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IP.1: Job Application Strategy

Introduction

Before we begin compiling our application documents (portfolio, resume, cover letters, job list), we can visualise the process over the coming months to mentally prepare ourselves and ensure our documents are best tailored for the companies we are applying to.

Mental Preparation

Please keep in mind the below points throughout the job application process.
  1. 1.
    You are a software engineer, not an "aspiring" software engineer. You have the skills to build software. All software engineers are learning. You are already a software engineer and can present yourself as one on your LinkedIn, resume, and when meeting employers.
  2. 2.
    You will get rejections. This is normal. Take them as a learning experience and address any mistakes you made at future interviews. Sometimes we may not make any mistakes and still get rejected.
  3. 3.
    You only need 1 company to say yes. There are always more companies to apply to. Everyone is hiring software engineers.
  4. 4.
    There is no need to accept the first offers you get if you're not satisfied. You can afford to wait. Everyone is hiring software engineers.
  5. 5.
    The job application process can take an indefinite amount of time. Mentally prepare yourself for this to take months, and prepare your finances accordingly. If you keep improving every day, your chances at getting an offer will only increase.
  6. 6.
    Rocket Academy chose you for a reason. We chose you because we believe you have what it takes to succeed. You just need to work hard, hustle for interviews and be yourself.

Creating Your Strategy

Answer the following questions to better understand your strategy for the job search. This should help you tailor your application documents to be most relevant to each company.

What kind of engineering or tech role are you looking for?

Coding Bootcamp prepares graduates for full-stack software engineering roles. This means graduates should also qualify for frontend, backend, language-specific, and QA/test roles, and essentially any entry-level coding position. Graduates should also qualify for less technical roles such as product or project management roles.

What kind of company are you looking for?

Rocket's Bootcamp equips graduates to succeed at any entry-level software engineering role, regardless of company. Check out Rocket's blog post on the various companies that hire SWEs in SG.
  1. 1.
    Do you prefer the tigher-knit culture of a startup or the scale that comes with working for a bigger company?
  2. 2.
    Do you prefer dipping your toes into multiple industries at a software agency, or working hard on a part of a single product over multiple years?
  3. 3.
    Would you enjoy working at a "non-tech" company where software may not be their focus?

How will you find the jobs you're looking for?

Here are some of the best ways to find jobs you might enjoy.
  1. 1.
    Networking
    1. 1.
      If you have friends working at tech companies that like their job, chances are you might enjoy working at those companies too. See if those companies are hiring on their careers pages. Reach out to those friends (even if there isn't a relevant job on the careers page) to see if the jobs are still open, and if they can help you with a referral.
  2. 2.
    Browse job portals
    1. 1.
      Companies post new SWE jobs on job portals every day. Make it a habit to browse job portals and add relevant jobs to your jobs list. Update Rocket Academy when you update your jobs lists so that Rocket can reach out to those companies and try to get you a referral.
    2. 2.
      Here are some popular job portals.
      1. 1.
        ​LinkedIn​
      2. 2.
        ​Tech In Asia​
      3. 3.
        ​AngelList​
      4. 4.
        ​YC Jobs List​
      5. 5.
        ​Indeed​
      6. 6.
        ​Glints​
      7. 7.
        ​NodeFlair​
    3. 3.
      Feel free to connect with recruiters or engineers on LinkedIn that work for the companies you are interested in. This is what Rocket does behind the scenes. When connecting with them, always leave a note with a personal message. This greatly increases the chances they will respond to you.
When you click Connect on someone's LinkedIn profile, always choose to "Add a note".
Always leave a personal message when connecting with others on LinkedIn.

How to filter jobs on job portals

Here are some ways to filter jobs on job portals.
  1. 1.
    Look for roles tagged as "entry-level", but don't hesitate to apply for jobs that are more senior if the role interests you. It doesn't hurt to apply - worst case they ignore you.
  2. 2.
    There is no need to search for "junior" in the job title. Most reputable companies do not have a "Junior Engineer" role, only Software Engineer and subsequently Senior Software Engineer. Companies looking for "junior software engineers" typically don't have strong tech teams and are looking for cheaper labour.
  3. 3.
    Don't worry too much about job requirements. Often job requirements are written by recruiters that include many "nice to haves", but in reality the team would accept someone that fulfils the "need to haves" and not all of the "nice to haves". When in doubt, apply.

How to apply to jobs strategically

  1. 1.
    Once you have your application documents (portfolio, resume, cover letters, initial job list) ready, apply to jobs you are relatively less interested in first. This will help you warm up your interview skills before applying to the companies you are more interested in.
  2. 2.
    If you aren't getting offers from the earlier companies, take time to practise what you feel you're lacking and slowly but steadily apply to more companies on your list until you can get offers.
  3. 3.
    Once you start getting offers, try to apply to more companies in quicker succession. This is because it's best to receive multiple offers around the same time, so that you have more negotiating power with the companies that offer you jobs.
  4. 4.
    If you receive an offer from a company you're less interested in and they're pressuring you to accept their offer before you can interview at companies you're more interested in, consider turning them down. Every company is hiring software engineers, and there are always more software engineering jobs. We do not need to accept a job we do not like.
  5. 5.
    Try hard for each job, but don't worry too much about submitting the perfect job application or take-home assignment for any given job. The job application process is a numbers game. We can get rejected for many reasons, and the best way to maximise our chances is to apply to more jobs.