4 minute read

I recently had cause to think about some advice for recent graduates hunting for jobs. This is probably applicable too if you’re laid off and need to find a new job. Caveats that this worked for me a dozen years ago, and it’s tailored to students looking for programmer jobs.

  1. Get a second email address that doesn’t obviously look like a backup email address. You don’t want job mail spam in your inbox for the rest of eternity.
  2. Make job hunting your full-time job until you have one. It’s a 9-5 process. There’s a lead time before you’re going to start seeing results, and you don’t know how long that is, but don’t sit and wait for that one org of your dreams to get back to you.
  3. Start with the “usual suspects” job recruiting sites—Monster, indeed, etc. Fill out profiles and filters and set yourself up with a feed for job leads.
  4. Any place that has an RSS feed, find yourself an RSS reader and subscribe to them. This can be your work list, and mean there’s a whole bunch of sites you don’t have to check.
  5. Work backwards in time, from most recent to more distant postings.
  6. Niche technology where you have experience can be a good place to start, because they probably have trouble recruiting for that.
  7. When you find a job you want to apply for, do it from the company’s intranet if you can.
  8. Google itself also has job search listings now, and you can use that too.
  9. Often times when you’re looking up a job listing, you’ll find another site on which that job is posted that you hadn’t looked before. This is how you build breadth to your job search. Let the job listings lead you to more sites, and the job hunt sites lead you to more jobs listings.
  10. Recruiters/headhunters can be useful, get in touch w/them too.
  11. If you’ve graduated recently enough, the school might still offer advice on your resume. Some schools have an alumni network that to tap. The other thing I’ve seen is to update your LinkedIn profile, see where your colleagues and contacts are working, and then go to those companies’ websites for listings.
  12. In fact, you can also start picking out companies that you’ve heard of that you wouldn’t mind working for, and apply directly with them. That’s another way to increase your pool of job sites.
  13. Use several common search strings for positions on the search sites. You know that “software engineer” “programmer” “computer scientist” “software developer” “platform engineer” can bleed across one another, but the sites don’t and HR might not either. If a site only lets you have one active search, then get another email address and another login to that site, and have your second search set up that way.
  14. Make sure your resume is AI/search friendly. Use the key words and phrases that will get you past the automatic filters and into the hands of a human being.
  15. Borrow the address of a friend’s couch. If you’re willing to relocate, and you have someone in the area, then you can put that person’s address on the resume making you look like a local hire. “I’ve been staying with a friend out there while I .. I just recently moved back to my place…” yadda. IME, by the time you’re far enough along that you seem like a candidate worth interviewing in person, then that won’t matter. If it does.
  16. As I understand it, in person commuting-to-work jobs are going to be less competitive than the remote jobs, because a) people place a premium on the work from home and b) you are already excluding all the people who aren’t in or willing to be in a commute distance of that job.
  17. You can and probably should have multiple versions of your resume tailored to different kinds of positions. Depending on what technology they want you to work with and what the role requires, you’ll emphasize different things in your background. If you can, make it look like you’re already an expert at doing the job they want to hire you for.
  18. Double, triple check your emails and spelling and that you’re addressing the right company with the right job. If you can, build yourself a little program that will automate portions of your cover letter. If you’re building it with PDF, then using TeX macros \longname \shortname \mediumname \specialreason to fill in a cover letter could both save you time and frustration
  19. Likewise, before you send something, have a tool read it to you, out loud. You can listen for mistakes that sound obvious but are difficult to pick out. You can do this on 2x speed if you’re quick enough. This isn’t a place to be lazy.
  20. If you have time, especially if you think you’ll be off for a while, pull out that side project you’d been working on, and spend some nights and weekends on that. It’s something new you can show off, looks good on your GitHub commit history, and gives you something to talk about at an interview.
  21. This may be less applicable, but if you’re going to be off work for a while having a volunteer position doing something related could be helpful just to keep a blank off your resume. OSS and side projects are nice too, but that doesn’t fit in a spot on a resume. Maybe start thinking about this in your second month off, so that you can have something in hand. A position that you’ve had for 6 months working one day a week looks better than 5 months off and then a whole month straight of volunteering.

I know it’s tough out there. Most of that is probably common sense to readers, but I hope there’s something in there that’s worthwhile.