Unusual Ways to Get Noticed and Land a Dream Programming Gig
You are looking for a new position that fits all your qualifications and needs. The first thing you do is head over to LinkedIn Jobs and apply to everything that sounds like the job you want. You use “Easy Apply” because it’s … well, easy.
Months go by and you hear nothing. Then one day you get a rejection email:
“Thanks for applying to Antonio’s Company. Unfortunately we decided to not move forward with your interview process.”
You probably think to yourself, “Oh, another rejection letter.”
Most people think that the best way to get an ideal job is to apply only if there is an opening posted. They polish off the resume, send it in, and then say their prayers. But this is not the best way to get a job. There are great ways to get noticed in the job market without resorting to sifting through job postings and hoping you'll be noticed. Read on for some unusual ways to land a prime programming job.
Go the Extra Mile + Show Value
What hiring managers want to see is that we can actually get the job done. But that’s what a resume tells people, so how can you stand out?
Before I get into a couple of ways you can do this, remember one principle: Go the extra mile. For example, if someone wants to learn about interpersonal communication, they read every book they find on the topic and act on the information they have found.
Let us discuss one way you can get noticed. This is what I call “making a project for the company.” Let me explain.
A little research will get you started: Hunt down the position you’d like or get to know the tech stack the company is using. Then, have a look at some challenges the company might be facing. Perhaps you find that they are trying to expand their mobile application to work on Amazon Alexa.
You've identified a problem for them, and now you can come up with a solution, which you'll create using the same tech stack the company would ordinarily use. You may not have experience in the tech stack that they are using, but you can always learn, which gives you even more of an advantage to talk about.
Once you are done creating the solution (this part may take weeks or months), you must find the right person in the company to send it to—someone who would understand what you are talking about technically and has some influence over hiring new employees.
Here’s an example of the entire process. Sarah really wants a senior software engineering position at Spotify. She finds a position that she is interested in. It looks like Spotify programmers use Node.js and PostgreSQL, both of which Sarah is familiar with.
On Spotify’s tech blog, Sarah sees that they’re facing the problem of surfacing different playlists at the right time.
Sarah goes to her GitHub and starts to work on a project that solves the problem. She finds the engineer who wrote that blog post and reaches out to him to let him know that she has found a potential solution to their problem. She also mentions that she is excited by Spotify’s product and mission and wants to know if she would be a good fit for the team.
The engineer who wrote the post immediately replies back, scheduling an interview for her to come in and meet the team. Make sure the idea is not too revolutionary, though; you leave yourself vulnerable to getting your idea stolen by the other company.
Find Friends and Build Relationships
Finding friends and building relationships is a three-step process:
- Establish a relationship with the engineers at the company you want to be part of.
- Show them value.
- Be a friendly person.
You’ve already heard this statement: “It’s all about who you know.” The right contacts can really change the way you look for jobs. Let’s discuss a couple of ways you can build relationships with the people who have real influence.
First, let’s discuss where you can meet these people in real life. Meetups are a prime place to meet people. These are groups of people who have the same interests as you. Companies also host meetups on technology topics that are attended by tons of their own employees. This would be a great place to meet other people in the tech field and within the company you are looking to join. Head over to Meetup to find an event near you!
Hackathons are also great places. This is where you come together with other people to work on a project for a short period of time for prizes. It allows other people to see how you work and allows you to build a relationship. You can find a hackathon near you by searching for it on Google.
Once you know the places you will meet them, what should you do? Remember that it is all about showing that you can actually get the job done. Let them know the things you have worked on that might be of interest to them and as always be a friendly, likable person. People tend to want to recommend people they like versus people they do not like. Here is a great post on networking that could help you.
Let’s see an example of this in action. Antonio is a programmer at NBC Universal. When it was time for him to look for a new position at Google, he searched online for a hackathon that Google might host. He found one in the upcoming months and registered. While he was there, he was on a team with three Google engineers who really enjoyed how he worked and referred him for a position.
Have an Online Presence
If you are not meeting these people in real life, you can easily meet them online. I have found engineers at companies on LinkedIn and sent them emails asking them how they liked their current positions while at the same time, I was trying to find something we would have in common to talk about. After a few emails back and forth, I simply asked if they were hiring, and developers in these companies recommended me for positions.
Another great way to do this is to help out on open source projects on GitHub with other developers around the world.
You can also get people to come to you online:
- Create a technical blog where you teach people various programming topics that relate to the tech stack at the position you are interested in.
- Create open source projects that help other people develop.
- Help other developers in forums when they have questions relating to the tech that you would like to use to show you can use it.
By creating an online presence, over time, people will reach out to you. You will establish yourself as an authority on the subject you want a job in before you even apply.
Take a look at this example to drive it home. Julia is craving a Python developer position at Facebook. So, she starts a blog teaching people the different things she knows about Python. She also posts to various forums where Facebook developers are active. One of the developers sees her post and happens to have an open position on her team. So she reaches out to Julia. Julia gets to go in for an interview as a result of her demonstrated ability to program in Python and teach others!
Go Live Your Dream!
It may be hard to go the extra mile, but it’s a great way to show your value. Likewise, putting in the work to meet new people and find the right person can connect you with the person who has hiring power. If you really want that position, it’ll take some extra action to get what you want.
Often, this comes down to your emotions. It can be tough to take action when you do not want to. It can be hard to put your feelings aside and do extra work to get the job of your dreams. If you need help, my book covers that exact topic. It can help you put your emotions aside so you can do what you need to do to get the position of your dreams without ever going through “Easy Apply”!