Software Developer Career Tips: The Candidate Pool

Date: 2019-12-16

Time to Read: 3 Minutes



Photo By: Pedro Sostre

Previously, I introduced a few basic tips that I had wished I had considered while I was still a college student, I reviewed a few basic categories of companies that are frequently mentioned by technology workers, and I surveyed the opportunities and COL/compensation trade-offs of a multitude of locations starting with the commonly mentioned Big Three, followed by the Secondary Hubs, and Other Metro Areas, and lastly the Southeast. After reading those posts, hopefully I have provided a helpful primer to build upon going forward.

What do I mean by going forward?

I mean, building the strategy for finding and landing your next job opportunity. Whether your career ambitions are determined by your desire to move to a certain location (in which case understanding the business landscape of that general location is helpful and hopefully that location was mentioned in a previous post) or if your ambitions are determined by working for a certain company (or one of a group of companies) or even a specific type of company, you should first develop a candidate pool that can either be an explicit and detailed list or a criterion of rules that will guide your application and pursuit efforts.

But alas, sometimes life doesn’t afford us the opportunity to be so selective in our efforts.

When I first graduated from graduate school, I assuredly believed that job opportunities would come aplenty and often as long as I simply applied to any open position available (the nation has a shortage of programmers right?). Worst yet, I placed all of my eggs in one basket with one company that I was almost certain would hire me due to their reputation with hiring recent graduates from my university and also my contacts within the company that I could use as references. Naivety. There are no guarantees. Don’t allow yourself to become so focused on one company. After my plan A fell through, I floundered in the harsh reality that is the new graduate job market, learning that the previous two years of graduate academic work amounted to very little in the eyes of potential employers. This isn’t an indictment on pursuing a Master’s Degree, more-so, like your undergraduate work (actually even more-so), you should treat it as a means to an end rather than the end itself. If you’re using it as a way to gather specialized knowledge targeted toward a specific job position (data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence) or if you’re using it to gain research knowledge in hopes of furthering your education (the pursuit of a doctorate) for an academic position, then it’s great.

Enough of this autobiographical portion, in short, your pool of potential candidates can decidedly grow with the urgency of your situation. Your pool of potential candidate pool can be as explicit as a specific list of locations or a specific list of companies or as vague as a short collection of general rules that define a criterion such as (using mine an as an example):

Remote opportunities. (My familiarity with the company is not necessary past a cursory Glassdoor/Google/Reddit investigation as long as the company allows for a flexible work-from-home position and competitive compensation) Location-specific opportunities for companies that I am at least somewhat familiar with. (I’ll move to a specific desirable location for this company as long as I am fairly familiar with the company’s reputation in the industry) Location independent opportunities for top tier companies. (The prestige and compensation package of the company is worth moving to for almost any location)

These rules can be ordered by priority. The above possibly are. Now if you’re unemployed, troubled with upcoming and/or late expenses, and desperate for work, you lose a lot of your leverage and your candidate pool may be limited by only one rule:

The company will hire me and pay me real money. (This was my criterion from August 2014 to November 2014)

So hopefully the previous posts have been helpful in providing direction on developing your own candidate pool or criterion that you can utilize going forward when exploring new job opportunities.

Software Developer Career Tips

12 February, 2020
A collection of posts detailing much of the information that I've learned in recent years when considering a significant career move.
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Blake Adams is a writer, software developer, technical consultant, and financial independence enthusiast living in Oxford, MS.

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