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Best Way To Land Entry-Level Job?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the pick-a-field-with-no-advancement dept.

Programming 441

chemicaldave writes "I'm graduating this May and have been seeking a programming position for months. It seems that the biggest hurdle to landing an interview is getting past the doorman that is HR. After reading this entry from Coding Horror describing the lack of programming candidates who can actually program, I can't help but scratch my head. I can program! (See how I put that link in?) If I can't land an interview, then even a short online evaluation of my coding skills would suffice. I just want a chance to prove myself. Alas, sending resumes to companies has rarely led to anything but an auto-confirmation email of my submission. I understand that sending resumes online is not the best method to landing an interview, but I come from a small rural school so job fairs rarely offer anything more than IT support positions let alone a programming position. It seems to me that developers are always looking for talented young programmers. We're out here looking for you too. Am I missing something?"

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Call the boss (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650202)

Find a company you want to work with, even if they are not advertising positions. Call your prospective boss, tell him you want to work with him. Done!

Re:Call the boss (3, Insightful)

XopherMV (575514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650728)

Look for low end testing jobs. Show enthusiasm even for minor things. State that yes, you are happy to work 80 hours a week for the privilege of having a crappy job in the industry of your choice. The point is to get experience so that later you can get the job in a company you actually like.

Missing something (0, Troll)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650206)

It appears that you missed some level of social networking during school. I volunteered to work for the sysadmin at the community college I go to...I graduate in may and will go to uni in the fall, in the meantime, he put in a good word for me and it helped me get an internship at a sizeable area hospital that will look *great* on my resume (if they dont hire me when i finish uni)

Re:Missing something (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650404)

General Rule For Getting Hired: Don't forget to include a complete collection of your /. postings. I can't think of a better way to impress a future employer than to show them just how funny and clever you really are.

Re:Missing something (4, Funny)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650814)

General Rule For Getting Hired: Don't forget to include a complete collection of your /. postings. I can't think of a better way to impress a future employer than to show them just how funny and clever you really are.

Does this include postings with timestamps between 9-5 during your previous periods of employ?

Re:Missing something (4, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650524)

It appears that you missed some level of social networking during school. I volunteered to work for the sysadmin at the community college I go to...I graduate in may and will go to uni in the fall, in the meantime, he put in a good word for me and it helped me get an internship at a sizeable area hospital that will look *great* on my resume (if they dont hire me when i finish uni)

Why is the parent modded +5 insightful? Let me translate this from 'holier art than thou' to English

Look at me, look at what I did, which you obviously didn't do. I'm so much cooler than you, because I did social networking, while you probably slaved away in your computer lab. I had someone put in a good reference for me. So as you can plainly see, it has nothing to do with your skills entering the job market, but the fact that I had a few beers with someone that would vouch for me. Now bow down to me playing the game

Way to be helpful, might as well utter that old adage, "You should have thought about it before."

mod parent insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650554)


Re:Missing something (1, Interesting)

lalena (1221394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650596)

The social networking might be more of a problem for him. If the chemicaldave that submitted this story is the same one that posted this question on daniweb, then he is not getting a job in this market. Period. []

Re:Missing something (4, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650756)

That posting was two years ago, and he says he's a student. The fact that a student was making elementary errors in C++ two years ago hardly means that's incompetent for an entry-level position now.

Try working for the government. (2, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650768)

If the private sector wont hire, maybe the government will?

Re:Missing something (2, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650698)

It appears that you missed some level of social networking during school.

You can't beat being really good at what you do for getting jobs. It's almost magic!

Also, it helps if you're not a dick and you don't smell bad. People don't like hiring or working with dicks or people who reek.

Re:Missing something (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650834)

this is rude not insightfull

Apply (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650210)

And stop expecting a big salary shiny salary to do what is essentially the work of a computer janitor.

As soon as you lower your expectations to reality you'll find 'entry level' jobs are almost as common as now-hiring signs at McDonalds.

Re:Apply (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650306)

Exactly. Many companies get their talent through temp agencies, so submitter should consult the area temp agencies - they'll do much of the legwork for you and bolster your visibility if you don't have any existing connections. It's not as prestigious as waltzing into IBM's offices and walking out with a job offer, but we have to accept the reality that all new workers are basically temps anyway. You were lied to if you were told that you'd walk out of college with a 50K job offer. You may have to work for chump change in a lower-level position for a while just to prove your mettle to the company. In that case, it'll be up to you to take initiative and demonstrate that you can do more. Company bosses aren't going to magically see all of your skills and pick you out for promotion. You need to go above and beyond the job description. Examine whatever you can and reccomend bug fixes, or create programs that serve a purpose.

As an example, I wrote a small program to detect duplicate serial number entries so that nobody could print the same serial number for 2 machines without a warning. I also wrote a Rube Goldberg proof-of concept GUI program, based on the Java robot(in before noob, java sux), that simplified and made for safer data entry. Everybody on the floor thought that I was some kind of guru, and I'm only a lowly repair tech.

Timothy: please lift my Slashdot ban. I know i've been a bad boy, but I'm not going to e-mail you and beg for forgiveness.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Apply (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650362)

Self reply but I have to ...

I can program!

No, you can throw code at a computer and get it to produce something you want. Thats not impressive. The first thing your first job is going to do is break down all the bullshit you got fed in school and introduce you to the realities of real world programming.

It seems to me that developers are always looking for talented young programmers. We're out here looking for you too. Am I missing something?"

Yes, you aren't talented. You're not special. You are just like every other graduate thats had a few programming classes. Sorry, but thats just reality.

You are not going to get a 'good job' because there are FAR FAR FAR more people out there looking for those jobs right now with years of 'experience' on paper that you don't have.

The lack of experience puts you at the bottom of the food chain, you have to compete with me, and my 20 years of writing software, and the thousands of others like me.

My wife recently graduated Vet school and is upset because she couldn't go get the perfect cushie job fresh out and had to work a shitty job for a few months. Thats just reality. You went to school just to get on a level playing field with all the other people who went to school. Look at how many people graduated with you that want to do exactly what you do. Did your school produce more programmers than your locality can consume? If so, how do you expect to get a job at all if your school is producing more people to do a job than there are job slots to fill.

First step in joining the business world: Businesses lie. They aren't looking for talented developers RIGHT NOW, but if you happen to be completely kick ass and submit a resume at the right time, they might pick you up anyway. Every companies website lists job offerings, 99% of the time they have no real intention of filling them.

They are looking for experienced programmers they can hire at the rate of a entry level programmer. If they find it, they'll hire them, but they'll just turn you down unless you have something really impressive that stands out.

How are you showing them your skills? A resume? I've hired a few developers in my time, I assure you the only people that care about your resume is HR. When a potential employer asks you what you've done, are you just going to point out class projects where you were essentially spoon fed every step of the process? Thats not going to win you any points. You need something to show them you are worth hiring and nothing on a resume is going to do it.

