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> I applied to 250+ positions

That sounds wrong. It's common, but it still sounds wrong to me.

When I look for new jobs, I find a couple of companies (3-4) that match with what I'm looking for exactly, read up on the companies, tell them explicitly how I fit into what they need and write them personally. I have a 100% success rate when it comes to interviews, and most of the time I get a offer, but drop out when my counter-offer is too high.

On the other side of the fence (as someone who does hiring), if the application looks like something that can be easily copy-pasted and the applicant has no idea about the company itself or tried the product when I follow up, then the candidate very quickly goes to the bottom of the list.

Instead of focusing on useless parameters like "CS degree, top-branded college" and so on, try to focus on writing high quality applications for a few selected companies you know you can help. I'm sure your success rate will improve then.




”I’m sure your success rate will improve then”

I think you are wrong. I don’t have a CS degree, I don’t have top brand college or employer.

You also assume wrong that I didn’t dedicated myself to apply to specific jobs where I was a very good fit. I did that. And it didn’t got me offers.

If you tell me more about your profile, I am sure I can pinpoint why you get 100% success rate and I don’t. I am pretty sure it is not for the reasons you mentioned.


I don't have any CS degree, nor studied at any college, nor worked at any famous employer neither. So probably irrelevant.

I sure knows that when I'm doing the hiring, I rarely if ever read what colleges or what previous companies the candidate worked on. All that matters is what their experience is, what they learned so far, what they tell me they wanna do in the future and how they are as a person.

> You also assume wrong that I didn’t dedicated myself to apply to specific jobs

Yeah, that's my fault, sorry about that. It's hard for me to imagine how you can have time to send out 250+ applications and still have a dedicated cover letter and well-researched application for each one of them.

While I don't know how the 250+ companies you've applied to are thinking, I can share how I think, when trying to hire someone for a position. And from your advice, only "good public sample of your code" and "clear explanations and thought process" would be something that I would care about. The rest of your advice are not only not relevant, but some are even outright harmful. Good writing absolutely helps someone (in my eyes) to be more fitting for any type of position.

My advice to job seekers would also be to look for advice regarding getting hired by either people who have been hired, consistently so, or by the people who are doing the hiring. While it could be helpful, chances are that people who haven't got a high success rate at getting hired, aren't able to give you good advice.


Not all 250 applications are in the same time frame. I would that the first 4 to 6 weeks I was applying just like you said. Selecting very specific companies and creating higher quality applications. Only when it seemed to be going nowhere I made it a numbers game. And that worked for me.

About your profile, I was not talking about credentials only. The fact that you are in position to hire someone tells me you are not a junior developer. The hiring market for junior vs senior is very different. If you are a senior/principal/staff/tech lead fullstack, you can choose where to work. If you happen to know something very specific, that helps too. I have 3 years of experience only with Javascript on the frontend. It is not the same market as you probably.


> I sure knows that when I'm doing the hiring, I rarely if ever read what colleges or what previous companies the candidate worked on. All that matters is what their experience is, what they learned so far, what they tell me they wanna do in the future and how they are as a person.

You are not the only hiring manager. I have seen decision makers openly read college name or even high school name and use that information to judge candidate. I am talking about people who did it very openly, I am pretty sure that there are also people who don't broadcast it and are still affected by that.

Most of it was "bonus" for someone with known school, but I have seen also negative judgement.


Soneca said that they dedicated themselves to applying to specific jobs not all jobs, so your comment saying it’s hard to imagine them applying to 250 jobs makes no sense.

And it’s also false that someone who gets hired a lot can accurately give advice on what got them hired unless they personally ask everyone who was involved in the hiring decision.

The employer, compensation, and social capital of the applicant may play a role as well. I think you may be too focused on proving OP wrong to ask about more factors that could be affecting their results because there are way too many things that come into play (from when an employer gets an application to the interview and offer) to generalize.


Your comments echo what many who are currently employed say. When the shoe is on the other foot though, and unemployed, you can almost guarantee they will have applied to 100+ roles!


Oh man, it's in the thousands every time I apply. I used to keep a spreadsheet of it, but that just got depressing. Job searches are quite painful.

(Note that I'm in biotech and real engineering, not SW)


>real engineering,

<fire emoji>. Some schools have tried to make Software Engineering actual engineering

eg: https://www.apega.ca/apply/membership/exams/technical/softwa...


Hmm. I don't agree with you. My degree is chemistry from a good-not-great institution. Since getting into SE, I've progressed to technical leadership very rapidly.

I have dedicated myself to applying for jobs, but it's not that much work. It's about making sure you advertise matching strengths.

I make sure my CV only has the minimum information needed to sell this. Then only job of my CV is to get a callback. After that, it comes down to my interviewing.

I also have an extraordinarily high success rate. I've applied to 8 SE jobs in my career. 7 of those led to interviews, 4 to jobs. Of the three interviews, 2 of them I chose not to progress with (i.e. they didn't reject me, I rejected them).

Maybe my strength has been applying to realistic opportunities. My first jobs were low paying roles in non-tech companies.

Remember that your strongest selling point is your most recent experience. As a fresh graduate, your university matters the most. As soon as you have your first job, your experience here will dictate your next step.

Since my first job, I still get asked about how I transitioned from chemistry to SE, but the tone has changed. People don't expect me to justify the change, they want to hear about the similarities, differences, and strengths that have translated. It's become one of my favorite interview questions to answer now.


It seems you're on your first job in tech? You were lucky to get a position out of your first batch of applications.

>>> My first jobs were low paying roles in non-tech companies.

Strong hint that a major factor in you getting the job was that you were cheap and that the companies were struggling to fill the position. Expect the next jobs to be get exponentially harder to get as you try to find a job that pays more and companies have much higher expectations.

