Want a job at a tech Start-up or established software company? Here’s how to ace your application and bag your first job as a software engineer.
Tips to Get Hired in Your First Software Engineer Job
Software engineers or software developers are in constant demand from businesses across all sectors and regions of the UK. It’s a future-proof career, too: the online world needs people who can keep up with it – and ahead of the competition!
As a software engineer, you’ll test existing software, analyse data to improve user experience, or build programs from scratch. You might specialise in mobile applications or be an expert in customer database management: lots of different roles exist for those with software developer qualities.
Here’s how to get your first software engineer job and start your technology career in a few steps:
1. Complete your university degree
A few companies would consider a software engineer with demonstrable experience who didn’t have a degree – but most organisations will expect you to have a Bachelor’s degree before they hire you.
A subject like computer science, maths, physics, or robotics will satisfy most employers – especially if you have experience or a great portfolio to back up your theoretical knowledge.
2. Gain work experience while you study
Try to find small projects while you’re still a student that you can add to your portfolio. Lots of local businesses, for example, need help with their website or to build a smartphone app. You could offer your services for free in return for a credit and testimonial – or hire out your skills as a freelancer.
A summer job in a tech support role or as an intern at a web development agency would also provide valuable real-world experience – and builds your network, too.
3. Have a portfolio
Theoretical knowledge alone won’t cut it: you’ll need to have a portfolio of a couple of outstanding examples of your software development work to show employers.
This could be a project you’ve created yourself, a piece of your university work you’re particularly proud of, or something created for a local business during your studies. As well as the program you’ve created, it’s worth writing a short case study of what you did, why you made it, and your process. This demonstrates your logic and analytical abilities – valuable skills for any software developer.
4. Research potential companies
Think about the type of software engineer role you want – and who you’d want to work for. Do you want a role in a tech company, on a team of other developers, analysts, and architects? Or would you like to work in-house for a business in a different sector?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Tech companies, for example, are typically faster-paced and use agile working to stay ahead of competition. In-house teams, however, focus on their own efficiencies and often have longer timescales for project development. You could progress faster in a software company – but you might prefer the working environment as an in-house web developer for a marketing agency.
Software companies also tend to focus on one software program or set of programs. Working for a web development agency, however, would mean you get to work on a wider range of client projects. It all depends on the type of work environment you want and the type of work that interests you.
5. Consider relocating
Tech jobs are in demand across the UK, not just London. You might have a better chance to land a software developer job in a regional city rather than the capital – and benefit from more disposable income each month, too.
Software companies aren’t just located in the capital these days, either: businesses have realised the major cost-benefits of headquartering in places like Manchester, Newcastle, and Leeds. So, relocating won’t necessarily mean you’re missing out on working for the Big Name software or tech companies, either!
Discover more job interview tips
Getting a software engineering job is mostly do to with your experience and technical knowledge – but you still have to pass the interview!
Check out our resources pages for more tips about finding a job and acing your interview.