Regardless of everything I've said above, be it right or wrong, you have one serious disadvantage. You're looking for a job at the worst possible time. For the last 10-12 years schools have been pumping out 'developers' who are just random people that signed up for CS because they thought they could get rich quick. Now you're coming into the job market, 15 years too late, with an education that was out of date before you graduated from highschool, during an economy were all the other mediocre but far more experienced 'developers' out there are looking for jobs as well.

You're only hope is to get a job from a friend of a friend of a friend. So make so friend in the right places, work some crappy job in the interim and put some effort into making a portfolio of sorts and wait for a better time to find a job or some luck.

Re:Apply (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650558)

The lack of experience puts you at the bottom of the food chain, you have to compete with me, and my 20 years of writing software, and the thousands of others like me.

Do people with 20 years of experience only do entry level jobs these days. That really sucks!

Re:Apply (2, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650644)

Nah, some of us just give up in that field and start our own businesses using all the skills we acquired during those 20 years of bullshit.

Re:Apply (2, Informative)

XopherMV (575514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650680)

When it comes to development jobs, the main difference between entry level and 20 years of experience is salary.

Also (1, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650582)

Are you Indian?

Are you willing to move to India? Are you willing to accept local Indian renumeration levels?

If you can say yes to the above, I see a great future for you.

Re:Apply (4, Informative)

Yold (473518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650650)

A bit cynical... but mostly true.

I am still in college, and I was hired last week for a full-time position. I was lucky (or prudent) to gain programming experience through a 3 year internship in college. If you don't have any relevant experience, as the parent post points out, you are really going to need to put together some demo code. I wouldn't consider anything less than 500 lines, which if you really can program, should only take you day or two. Try to make it as original and non-trivial as possible... Be sure to document the code well using whatever documentation tools there are for the language you are using.

Also, are you getting the basics right? Do you have a good resume? You should get some feedback from professionals if possible on it. Are you writing cover letters that explain what YOU can do for the company? Be sure to tailor your resume/cover-letter to the job description; expect to spend 2-3 hours on each.

If you would like me to offer some feedback on your resume/cover-letter, I could do so. I've been able to help friends land interviews by doing this before.

Good luck, keep your chin up, expand you skills, and realize that you don't know jack.

Re:Apply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650678)

There are a lot of job that put a cap on the years of experience. e.g. They explicitly say 3 (or 5) to 7 years of experience, so having a 20 years of experience doesn't necessarily mean an advantage these days.

To that I'll add (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650704)

If your experience with programming is having a CS degree, you aren't a developer. You are, well, a computer scientist. The same thing you say? Not hardly. While both deal with programming, it is from different aspects. Computer Science is a theoretical field. It is based around the research of computers and algorithms, around the theory of how to program, how to make them better. Fine, but that isn't what most companies are hiring. They are hiring developers, which is the practical side. They are hiring people who will be told to solve real world problem X and do it quickly. They want people with practical knowledge of how to develop apps on today's systems, not theoretical knowledge of computers over all.

So if all you experience is in computer science, that's a disadvantage. Don't get me wrong, having a strong theory background can help, but it isn't what companies are after. If you feel a bit cheated by your university, well, ya, kinda happens that way.

The problem derives from the history of universities. They have historically been high level, theoretical institutions. Time was, that was really the only reason you went there. When Harvard first started, then called Oxford after the English school, you had to know Latin and Greek just to get admitted. It wasn't a place where you got practical training for a job, it was just the polish to an already fine education that included many purely academic pursuits. Few people got those sorts of degrees.

Ok well our current universities get their heritage from that system. So while we now have more complex jobs that want more training than high school gives, students still by and large go to theoretical institutions. The universities are trying to present more practical training, but aren't doing a great job over all.

Now please note, I say this as someone who works at a university. It is just something you need to be realistic about. Your degree can be helpful, but you need to get practical experience outside of it. The only time you tend to see an "All degree," field is if you are seeking to become a PhD and teach/research at a university. Anything else, you need to get practical experience as well as the degree.

Re:Apply (1)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650726)

Proves my point people who repeat words (FAR) and make up statistics are wrong.

Re:Apply (3, Insightful)

thefear (1011449) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650746)

How are you showing them your skills? A resume? I've hired a few developers in my time, I assure you the only people that care about your resume is HR.

Agreed, that said, the OP lamented how he can't get an interview. Maybe he does need to improve his resume.

Regardless of everything I've said above, be it right or wrong, you have one serious disadvantage. You're looking for a job at the worst possible time.

I fervently disagree with this sentiment. I'm also a soon to graduate developer and have received offers from almost every company that I applied to.

Re:Apply (1)

jasmusic (786052) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650624)

Fo sho. The best way to get an entry level job is to work for minimum wage. Companies who advertise about hiring new grads could give a shit about your degree, because your degree isn't worth anything except smaller liability for the recruiter. They are just glad to put you on bitch work for pennies.

show off your programming skills (4, Insightful)

deander2 (26173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650214)

apply for the google summer of code project. looks great on the resume.

also, do virtually anything public programming related. write a small open source utility. or a new feature in an existing open source app. or a free app for a cell phone. (100k downloads isn't that hard, and looks good to business folk)

i've been on the hiring side of fresh meat devs several times now. literally anything that shows you can code in a reasonable, organized fashion will put you at the top of the list.

btw, i hope the html link reference was a joke. =P

Re:show off your programming skills (3, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650258)

This. DO LOTS OF OPEN SOURCE. It proves your ability to code something that someone else will actually accept into their project. And starts building that all-important professional network!

Re:show off your programming skills (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650338)

I'm sick and tired of canned "write open source" replies like this on Slashdot. I'm not saying you're wrong, let me be clear. It's just such a cliché response.

Breaking through the HR firewall is nothing special to computer-related jobs. This is universal. Therefore, be wary of this canned response, as it doesn't take much insight into your situation to say "do more work to show you can do more work."

Re:show off your programming skills (1)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650376)

Agreed. It's a little known fact that you can apply to GSoC as long as you are still a student as of April 26, 2010. It's likely what got me interviews, and eventually my job.

FOSS projects tend not to care about who you know, where you studied, or what your GPA was, as much as they care about your creativity, your drive, and your skills.

Re:show off your programming skills (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650518)

You don't seriously think anyone would hire the Google's kids? The problem with them is not that they can't code (some of them can). The problem is they are very unlikely to fit into any paid position. A person is hired because they can set the self-goal of creating value for the enterprise and achieve that goal. Someone who joins a vanity competition is interested in praise over value. He is not gonna have cultural problems with the secrecy required in a competitive situation. He is more likely be a liability than an asset.

Re:show off your programming skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650764)

GSoC is about high school kids *getting paid* to code during the summer, rather than work at McDonald's. Vanity competition? Jesus fuck, you're a moron. Even by Slashdot standards.

Re:show off your programming skills (5, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650664)

do virtually anything public programming related

Example: build a race of giant robots and program them to seek out and destroy any HR manager who turns down your resume.