P.S. The poster was applying to remote jobs which are orders of magnitude more competitive to get. It's almost a miracle he even got an offer as a new graduate.


I am not a new graduate. I am 41, learned to code when I was 37. I still am in a junior position though, but not first job in tech, nor young.


The problem is you're "applying" for jobs. Those applications almost always get filtered out by terrible decision makers (AI, HR, etc). Instead of applying for jobs, you need to network for jobs.

Part of your research about the job is figuring out who in the company will be your manager and getting your resume directly to them. People are often willing to help each other make helpful introductions, so check linkedin to see who you know at that company or at least your closest contact and then contact that person and ask for help getting your resume to the right person.

This is what they're talking about when they say most people get jobs through people they know. It's more work than simply applying, and that's why you can only afford the time to do it with 4-5 jobs. Even still, it's far more effective than applying for hundreds of jobs.


Not sure why he is getting downvoted, but I agree. I did the same, without having a degree. Telling companies why you fit and why they should hire you has a huge effect, especially if you compete with people who come from a university with a degree in their pocket.

Explaining a company why you are a great fit and directly write the responsible person in HR shows, that you:

1. Did not blindly sent out hundreds of applications 2. Gathered information about what the company does and evaluate your fit in consideration of your skillset 3. Contact the right person

The 2. point is the most important one. Now, where I am in the position of hiring people, I would gladly take someone who tells me, thoughtful reasons of why we should hire him. But also don't underestimate the 3. point. Don't message the head of HR or similar persons. Instead write the people who will potentially be your lead.

But it also depends where you apply. A big corporation? A startup? Government? Something else?

The parent comment is correct regardless: Target-focus


Is the job market so tough/picky in US (I assume it's US by default since we're on HN) or is it because the IT companies don't hire people without CS degree? I get 2-3 interview invites every day on my LikedIn account just for listed keywords (nothing special, really, generic devops stuff). And the account is explicitly marked as "not looking for a job". I leave in Eastern Europe with a lot of huge outsource outlets though, maybe that drives the demand up.


The job market is pretty unequal here. The software jobs that pay high professional salaries are indeed competitive, but there are quite a few lower-paid jobs available.

I don't know if this is the case in your country, but my impression of the European market is that the pay difference between a "mediocre" and "good" job is pretty small: say, €40k vs €50k / year for an entry-level job in one of the richer countries. In the US, a mediocre entry-level job might pay $50k / year while a top-tier one pays $150k or more.

The level of competition for the higher tier is extreme.


He might be right, that a top brand college (and other stuff) will help getting past the HR filter. But I do not agree that this is the only thing.

I agree with you, that very specifically targeted and created applications will get a response rate better by at least a factor of ten.

I am often on the other side. Reading applications and deciding whom to invite to an interview. As Inteverviews take time for at least me and 3 other colleagues I filter very strongly. For one hour of interview the amount of time it takes (preparation, discussion afterwards, and so on) can take up to 1 - 1.5 person days.

As I am working for an agency this means 1.5 days me and my colleagues can't earn money for the company by working productively for our clients (even our managers work hands on on client projects at least part of their time).

So creating a well thought out application, one that is targeted and also shows the personality of the applicant helps me a lot in deciding whom to invite. Make it stand out without being obnoxious. Make it fitting for the company and the job.

An anecdote to exemplify my point:

I remember how my late father helped our neighbor's son with his application. He was a carpenter and had specialized in restoration. He wanted to apply for a job at a workshop that had been set up to do just that.

My father and he then designed (and he made) a special application folder made of wood. This had very fine intarsia work and showed very precisely what skills the neighbor's son had as a craftsman.

The cover letter and curriculum vitae were of course also well thought out and designed. No question.

An application - an interview - a job offer at one of the leading workshops for restoration work in Europe.


What is high quality applications supposed to mean? Most tech jobs are simply sending a resume and maybe filling a short form. There's no difference between applications.


> What is high quality applications supposed to mean? Most tech jobs are simply sending a resume and maybe filling a short form

A resume for the job. Sending the same resume every time skips an opportunity to sell yourself. It commoditises you.


Not that I've applied to all that many jobs since school (a long time ago), I'm not sure I agree unless you're applying for materially different roles. I certainly agree that a cover letter should usually be customized. However, the downside of customizing a resume for each application is that it introduces the possibility of mistakes or at least less polishing. At the least it's a tradeoff.


I've experienced both of these things: applying to many jobs and getting many rejections, as well as applying to a few focused companies and getting multiple offers. In my experience, without a prestigious education it's common for the first job search to involve lots of rejections. Your description of the process sounds similar to my second and third job searches, after I had some experience.

The first time, I didn't have a resume that clearly showed experience in the kind of work I was trying to get, so I rarely got past screening. After about a year working at a recognizable (but not especially prestigious) company, I was able to get interviews more consistently.

Second, I got a lot better at interviewing, through a relatively small amount of focused practicing. This got my interview pass rate close to 100%.

Finally, my work experience allowed me to tell credible stories about things I'd accomplished and challenges I'd faced. I also learned, through experience, more of the shibboleths that engineers (often subconsciously) use to identify members of their in-group.


I agree with that 100%. I've had interviews with every company I've applied to when it's been for a specific job. I don't always get results when I speculatively apply or apply for something which I might not be the best candidate for. But if it's something I know, then it's as simple as touching up the CV, writing a personalised cover letter about my experience in industry, what I can bring to the company, what I'm interested in working on etc.

People underestimate cover letters so much. Nothing says you've done your research than 300-400 words about why you want the job. Shotgunning CVs to a billion companies is a brute force approach.




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