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Amanda Fawcett for Educative

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6 reasons you're not landing your dream dev job

If you're on the tech job hunt, you know that it can be quite a challenge with many highs and lows. Rejection or being passed over for a coveted position can be discouraging hard to process.

Even now, with tech jobs on the rise, the struggle still remains, and many applicants report that landing their dream job has never been harder.

When facing rejection, we have two responses: give up from the devastation or keep trying and move past the rejection. It's crucial to keep trying, especially in this climate.

Today, we will walk you through some useful self-reflection. We will go over six reasons why you might not be landing your dream job. I hope these tips encourage you to tweak your application process and keep up the hunt.

We will discuss:

1. You're only applying to big tech companies

Most developers want to work for big name companies, and those organizations do offer many perks. But the competition for these positions is fierce.

If you are set on only working at a big tech company, you may be limiting your choices and making the job hunt harder than it needs to be. The larger the company, the more complex and bureaucratic their application/interview process will be.

Many happy, fulfilled developers actually work at smaller, lesser-known companies. There are hundreds of companies that offer almost everything that the top tech companies do. And, competition for smaller companies is much more lax.

Application processes are more flexible, so there's more room for salary discussions as well. In fact, startups are more likely than large companies to hire employees for potential rather than experience.

Prestige should not be your main motivation for landing a job. It's important to pursue alternative options as well. You may end up finding something far more satisfying in the end!

Check out our guide to jobs you might not think to apply for as a software engineer.

2. You insist on a particular title

Similarly, many job hunters limit their options and success with specificity. It is perfectly okay to acknowledge your strengths and seek a job that reflects your experience.

However, in the current market, job titles aren’t reliable indicators of what you'll actually be doing day-to-day. If you limit your searches to one title, you miss out on landing a well-suited position.

Titles differ from company to company. So, try to avoid getting hung up on being a Senior Software Engineer, and focus instead on the responsibilities of the role.

The more important things to look for in a tech job search are:

  • Decision-making power
  • Opportunities for leadership
  • Flexibility with technologies
  • Day-to-day responsibilities
  • Scope of projects
  • Creativity and design opportunities

The actual job title may not line up with what you’re envisioning, but the actual day-to-day work is far more important than the title itself. After all, titles change anyway!

3. You expect the company to pursue you

Any applicant wants to be pursued for their experience and value. But in the current climate, prospective employers may not be courting applicants like in years past. In fact, they may not even be reaching out directly!

If you're sending applications and waiting for responses, you are only doing half the work. You need to be reaching out, sending emails, setting up calls, and marketing yourself to them.

Landing a good tech job takes hustling and work, even if you are wildly experienced. It is crucial to pursue a company with things like a solid personal brand, a tailored resume, and a strong elevator pitch.

It's up to you to show a company what you bring to the table, not the other way around!

4. You're not utilizing your network

Landing your dream dev job means you need to utilize all the tools you have, including your network. You likely know people who can help expand your job options and get in contact with hiring teams.

If you're only applying to jobs you find online, you're missing out on a lot of exciting opportunities. The more people you reach, the more likely you are to find a company or team that's in the market for someone like you.

Leverage your network, reach out to former coworkers/professors, and even attend virtual seminars. These conversations even give you opportunities to learn about the industry, discuss job requirements, and stand out from other applicants.

5. You need more project-based experience

There may be a job out there that you are well-educated to fill. However, in the current market, employers are looking for candidates with direct experience on projects.

Project-based experience shows that you can work with teams and get software through the pipeline. If your resume seems perfect, but you're not getting interviews, you may just need more experience actually building things with others.

If you are fresh out of a bootcamp or university, you may need to invest in your resume with more projects. This could be everything from building your own website, participating in coding competitions, or even continuing to open-source projects.

6. You're not practicing for behavioral interviews

Many times, it’s not your technical competency that holds you back from landing your dream job. It’s actually how you perform on the behavioral interview.

Hiring teams want to hire people who are a good fit for the company as well as the role. So, you might be perfectly qualified for the position, but you haven't shown a company that you'd fit well there.

Many job seekers underestimate the need to prepare for behavioral interviews. They assume it will be easy to talk about themselves and their experiences in a way that comes naturally without studying or refreshing beforehand.

However, without enough preparation, candidates may end up rambling, sharing incoherent examples, or failing to show that they are a good fit.

You need to be preparing for behavioral interviews along with your technical skills. This can look like:

  • Looking up behavioral questions
  • Brainstorming STAR responses
  • Taking personality assessments
  • Recording your answers
  • Mock interviews with friends/family

Wrapping up

When it comes to landing your dream tech job, it's important to expand your line of vision and pursue with intention. If you're willing to try new things and tweak your job search strategy, you might be surprised at the positive results.

To summarize our points in this article:

  • Apply to less prestigious, smaller companies
  • Search for jobs based on the role, not the title
  • Pursue the company intently
  • Utilize your network
  • Focus on project-based experience
  • Practice for for behavioral interviews

To help you prepare for behavioral interviews, Educative has developed a unique video recording widget in our highly-rated course Grokking the Behavioral Interview. Whether you’re a software engineer, product manager, or engineering manager, this course will give you the tools to thoroughly prepare for behavioral and cultural questions.

Happy learning!

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