Common Sense and Finished Examples: (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650218)

Can't stress it enough. Lets assume you do get to an interview. Ooze COMMON SENSE. Let it seep out your pores. You are going to be the guy that doesn't need to ask the stupid questions that should be assumed.

Secondly, show examples of your programming experience. Doesn't have to be used somewhere in industry, just have working, finished examples of your code available either online (if applicable) or somehow available for them to see. Be the candidate that they interview that might not have experience working in a firm, but can still finish projects.

I can't stress just how much those two simple points will help?

Move to India (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650240)

Your best bet is to move to India and go to a job fair at the IIT (India Institute of Technology). You'll probably find someone to hire you there for about 1/10 of what you would hope to make. Oh, and it will be in Rupees.

Wait a fucking minute now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650630)

Wait a minute. Like the submitter points out, he's able to correctly make an HTML hyperlink. That puts him ahead of about 98% of the Indians he'd be competing against, in terms of ability*. So the competition might not be so fierce.

However, he will have to fake some academic credentials, fake some first-place finishes in "international" programming contests, and then fake some industry certifications. After all, most 20-year-old Indian Comp. Sci. students already have every certification available from Cisco, Microsoft, Sun, Oracle and Red Hat, or so they claim...






*You might think I'm joking, but I'm not. One of our managers recently outsourced a project to India. It took us three weeks to resolve an incorrect hyperlink. Most of that time was spent telling them just to use the HTML we'd emailed them...

The sad fact is... (3, Informative)

rm999 (775449) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650242)

The sad fact is GPA and the school you went to really matter a lot when getting past HR. If you have a sub 3.0-3.2 GPA and/or went to a low ranked school you should try to bypass HR.

I would consider traveling to another University's job fair if you don't have good local ones. Here, you can talk directly to engineers/programmers who can gauge your skills far more precisely than HR can glean from your resume.

Re:The sad fact is... (1)

meatmanek (1062562) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650612)

Mod parent up. If you're really a talented programmer, it should show in a phone interview, so really your biggest hurdle is getting to the point where you can talk to a real developer. Have any friends that work at software companies? They may be able to get you into a phone interview.

Also, put a lot of effort into your resume. Make sure it shows how you stand out from everyone else that got a CS degree from your school. If you have worked on open source projects, put them on your resume. If you did well on a large project for a class, put it on your resume. If you programmed for an extracurricular activity, put it on your resume. Make sure it's clear that you have put significant effort into these things, and can actually work on a code base larger than a weekly coding assignment.

Re:The sad fact is... (3, Interesting)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650770)

I'd go a step further and say if you can, always bypass HR. They don't really add anything to the equation for the applicant. The only thing you will get from HR is silly questions about how you handle 'difficult situations' and other amorphous concepts. They'll often also just push your towards some 3rd party online application with a ton of questions that exactly match your resume except for the handy (sarcasm) checkbox to waive all your rights to a credit check and indemnify them for killing your dog and whatnot.

For me, I do not want to put all of my personal details in a 3rd party online application form of some company I have no relationship with, have never heard of, know nothing of their security, and will likely forget has my info in a few years when they finally get pwned by some foreign script kid. Luckily, as for the credit check BS, at least 16 states are moving to ban the practice and two already have (HI and WA).

Re:The sad fact is... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650774)

It also helps to have nice tits.

Many studies have shown that nice tits make mostly male teams work twice as hard in the naive view that they might get access to said tits.

Re:The sad fact is... (2, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650840)

The sad fact is GPA and the school you went to really matter a lot when getting past HR.

Not really. A good GPA will help you, but a mediocre GPA won't hurt you if you write your resume well.

The key to getting past HR is to have a resume that gets HR's attention in the first sentence. Usually large job postings are whittled down by keyword searches, so if you are looking for a programming job make sure you actually mention things relevant to programming in your resume. After that point, the HR screener just skims the resumes, looking for the ones that grab his attention. This is likely where the GP is having a problem. Open up the resume, look at the first sentence, and if there isn't anything that screams "Hey! I'm Special!" in the first half of the sentence, you're probably going to be rejected. If the HR guy doesn't have too many to sift through, he may bother to read the whole sentence. He definitely won't read your whole resume at this point.

Another thing to realize, is that most jobs don't follow the "post, interview, then hire" format. For the majority of jobs, a person is found, the company (or department, or whatever) realizes they could use that person in a position, and the person is offered a job. If jobs are posted at all in this case, it's only to satisfy some company policy or a legal requirement, and the person who will get the job has already been chosen. Easily half or more of jobs are gained this way, and you won't stand a chance getting it unless you are spectacularly better than the person they have already chosen. In that case, they'll at least look at you. These jobs are generally much better than publicly posted jobs too. The only way you'll get one is to network. Go find companies you'd like to work for, and start to find out about the company and the people who work there. If the company is big enough, you can just hang out and talk to the receptionist (as long as they aren't very busy) for a portion of the day. There's a good chance you'll get to know someone who has the ability to hire you, and you just might be able to interest them in your services.

If all you really want, though, is an entry level position, you can always sign up through a contracting service. The jobs tend to suck, but are also often a way companies like to feel out potential new employees who have little or no work experience - it's a lot easier to go through 10 temps until you find a good one worth hiring than it is to hire and fire 10 employees.

Manners are somewhat lacking (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650246)

Things have changed a lot, you can pretty much expect that most of the time you're just going to get an auto reply. If you do manage to get an interview they may very well think that silence is the same thing as telling somebody they didn't get the job.

Probably the best thing you can do is while searching try and get involved in some open source project. It's probably not going to put food on the table, but it will likely land you access to opportunities that you might not otherwise get. And give you something to put on your CV while maintaining your skills.

But just realize that the manners of people doing the hiring are typically lousy and remember that if you get turned down that you're likely not interested in working for a company that represents itself in such an embarrassing way.

come to bay area (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650252)

if you think you can program then come to silicon valley and apply to the startups here through craigslist with sample of your work. In no time you will land a job - this is from my experience.

The economy (4, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650260)

Bad economy+no practical experience+little school no one has heard of=hard to get a job. Particularly if your college can't get together a real job fair. Applying to internet postings works more if you have experience on your resume, its a difficult way to get a first job. Especially since in this economy an experienced but out of work programmer may apply for a position normally below him. It was that way after the .com crash too.

I'd suggest using any people you know already in the industry or in companies that hire programmers. And consider taking an IT position if you can't get anything else- I know a lot of programmers from small schools that started out that way and then switched over. If nothing else it will pay the bills for a while.

Motivation & Incentive (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650266)

Many points to consider:
-Do you have professional experience programming?
This can be gained through internships [] , FOSS development, [] and competitive programming. []

Do you have resume fodder?
-Project Successes

Do you have references?
-Professional connections through school.
-People who have reputations in software-development.

Honestly, those are all solid ways to develop the credentials to get you into entry-level, and if you are motivated, well-spoken, and honest, it can be done. But sometimes you have to just bite the bullet and do some intern work for free, or some beta-testing before those connections can be made.

