If you are a typical software engineer, looking for a new job is probably one of your least favorite things. I bet you don’t even think about it unless the circumstances, such as family relocations or unexpected layoffs force you to. At the same time you probably heard the trend that you have to stay on top of the ever changing technology and be diverse enough to be marketable. Regardless whether it’s the circumstances or your personal drive for professional growth that motivate you to change career, watch out for these five typical mistakes most software engineers and other IT professionals make when looking for a new job.
Mistake #1. Relying too much on recruiters to find you a job. Not trying to diminish or undermine the job or the importance of a technical recruiter, but let’s be honest here – these recruiters are keeping you lazy and comfortable. Yes, it is nice to not have to look for a job and only focus on the interviewing part, but you are limiting yourself from a huge number of great opportunities out there that you could find on your own. At the same time you are right in the middle of the ring, competing not only with all the other candidates presented by the same or different recruiters, but also candidates who applied independently or through an internal company referral–in other words, candidates that don’t come with a huge referral fee if they get hired. I am not saying don’t work with recruiters, they can definitely help you a lot and sometimes even put you in contact with companies you wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. All I’m saying is don’t make them your only source of marketing without exploring other options.
Mistake #2. Holding off applying for the job you really want. I know this one sounds a bit counterproductive but it is amazing how many times I’ve heard clients refuse to apply for a job at Google simply because they don’t feel confident enough about their technical interviewing skills. Instead they keep applying for B-jobs just to practice their interviewing skills until they feel comfortable enough to go for their ultimate goal. There are two problems with this approach – one, you will never really feel comfortable enough. Two, you will most likely end up accepting an offer for a B-job and never get around to your dream job. Besides, most people who got a job at Google didn’t get it at the first try, which brings us to mistake number three.
Mistake #3. Not following up with companies you previously interviewed at. So you interviewed there, you loved it, they seem to like you, but you didn’t get an offer, not this time. So what, chin up! Most companies have the policy that you can reapply six month later, sometimes they even mention it in the feedback – feel free to apply again in the future, we would love to talk to you down the road. But you don’t hear that part, do you? The rejection is so crushing and disappointing, you take “not now” for “never”, cross the company off your list and move on to the next. Your persistence and resilience about a company is typically an indication of interest and determination; who wouldn’t want that on their team? It takes courage to come back after being rejected, even a year later. But guess what? People admire that.
Mistake #4. Only applying for jobs you are 100% qualified for. I know, being meticulous and detail oriented makes you go through every point of a job description to make sure you have them all before you feel comfortable to apply. First of all, applying for jobs is not supposed to be a comfortable process. There is no growth in comfort. And there is definitely no growth in applying for a job you can do 100% practically with your eyes closed. Growth and career advancement come with challenge and reaching out for roles that are a bit of a stretch for you is exactly what will make you grow professionally, technically and personally. Employers, hiring manager and recruiters know this as well. All you have to do is show confidence and enthusiasm about learning. No one wants to hire a professional who will potentially be bored with his or her job.
Mistake #5. Staying too long at one particular company. I understand your dedication and commitment. But wait, maybe you’re just too comfortable with the job that pays your bills and provides excellent benefits for you and your family? I get it. But is your company giving you enough opportunities to grow and advance your technical expertise? If yes, then stay by all means – they will probably try to hold on to you as much as they can because you provide them with growth as well. But if you feel stale, have reached your full potential at this company and simply doing redundant tasks Monday through Friday, then it’s time to move on. Chances are, if that’s the case, you will be the first to go during the next downsizing.