Getting an Engineering Job: What's Your Story? 📕

Jason Lew
Jason LewFounder & CEO of SkillMagic

Are you an engineer early in your career looking for a new role? If so, perhaps your tagline that you use on your resume and job websites looks something like this:

"Full-stack software engineer from Coding School X with experience in React, Python, and Django"

There's a clear problem here--you don't stand out from any other applicants to the same job.

Instead of pitching yourself is such a straightforward way, you should focus on developing your story that will help employers understand why they should hire you specifically.

Brainstorm What Makes You Unique

You can start by making a list to brainstorm what makes you unique. For each quality, it's important to also write down how that relates to you being good at the roles you're applying for. Here's a sample brainstorm, assuming you're applying for a frontend role at a 100-person startup:

  • I played Division I college football
    • How it relates: I'm highly effective working on a team, know how to work hard, and can perform under pressure.
  • I've held multiple sales positions before becoming an engineer
    • How it relates: Shows I can understand and empathize with customers. (If you had a quota and performed well against it, mention that too, as it shows that you can succeed in competitive situations.)
  • I'm really good at Fortnite and other games.
    • How it relates: It probably doesn't relate (unless you're applying to a gaming company!)
  • I've been using Photoshop/Illustrator for fun since high school.
    • How it relates: Since I'm applying for a frontend position, I can bridge the gap between design and frontend engineering since I have some real design skills.

Recreate Your Tagline

Once you have your brainstorm down, pick what you think are the strong qualities. You're looking for the intersection of what you're uniquely good at and what companies are looking for:

Here's a new sample tagline given the brainstorm above:

"Frontend Engineer with Design Skills. Former D1 College Athlete and Top-Performing Salesperson."

See the difference compared to the previous, generic tagline? If you read both taglines who would you be more interested in potentially hiring?

Tell Your Story

Now that you have your tagline down, you want to use it everywhere to tell your story in a consistent and interesting way.

  • Use it as your tagline on job sites.
  • Use it at the top of your resume.
  • When you get on an interview phone screen, tell your story proactively.
  • When you go through the interview process, make sure the different people interviewing you all get to hear your story too.

Why it Works

Telling your story works because it makes you more memorable, but it's also incredibly important because it allows the company hiring you to envision you excelling in the role. Of course you'll need also be technically strong to have success interviewing, but if you can also tell a great story about yourself, you will definitely see even more success!


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