Sunday, December 23, 2012

Job Search Tools

Last time I briefly discussed what I have learned about the job situation for software engineers as of the end of 2012. I want to also spend some time talking about the tools that I've found to be most effective so far.

First, and really deserving of its own article, is LinkedIn. Any professional should be familiar with LinkedIn and have an up to date profile. Your job search should begin by looking through your contacts and see who's where. Reach out to the people in companies you are interested in working for and especially reach out to those people who know you well who might be in a position to hire you directly. You should always keep your LinkedIn contacts up to date as you work with people. Personally I keep my LinkedIn contacts limited to people I know fairly well... primarily because I personally don't find the friend-of-a-friend connections to be very useful. Your mileage may vary and certain jobs such as sales might encourage different tactics. But for engineering, its all about knowing someone is capable of doing a quality job or knowing someone is good at estimating, or some other aspect of the job that just doesn't communicate very well to secondary and tertiary tiers of relationships.

Next up are the inevitable job search boards. Here in the Midwest careerlink.com is well known and popular. I have also personally found dice.com a good place to go, I use the feature they provide to email you the newest jobs matching certain search criteria. You can have up to five different such searches in their free tier. There are also the meta-job boards, boards that attempt to collate content from other job boards: simplyhired.com and indeed.com are the best known examples. Be certain to check the careers sections of larger companies you might be interested in. You should know the big players in your industry and check them directly.

If you are conducting a more open ended search or really hoping to move up the food chain I also recommend glassdoor.com. A website that provides inside reviews of companies somewhat like how amazon products are reviewed. The same caveats must be applied, always throw out the best and worst reviews but companies with a significant number of reviews should converge to an average. The main point of this site is to sort out great places to work from average or worse places to work.

Finally, remember to research prospective employers before an interview. Find out what's new, what their current products are, how they are doing in the market, etc. All of this information will allow you to ask thoughtful questions during the interview which is a somewhat neglected part of the process. Also, depending on your circumstances of course, you should try to keep some perspective that you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.


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