When looking for jobs as a software engineer: senior software developer, analyst, manager. I am finding that all advertised jobs are just a list of skills, that the hiring manager thinks will be needed to do the job. With no real description of the role (nothing to get excited about, nothing to tell me about the job).

When they read my CV/résumé, they don't read it: as far as I can tell from the responses I get, they put it into a computer, that pulls out key-words. Then they approach me about inappropriate jobs:

  • Wrong location.
  • In business sectors, that I do not want to work in.
  • Uninteresting.

There is also a lot of jobs advertised for senior software engineer, but they just want excellent juniors behaviour (implement this bad design real quickly). Where real quick is 9 months. I want to change the design and get it done in 2 months.

Can anyone give advice on how to find the role that I am looking for. and any good agencies, that cover south-east England

  • When you say inappropriate jobs, are they still at least software engineering positions? – Anketam Jun 2 '16 at 10:28
  • Yes they have all (except one) been programming jobs. Though few where software engineering (little real design, and architecture). – ctrl-alt-delor Jun 2 '16 at 10:38
  • Consider that in many descriptions, they simply don't know a better way to describe it, or they have HR people writing it who use the keyword approach to attract hits, etc. To find out the real answers you're looking for, you might sometimes need to get invited to the interview and then ask in person. – Brandin Jun 2 '16 at 11:32
  • There is 2 ways to find a job : answering specific jobs (which is usually a description + more details) and answering/giving your CV for a more general position. The first is harder to get, but the job is a "real one", the second is more about "you will maybe fit here". – Gautier C Jun 2 '16 at 11:36
  • 1
    @richard, I sympathize, really. The approach goes like this: need job → read job ad → not helpful → approach recruiter/manager with questions → no response → [repeat]. You're best bet is to go employer shopping ... make a list of companies in your area that do cool stuff and target them. – Joel DeWitt Jun 2 '16 at 14:00

If you have an idea of how to do it better, maybe you should start your own employment agency!

Seriouisly, matching people to jobs is difficult. Like you say you get offers for jobs that are "uninteresting". I've gotten those too. But how would a company know whether you would find the position they have to offer "interesting"? What makes a job "interesting"?

If something can be briefly described, put it on your resume. Like, "I'm looking for a job in Wessex" or "I want a position in the fruit-packing industry". Most employers would see that and not bother to contact you about jobs that don't meet your conditions. I'm sure some would be scanning resumes quickly and miss it, but I'd think that would be few.

But for the most part, hiring a new employee is a 2-step process. First, you get a ton of resumes and try to pick out ones that might possibly be qualified for this position. Then you schedule interviews to talk to these people.

What the employer really wants, of course, is someone who is intelligent and knowledgeable and hard-working and able to deal with unexpected problems and compatible with the existing team and so on. But there's no way to ask for these things in a job application or expect to get them on a resume. Sure, someone might write "I am intelligent and hard-working" on his resume, but so what? Who's going to put on his resume, "I am stupid and lazy"?

In the first step, all you have to go on is a resume and/or application form. So all you can look for is check lists. You make up a list of job requirements, like "database design" and "java" and "manufacturing systems", and then you pick out applicants who list these skills. What else can you do?

Then when you interview candidates, you hope to learn the more substantial things.

Yes, the system is highly flawed. A capable programmer should be able to learn a new programming language in, what, a month or so to be able to bang out some code, a few months to be reasonably proficient. It might take years to learn all the little tricks and subtleties, but then there are plenty of less capable programmers who will never learn all the tricks and subtleties.

I'm sure the same issue exists in other fields. Like what you really want in a research chemist might be someone who really understands what the periodic table is all about and why it is the way it is and what it means. But you can't ask that on an application because everybody would say yes. So you have to ask if he's worked with nitrates and is familiar with the Beckman Allegra Series centrifuge.


Wrong location - Why are you submitting to jobs that are not in the location you want? Your cover letter needs to be specific about this.

Your cover letter should indicate the business sectors you do want. This can be difficult if, for example, your desire is just to avoid the medical industry. If your list of undesirable industries is short, just deal with it. I would throw your application in the trash if it lists things you don't want.

Uninteresting? If you are truly qualified to do the type of work you're seeking, I find it hard to believe you haven't made more business connections. Just sending out your CV is how a developer with no experience goes about finding a job.

Get involved in developer groups in that area. Programmers love to talk about what they're doing and will openly praise companies and projects they find interesting. Do more networking.

In a cover letter, talk about the applications you've designed and let them know this is the type of work you want. Your desire to make changes so quickly is why they need to hire you.

The south-east of England is a small enough area to establish yourself and limit your job search.

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