Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now software engineering mentor at Pathrise. I work with hundreds of software engineers to help them land their dream job.
Many software engineering bootcamp students hope to land an entry level job after graduation. However, sometimes hundreds, if not thousands, of people are competing for these same positions, including many new grads from universities who have spent the past 4 years coding and potentially interning at tech companies. So, if you’re a bootcamp grad, how can you stand out to recruiters and hiring managers?
We’ve worked with hundreds of software engineers to land their dream job and these are our top tips.
- Strengthen your resume and online profiles
- Know what jobs work for you
- Send cold emails
- Prep for behavioral interviews
- Practice for technical interviews
1. Strengthen your resume and online portfolios
Before applying, you need to make sure that you have a strong resume, LinkedIn, and GitHub profile. Your resume should demonstrate and quantify the impact you made in your previous projects and experiences. Impact statements show how your accomplishments made a difference. Rather than writing statements about what tasks you did, explain how and why your actions benefited the project using numbers to quantify the results. In addition, you can show the scale of the project by explaining how many scenarios you considered, how many rows of data you analyzed, how many different methodologies you implemented, and more.
To optimize your LinkedIn, you can go more in depth than you did on your resume and tell a complete story of your previous work experiences or projects. Be sure to include links to your portfolio or GitHub profile on your LinkedIn so that recruiters can find all of your hard work in one place.
Your GitHub page should provide context for the work that you have completed, especially your side projects. In addition to uploading new projects to your GitHub portfolio, you can contribute to existing repositories and projects. We recommend that students, both from bootcamps and universities, spend considerable time on projects outside of their classes.
This extra work will help differentiate you from fellow bootcamp classmates, who will be applying for the same jobs with the same portfolio of projects. Side projects also give you the opportunity to demonstrate your passions and strengths, work closely with other programmers, and learn new skills that other bootcamp grads do not have.
2. Know what jobs work for you.
Bootcamp grads need to be aware of what specific skills they possess and what roles relate to that knowledge. While many bootcamps market themselves as full-stack, this is sometimes misleading. Some people are stronger with front-end, even though they know the basics of back-end and vice versa.
3. Send cold emails
Bootcamp grads should learn how to write compelling cold emails to recruiters, hiring managers, and fellow bootcamp alums. You can use LinkedIn to find the recruiters and hiring managers who will be looking at your resume and portfolio.
You should especially focus on people who have a connection to you. Coming from the same hometown or having a similar hobby is good, but your best bet would be finding someone who attended the same bootcamp as you because they will likely be more willing to help you out. Find an email address using a tool like Clearbit. If you would rather add someone as a connection than send a cold email be sure to include a personal note explaining your connection and that you’re eager to learn about their current position and company.
You can also network with fellow alumni through your bootcamp’s career center. If you haven’t already, reach out to them, as they will often direct you to companies where bootcamp alumni currently work. Many bootcamps also have exclusive groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack, and other online platforms where grads can share job resources and network.
4. Prep for behavioral interviews
Before diving into behavioral interviews, including phone screens, be sure to have a strong understanding of a company’s culture, values, mission, and products. Maybe you have used Stripe to make an online payment in the past, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the research before interviewing there. Take a look at their About page to learn more about their mission and history so that you can demonstrate an understanding of their goals, achievements, values, and leadership. For example, they include a page on how they are working to reduce their impact on climate change, which is one of the company’s top priorities and a value that you could bring up in your behavioral interview.
Now that you know the company’s mission is to build economic infrastructure for the internet and that they value reducing greenhouse gas emissions, you can insert this information into your elevator pitch and your behavioral interview responses to show that you fit with their culture. You can practice tailoring your responses by thinking through how you would answer some of the questions on our list of 47 behavioral questions from real tech companies.
5. Practice for technical interviews
Because bootcamp grads might have spent less time coding than students from a traditional background, the technical interview is a place for them to demonstrate that they have prepared enough to succeed in an entry level or junior software engineer position.
To help you prepare for these questions, we have compiled a list of the best resources to practice software engineering questions. Leetcode has over 1050 questions that are based on company questions. Another option is HackerRank, which is the most common online tool that companies use to test their applicants. They also offer practice questions for people with upcoming interviews who want to work in an environment that mimics the one they will likely be tested in. Remember that almost all of your questions will require understanding of one of the following:
- Hash tables
- Linked lists
- Breadth-first search
- Depth-first search
- Merge sort
- Binary search
- 2D arrays
- Dynamic arrays
- Binary search trees
- Dynamic programming
- Big-O analysis
Be sure to study them hard and commit each of these fundamentals to memory.
We also created a list of 93 software engineering interview questions from top tech companies to help you get started.
By following our suggestions and tips, you can begin taking the necessary steps to land an entry level software engineering job.
Pathrise is a career accelerator that works 1-on-1 with students and professionals to optimize their job search and land their dream job. If you are interested in guidance each step of the way, join Pathrise.