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In the past, computer engineering was a career path that nerds (e.g.Bill Gates) usually chose. Reading news on technology, playing video games, and tinkering with electronics were common leisure activities over which they bonded.

When the internet became more widespread, more people got the opportunity to learn software development, design, and other digital skills. Professionals from various industries decided to switch careers to tech jobs that have higher salaries.

So now that everyone, and their grandma, are learning digital skills, how is it possible to stand out among them? Well, there’s a plethora of methods that you utilize to increase your chances of being noticed by headhunters and hirers.

When a recruiter has to interview hundreds of candidates with similar experience, every difference can be helpful. An up-to-date skillset, being an authority in the industry, and a powerful impression during the interview will give you an advantage over other applicants.

The idea behind this article is to give you an idea of the characteristics of a great candidate and how to become one.

Understanding the Hiring Process


While the role you’re applying for can have a pretty detailed description, in reality, each company has different requirements and methods of work. You should thoroughly research the satisfaction of previous and current workers in the same position and see whether you have the right skills. Of course, you are free to look for another company if you receive negative reviews.

Each company has a different way of screening its candidates. You can expect that they have tests to filter out incapable applicants. A great example of this is FizzBuzz, which requires the applicant to solve a child game using the relevant programming language.

Understanding the fundamentals of logical problems, algorithms, and standard screening methods can increase your chances of making it through the early stages of the hiring process.

Creating a resume

Before you get the chance to be tested by the recruiter, they will review your resume and cover letter. Creating a portfolio is an art, and I don’t blame you if you decide to use one of the premade engineering resume templates instead of spending hours creating one.

No matter whether you do it manually, hire someone to do it or use a template, it’s essential that the document you send is tailored according to the job requirements. A good resume should give an objective image of you and your skills.

Once you have a high-quality portfolio and the knowledge to pass any potential tests that the interviewer has prepared for you, the only thing left is nailing the interview. The interview stage is where the company will receive the most information about you.

Interview process

The way that the interview is executed depends on whether the company is remote or not. If the work model is traditional, you can expect some additional questions on soft skills and collaboration with co-workers.

On the other hand, remote work requires a firm understanding of its challenges and systems. If you have an online interview, do what’s in your power to prevent potential distractions by your household members and remove any noisemakers.

In-person or online, your behavior and body language will leave a significant impression on the person interviewing you. Expect that the first few interviews you have won’t be amazing, but stay open-minded and work on improving that.

Creating a Strong Online Presence


You don’t have to be an influencer or a niche celebrity on the internet to be considered someone with a “strong online presence.” This is an aspect of professional life that is often overlooked. Some people enjoy oversharing on social media and want to make everyone think they are awesome, and others haven’t changed their profile picture since 2011.

Don’t strive toward those extremes. Try to use social media platforms as a tool to make professional connections. Being active on Linkedin, occasionally posting updates about your career, and commenting on relatable posts can do wonders for your reputation.

Posting about your personal and professional projects can attract attention from talent hunters and companies in the industry. Don’t be afraid to give your honest opinion on new trends.

Being professional on the internet is more important than being a high-authority figure in the niche. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you have to stay formal on every social media that you make a profile on. Instead, you need to refrain from being offensive toward people and avoid getting into dead-end debates.

You don’t have to let everyone know what you think about a certain controversial topic, especially not on social media. Political stances shouldn’t have a place in professional communication, and expressing them can rarely benefit your career.

Less common ways for gaining an online presence

Before social media became a thing, forums were the go-to place for hobbies and professional topics. Although they aren’t as popular nowadays as they were before, being a frequent member of any tech community can help you make connections and receive valuable advice for your career.

Even though they are a rarity, there are people with years of experience in a specific field that struggle to find a good job. The common reason behind this is that they simply aren’t familiar with finding a job online. To prove their authority in the field, they can try out creating tutorial videos on YouTube or look out for guest posting opportunities on tech blogs.

While “I’ve worked for ImportantTechCompany for X years” is one of the best ways to stand out, if you’re at the start of your engineering career, having an article that attracts a lot of traffic is a good way of showing your competence.

Developing a Unique Skillset

Technology is rapidly advancing, and nobody can stop it. Instead of being frustrated because there are fewer opportunities for your current skill set, spend time researching the latest trends and skills that are sought-after.

