How to Stand Out and Get Hired in Tech

by Guaranteed Rate Recruiting
August 12, 2016

Marketing yourself as an ideal engineering candidate in the tech scene can be difficult. While the demand for skilled engineers and developers is high, the pool of applicants grows every year, and the percentage of quality candidates diminishes.

Stephen Prosser, Guaranteed Rate’s VP of Software Development, has been on both sides of tech recruiting. He knows that hiring and recruiting applicants is just as difficult, if not more so, than being interviewed. When applying and interviewing at any tech company, you’re evaluated on more than strengths and credentials. Interviewers also try to decipher your weaknesses, and if the ratio of strengths and weaknesses is a good fit for the team. Hiring managers know that there is no 100 percent perfect candidate and that everyone has weaknesses.

However, there are ways to stand out as a candidate.

  • Focus on core languages, treat frameworks as a bonus. Yes, it’s nice that you know Angular, Backbone, React, etc.- but if the majority of your knowledge of a language is trapped within the confines of a framework, you will likely not do well during an interview. Frameworks are tools to be chosen based on the job at hand. Often times the best tool is the core language itself sans framework. Those who focus too strongly on developing within specific frameworks typically only learn to implement framework to specific solutions. They often become unaware that the framework is actually more a burden than a tool if not leveraged properly.
  • Side projects speak volumes. If you have a Github profile with recent contributions to side projects and open source libraries, you’re a step above the other applicants. Hiring managers don’t just want code monkeys, they want someone who is passionate about what they do. A solid Github account is a great way to stand head and shoulders about the rest, and make no mistake, we will poke around and evaluate your code! 
  • Have an articulate resume. First and foremost, hiring managers want to get a gauge of your proficiency with all technologies you’ve worked with. As you can imagine, breaking apart languages from frameworks on your resume is good practice. For example: Ruby 9/10, Rails 7/10. You will also want to highlight testing frameworks you are strong in. Once we feel the technical skill is appropriate, we will look at your history and determine how you’ve used those skills at your past employers. Were you building web applications? ETL services? Database schemas? The list goes on. If your skills and project history align with the hiring manger’s goals, you will undoubtedly move forward in the process.
  • Show interest in the company. The best candidates are the ones who have done some research on the company and ask questions about the role. This sounds obvious, but only about one in five candidates do this. Ask questions about the company culture. Ask if there is any reimbursement for educational expenses (conferences, books, etc.). Ask about specific team structure and how the team is run. While it’s important to inquire about health insurance, vacation days, and pay cycles, be sure to not just leave it at that.
  • Don’t forget non-technical strengths. What else did you do other than write code? This is surprisingly important! If you have led projects, led teams, mentored other developers, pushed for changes in culture or even organized a company softball team, call it out. This shows that you are always thinking and ready to step up to any challenge or take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself. This is equally true for junior developers as it is for seniors.
  • Act professionally. We’re taking time out of our day to interview you, and you’re doing the same. It’s important to take it seriously and come prepared. Presenting yourself and speaking professionally is an easy win that you don’t want to screw up. 
  •  …and don’t cheat. Yes, believe it or not this is a thing. Most employers give developers code challenges either in-person, over screen sharing or as homework for the interview process. If you steal solutions from StackOverflow or someone’s blog online, we will know. This will not only cost you the job but can have far reaching affects, including word getting out to other potential employers and being dropped by recruitment firms representing you. The tech community is surprisingly small, so it’s best to avoid getting a black mark on your record.

Guaranteed Rate is the technology leader in the mortgage space.  We’re changing the way people buy homes by combining industry-leading online tools with rock star loan officers to give our customers the fastest, easiest and most transparent mortgage process in the nation. To learn more about opportunities at Guaranteed Rate, take a look at our careers page.

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