Looking to Land Your Dream Engineering Job? Stop Clicking ‘Apply Now’

Get creative and ask yourself what your future team is looking for.

So, you want to get hired at Slack, Facebook, or any of those other flashy engineering brands. Applicants, form an orderly queue! The hottest tech companies have a never ending line of interested candidates, and if you’re pressing the “Apply Now” button, all in all you’re just another brick in the resume wall. If you want to stand out and get that shiny new engineering job, you need to get creative and ask yourself what your future team is truly looking for. Luckily, your friends here at Hired live and breathe recruiting, so we have a pretty good idea what talent acquisition pros are thinking when they go to fill your next dream job. Read on for some outside-the-box methods you can use to turn some heads wherever you’d love to work.

Hit Close to Home

It should come as no surprise most recruiters live on LinkedIn. While your Inmail inbox may be an unmitigated disaster of copied and pasted spam, you can bet recruiters will read every message that comes through. First, identify some talent pros at the company you want to join. Recruiters typically have a handful of open roles they focus on, so ideally you’ll find the one who’s recruiting for the role you want. Some individuals will do you a favor by specifying on their Linkedin profile that they are a sales, technical, or business recruiter. Unfortunately, with large companies, it may be difficult to find your match on the first shot (unless of course you’re on the Hired platform, nudge nudge). Luckily, good recruiters are team players, and they’ll point you in the right direction if you approach them politely and tactfully. Most recruiters are also serial networkers, so once they’ve connected, shoot them a message that goes a little something like this:

Hi [First Name]
I noticed [company] is hiring for an [open role], and I would love to learn more. Based on [relevant personal experience], I think I could be a great fit. Are you the right person to talk to about this role, or might you know someone else I could discuss it with? Looking forward to hearing from you!

Since recruiters are people persons, you may find yourself on the phone with one before you even realized you were in their hiring process. Don’t be alarmed, with a little prep you can put your best footforward and guarantee you’ll advance.

If you’re a recent graduate, bear in mind larger companies have entire teams dedicated to university recruiting. Rather than connect to a recruiter who focuses on candidates with more experience, do your best to track down someone on the university recruiting team. After all, they’re the ones who are already out there looking for you.

Straight From The Horse’s Mouth

While recruiters will be able to get you in process and are generally familiar enough with the role to know if you’re a relevant candidate, the hiring manager is where you really get a chance to shine. Use a similar approach as above to track down a few different managers who could be hiring for your role. Here’s where it gets tricky: like you, technical hiring managers are going to be inundated with LinkedIn messages, so you’ll want to reach out via email. Company email conventions are easy enough to track down, and from there a bit of guesswork will land you in the inbox of your future boss. For extra credit, sleuth out their GitHub or StackOverflow profile, where you can then engage them directly about their work, and more importantly, show off your own coding chops. Google’s reverse image search is a sneaky tool for this, as many people use the same avatar across social profiles.

Value Add

While recruiters are always excited to network and build pipeline, for team members and hiring managers, the proof is in the pudding. Rather than just saying you’re interested, you need to demonstrate value right off the bat. Try sharing an original GitHub commit that utilizes a language mentioned in the job description. If someone on the team is active, a fork of their previously submitted project could be even more valuable–this shows that you can collaborate on pre-existing projects and contribute scalable code. The goal here is to go one step further than suggesting you might be a good fit. Make an effort to demonstrate precisely what you can do for the team, and highlight how your experience aligns with their needs. Anyone can write action verbs and trendy coding languages on a LinkedIn profile. Not everyone can prove they’re a value add before they even start an interview.

Put a Bow On It

Remember that thing I said above, about tact and politeness? Let’s not glaze over that. A dash of diplomacy is crucial when you cold email your future boss or teammate, so don’t be pushy. Approach the interaction from a networking point of view, suggesting you’re merely interested in the work they are doing, both from an organizational level and at an individual, team project level. Sharing relevant work you’ve done shows that you’re serious, and not just looking to sneakily leapfrog the applicant queue in pursuit of a new engineering job. Further, demonstrating a genuine interest in the work while taking the time to contribute something technical displays a commitment to the technology, an alignment to the passion and values of the team, and a respect for the manager’s time. Look at you, setting yourself apart from other candidates!

So you’ve engaged with a recruiter, hiring manager, or team member, showed them what you can do, and proved you’re both qualified and serious. Better start the real prep!

Written by: Rob Stevenson
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