"Am I missing something?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650278)

Yes. Why?

Are there alternatives to an "entry level job". It sounds limited...

Elance (1)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650286)

Build up your skills and portfolio.

My first job interview was mostly just showing off the websites I built.

Elance will let you get paid and will give you a better sense of what real work might be like.

Blowjob (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650298)

great for promotions too.

What are your goals? (1)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650308)

Do you want to just write code? Do you want experience? Do you have minimum pay requirements (due to living expenses, loans, etc.)?

You may be better off finding an internship somewhere if you haven't already secured one. Barring that, I'd suggest developing your own software, or doing some contracting work.

Depending on your skill set and your career goals, you may not want an entry-level job.

On the other hand, working a shit job may very well get you the contacts you need to get a non-shit job.

It is not a great time (4, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650316)

Right now is a really hard time to try to get your foot in the door. As a manager, I posted for an entry level position and ended up with a ton of candidates with a strong background. I don't believe in the whole "overqualified" paradigm, so I ended up getting the best candidate -- over twelve years of experience pertinent to my business, glowing reviews from previous employers and excellent interpersonal skills.

I got a ton of resumes from college students. Several sounded promising, and I would have loved to give them a chance. But when I have someone with a proven track record who I KNOW will not require only minimal supervision and will bring more to the table... why should I waste my time and money?

Is it fair? Maybe not. When I was in this position almost 15 years ago it sucked. But with 10%+ unemployment it is very hard for the entry level candidate to get his foot in the door.

My solution.... if you are still in school... get a fricking internship. It may not put you at the same level as those I did end up interviewing... but it will help/

Consider moving and need more information (1)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650318)

You don't say where you are located, which has an enormous effect on your ability to land a job. Some job markets are terrible, and others are wonderful. If you've moved from the former to the latter, your job prospects will improve greatly. In the current economy, "Labor mobility" is very important to finding a good job.

Also, "Programming" is a rather broad area. What kind of programming are you interested in? What industry do you want to work for? Figure out where those companies are located, and move there.

Here's The Problem. (5, Insightful)

smpoole7 (1467717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650320)

I'm in broadcast engineering, which includes some programming, but is not programming-specific. I'll let some of those folks address your concerns directly. But speaking in general and in no particular order:

1. Maybe you should have gone to a different school, even if it meant relocating. An internship would have given you some valuable experience, and if you're really good, would probably have resulted in permanent employment afterward.

2. Look at small companies instead of the big ones. Offer to work for beans and rice until you can demonstrate that you know what you're doing. It'll pay off in the long run.

3. While you look for a job, work on an open-source project. Having a recommendation from a well-known F/OSS guru can't hurt. :)

4. Once you get the chance, I can't emphasize this strongly enough: PROVE TO ME THAT YOU REALLY WANT THE JOB. Think outside the box. Be willing to go the extra mile. Don't sit in your chair playing Solitaire waiting for me to tell you what to do next. Show initiative.

Back when I was a teenager, I got my first job in radio by hanging around the station constantly. I took out the trash. I annoyed the engineer and asked a thousand questions. I was willing to do anything to prove that I wanted the job.

I'm not boasting; that's just common sense. But contrast that with an intern who tried out with me a couple of years ago. Unless I stayed on him, he did indeed sit and play Solitaire. When the HVAC went out in the studios, he got up from his job as a call screener for one of our talk shows and said, "it's just too hot. I'll be back tomorrow" -- which left us scrambling for someone to cover his slot.

He still calls from time to time and is amazed that we won't hire him. No, I'm not kidding.

It's not about what you know... (2, Insightful)

lucky130 (267588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650322)

...but about who you know. Referrals from friends are the best way to get your foot in the door for entry-level positions, then experience will get you in the door for future jobs.

An internship (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650326)

When I was in school way back when, the school would work an internship program with local companies and the students would get course credit. Do they still offer those anymore for CS majors?

Re:An internship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650578)

another bonus of an internship: it can act like a 3 month long (e.g. a summer internship) interview process.

internships are typically easier to get for students. use the summer to show them that you are an asset for their company. hopefully after you graduate, you will have strong internal references within the company who can recommend your work

Re:An internship (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650640)

Yes, except there's only around two internships available for the thousand people in your class.

Find your roadblock and get around it (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650352)

If you are submitting resumes, and not getting any responses whatsoever, then it's likely there is something wrong with your resume (I had this particular problem when I was entry-level; I kept rewriting my resume until I finally got responses).

If you are only applying to big companies, that could be your problem. There are lots of smaller companies around, and they are usually the ones that have trouble finding good programmers. If you really are good, then keep tweaking your presentation until the people where you are applying can actually see that you are good. If you are not actually good, then your roadblock is that you are not good, and you should fix that.

Re:Find your roadblock and get around it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650744)

On and off since 2003 in frontend and backend IT with light scripting. This is general advice to get some interviews:

1) already have helpdesk experience to get the IT crew interested on you. HR usually can't tell the difference, but if they see that you have already put down some companies, then programming can come after you have landed a helpdesk job. Take this with a big grain of salt, though
2) forget about online applications unless someone already interviewed you; not before. Your pride and time will pop at 1 hour per app, answering the same questions that are just a useless rehash of your resume (which they make you upload anyway.)
3) target by snail mail. I got about 3 interviews a few years ago because I actually mailed the letter (though about 1% of postings has an actual name/address you can target.) A physical submission gets around HR's new need to archive everything in a DB --until someone is specifically querying for your specific keywords.
4) small companies are crap, because they will allow you to start, but make you wear tons of hats. If you have no other options, then check your local listing and search by keywords. Ignore any that point you to an online app; target the ones with either a visible name, phone. Craiglist emails with your resume tend not to ever be answered.
5) register with careerbuilder, monster,, indeed, and yahoo's hotjobs. There will be a 1 to 2 week influx of calls if you have any IT experience, and they'll offer contracts, some unrelated "switch to sales" and scam calls, but you'll be able to make some connections and be "registered" with a few agencies. Update your resume often (add a space or period here and there and reupload.)
5) acquire an address with, or This will look more professional. You can also play around with capitalizing your lastname or domain differently and register the domains in #5 differently per email or cap style... that way you'll know which resumes are being more successful.
6) All that said, *hide* your email address from any services you can, and also from your resume... be prepared to have two versions of your resume so that when someone calls you can give the "full disclosure" one to those recruiters. Placing your email allows unscrupulous people to add you to spam lists, and also puts you in crosshairs for contract-only agencies who don't even read your resume, but mail you every time they think you can earn them a quick commission if you are a match. I had to reply a few times to some of those so they could take the hint.
7) Be prepared to work with multiple "hats" if you're entry level. Small companies tend to like people who do IT, network and server work, and go home with a pager.

Friends and family (4, Interesting)

googlesmith123 (1546733) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650368)

Have you asked your friends and family. And families friends...and so on.

