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How to land a tech job during COVID-19 lockdowns

Sep 25, 2020 - 7 min read

This guest post was provided by Pathrise, an online mentorship program that works with students and professionals on every component of their job search. We have helped 600+ people land great jobs in tech through our workshops and 1-on-1 mentorship.

Today, Pathrise offers their expert advice on how to land a tech job during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Finding a great job can be stressful, even on a good day. If you add in a global pandemic that is shuttering businesses and causing entire companies to rethink the way they work, you might find yourself getting overwhelmed quickly.

We understand how you feel. At Pathrise, we work with people every day on their job search, supporting and guiding them to success. That’s why we wanted to share with you our top tips on how to get a job as a software engineer, even during the Coronavirus crisis.

Today, we’ll go over:

Step 1: Optimize your resume and online profiles

A lot of people jump into their job search with both feet and apply to hundreds of jobs in the first few weeks. Then, if they don’t hear anything back, they get discouraged.

To avoid this, we recommend focusing on your resume, LinkedIn, and GitHub profile first. Then, you know they are as strong as possible before you apply to any roles. This is especially important during the COVID-19 crisis because there is more competition for less roles than ever before.

Your resume statements should always include 2 main elements:

  • Impact
  • Quantification.

Why was your work important? How can you add numbers to show this?

For example, instead of saying, “Developed X for Y,” try, “Led development on X for Y purpose, resulting in Z.” The second statement might be longer, but it tells a complete story and will impress the reader. If you don’t know the results of your work, try quantifying the scale instead.

For more guidance on your software engineer resume, including a template you can adapt, check out our guide.

A strong LinkedIn profile needs to have a professional photo, contact information, and a short bio about your experience and the types of roles you are interested in. You can even elaborate more on your experiences since you do not have a space limit on LinkedIn like you do with your resume.

To create a strong GitHub profile, include background information about yourself, add your projects, and contribute to open source projects so that you build up a streak.

Step 2: Look for opportunities in the right places

When the pandemic hit, a lot of companies that had been previously doing well took a big turn. Startups that had been growing massively, like Uber and Airbnb, were suddenly unable to operate, and many people were laid off. Now, even as some elements have leveled off, some companies are in hiring freezes, some have closed completely, and some are hiring at a much smaller scale.

At the same time, the pandemic increased growth in some other companies. Healthcare organizations, food delivery services, at-home workouts, and the big ones like Facebook and Google, have all continued hiring at scale.

In order to ensure you are being efficient with your job search, you should focus on applying to companies that you know are actively hiring. These 10 companies around the US are currently hiring software engineers:

  • Cloudflare
  • Asana
  • GE Healthcare
  • Coursera
  • Epic Games
  • Databricks
  • GitLab
  • Discord
  • DoorDash
  • Facebook

Step 3: Follow up all applications with a cold email

Sending an application into the company’s online portal is not enough to get noticed. You need to follow up all of your applications with compelling and concise cold emails to recruiters, hiring managers, or senior team members.

Especially right now, when competition is fierce, you need to do everything you can to stand out. Fellows in our program who send cold emails along with their applications see their response rates triple.

In order to do this, look through LinkedIn to find someone from the company who has a connection to you. Some examples of connections are:

  • They grew up in the same town as you
  • They went to the same college or bootcamp
  • They share a hobby or specific interest with you.

Then, find their email address with a free service like Clearbit. You can also try to guess their email addresses using these likely combinations:

Once you have their email address, write a cold email that lets them know you have just applied for the position and you would love to learn more about the company and the role by jumping on a quick call. Make sure that you give them specific times to choose from and your time zone so that it is as easy as possible for them to say yes.

Check out our cold email template to help you.

Step 4: Prepare for your virtual technical and behavioral interviews

Before you interview with a company, you need to do some research. We recommend reviewing their About page first so that you can learn about their mission, values, history, and goals. Then, check out their Jobs/Careers page for information on what qualities make a good employee at that company.

If they have a Culture or Life at Company page, spend some time there so you can see what they value in their teammates. Finally, review their products to make sure you can speak knowledgeably about them.

The best way to prepare for your interviews is to practice the types of questions you will be asked. For your behavioral interviews, write down your responses to common questions and then say them to a friend or in front of a mirror.

Personalize your answers by including information you learned about the company from your research. Review our list of behavioral interview questions from top tech companies to get you started on your preparation.

Similarly, you need to practice the questions you might be asked for your technical interviews. In general, software engineering technical interviews cover the following topics, so prepare accordingly:

  • Hash tables
  • Linked lists
  • Breadth-first search
  • Depth-first search
  • Quicksort
  • Merge sort
  • Binary search
  • 2D arrays
  • Dynamic arrays
  • Binary search trees
  • Dynamic programming
  • Big-O analysis

Because of the COVID lockdowns, your interviews will almost definitely be virtual. So, make sure you find a place with a neutral and professional background (no mess or alcohol bottles, for example).

You need it to be as quiet as possible, which means you might want to have a conversation with your roommates or family to be sure that they don’t interrupt you.

A strong WiFi connection is also really important because you don’t want it to be difficult for you to hear them or for the Internet to cut out. Keep a notebook handy in case you want to take notes. That way, you don’t need to type on your keyboard, which might be loud for the interviewer.

Finally, be sure that you dress appropriately on top and bottom in case you need to get up for some reason.

Check out Educative’s guide to video interviews for more tips and tricks.

Wrapping up

With all of these tips, you should be well on your way to getting a software engineering job even when there is a global pandemic. Perseverance is key to landing a job during these trying times. Don’t let rejection discourage you too much. Be patient, stick with it, and keep implementing new practices to your job search.

If you are looking for additional guidance on each step of your job search, become a Pathrise fellow.


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