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What to do when you are not getting job interviews?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Niagara Bottling 2 months ago

Hello everyone hope you are all doing well.

I got laid off from my Full Stack Developer position mid Sept. It’s Dec, and I’m at 1700 applications. I only got 1 interview early Oct, nothing after. I couldn’t get a call back from a few companies paying 15/hr.

Positions I’m applying to: Web Developer, Full stack developer, Front End Developer, UI/UX designer (occasionally), Software engineer.

What I have been doing this time

  1. Setting a day every Thursday of the week to improve something in my resume
  2. I’m a foreign student so I don’t have the luxury to wait out, or work any other job than tech so I’ve been working on a project alongside applications.
  3. Finishing Meta’s full stack certificate on coursera so I can be prepped up with the basics
  4. Collaboration posts contributions on LinkedIn
  5. Walkins at recruiter agencies
  6. Using referrals still no luck
  7. Messaging hiring managers and recruiters - no luck or response on that end to
  8. Going an extra mile with cover letters
  9. Redid my LinkedIn

I’d be curious to hear your opinions on how I can break out of that cycle.

I’ll attach my resume below for your reference and feel free to point out everything that I can change.

Link to my resume: https://docs.google.com/document/d/166f_2cIuO_uX-5qz4BPj1juQfu4Wh09g/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=112615168035118354424&rtpof=true&sd=true

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Discussion

(5 comments)
  • 3
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    Engineer @ Robinhood
    2 months ago

    Two things I'll call out.

    1. While your resume does try to highlight the impact of the work that you've done, it's a bit of a mess to read. Some bullets points (mainly the ones that don't try to quantify impact) are just fluff, technical terms are tangled within bullet points, and there's some things that shouldn't be there (like a non-trivially sized section for hobbies). Since you can't really highlight prestige from schools or companies, recruiters will bias towards their initial impression of their resume: if their immediate thought was like mine, they'll likely bias towards passing.
    2. Most of your current efforts are biased towards using what you currently have. I don't think this is working since your current experience is not strong, so the yield for trying to better sell this to recruiters is very, very low. I'd recommend shifting your focus to building a meaningful side project (defining meaningful as you spent a non-trivial amount of time on it with the goal of getting users). You have more control over the tools and technology you'll use and/or learn, you'll make tradeoffs and decisions that'll better reflect building real world software, and you'll build better fundamentals around ownership and iteration. Harry Potter stated that there's a difference between reading about defense against the dark arts and Voldemort spamming Avada Kedavra at you: You should apply the same mindset to software when it comes to biasing towards practice instead of theory. Do the minimum needed to send out consistent applications and focus on building a project that will better reflect practical software. If you need ideas, feel free to ask in Slack or try to emulate an existing app.
  • 1
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Niagara Bottling
    2 months ago

    Thanks a lot for the detailed feedback Jonathan, yes I am currently working on a project, and I’ve realized from this job hunt process that creation of projects shouldn’t really stop even if you get hired

  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    I have 2 immediate high-level thoughts:

    1. Increase your focus - I would apply to just 1 job type and write a resume oriented against that. I'm generally not a big believer in "full-stack developers" who have <5 years of experience as that usually means they're not very good at either front-end or back-end. Looking through your resume, web developer seems like the best fit IMHO. But of course, you should make the choice at the end of the day - What's important is that you choose 1 role and double down. The time spent on applying for roles like UI/UX designer are certainly a waste of time and can be applied to more applications on your focused role.
    2. Polish your resume's formatting/grammar - I have complete empathy here since I assume English is not your first language, but these small mistakes really do add up (this is how recruiters throw out most resumes in <5 seconds). I recommend running your resume through a tool like Grammarly and asking people in your network who have English as their first language to look it over. Here's some examples I found:
      1. "Optimized company’s Web Applications of 10k+ lines codebases" - It is unclear to me why "Web Applications" is capitalized" or why "codebase" is plural. I would write something like "Optimized the web application's 10,000+ line codebase...".
      2. "REST Api’s" - API is an acronym so it shouldn't be capitalized. Also, it shouldn't have an apostrophe as that's possessive. It should be "REST APIs".

    Also, I'm glad you took the Taro advice around showing the impact on your resume to heart, but some of the numbers look... suspicious. For example, it is very hard to claim that you increased promotion rate by 9%. Promotions take a lot of time and would be hard for an individual contributor (i.e. not a manager) to track. If you don't have metrics, don't attach them. If a recruiter believes just 1 of your metrics is fishy, they will auto-reject to be safe.

  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    To help you out more, I'll go through the list you shared in this comment. I'll bold everything you should stop doing and explain why:

    1. Setting a day every Thursday of the week to improve something in my resume - This is too much, and this kind of system will lead to you making unnecessary changes or making stuff up. Resume should be a non-recurring task. You spend a big chunk of effort improving it 1 time, and as you get more accomplishments (e.g. you ship a cool side project), you add them ad-hoc.
    2. I’m a foreign student so I don’t have the luxury to wait out, or work any other job than tech so I’ve been working on a project alongside applications.
    3. Finishing Meta’s full stack certificate on coursera so I can be prepped up with the basics - Certificates do not help at all. Ironically, I'm very certain Meta itself doesn't care if its candidates have done its certificate (it's more of a branding thing for them). I have gone through 1,000+ candidate packets across my ~10 years in Silicon Valley, and I have literally never seen a certificate make a difference.
    4. Collaboration posts contributions on LinkedIn - I don't think this is worth it. It's just another one of LinkedIn's random new features. Just stick with regular posts.
    5. Walkins at recruiter agencies - This one could work, but I have found that a lot of these agencies can be scammy/suspicious. Be careful.
    6. Using referrals still no luck
    7. Messaging hiring managers and recruiters - no luck or response on that end to
    8. Going an extra mile with cover letters - Cover letters are a huge waste of time, and if you're going the extra mile, you're probably overdoing it and sounding facetious. If they ask for a cover letter, just use ChatGPT to generate one. Don't spend >5 minutes on it.
    9. Redid my LinkedIn

    For referrals, it's probably not working as you're just getting cookie-cutter referrals. True referrals come from relationship building (which you can do in Taro, especially if you live in a major metro area). Check out this Q&A to learn more: "How to get referrals?"

    I highly recommend checking this out as well: "What technologies or stacks should I create a project to add in my resume for entry level software jobs?"

  • 3
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    Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon
    2 months ago

    Here's my recommendation

    • Build a side project and post about what you learn from it on social media (or maybe even start your own blog)
    • Go to tech meetups where you live regularly (if there are any) and chat with the engineers and the event coordinator there about how you want to get involved in the tech community
    • Try to find others who are in your situation and live in your area and learn what strategies they are using to get interviews

    Ultimately, becoming a familiar face to those who not only can help you but also those who are experiencing the same as you will go a long way in helping you find success in the long run