That's were most of the jobs are. Which is a bit sad.

And remember, don't take just any job. You have a degree and you've spent a lot of money on it. The salary of your new job should reflect this.In Norway for instance starting salary for an uneducated is about 280'000,- kr. The cost of 5 years of study is 333000 in loans. 20 years from now your education will have cost you 1'400'000 (5 years of lost income) + 999'000 in down payments = 2'399'000. So if you are planning on paying that down you need to make close to 400'000,- kr a year.

Re:Friends and family (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650522)

Sometimes you have to take just any job because you need to put food on your table. It's one thing to be high and mighty about the salary you're offered when you're getting more than one offer, but when it's just one guy and it might be months between interviews salary is more of a "can I make this work in the interim?" Right now it's more important to be employed than to be making gobs of money in the US.

Re:Friends and family (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650648)

Very true. Family or friends is the only way to land that first job these days in this business. That's the way I just landed my first job, after throwing out countless applications that they didn't even have the decency to reject.

Who ya know (3, Insightful)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650378)

I find that jobs are handed out in this order.

1) Kickback (If I Hire X will I be compensated?)
                    a) |----- Family (Am I related to individual [Small form of kickback, sometimes hiring children of political people falls under this catagorey, nothing cuts through red tape like]
                    b) |--------- Figurehead ( I've seen where people are hired just to be a figurehead ( Astronauts, Politicians, Former CEO's ect )

2) Circle of Friends (Nothing makes them feel better than hiring someone from their Alma mater, charity, ect.)

3) Indentured Servitude (Can I pay this kid to do the job what I spent filling up my yacht for my weekend getaway?)

4) The Shiny Turd ( I've got a double MBNA Frum Havard. I am Job. )
Lying lips sound the sweetest but when their kissing your ass its even better.

5) Needle In the Haystack ( This is you and me )

Aim low (1)

rwwyatt (963545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650380)

I am probably one of the most awkward individuals in HR interview settings. I aimed for a job that I knew I could get, and I excelled at that job which allowed me to move on to better roles.

How are your other skills? Process Management, Configuration Management

You must emphasize all skills in addition to programming. I would say 30% of my time is dealing with QA aspects.

you missed a few obvious things already (2, Insightful)

picklepuss (749206) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650392)

Step 1: When carping about not being able to find a job on slashdot, remember to tell people what programming languages you know.

Step 2: Make sure the name attached to your post links to something besides a couple of pages that haven't been updated in 2 years

Step 3: When fixing the above - start writing essays or blog entries on technology stuff that you know, so that when the quasi-decent HR rep googles your name, he'll be impressed with what he finds. In this day and age, that's one of the few ways you can "submit" a sample of your code.

Good advice was already stated about volunteering for OSS. Even if it doesn't help get you in the door somewhere, it'll at least hone your chops, which will help once you do get a job.

Resume alone will not do it (1)

Bork (115412) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650396)

Social engineering. My last three jobs were obtained through knowing someone on the inside that help me in the door. Using only your resume will result in it landing on a pile along with the 300 others.

Networking (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650408)

Getting a professional job isn't as simple as having the knowledge and certifications that make you eligible. Building a social network is equally important, if not more important. Having a professional that's already in the industry being able to vouch for you is a huge plus when it comes to finding jobs. Often, this can completely bypass HR and get you in touch with the management involved where your targeted position is.

HR is kinda stupid. Getting around them is the best way to get in, and doing that requires knowing the right people.

This is how I got my engineering job. I have no degrees, but I have substantial real world experience and knowledge, and was introduced to my job through a friend and former coworker who convinced my current manager to interview me. No HR was involved until hiring.

Confused (2, Insightful)

4pins (858270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650420)

First, including a link doesn't make you a programmer.

Second, what are you graduating from (high school, technical college, university)? With what kind of degree?

To directly address your question, most entry level positions require two years experience. You need to figure out how to get that experience!

I graduated right before September 11, 2001 and wound up taking an IT support job where they needed some programing done as well. It was a long haul (almost eight years of more and more development), however I just started my first senior developer position. Everyone has to start somewhere!

Re:Confused (1)

centuren (106470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650564)

Second, what are you graduating from (high school, technical college, university)? With what kind of degree?

Also, where are you located? Some areas have a much higher density of the type of companies that most frequently look to college graduates for hire. Small dev shops can hire fresh grads to get untrained labour for much lower wages than someone with experience. Find companies that are looking for college students / recent grads and offering something like $10-15/hr, even if it's not fulltime. Living frugally for a year or two will not only fill out your resume for a better position later, but give you time to learn industry-relevant things that aren't taught at university.

Re:Confused (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650580)

First, including a link doesn't make you a programmer.


Build a portfolio of relevant code (1)

composer777 (175489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650422)

1. Pick a specialty or two. Maybe you're interested in computer graphics, great, learn OpenGL, or maybe you want to work with databases, fine, learn the API's.
2. Do one or more of the following:
        a. Write a few small, relevant, open-source programs that you can show to prospective employers.
        b. Work on a few relevant open-source projects to help build networking/contacts.
        c. Do an internship and write a few small relevant programs that you can discuss during the interview, this is also good for networking
3. Have a backup plan if you can't get a job. Try to pick a specialty where, if worst comes to worse, you can sell the applications you write, maybe even starting your own business.

The above is the catch 22, no one wants to train people, especially in this economy. I got a job out of school because I learned the relevant knowledge (OpenGL) to my field, and had a portfolio of applications that I wrote outside of school. The kind of guy that is most likely to get a job is the guy that can laugh at job offers because he knows that he has all the skills necessary to write the application on his own and keep the profits for himself. Looking back on it, I think my biggest mistake was not pursuing my own business more seriously. You will always make more money if you can cut out the middle man (your employer), and run your own business. Sure, you take risks, but in this economy, EVERYTHING is risky, and it's also risky to be an expendable employee, with debt, in a low-paying entry level job.

Re:Build a portfolio of relevant code (1)

composer777 (175489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650446)

I should clarify, I started out 10 years ago, in a completely different economy. Still having a focused resume with a portfolio of relevant applications made the interview process MUCH easier.

lack of programmers? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650430)

When I hear about the lack of programmers, I can't help but think that the definition of "lack" is: "the candidate pool isn't 100,000x times the job pool, we still have to pay the bastards a fair wage".

No ivory backscratcher for you this week, Mr Burns.

Re:lack of programmers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650694)

It's more that people only want to hire the "stars" - the 10% who are 10x as productive - but only pay a regular salary for them. There are lots of average programmers out there but there's a general understanding that developer productivity varies exponentially while salary varies linearly.

Show us your resume (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650458)

If you post an anonymized version of your resume, I'll be happy to see if there's anything obviously wrong with it.

