How a Developer Can Get Their Dream Job in the US: Tips
In 2022, the US is the most lucrative and, consequently, the most attractive country for tech specialists from all over the world. For now, the median annual salary of a software developer in America is about $73,000—and the better qualifications you have, the higher it goes. In addition, there’s been a continuous lack of qualified US developers in the last few years, so the US tech companies are more open to hiring specialists from abroad than ever.
But despite the shortage of developers, American IT companies won’t just give jobs to the first candidates who send their CVs. If you want to be someone who works for the greatest tech companies in the US, you need to know several things about the work culture and the hiring process there. Median software developer salary in the US as for March 29, 2022. Statistics by salary.com
The work culture in the US is different than in other countries. Here are a few things you should know.
In the US, people are often more concerned about the developer's integrity than their hard skills. Simply put, the average developer who shows a good level of integrity has a better chance of getting a job than the cool programmer whose "behavior at work" mode and "behavior outside work" mode are very different.It’s important for American companies to have a person who has the same values in their personal life as they do in their work environment.
For instance, at an interview, you show yourself as a person who supports openness and freedom of speech, but on social networks, you make fun of those who adhere to such views. It’s not a problem for a company to investigate your social networks—on the contrary, it’s a must for companies that care about their reputation. So if the company finds anything suspicious, anything that may cause them to question your integrity, there’s a decent chance that you’ll be declined as a candidate.
Tip: It may sound obvious, but don’t lie to the recruiter in any way because it won’t do you any good. Be honest and mean what you say.
You won’t be trusted if you change jobs often
Before inviting a person for an interview, recruiters always look at the CV for a list of previous jobs with dates. If the candidate has been at their last one or two jobs for six months or less, that’s a red flag for most American companies. They either try not to hire such people at all, or will interview them much more thoroughly than usual. In other words, the shorter the period of employment at the previous place,the worse, even if the previous employer was unpleasant to work for.
Tip: If you’ve changed jobs frequently, try to explain your reasons for switching to the recruiter. Convince them that you seek long-term cooperation and that you’re not going to run away after three months of work. And, again, don’t lie: Remember our point about integrity.
Ability to fit in with a multicultural community
Let’s say this again: US companies often hire employees from all over the world. That means they’re all different from each other: Each of them grew up in different cultures, they all have different values, they may have different views on the same things, etc. Of course, they’re expected to be able to get along with each other and to cooperate effectively. It’s good not only for the development efficiency itself, but for the mental state of the employees. If there are constant quarrels, what kind of cool products and efficient work can we expect?
So, we’ve discussed which personal qualities are welcomed by US tech companies. What else do you need to know?
Spoiler alert: If you don't have a technical degree, it will be much harder to find a job with big companies like Google or Facebook. But we have good news for you: IT training courses are fine, too. If you have neither, don’t worry: There’s a little loophole called social proof. This can take two forms: Having your app uploaded to the AppStore. But an app with five lame downloads won’t be enough—it must have at least a couple thousand downloads and look like it’s in demand. Having a company from the United States on your list of previous workplaces. Europe won’t always work—it’s kind of terra incognita for Americans. It’s not necessary but is very desirable to have both. But if you have only one of the above-mentioned points, the chances of getting a job in a big American company are much higher than in a situation where you have neither a degree nor any of these things.
But having a great education, a brilliant technical background, and a long list of merits is only 50% of success. What’s the other 50%? First of all: the CV.
It should be noted that the word «CV» has a different meaning for Americans. While for others it means a short summary of a person’s work history, skills, education, and other things that may be important to an employer, the American CV (or “resume”) is different. It’s a very detailed, chronological list of a candidate's entire career, and also includes info on their achievements, publications, education, etc.
These are two key points about writing a great CV that we’d like to share:
- Note that nowadays, employers in the US—especially huge ones like Google, Amazon, or Facebook—tend to use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The ATS helps them process hundreds of daily applications by automatically scanning the CVs for particular keywords and phrases that are also in the job ad text.To avoid being filtered out by the ATS, tailor your CV for the desired role. Read the job ad text very carefully first, and then write the CV—or give this task to somebody like Insquad, who will copywrite your CV for free with all the specifics of employment in the USA in mind. If you decide to write the CV yourself, you can check it for the keywords by uploading it to specialized services like ZipJob or TopResume when it’s finished.
- Keep an eye on the length and the structure of your CV. An American resume is usually one page long, but for a tech specialist it may be hard to fit all their skills and qualifications into a one-page document without decreasing font size, which has to be 12pt for the main part and about 14-16pt for section titles and headers. So it may be 2 pages long as maximum to keep it concise and should include such sections as Title (the position you’re applying for), Contact information (name, e-mail, phone number, LinkedIn profile link), Summary (2-3 sentences on your skillset and experience), Professional experience, Work history (in reverse chronological order), Education, Skills, Hobbies (optional), Certificates (optional). References are not usually required in the resume. If an employer needs references, they will ask for them after the interview.
The interview process
So you’ve passed the previous stages and now you’re invited to an interview. What should you know to follow through and get your dream job?
The interview process is usually divided into several rounds (anywhere from two to six), each conducted by different recruiters or managers. Why? Because each stage has its own purpose, and every interviewer is looking for different competencies. The stages of the interviewing process in large companies and startups differ.
This is the list of the basic interview stages in companies like the Big 4 (Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft):
1. Phone screen. It lasts from 15 to 30 minutes, during which you’re asked straightforward questions about your qualifications and work experience.
2. Phone interview. It lasts from 30 to 60 minutes and includes open-ended behavioral questions and other types of questions. You can prepare carefully for this round by checking the most asked questions on Glassdoor, for example.
3. Onsite interview. This stage is held to check your:
- Problem-solving skills
- Analytical thinking skills
- Coding skills
- Communication skills
- Culture fit
- Ability to handle feedback
The interview rounds in startups usually include: 1. The phone-call interview. Typically this is a 20-30 minute call with the recruiting team where you’re asked whether you think you have the qualities needed to work for a startup.
2. Technical interview. You’ll be given some tests and practical tasks.
3. Panel interview. You’ll be interviewed by a group of people from different departments. Again, the number of stages may vary, but the ones mentioned here are typically held in most companies in the United States.
Everything said above is just the tip of the huge iceberg called «The hiring process in the US». But the deeper you go, the more you learn, and the better candidate you become. Fortunately, there are lots of informational sources and companies willing to help you reach your goal of getting a dream job in the US.
Contributed by Alex Svinov, Co-founder and CEO at Insquad
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