This is a repeating subject throughout history. People were enraged when industrial evolution led to many jobs being closed. Over a hundred years later, experts in every industry are afraid that ChatGPT will replace them. Ride the wave of new trends and learn how to turn them to your advantage.

What will lower the chances of your expertise being outdated is the constant pursuit of education. A degree from a renowned institution is an amazing addition to your portfolio, but many people are drawn toward alternative methods of learning.

Online courses, video tutorials, and blog posts are some of the common sources of knowledge for self-taught developers.

Formal and informal education

Educational institutions can be outdated compared to other methods of learning. They often try to give general knowledge in a field while you might want to improve a specific skill.

For example, web development is a broad domain that requires specialists to have multiple different skills. If you’re excellent at programming and product development but your design skills could be better. Instead of enrolling in college, you can look out for UX courses to boost your career.

It’s always good to know your worth on the job market. Appreciate your experience and skills, and don’t underestimate yourself. However, at the start of your career, every opportunity can be a valuable addition to your CV. Look out for internships or volunteering possibilities that suit your professional goals.

If you’re in a stable financial situation, even an unpaid internship can help you kickstart your career.

Making a Positive First Impression


After the company has checked your portfolio, cover letter, and your online presence, if you are fit for the role, they will invite you for an interview. This is the most challenging part, as you must confirm everything they’ve learned about you in real time.

You need to dress professionally and appropriately, as outfits that seem too casual can come off as disrespectful toward them. Some tech companies have a more relaxed approach to business attire, and you don’t have to dress like James Bond to amaze them. Evaluate the company’s culture, and choose your outfit accordingly.

If you have an online interview, you should also try to appear professional. Comb your hair, get dressed, and get rid of any potential distractions. Being well-dressed for the video call will give the impression that you’re taking the job and the interview seriously.

No matter how the interview is going to be conducted, make sure that you aren’t late. Recruiters can sometimes have multiple interviews scheduled in a single day, so respect their schedule and be ready a couple of minutes early. If you’re being hired remotely, test your software and hardware in advance.

Even when justifiable, technical problems can only leave a negative impression on the hirer. Wake up early if needed, have a proper meal before the interview, and consider how long it will take you to arrive at the destination, even assuming a traffic jam.

If something unavoidable actually happens and you are late, be considerate of the interviewer and give them a call. You’ll earn much more respect if you are straightforward with such a problem than if you ghost them or be late without notice.

Behavior during the interview

It’s normal to be nervous during an important meeting such as a job interview. However, you still need to show confidence and answer questions calmly.

Posture makes quite an impression during professional discussions. People that slouch during the conversation or make other inappropriate gestures can certainly impact your chances of being hired.

Have a good posture when both standing and sitting down, give them a firm handshake and be prepared for the questions they will ask you. Eye contact is a significant part of your presence during a dialogue, don’t avoid it, but overdoing it can seem very weird.

Be straightforward when answering questions, and don’t avoid them, this can never lead to positive outcomes. They will either consider you incompetent, rude, or unable to communicate your skills properly.

If you actually put in the effort to get educated for the job role that you applied for, then you’ll be able to give answers to any technical questions. However, make sure that you are able to answer open questions such as “Tell me about yourself,” “What motivates you?” etc., concisely.

Even though you aren’t the interviewer, you are free to ask them any questions that you believe are helpful. Every company has different productivity standards, collaboration tools, and workplace ethics, and it's important to understand those aspects of the company clearly.

Perhaps the company is expecting too much for a smaller salary, or you simply aren’t drawn toward their ethics. These are all rational reasons to avoid accepting the job. On the other hand, if you agree with everything, asking questions shows that you’re involved in the conversation and that you’re showing interest.

Standing out is made easier with the right methods

Whether you’re a student that’s fresh out of college or a specialist that wants to change a career, finding a job in engineering can seem impossible at first. However, there are many ways through which you can draw the attention of influential people in the industry.

At the start of your journey, you first need to understand how hiring for a tech job works. Once you know what companies are looking for, it’s best to educate yourself on the relevant topics and trends.

The process can last from a couple of weeks to several months, and it can occur to you that it’s impossible to find a job in the current market. I recommend that you don’t lose faith in yourself. Be patient, and constantly improve your technical and soft skills, and the right job will come along.

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