I've been both looking for work and for staff (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650470)

You haven't really discussed how you went about your approaches in any real detail, so excuse me if I give you a few pointers:

1. HR departments (particularly in big companies) are mostly there to keep outsiders out. They seldom accept speculative applications and forward them to the relevant department - yet at any given point in time, many departments within organisations are thinking "We could do with someone else here to help deal with XXX, but we need to get around to writing the job spec, get hiring authority sorted out, contact agents/advertise and ask HR to accept CVs with the following qualifications....". If you can find companies in that kind of position and speak to the person who's thinking that, you'll bypass much of the HR bullsh*t. For some odd reason, this process can actually be easier than going in the "accepted" way of writing to HR and a hell of a lot more productive.

2. Regardless of whether you're applying speculatively or for an advertised post, NEVER send out a standard CV/covering letter. I promise you no matter how much effort you put in they stand out a mile. Figure out what the company is looking for (and if you can't figure this out, why do you want to work there?) and write covering letter/tweak CV to suit.

3. Avoid agencies. This is my own personal experience, take it with as much salt as you feel it requires. But most employment agencies charge a small fortune, no employer wants to pay that if they can avoid it. Particularly not when they're taking on a graduate, who may or may not be any good in the real world. At the end of the day, the agent is being paid by the employer and they don't really care if you get the job or not, just so long as the person who gets the job is someone who they put forward. You'll waste hours talking to these people on the phone who insist they can find you work, that your best bet is to ask them to market you, that they're the solution to all the world's problems. It's complete fiction, but they're telling you what you want to hear.

4. Keep active in both your job hunting and (if it goes on a long time) something relevant to the job. Any potential employer will view how seriously you're taking a job hunt as a guide to how seriously you would take the job - if you have been scratching your bum since the last interview 3 weeks ago, they'll assume you'll do the same thing when they're paying you.

Human Networking (1)

blunte (183182) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650506)

You think finding a job is hard now, when you have no experience. It can be as hard or harder once you DO have experience. Before I drone on about why it's hard to get a job with experience, here's my solution to both: Human Networking.

It's really surprisingly simple. The more people you talk to and get to know...

- the more people who may tell you when a position becomes (or is about to become) available
- the more people you can "seek advice" from about getting a job (thereby making them aware of your availability, skills, and interests)
- the more you can name-drop, or at least make reference to first hand
- the more you can hear and learn about what companies are like to work for, and whether you would really want to work there or not

I'm sure there are other benefits, but the first two listed are probably the most valuable.

So how do you meet these people? In the old days, pre-internet, people tended to congregate in different groups or clubs (Toastmasters being one of the popular ones). Now we have Meetup, which might have some active groups you can visit and get in with. There are also community groups, such as those focused on bringing and operating business within a community, volunteer groups, etc.

You can't really discount groups as not being applicable or beneficial until you get in and get to know people. Everyone knows someone, and people, in person, tend to be happy and willing to direct and guide others. So the guy you're volunteering with at Habitat for Humanity may have some great contacts in your field. At the very least he may have a contact that he knows has lots of tech contacts; and you're +1 already because you know this guy, and because you're doing meaningful volunteer work.

Lastly, seeing the internet as the primary tool for getting a job is a huge mistake. The internet, where jobs are concerned (and some other things), is a cesspool. Multiple posts for the same job, multiple "staffing firms" trying to fill the same spot (and using recruiters who previously were just somewhat non-technical, but now who are imported and often merely trained monkeys); positions which have been pulled or filled, but no updates/removals of the internet posts have been made; etc. etc.

Meanwhile, find something of interest, technical or otherwise (you never know where your good connection is going to come from), and get involved. If ballroom dancing is your fancy, go do that. Those people know people.

Now about the experienced seeking jobs... just be aware that so many jobs today are for positions that already existed. Bob did X, Y, and Z, and company is seeking someone with those exact skills. It's pretty unlikely that there are candidates with the exact skills required; thus it's very beneficial to know someone within the company, that way you can get the interview without being filtered out by a keyword-matching monkey.

difficult environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650510)

I've got more than 10 years "experience." It been a rough road trying to get work the last two years. Here are some close calls I had:

1. interviewer wanted me to log in remotely via ssh. Then write an app in php on the command line to determine, if a word was a palindrome. I almost got it but ran out of time. The php program worked for most cases. At the end of the interview, I jokingly asked him how many people could not even log in? He said 50% could not get past that point.

2. A couple of other interviews, I've had three people at a time ( mostly engineers ) grill me. They just pull whatever out of their asses. If you miss a single thing then no job.

3. I had another company give me 9 interviews for a single position. Most of the engineers were just called off of whatever they were doing unprepared. It was like a regurgitation of my work history. Then the last guy really gave a hard time pulling all sorts of shit out his ass. Got most of it right but not good enough.

I have a portfolio of programs I've written. Want to see it work? Not good enough.

Its just a difficult work environment out there. Frankly, I think they don't have the work.

Good Luck with Small Companies (1)

elentiras (974340) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650530)

As someone with a degree from a reasonably well known school and 2-ish years of employment who is looking for a job yet again, I can say that the prospects for entry-level positions are generally dim. Most of the so-called entry level positions that I see advertised -required- at least 3 years of experience. The job market is such that they can make these kind of demands, at least in my region of the world. In my admittedly limited experience, it is easier to land an interview with smaller companies. They tend to want someone long-term and are more willing to train or let someone grow into their job. The GE's and Time Warners of the world want someone with solid experience who can step into a development team today. Some larger companies, IBM for example, have some good entry-level positions but only if you're willing to move halfway across the country.

Nepotism (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650538)

Nepotism. The nice word for this is "connections". Do you know anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone (etc.) who runs their own software company, or works at one in a high-enough position that hiring interns or entry-level, underpaid slaves falls under their authority? Find these people and get your foot in the door.

Search in a better area (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650556)

I read a few responses to all this, and didn't see a significantly practical recommendation. Purposely focus on the municipal areas and industries where unemployment is low. For example, consider Washing DC jobs in the defense sector.

As an aside, you said your problem was that you couldn't land the interview. You must understand clearly that the purpose of sending your resume to the company is to not land a job, but land an interview. You need to rethink the structure and presentation of your resume specifically around this fact. "The interview is to land the job, not the resume." "The resume is to land the interview".


Conform while being unique (2, Interesting)

quietwalker (969769) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650566)

To understand how to get hired, you have to understand how hiring works. Here's a simple 2-step generalization:

Part 1)
A great number of companies out there rely on their HR staff to do the hiring and applicant-seeking. The project lead or ~maybe~ even manager writes up a job description, and the HR staff formalizes it; breaks down each skill individually, adds 'years of' or 'proficiency level x-out-of-5' etc. This means that either a computer program that scans for buzzwords, or a person with no computer experience is going to be the first one to decide if your resume fits the bill.

They are not going to know that someone with 10 years experience with c++ can probably write pretty good c, or that J2EE is the same thing as Enterprise Java. They won't understand why no applicant has "MVC programming" on their resume. This is your first gauntlet.

Conclusion 1)
You need to conform to their specifications.

