What tech companies look for when it comes to graduate software engineers

An image of a group of people in graduation clothing
An image of a group of people in graduation clothing
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Last week I sat down with some graduate software engineers and discussed what we were going to do for 2021, how I plan to advertise and vet our applicants.

It started with some of the characteristics and hallmarks I look for — things I have seen which have led to successful graduates in the past — and what they should be looking out for at each step of the way.

After rattling off a few of my points I questioned if they thought my approach and expectations were fair and understood. …

Let’s break the cycle.

An image of workflow concepts on a wall
An image of workflow concepts on a wall
Photo by NEW DATA SERVICES on Unsplash

Building product in a way that enables teams to have full visibility of decision making, prioritisation and giving business stakeholders a view of ‘where things are at’ is a goal most businesses strive to achieve.

‘Project Management Tools’ often get used in an attempt to solve this through its use of workflows, addons and reporting & permission structures. …

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Team Health is often discussed or spoken to when it comes to HR or Team Leadership. It’s a term used when asking how a team is doing generally speaking and usually comes from a ‘feeling’ perspective.

The metrics we use focus on the Technical side of Team Health. Metrics that will enable you to truly impact and influence positive change.


All of the things that we’re going to talk about are quite novel and experimental even for us these are ideas and techniques that we’ve developed over the past year and implemented over time and is still very much a work in progress.

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I would consider myself a bit of a ‘fishing nut’ and I am sure those that know me would agree, and honestly. I love it. All forms from fly fishing to spearfishing. To me, they all encompass similar properties that make me completely addicted to the act.

I would say my personality type would be that of an extravert. I have a lot of energy that I enjoy sharing my energy with others.

I am by no means ‘built like a fisherman’. I am essentially a Computer Nerd who spends their days in front of a computer in an office.

I often find myself explaining why I love fishing so much to people and recently I have discovered it is due to it being my form of meditation. …

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I frequently find myself looking to quickly build something to express and idea for a vision. A luxury we have as Engineers and developers is we really can ‘create’ stuff quickly to share our vision, idea or product.

One thing I have found with all of the ideas it that it is important to strike while the iron is hot.

A limitation I have frequently run into is when it comes to setting up the project in the first place. …

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Screenshot of Catchup Cues

Catch-ups or 1-on-1’s as they can be referred to are essentially staff meetings that take place throughout the month. There is a bunch of research to suggest they play a massive role in improving the quality and performance of staff within a company.

The general purpose of one-on-ones are

  • Pulse checks / Status updates
  • An opportunity to identify and remove blockers for staff
  • Build trust and relationships with staff
  • Opportunity to Coach staff
  • Opportunity for feedback

The general thought with one-on-ones is ‘the more the better’ however the reality is, to do them effectively you need to prepare, ask the right questions, and be engaged. …

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Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

A question that has interested me for quite some time is How do you effectively progress staff from a contributing team member, into a leadership position.

From personal experience, I have seen leaders be promoted to find they didn’t like the role, totally burn out under the pressure of the experience while others lose total self-confidence from what was otherwise a highly effective and productive team member.

Not all organisations have the ability to create full leadership progression frameworks with training, structure and career pathways. …

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Image by ijmaki from Pixabay

Applying for a Graduate Software Engineer position is a competitive game. How do you ensure you stand out amongst the sea of CVs, survive the interview and get the most out of the role once you’re in it?

After being involved in the hiring process for several years, I have observed the characteristics and patterns that lead to Graduate Software Engineers getting the job and flourishing/thriving/excelling within those roles. These are my top 7 tips for those entering the field.

1. Stand out — job application

First things first you need to get yourself in the door for an interview.

The tech market is pretty saturated. On average, hundreds will typically apply for Graduate roles. Most people have similar qualification and may all be coming into the market en masse. This means for you to land a role in a company with a limited intake, you may need to stand out a little…

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CSS in JS is a real ‘hotness’ and in many ways is very much a ‘thing’ nowadays when it comes to building applications on the web. I decided to test my ‘traditionalist’ sentiments with CSS and take on an experiment. I went in with an open mind to truly answer the question… is it really better than CSS?

I was pretty convinced I knew what was going to be the outcome. I have always had an eye on CSS in JS however never really got around to fully forming an opinion on it. …

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Current look of my Home Dashboard

I decided to take the benefits of in-built Alexa and blend them with some basic understanding of React into a personalised Home Dashboard.

Ever since I got an Amazon Echo, I have enjoyed having the ability to kick off my mornings by asking about the weather, traffic and playing music to kick the day off. I liked the idea of having a ‘home dashboard’ that wasn’t around ‘turning on the lights’ etc, but more around what I typically want to know in my household and my daily routines.

The result was a fairly simple React app, running in the browser of an Amazon Fire Tablet. …


Lindsay Jopson

Head of Engineering

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