interviewer’s attention. Think about what sort of questions might be asked in advance. If you’ve already spent the time developing a strategy and analyzing your strengths, this should be easy. If you need more interview tips, check out this blog about how to interview like a STAR.

3. Stay true to yourself and your goals

With so many opportunities on the market and with businesses scrambling to make themselves attractive during the Great Resignation, there are more opportunities than ever. Make sure you’re applying for the jobs that you really want to do and that also provide the right benefits. It’s uncertain how long the job market will stay this way, but if you capitalize on it now, you too can secure that dream job that might just become a dream career.

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Heidi
Heidi

"I am passionate about helping people get into tech! As a software developer and instructor, I have extensive experience leading both teams and projects, and over a decade teaching and training students and staff."

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