Rewrite your resume to tailor it for each position you're applying to. Make sure you include every single keyword listed in the job description, exactly as it's listed. Include easy-to-find "years of experience" for skills. When in doubt (say you're submitting without a job listing) investigate the company, make a best guess, and liberally sprinkle buzzwords.

(... and if you're submitting 100% blind, like on dice or monster, rewrite your resume every week or so to change up the buzzwords. It seems that the company searches are re-run upon resubmittal, generating new 'matching candidate found' indicators)

Step 2)
Now you've made it to a person. Hopefully a technical person, but sometimes it's an HR person with a 20 question programming quiz - really just an extension of the resume step (JMP step 1). They're going to do the technical and social evaluation.

Conclusion 2)
You need to be unique.

Everyone else who's made it to this stage is identical. They all have the same buzzwords, years of experience, etc. Assuming all of them have the actual technical capabilities, there's nothing to differentiate you from anyone else, which means that selection of a candidate is still pretty much random choice. So, you need to find a way to stand out.

One good way available to everyone - in life as well as interviews - is to ask a lot of questions. Get the interviewer talking about their most recent projects, engage their emotions by getting them to talk about customers (no one has a customer-neutral stance). If you can get them talking about themselves, they'll leave with the perception that you were really interested in what they do, and pretty impressed with them in general. It doesn't hurt in most cases to sideline the 'real' interview to talk about their hobbies. Then, the next time they see your name on the page, they remember your face, the discussion, and you're head and shoulders above everyone else.

One person I know had his girlfriend call three times during the interview. He did the check-the-number-frown-send-the-call-to-voicemail thing for the first two times, and then asked for a quick reprieve for the third. Embarassed, he explained it was his girlfriend, and they were meeting her parents for the first time tonight, etc, etc, don't forget this, can you pick up that. That sort of thing totally humanizes a person, turns them from a name on a paper to something more.

Of course, if you have some interesting resume fodder, like the google participation listed in a previous comment, that's good to bring up too. Still, people like to talk about themselves or their code, so usually asking THEM the questions instead of just responding or talking about yourself seems to be a better shot.

Get another degree? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650574)

A biosciences company will hire a dude with a bio education AND a CS degree before they'll hire a CS guy.

A finance company will hire a dude with an accounting education AND a CS degree before they'll hire a CS guy.

You get the idea.

No need to go back for a 4-year degree... Boss will be impressed enough to hear you're enrolled at the local community college.

Also, in general, there are certain educational areas that "go well with programming".

For example, most big companies that have MIS developers also have a finance/accounting department. If you want a MIS developer position, its hard to go wrong by taking a couple accounting classes at the local CC, or a seminar.

Another example, many apps seem to involve databases. My CS degree only had an optional, superficial, theory oriented one semester class. Since so many apps involve DBs, maybe a quickie DBA class at the local CC would be good resume fodder.

The goal is to not be "the guy who programs" but to be "the guy who programs and also knows about our business"

your resume (1)

beit_yosef (1289422) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650588)

i had a fairly similar situation coming out of college. i have a few suggestions, but i'd like to see your resume first. my email address is posted at [] [] . send your resume along so i can guage what your background is, and we'll be in touch!

College Placement Center (1)

john.r.strohm (586791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650590)

Every college and university I ever heard of had a placement center, that existed for the sole purpose of facilitating interviewing of students about to graduate, and getting them hired. They are generally very good people, and helping you get hired is their job.

More to the point, the companies that interview you through the college placement center know you're a fresh grad, and unlikely to have any real experience.

you want a job? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650598)

People more experienced than you are applying for every private sector job in the country. You want a job? Start applying for state/local/federal agency programming jobs. Find contractor sevices that have contracts with the government and send in your resume. Apply for FTE positions as well. Government IT jobs are filled with people waiting to retire and are slowly replacing those positions with either fresh contractors or young FTEs. Get some experience, complete some projects, learn some relative frameworks, expand your skills and knowledge. Then after 3-5 years move on to the private sector. Much much easier this way.

The money isnt as good but its a job.

Reality Sandwhich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650606)

Take a bite out of the reality sandwich:

-Entry level means you are ENTERING the workforce, think bottom rung. You will NOT be programming, you will be doing QA, Data Entry, or IT

-You school does not matter, your GPA does not matter, what matters is your experience if you have any

-If you don't have experience, I use your GPA as a quick filter, I may also use extra-curricular activities

-I'll take someone who had a useful open source project, was a contributor, or did SOMETHING, and had say a sub 3.0 GPA, vs a 4.0 GPA "superstar" who lingered in the 'rents basement, arguing over starwars vs startrek

Grad school (1)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650620)

Why not apply to grad school? A master's degree plus the experience gained from doing even a little of your own research will look great in a few years.

Re:Grad school (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650748)

Or, in a permanently contracting economy, it just means you'll be over qualified for the fewer remaining jobs and have a couple years less experience than the folks whom skipped grad school.

Also most people view their career through rosy glasses. Whats two years off, if you won't retire for four decades? But, due to ageism, outsourcing, etc, you'll be unemployable beyond 30 unless you're lucky (and I'm lucky). So do you want an 8 year career with a BS, or a 6 year career with a MS, before you have to retrain? You'll probably haul down more total lifetime income with a BS than a MS, especially when accounting for less experience and student loan debts.

is programming just a job, or a life style? (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650634)

I recently quit a company after just a few weeks, because I couldn't work with the programmers there. I tried to explain to the management what the difference is between their team, and the teams I'm used to working with, but I needed a lot of words. One of them then said "you see programming as a life style, the team here apparently sees it as a nine to five job". And that's the nail on its head.

If you're any good at programming, and you make software or maintain a linux server in your spare time, tell them. Then they'll know you're not just the average Joe (or Jane). Then they'll ask you for a piece of code, and then you're in - if you're any good.

Do more than school - program on the side. (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650638)

I'm a manager for a large county (100,000 employees) and am in a medium department with 800 employees. I've hired nine programmers in the past two years. Seven of them were fresh out of college. Oddly enough, all had CS degrees, though none had a clue about assembly or circuit design.

Of the seven 'beginning' programmers, all had done work on the side either as a self-held business or as contract work. I rejected every applicant who hadn't done some programming outside of class.

Two of my top programmers even had joined to enter a M$-sponsored contest for programming and had gone on to the finals.

In other words, show that you want to be a programmer and not just a student.

I noticed koreaman also mentioned nepotism - that works as well. :)

Re:Do more than school - program on the side. (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650806)

And even if nepotism or connections get you in the door, it'll be the experience you gained from programming out of class that will translate into increased productivity and creativity and make your boss realize hiring you was a good choice!

well (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650670)

Probably out of luck. I'm not sure the job market will ever recover, hopefully you have family you can rely on. In the meantime write up your own software and maybe you'll get lucky and write something people will buy.

Do the legwork (1)

edmudama (155475) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650708)

Finding a job takes a lot of time if you don't already have the connections. You should be applying to hundreds or thousands of jobs.

