What Are Software Engineering Recruiters Looking For on Applications?

What Are Software Engineering Recruiters Looking For on Applications? was originally published on WayUp.

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As you will begin to notice in your job-hunting adventures, no two application processes are the same. When you’re preparing to apply to more than one company it is important to adjust your strategy accordingly.

Application processes tend to vary by company, industry, and job level. It could be difficult to know how to make these adjustments as an entry level applicant. One question that’s often asked from candidates is: What are recruiters looking for and how can you impress them?

At our Job Searching event in January, we invited a panel of industry experts to answer these questions as it pertains to the world of Software Engineering. In our discussion with Tony Burdett, Global University Relations Leader at the NCR Corporation, Heidy Garcia, Early Careers Recruiter at Expedia Group, Iona AlGhafli, TRACK Hiring and Onboarding Lead at General Motors, and Lei Young, Emerging Talent Strategist at Dell Technologies, we learn what it takes to get a job offer at their companies.

Resume Storytelling

When it comes to putting together your resume, it’s best not to overthink things. In our recent virtual event, Tony Burdett spoke about how “your resume is kind of like the story of who you are.” He emphasizes prospective candidates to concentrate on the top half of their resumes and really make an effort to make that part shine. If you are someone without much experience to write about, here is what Burdett suggests.

In addition to your engineering-related experiences, you’ll also want to list all the languages, skills, and tools you’ve worked with and be able to relate that knowledge back to your experience. Are you comfortable with JavaScript and list that as a skill on your resume? Then you must be able to talk about where you learned it and where you’ve applied it as well. As Tony Burdett said, it’s all about the “storytelling” aspect of your resume and how well you can discuss your capabilities and the experiences where they’ve come into play.

Research the Company You’re Applying To

When you’re first starting your career, you are going to be very eager to find a job. This being the case, you might make the mistake of applying to multiple companies at once without looking into them.

While this might seem like you’re saving time, in the end, recruiters can tell if you want a job for a paycheck or because you’re actually passionate about the position. For Iona AlGhafli of General Motors, she believes that what interests potential employees about a company is one of the most important questions that will be asked in an interview. It’s at this time when the recruiter can really get a good understanding of whether or not the candidate is actually passionate about the opportunity.

If you’re applying for a software engineering position, it is critical that you arm yourself with knowledge regarding that department and the recent applications or projects they’ve worked on. Maybe there is a developer whose work you admire or maybe there is a software they work on that no other company is working with. Whatever the case may be, just make sure you have concrete examples to reference during the application process.

Make Use of Every Opportunity to Meet & Learn

The companies our panelists work for (Dell Technologies, General Motors, the NCR Corporation, Expedia Group) are always giving potential candidates a chance to meet and learn a little more about them. In addition to virtual events hosted right here on WayUp, these companies are oftentimes frequenting college campuses for career fairs, info sessions, and more.

Every recruiter we’ve spoken with encourages students and prospective employees to find and attend as many of these events as possible. On the one hand, it gives you an opportunity to meet with recruiters face to face and make your first impression. On the other, it also gives you an opportunity to see if the company is a good fit for you and gives you something to talk about when you’re interviewing.

Whether it’s to get a leg up on the interview and application process or to see if you like an employer, company-sponsored events are incredibly conducive to getting a job that fits you.

Communication is Everything

Before, during, and after the application process, it is important to communicate in a very professional manner. The first thing you want to make sure you’re doing is being responsive. Whether it’s to schedule your interview or to thank the recruiter for their time, communicating promptly will show them that you are engaged and highly interested in the position. 

Tony Burdett recommends that applicants think of who they’re talking to as “people that might be potential networking contacts for the future” and to always leave the door open. 

After an interview, it’s best practice to reach out and thank the hiring manager and/or person you spoke with. However, only reach out once! We know how stressful it can be waiting to find out whether you got a job or not. Don’t let this stress cause you to trouble the recruiter with repeated emails asking about the status of your application as this could make things go south.

How to Negotiate an Offer

If an offer is made, there are four things you can do. You can accept, deny, negotiate, or ask for more time to consider. While those first two options are straightforward, it’s when you negotiate or ask for more time that you need to choose your words wisely.

When you negotiate, it’s best to have another offer to use as leverage. Otherwise, you need to explain the reasons why you think you’re entitled to more money, whether that has to do with your experience or what you’re going to contribute to the company.

According to Iona AlGhafli, candidates should attach the offer they’re asking to match to their negotiation email. AlGhafli states that it’s important to “own the process” and not to beat around the bush or be indirect. 

In the case that you want some more time to make your decision on an offer, it is best to ask the recruiter how long you have rather than decide for yourself.

Don’t Stress Yourself Out

One of the last pieces of advice we got from our panelists, and this is something they unanimously agreed on, is not to let the application process stress you out. While it can be a nerve-racking endeavor, try to look at it with excitement instead of dread! It might seem like it at the time, but this is not the biggest decision in your life. Job opportunities will come and go, but the right one always finds you eventually!

One way to increase your chances of finding that perfect match is by keeping up with us on WayUp. Whether it’s our virtual events, blogs, or job boards, we’re here to help you get that offer. Stay tuned for more career tips and ways to land the job of your dreams!

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