How To Get a Software Engineer Job in 8 Steps (With Tips)

Updated April 24, 2023

Software engineering can provide a variety of job opportunities, such as mobile engineer, data scientist and cloud engineer. With some research into the different roles and work areas, you can find software engineering jobs to match your unique skills and expertise. While finding the perfect software engineering job can seem challenging, there are several approaches you can use to discover the role that suits you best.

In this article, we discuss what a software engineer is and explain how to get a software engineer job. 

What is a software engineer?

A software engineer is a technical professional who designs, develops, builds and tests computer software. These engineers have a deep understanding of computer science and the development of computer and mobile software programs and applications. They're proficient in programming languages, databases and version control systems. They also understand software architecture. Software engineers may work as part of a team of software engineers and developers to complete the software development life cycle.

Software engineers may also work independently to provide technical software support, maintain software systems and integrate new application updates. They can work across many industries, applying their technical skills and expertise to design programs for use in business, academics, health care, manufacturing, finance and construction.

Read more: Learn About Being a Software Engineer

How to get a software engineer job

If you're interested in a career as a software engineer, there are many approaches you can take to get into the industry and secure a position. Depending on your level of experience, the following steps can be effective approaches to finding a software engineering job:

1. Complete your education and training

The most important step to securing a job as a software engineer is to complete any necessary education or training in the field. For instance, if you're beginning your career path, consider earning a degree in software engineering, software development or computer engineering. If you have credentials and experience in software engineering, consider any additional training you may need that can demonstrate your skills, knowledge and expertise. For example, you can undergo training in areas such as web development, cloud computing and machine learning.

2. Gain experience in an internship

With minimal experience as a software engineer, it can be beneficial to complete an internship or work contract to gain more experience in the field. If you choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in software engineering, for example, you can complete an internship to earn credit for your degree. An internship, externship and job shadowing are all excellent ways to gain additional experience in software engineering and can help you develop your skills and enhance your credentials. Look for internship opportunities at technology companies so you can learn alongside experienced software engineers and developers.

Related: How To Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree

3. Pursue entry-level roles

Working in entry-level roles as a junior engineer or engineering assistant can also help you build your experience. Employers may consider candidates with proven work experience, especially for leadership, management and senior-level roles. With an entry-level software engineer role, you can develop hands-on experience with real-world projects and build a professional network of individuals in the industry. You can also receive feedback that contributes to your professional growth and work with diverse teams that can enable you to strengthen your skills.

4. Build a professional portfolio

Each software project you contribute to and complete is important to showcase to potential employers. Create a portfolio to refer to when providing your contact information in professional networks and when interviewing. Employers are more likely to consider you when they see how you approach software design, implementation, testing and maintenance. Keep your portfolio up-to-date, so recruiters, hiring managers and people in your network can see evidence of your latest projects and contributions. Here's a list of information to include in your portfolio:

  • Descriptions of projects: Offer background information about the project, including its goals and your contributions. For example, you can describe the purpose of a software application that you helped develop.

  • Code samples: Show samples of code you've written for previous engineering projects. To emphasize the versatility of your technical skills, you can include one code sample for a mobile game, for instance, and another sample for a website.

  • Test results: Include test results in your portfolio to showcase your ability to prove the performance of the applications you design.

  • Technical blog posts: Highlight technical blog posts in your portfolio to show your extensive software industry knowledge.

Read more: How To Make an Interview Portfolio (And Why It's Important)

5. Keep your resume up to date

As you build your experience, advance your skills and develop your industry knowledge, update your resume to reflect your accomplishments. For instance, if you earn a certification or learn a new skill, ensure your resume reflects these achievements. Give details on your resume about additional training, degrees or other accolades you have received throughout your career. During the interview, potential employers may inquire about the qualifications you listed on your resume, which is another opportunity to explain how you're a qualified candidate for the software engineering job.

6. Earn a professional certification

The field of software development and engineering is broad and can provide many opportunities to advance through certification programs. Depending on your professional interests, career goals and software engineering focus, you can pursue certifications for many applications specific to your field. For instance, certifications in specific programming languages, engineering subfields and database management can help you qualify for better positions.

Read more: 11 Software Engineering Certifications To Pursue in 2023

7. Expand your network

Expand your network by contacting individuals who work in software development, engineering and computer science. Participate in collaborative projects, provide your experience in volunteer roles and get active in your professional networks. As you build relationships with other software engineers, you can inquire about open positions and any need companies may have for a qualified and talented software engineer. Building a network can also give you the opportunities to ask for feedback on your work, share your resume, publicize your portfolio and receive recommendations.

Job fairs and professional workshops are also excellent approaches to meeting potential employers and networking. Software engineering, computer science and information technology career events often provide many opportunities to share your portfolio and resume, connect with experienced individuals and communicate your interest in open positions. Attending industry job fairs can also allow you to learn about available roles and software companies you may have been unaware of previously.

Read more: 7 Tips for Building a Strong Professional Network

8. Visit companies in person

You can also visit different companies in person to ask about open positions and discuss your professional background and interests. Bring several copies of your resume if you visit software companies in person. While many employers often publicize open positions for software engineers, some companies may have upcoming roles that the public doesn't know about yet. In these cases, visiting in person can sometimes be beneficial for learning about these kinds of opportunities.

You can also take advantage of online job boards focused on software engineering and development. Consider making your resume and portfolio public so potential employers, recruiters and hiring managers can review your credentials. When browsing online job boards, you can usually apply keywords and phrases to find jobs that are local to you, fit your salary requirements and suit your qualifications. Additionally, some job boards let you demonstrate specific skills with aptitude and career assessments, further showcasing your job qualifications for potential employers.

Related: 22 Best Jobs for Software Engineers

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Tips for your software engineer job search

As you begin your job search for a software engineering role, consider the following tips:

  • Research the company. Take time to learn about each organization and the role you're pursuing. Learn about the company's goals, current challenges and overall culture to understand how you can fit the role.

  • Contact the organization. Communicate with the organization directly to learn about any opportunities or upcoming jobs. Give your contact information to individuals you speak with so employers know about your interest in their company.

  • Send a follow-up. Whenever you meet a potential employer and communicate about possible job opportunities, it's important to follow up later. In a follow-up email or phone call, you can reiterate your interest in the job and discuss how you can help the company succeed.

  • Offer your support. When speaking with potential employers, offer ways to help them achieve an objective, solve a challenge or complete a project. Your desire to apply your unique skills and talents to overcome challenges can help you distinguish yourself from others when looking for a job.

  • Take part in trade shows. If you have an accomplishment in your field relating to software engineering, consider speaking or giving a presentation at a trade show or industry event. Your motivation to develop professionally and contribute to the industry can help you impress potential employers.

  • Contribute to industry journals. Along with contributions to trade shows and industry events, consider contributing to online magazines and journals. You can share your software engineering knowledge, build a professional and personal community and share your work and portfolio with potential employers.

  • Develop and apply your skills. Take on challenges and develop new technical skills to use on future projects. As you learn new applications in software engineering, add projects to your portfolio and any credentials or awards to your resume to highlight your advancements.

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