What hiring managers look for in aspiring tech candidates (2023)

If you are applying for your firstbeginner technician, deciphers what a hiring manager isReallywants to see in your application or hear in an interview, he may want to read someone's mind. "Taking a job in the tech industry feels like a black box to anyone who isn't tech savvy," says Mariya Chekmarova, Senior UX Research Manager at Codecademy.

Given how many of our Codecademy students are competing for these entry-level positions, our UX research team decided to go straight to the source: hiring managers. In a recent survey, we asked hiring managers what exactly they look for and prioritize in an entry-level engineering candidate. The purpose of this study was to gain research-backed insights into the current tech hiring process that we can use to help Codecademy students (like you!) have a better chance of landing entry-level tech jobs.

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Our UX researchers always talk to our students to better understand their needs, explains Sil Lavers, UX researcher at Codecademy. This particular study is considered "generative research”, a form of research that focuses on understanding users more deeply and defining the problem you want to tackle later. (You can learn how to do generative research in our free courseExplore User Research: Generative.)

For context, the "hiring manager" in this study is anyone whose job involves hiring a basic technologist with an emphasis on the last six months. "We have not spoken to the recruitment staff", whose task it is to source potential candidates for the position, says Sil. "It's all hiring managers who get the final say on hiring a person."

The hiring managers interviewed by the UX Research team for the study worked in companies with more than 100 employees, including well-known companiesTO CATCH(an abbreviation for Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google). I wonder what they had to say? Here are the most important findings from the survey to keep in mind as an entry-level job applicant.

Your CV is the most important material in the application

From all application material - such as cover letter, portfolio andGitHubprofile - Your CV is of utmost importance for the recruitment of managers. Thatwriting style and CV formatis just as important as the content, says Sil. "A poorly written or misspelled resume can be a hindrance," he says. Your CV is not only a summary of your experience and proof of basic technical knowledge, but also an opportunity to showcase your communication and presentation skills. (If writing isn't your forte, read this blog for tips onhow to use ChatGPT when preparing resumes and cover letters.)

You should include additional work experience on your resume, even if it's not directly related to technology. Hiring managers see work experience as an indicatorsoft valueslike verbal communication and problem solving, says Sil. So while a part-time camp counselor job might not directly apply to a developer position, it shows that you understand how to lead a team and resolve conflicts.

Soft skills will get you a job

Your flawless resume and technical skills may get you an opportunity, but "soft skills will get you the job," says Mariya. During behavioral interviews and even technical assessments, hiring managers want to make sure you can communicate your process and ideas effectively to any audience. You must be able to express your approach to a problem and collaborate with others in the team.

Practicing how you will answer interview questions is a great way to get used to speaking through your job. Ourinterview preparation courseshas been specifically designed to help you develop and demonstrate your collaboration and problem-solving skills during a technical job interview.

You are not expected to knowat

Assessing whether you have what it takes to apply for a job can triggerimpostor syndrome feelingbig time. But here's the thing: Hiring managers don't expect entry-level applicants to have a perfect set of technical skills and know everything from day one.

Someone in a senior position can move on and start making a significant contribution to projects within weeks of taking on a new role. Sil says startups tend to have a longer onboarding period because they require additional onboarding, training and development.

So you can take a breather knowing that you don't have to be perfect to succeed at an entry-level job. That said, when an organization gives an entry-level employee a chance, it's also investing in your development. "They expect you to have a good attitude and a willingness to learn," says Mariya. "It actually goes quite far."

In ourStudent stories on the blog, you can read how Codecademy students fared on the first day of their tech careers.

Degrees and certificates are positive

Any grade that shows you have completed and mastered something is a positive to include in your job application. For example, professional certifications, awards, or bachelor's degrees in any field of study (not just STEM-related fields). "The Hiring Managers' ViewCertificatesas a positive signal, but not a decisive factor," says Sil.

Like your work history, a bachelor's degree can signal to the hiring manager that you have experience working on projects with others and presentation skills, says Sil. If you don't have a college degree, there are other ways to showcase your alternative qualifications, such as including projects in your portfolio or highlighting practical experience similar to what you get from an undergraduate program. If you have professional certifications you've earned, it wouldn't hurt to include them on your resume: "Hiring Manager's ViewCertificatesas a positive signal, but not a decisive factor," says Sil.

If you're changing careers or lack a specific qualification, such as a bachelor's degree, do your research and consider the companies you're targeting for your job search. For example, smaller businesses such as start-ups may place more emphasis on skills than traditional educational requirements. For many organizations, university degree requirements are written into their employment policies and do not necessarily reflect actual job responsibilities. Fortunately, there are more and more companiesto get rid of these rank mandatesall in all, leveling the playing field for people from non-traditional backgrounds to break into technology.

Show that you are serious about changing your career

When evaluating applicants who are changing careers, the hiring managers in the study looked for "evidence of your commitment to a career change," says Sil. One way to do this is by highlightingcompleted projects, internships or hackathons you have participated in.

Anything that shows your commitment to advancing the technology field is really worth documenting – it doesn't have to be prestigious to be relevant. For example volunteering to help a local charity with their database, building a website for a friend orco-creation of documents. "The most important thing is your initiative, your interest, your curiosity and the way you document and tell it," says Mariya.

Need design ideas to improve your resume?See our project catalogueyou can use for practice, portfolio, inspiration and much more.

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