Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Job Hunting for Programmers

No, I’m not job hunting. But other people are, apparently. I got a comment on an old post I made about my job hunting days. Not only that, but the guy IM’d me asking to talk (I put my yahoo id on this site somewhere me). It’s a bit strange, but I figured, why not? What I got from listening to him was that he was just extremely frustrated at how difficult it is to find a good job, so he was looking for people who had gone through similar experiences. He’d been unemployed for almost two months after quitting from a crappy job last November.

I was going to be late, so I just gave him a few tips that I think could improve his chances of finding a good programming job. I thought I’d share them here as well. Note that I’m no expert on this or anything, just my opinions. Text in italics are additional notes not included in the original conversation:

(08:19:18 PHT) Roy: 1. 2 months is not a long time. I understand it’s hard on your financial situation, but a lot of people take longer to find work. if you just jump on to the first job you’re offered, you’re more likely to get a crappy job

(08:20:28 PHT) Roy: 2. “java programmer” means that you specialize in java only. unfortunately, the good jobs for programmers all require you to be easily able to learn new stuff (particularly programming languages), as needed. it’s alright to try to get your foot in the door using java, but you shouldn’t restrict yourself to that

(08:21:52 PHT) Roy: regarding that blog post… looking back, I’m glad that I did not get that job, as it was obviously not the right company for me. you need to figure out what kind of company you want to work for. personally, I prefer working for a company that really does software, instead of a bank or something that just happens to need some in-house programmers

This is 100% true. If you are serious about having a career in software programming, you should avoid working for companies whose primary product is not software. You will get a lot more respect in a dedicated software-development company.

(08:23:40 PHT) Roy: lastly, and this one is a bit harsh: being a programmer is hard. the good companies won’t take you in unless you’re really smart. make sure you have what it takes. try to improve your problem solving or learning skills in your spare time. try to learn a new language, etc. your background works against you here, as I know for a fact that most of the good software shops prefer to hire from the big 3 (UP, Ateneo, Lasalle)

The bias I mention here is certainly true. In my place of work probably a good 80%-90% of people at least are from the big three. And most of our recruitment drives are geared towards those three schools. I’m sure it’s the same in all the “good” software shops. Whether this reflects the quality of those schools’ graduates or just an inherent bias in recruitment, it is a real bias that graduates of other schools have to recognize and work to overcome.

Looking back at the conversation this morning, I wonder if I did not come off as a bit elitist or something, focusing my advise on looking for “good” companies and all. I can afford to say all this now since I have a good, stable job, but I wonder how it would have felt hearing that advice when you’re running out of cash and desperately needed work? I guess I have to say that if you really need to take a crappy job, then take a crappy job. But be aware that it’s a crappy job, and figure out how you plan to climb out of it and find something better.

I’d also like to reiterate that these are just my opinions – I’m certainly no expert on job hunting, having been lucky enough to land a nice job after almost a year of being a bum and lazily submitting resumes. πŸ˜€

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