Where you work and who is your manager matters more than any other factor in your professional career trajectory. With that said, nonetheless, you should always work hard at whatever job you are at and keep looking for good.
At the very start of your career optimize for learning. Learn all that you can and don’t say no to any learning opportunity. Find a job that gives you plenty of challenges. As you grow into your career, try to find organizations that pay good money and don’t suck the life out of you. This is important to mint the money from the grind of the early days and also to keep your sanity for a long-term career.
While applying for a job, other than usual stuff like making a good first impression, there is only one trick to finding a job when you need it. Apply to 100s of them with tailor-made CVs and cover letters that match their job description and you will land a job. Tailor-made CVs have a better chance of passing through ATS into the hands of a real person.
Having your CV shortlisted, getting through screening and multiple interviews is more about luck than skill. Skills matter but you need a good amount of luck.
There are many places where luck factors in. Your application shouldn’t be 6 feet deep in the pile of applications. You should not be contending against someone who is better than you in terms of skills. Urgency and need on part of the company. How accurately you could reflect yourself in an interview. How the interview was perceived and the biases of interviewers. This is why, you have to apply for a lot of jobs, especially when competing in a big market with little credentials to your name. This is also a reason, to not waste time preparing for interviews. Also, if you have to prepare for an interview then you are not ready for the job and lack skills.
A good engineer who has worked at startups his whole career might be rejected in the first technical round of a corporate company because he was asked about a typical algorithm coding problem.
You should be cognizant of the company you are applying to. Learn about them and prepare for what to expect. A developer in a startup would have a hard time clearing interviews in a big organization and fitting in and vice versa is equally true. I am not saying one shouldn’t make that move but be prepared for it. It’s good to understand how different companies operate. It’s good to have worked for all of them so you know how to operate in different environments. At any point in your career, the company you work for or your own company might need to be scaled up or down. Having a variety of experiences will make you invaluable.
Finding a remote job is monetarily beneficial for people who live in places with low wages, are introverts, and/or want a life outside of work. If you think remote jobs are for you, by all means, go for it. You will increase your exposure, save time, and gift yourself and your family/friends some life out of work.
I won’t tell you how to land a job in big tech. I never had one. You can find hundreds of people talking about it online. One thing I know is that it’s not too difficult for a good engineer. It’s a lot about luck and keeping at it.
The best and most reliable way to find a job is to ask for a referral from a colleague you already know. This way you will have insights into what you are stepping into. You will have to work less hard to prove yourself as there will be some element of peer validation. It gets easier once you develop some reputation. Make good connections, reputation, friends, work hard and play the long game and you won’t have trouble finding work.
As for referring people, never refer someone in your organization who you think is not as good as you. If you do, that will reflect badly on you and your credibility. Make it a rule of thumb. If someone close and inept (for the job) insists, forward their CV or LinkedIn to HR and tell HR to evaluate as they see fit.
This post is from a series of related posts about software engineering. It is part of an attempt to write a book in public. I seek your feedback. Raise your opinion. Share with people who can benefit from it. Contribute in the comments section, on social media, over a cup of coffee, or however you prefer. This will help me and the community tremendously.