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Rita Correia
Rita Correia

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How I Landed My First Tech Role: A Practical Guide

As per my last post, I have recently landed my first role in tech (!) and since then I’ve had a few people asking me for tips and advice on how to make that happen too. So I thought of writing a blogpost to share my learnings, hoping it helps you in your job search.

1. Find your stack

Although this is not directly tied to getting a role, it’s important to understand where your strengths lie before thinking about applying for jobs. In my case, I always knew I leaned more towards frontend engineering rather than backend.
I carefully picked the tech stack I was going to specialise in and invested all my time learning certain languages and frameworks. Certainly there are people who disagree with me, but when you know exactly what you want for your career, it’s easier to set a clear, strategic path. Ultimately, do what feels right for you.

2. The job search

LinkedIn is my preferred job search tool. For the past 11 years all my jobs have come through LinkedIn, whether it’s directly applying to companies or getting leads from recruiters.
You can set up job alerts based on your desired location and specific keywords, and get daily or weekly email alerts so you can apply straight away. Bear in mind this might not apply to other countries, where the use of LinkedIn isn’t common practice. In that case, try to find what’s the number one job board for the tech industry where you live.

It’s also handy to keep a spreadsheet with the status of your job applications. Notion have a really good Job Applications template, if you’re looking into getting more organised.

3. GitHub and personal portfolio

You’ve likely been building your own projects to put into practice your coding skills. Make sure to have your code on GitHub on public repositories. Your prospective employer can take a look at your code, what languages and frameworks you use and see how well structured your code is.

When applying to jobs, it’s very important to have your own personal portfolio on top of your GitHub repos. See it as your own shopfront, showcasing the skills you have with a splash of your own personality. Choose a design style that reflects your character stands out. Ultimately, as well as featuring a collection of your best projects, your personal portfolio should be a reflection of you as an individual. This ties with my next point…

4. Tell your story

As well as technical skills, a company looks for culture fit. You’re a unique human being with an incredible life story. At the end of the day, we work with and for other people with personal interests and quirky facts. It’s what makes us us. People buy into people, so make sure to craft your personal pitch. Sell it. Think of what makes you unique and how can that help your prospective company.
My pal Anna recently put out this great video on how to craft your story:

5. Leverage your past work experience

This might not apply to everyone, but if you’ve held other jobs or come from a totally different industry and have a few years of experience under your belt, it’s smart to leverage the skills you’ve harnessed along the way.
We’re multidisciplinary beings and there are a lot of transferrable skills. Have you led meetings? Do you have great people skills? Highlight your achievements to make you stand out.

6. Interviewing as a software engineer

The interviewing process for a software engineering role is regarded as extremely difficult and it takes practice. The process can range from a take-home project with a designated tech stack, timed or non-timed kata-style challenges and technical interviews. I personally like the take-home project better because you can show off your skills and creativity without the pressure of a timed challenge.

It’s likely that you’ll have a few interviews before landing your role. Learn from each one of them. See them as an opportunity to improve for the next one.
Interviewing is definitely a skill that takes practice, and it can become emotionally overwhelming. Be kind to yourself, and remember that that "Yes" will come soon - it's only a matter of time.

Good luck on your job search! I got my fingers crossed for you 🤞

If you're interested in reading a more personal post sharing my journey, you can find it here:

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