How to get a good software engineering job
Whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’re an established developer keen to explore new opportunities, finding a good software engineering job can be a tricky process.
It can be tempting to jump at the first role that lands in your LinkedIn inbox, as software engineers are such hot property in today’s job market, but it really pays to do a little more digging first.
FreeAgent’s small business accounting software was launched back in 2007 by a few engineers looking to make their freelance lives simpler. Since then, creating great, rewarding engineering roles has been vital to our continued success. We now employ over 100 engineers, so we’ve learnt a thing or two about not just what makes a great software engineering job, but how candidates can find one, too.
Define your goals
There’s a huge amount of variety in the roles available out there, from different company sizes, locations and industries, all the way to the specifics of the role itself. For example, is it more of an individual contributor role, or does it lead down the management track?
You don’t need to have a specific image of the exact role you want (unless that helps you!) but it’s good to have a clear idea of what your negotiable and non-negotiables are before diving into the job-hunting process.
For example, you might know that you want to work fully remotely (something FreeAgent offers to all engineering staff) or that you want to work with a modern tech stack. Whatever floats your boat - just keep your ‘non-negotiables’ in mind at all times when you’re on your hunt.
Suss out the company culture
Company culture is something that has existed for as long as companies have, but it’s only in recent years that we’ve really begun to understand and value it. If you’re not familiar with the term, company culture refers to the shared values that are important to an organisation.
Here at FreeAgent, a few of our most important values are: “Own it, be proud of it and enjoy it” - and we find that this has created a really friendly and rewarding environment to work in. One of the easiest ways to figure out a company’s culture before you start working there is simply to ask the recruiter. They’ll probably be able to give you a pretty good idea of how the company operates and how its teams work with each other.
You could ask the recruiter about work-life balance and social opportunities, as well as the company’s approach to learning and development and career progression. You can also take a peek at the company’s Glassdoor profile and social media accounts, which often give more of a flavour of life behind the scenes.
Polish that portfolio
If a cafe window entices you in with its delicious display of cakes, then an engineering candidate sets themselves apart from the crowd with a striking portfolio - or a detailed CV, if that’s how you prefer to showcase your accomplishments.
Try to pick two or three standout projects that you’ve worked on, which showcase your progression as a developer. Make sure to add a flavour of your personality to your portfolio or CV. After all, that’s what makes you unique. If you know more than one software language, be sure to showcase that variety of skills.
For bonus points, you could even make your portfolio or CV a website, but don’t worry too much about being judged on your design skills - the interviewer will be more interested in the projects themselves. Focus on the impact you had while working on the project, rather than the details, to really showcase your skills.
Do your research
Last but definitely not least, once you’ve found a software engineering job that looks right up your street, there are some important things to check. Are you already aware of the company’s tech stack? If not, you might get a rude awakening when you find out that it doesn’t align with your strengths, experience and career aspirations.
A good way of finding out more of the nitty-gritty about working at a company can be to read their blog, if they have one. As well as FreeAgent’s blogs for small businesses and accountants, our engineering team write about their work on their own dedicated account, Grinding Gears. Here you can find out more about lots of the ins and outs of working at the company, as well as sneak peeks into areas like our hiring tests.
These are just a few ways to find a good software engineering job - which is, above anything else, a job that works for you. If you’re interested in some of the software engineering roles we’re hiring for at FreeAgent right now, check out our careers page. Good luck and happy job hunting!