Also, remember there are a lot of software engineering jobs at companies that do not sell software. If i were a student fresh out of school right now, I'd just go to a list of the fortune 1000 and apply to all of them.

You also want to go to every single career fair you can find within 50-100 miles, and meet people and give them your resume, and tell them how awesome it would be to help them succeed in business. Jobs fairs/career fairs are a great way to start building a network.

Enlist (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650710)

Thats one way to get an entry level job.

Improve your CV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650738)

You need to improve your CV/resume. By this I don't mean do stuff, I literally mean "make it better".
Does your university/college offer a form of careers service? If so, go to them and ask them to look at it. They're not skilled in your field but they know how HR operates, which is invaluable.
Do you have a friend who has no problems getting jobs? Ask them to look at your CV.

Some pointers:

Make it easy to read. Line breaks, paragraphs, bullet points etc. all assist the person reading your CV looking for important information.

Achievements. Be they extra-curricular (did you win a coding competition?) or part of your curriculum (Are you on-course for a high grade? Are you scoring high in programming modules?).

Job Experience. ANY job experience will do. They won't ask you about it, but it gives an idea of how you perform in a work environment and a reference. If you are anything like me, your old work colleagues will know how good you are; even if they don't know what you're good at and they might be able to impart that onto prospective employers.

Open Source Projects. Especially if they're published and used to some extent (even if you think it's a bit shit).

Personal Life. This might sound irrelevent to a job, but I heard of a guy in a Fortune-500 company that hired people based on how good they were at football so he could have them on his team. That's rare, but it can give you something to talk about in the interview and might sway somebody who has similar interests if they're struggling to choose between candidates.

Earn it. (1)

The Outbreak Monkey (581200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650766)

A B.S. alone doesn't mean you deserve an interview. Many many people have that degree PLUS experience. You are at a great disadvantage from the start, with the added restriction of being in a small town. Here is my advice to you:

1. Stop playing the victim, stop making excuses. Let the losers do that while you get yourself a job.
2. Network. Go to happy hours, talks, toastmasters, other networking meetings. Put yourself out there and let people know what you can do for them and how little they'll have to pay you. The best jobs to interview for are the ones that aren't posted and you don't land those interviews from behind a PC.

3. Find out where your classmates are getting jobs. Wait 2 and a half months and send that company your resume. Chances are someone isnt going to pass probation and they are going to need another developer.

4. Don't limit yourself geographically. Time goes quickly when you get out of school, you can move back once you get your experience.

5. Tell everyone you know that you are looking. Most companies give referral bonuses, and people will be eager to mention your name when the time is right.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. You need to separate yourself from the thousands of introverted unemployed programmers out there. Then when someone tells you were lucky to get the job you can tell them to piss off because "I earned it."

Yeah you could contribute to opensource projects and all that jazz but that will help you more in the interview than anything else. We can deal with that later, first you have to get a few interviews...

Do something noteworthy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650792)

Having hired quite a few fresh out of school programmers, I can tell you that the best way to stand out is to have actually done something that most others wouldn't do. I hired a guy who wrote a MUD for fun. I hired a guy for a web position who wrote a 3d game engine for fun. I hired a guy who spent a week learning the language before the interview. These guys showed that they were interested in programming for more than the job, and therefore would do a better job than the random guy who just graduated.

Go volunteer to work for your school, or build your friends wild business idea, or work on an open source project, or whatever. It really doesn't matter what it is, so long as it is goes above and beyond what a simple programmer would get through school, and is significant enough that you can put it in your cover letter or resume. Bonus marks if it is public and your potential employer can see it and try it out.

A'ight (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650802)

Just send out resumes and work on an open source project or something until you land an interview. Open source is a great way to show your stuff to a potential employer.

When you do get an interview, be prepared to answer questions about the shit on your resume. Very important. If you say you have SQL experience and can't answer me when I ask you what a left outer join is, I'm not going to call you back. Also actually listen to and think about the questions they ask you. When they ask you to design a function to do X, they're not really looking for you to write a function that does X. They're looking for you to ask more questions about what they really want (They always leave off some very important details,) draw what's going to happen in memory, you know, actually design something. And if they offer you a hint to get you moving in the right direction, for God's sake, take that hint. If I give you a hint and you keep writing code up on the white board, I'm not going to call you back.

Interview well and you can have any job you can get an interview for.

Does your resume convey coding ability? (2, Informative)

oranje (1653573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650816)

At my company, HR gets hundreds of resumes every day, and this giant pile is reduced to maybe a dozen resumes that they believe look good. I take a look at these, and maybe see one or two candidates that seem like they've earned a phone call. So, what makes these resumes stand out?
  • Actual accomplishments: have you coded before? What did you code? What languages were used? What role did you play in successfully completing this project? Specifics are good, so long as it's not complete gibberish and jargon that HR will not understand. Likewise, vague references to having written code don't mean much of anything - what did the program you write actually do? What was involved in adding this feature, and what was the result?
  • Relevant skillset: Nobody cares that you know scheme unless they're using scheme. And please, only list things that you're good at. If you put C or C++ on your resume, but can't concisely describe what a pointer is, you do not know C or C++. If you can use a language to write a program right now, it goes on your resume. If it's something you used for one class your freshman year, you do not know the language. If you can't survive a rapid-fire quiz relating to a skill you've mentioned, it should not have been on your resume.
  • Enthusiasm: Write a cover letter. A good cover letter can make up for a thin resume. It gives you a paragraph or two to explain how you're a driven, passionate, talented individual looking to contribute to an organization. If you're really interested in the position, write a cover letter specific to that company. Again, this goes with the relevant skillset point: describing how you're an accomplished Java developer in a cover letter means jack if the company doesn't use Java.
  • Formatting and Spelling: No, seriously. If your resume looks like crap, you look like crap. A typo is a bug in a different kind of language. Also, don't overload your resume with everything in the universe. You're looking to make a clear, clean, concise summary that makes it apparent that you can kick ass and take names. Also, getting a little creative doesn't hurt. Times New Roman and Clippy-suggested formatting says that you care enough to do the bare minimum. If your resume stands out visually, it stands out period.

Being a fresh graduate isn't as hard as people make it sound - if you've coded before, and you're good at it, you've got a way to sell yourself.

Find an internship and bust your ass (1)

JazzyMusicMan (1012801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31650836)

I guess I can count myself as one of the fortunate ones. I landed an internship with a great company that gave me the opportunity to learn. I gave 110+% on everything I had to do. Most of it was menial and sucked, but then again, programming for any large firm usually is. I had a full time position within 6 months of starting my internship. One of the first things I learned early on was, no matter how great of a coder I thought I was, I didn't know anything.

Huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31650846)

I've got about 10 years of professional dev experience and it seems that there are a fair number of jobs out there right now, at least in my geographic area. I updated my resume out on Monster a few weeks ago just for housekeeping purposes and got a ton of e-mails from recruiters. There's also a fair number of jobs out on the jobs sites. Is it really that bad for entry level people right now?

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