Getting a software engineering position at India’s many outsourcing companies is, relatively speaking, a breeze due to the sheer volume of hiring. Often, all you need to get a job with an outsourcer during campus hiring event is to meet the arbitrary cutoff grades that the outsourcer applies and have a beating pulse. It is relatively easy to meet hiring criteria of outsourcer but the job assigned to a new engineer may be a mixed bag. If you are lucky, you get assigned to a ‘live’ project where you actually get to apply and sharpen your skills. More often, you get stuck in a never-ending cycle of ‘training’ and other bench warming activities. Or worse, you get forced into QA role against your will!
So, how is an ambitious fresher to draw the attention of top flight software product companies? Read on…
Software product companies seek to hire software engineers who can demonstrate their coding abilities in a number of ways.
Ranking in coding competitions
Demanding employers look for candidates who can decompose problems and apply appropriate data structures/algorithms mindful of time and space complexity. Top notch software product companies regularly post coding challenges at sites such as TechGig, HackerEarth, etc. to find candidates (from a pool of hundreds of thousands gathered at such coding sites) who are able to solve interesting coding challenges. Coding challenges is an objective method to filter candidates quickly and is particularly beneficial to candidates who have strong technical skills but relatively poor communication skills or promising graduates from lesser rated universities who otherwise may not get exposure to top quality employers. Getting on the leaderboard is important – there are no participation trophies!
Coding sites also attempt to identify promising candidates based on the candidate’s success in consistently solving practice problems in one attempt and the coding site will often bring such candidates to employers’ attention [But, candidates should not have false expectations – earning badges and points via multiple attempts on practice problems is mostly not going to help. Although you may not get interview calls through the coding sites, continue with coding practice especially if exposure to coding in your academic courses was inadequate.].
Doing well at hackathons is another tried and tested way to get the immediate attention of tech savvy employers. Most hackathons are free and are held over weekends. Participating is fun and getting connected with prowling recruiters is a bonus.
Evidence of personal software projects
Having a demonstrable personal software project signals to prospective employers that the candidate has gone beyond just fulfilling course requirements and has actually applied his or her knowledge independently to build an application. Students have no excuse for not building some app or utility in their spare time given the availability of variety of free resources and tools – be a self-starter!
Contribution to open source projects
Being listed as a contributor to well-known (and even lesser known open source projects) will help you immediately catch the attention of recruiters. Acceptance of your code in an open source project is an indirect signal to prospective employers that you must be capable of delivering code that is able to pass the scrutiny of co-contributors.
Having a github account to showcase your software development artifacts is a must. Recruiters routinely check out prospective candidate’s github account prior to investing time in interviewing. Get a free github account today and start displaying your deliverables!
Interest in esoteric languages
Being active in esoteric language communities (such as Lolcode) may help project your profile of a ‘nerd’. But, your interest has to be genuine (being caught faking makes the situation worse) and is meaningful only if you meet the more pressing criteria mentioned above.
Finally, it is not enough to snag a high-profile software dev job – you have to ultimately perform to the employers’ expectations. Enthusiasm and desire is not sufficient, ability is also required. Freshers need to have a realistic assessment of their own abilities and pursue jobs that are compatible with their abilities. Not every cricketer can aspire to be Sachin Tendulkar. Knowing your strengths and weakness and your interests will help you focus your efforts in pursuing the right opportunities and save you from unnecessary disappointments down the road.