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Since many colleges have poor placement records, I’ve written this guide to push you in the right direction. It’s divided into 3 sections:

I. Pre-Application

II. Interview/Prep Process

III. Post-Interview (Negotiation)

After 80+ applications, 4 job offers, and having joined as Software Development Engineer at Swiggy with a FAANG-level offer, here’s what I’ve learned:

I. Pre-Application Process

First things first, you need to understand the game. Off-campus is a numbers game, meaning you need to apply to a large number of openings. This does not mean you compromise on quality. Have a basic standard — but whichever job application crosses it, you can apply to it. Having more interview experience or more job offers is only an advantage.

Where to find job openings

  1. LinkedIn — I had the most success here. Obvious, but needs to be spelled out.
  2. Angel.co (AngelList) — I found my first job on AngelList, and you can find openings in startups (including well-funded ones) here. They focus more on skills and experience rather than the college you come from, and you learn a lot at a startup.
  3. Applying to company websites — This is quite underrated. Get a list of companies you like and want to work in. Find their careers page, and apply to recent openings. It’s that simple. This is how I ended up at Swiggy.
  4. Hirist.com — There are a lot of good openings here. They have a filtering feature that allows you to choose which technology you want to find jobs in.
  5. HackerEarth.com
  6. Cutshort.io
  7. Elitmus.com
  8. Instahyre
  9. Internshala: Fresher Jobs page

On the kind of companies to apply

This depends on how many opportunities you have, and how desperate you are to get a job.

As basic advice, have a standard, something like ‘I want to work in frontend or devops’, or ‘I want to work in a product company’, or ‘I’ll only work if I get 5L so I’ll only apply to companies that can afford me’. This will narrow down your application process, and help you be realistic about your goals.

It also helps to track the companies you’ve applied to by making a spreadsheet. Google ‘job application tracker’ for templates.

Writing a resume: practical tips

If you’re making your first resume, it’s always better to use a template than start from scratch.

A well-written resume immediately catches a recruiter’s eye. I like the templates available at latexresu.me. They’re well suited to most people’s needs.

What works well:

  1. List of completed projects: Make sure to have a link to its code repo. If it’s live, then a link to that is even better. Describe your work in detail, and mention all the technologies you used.
  2. Internships or research publications: A good way to get internships is to hop on websites like Internshala or LinkedIn where they are posted frequently. A common way to get research published is to collaborate with a professor on a project.
  3. List of skills: Don’t have stars/ratings beside them. Just a list. Only write those which you have used on at least 1 project. Not those you watched a YouTube video of and are now a ‘pro’ at.
  4. Tailor resumes according to the position you’re applying for.

What doesn’t:

  1. Submitting a multiple page resume. Your resume should fit on a single page, as recruiters have little time. They shortlist initial candidates by skimming through the page.
  2. Putting your photo or home address — it’s not required. Period.

How can you improve the chances of your resume being seen?

  1. Ask for referrals. They are EXTREMELY helpful and help you jump ahead of people who are only applying with a resume. The employee referring you gets a bonus if you’re hired, meaning they have a direct incentive to refer. If you don’t know whom to ask, employees at big companies on LinkedIn regularly make posts willing to refer people. You can also connect with current employees at your desired company, network a bit, and then request a referral.
  2. Another way which can have varying levels of success is to directly message a recruiter/manager/CEO about the job, on LinkedIn or via email. It has helped me in the past and could help place your application on the top of the stack. P.S. This works better for small startups.

II. Interview Prep/Process

Best resources to prepare : 1)https://www.desiqna.in/243/best-roadmap-prepare-coding-interview-best-free-resources

2)https://www.desiqna.in/253/questions-asked-faang-interviews-product-based-companies

3)https://www.desiqna.in/274/best-roadmap-studying-data-structures-algorithms-tutorials

Interview prep depends on the position you’re applying for. Expect to be able to complete an assignment, a live coding round, or a DSA question depending on the role.

A good benchmark for prepping is:

  1. Being able to solve at least medium-level questions on Leetcode/GeeksforGeeks.
  2. Practicing answers to known interview questions from Glassdoor for the position you’re applying for. It’ll inform you of what recruiters are expecting, and tell you your level of prep.
  3. Successfully completing an assignment within 3–4 hours.

Know that small startups may skip asking DSA questions and if they do ask, it’ll be easy.

Yangshun Tay (Facebook Engineer) has compiled a Tech Interview Handbook about the tech interview process and efficient tips. It covers introductions, behavioral rounds, and frequently asked algorithm questions. It’s best to go over it multiple times:

https://yangshun.github.io/tech-interview-handbook/

Handling your first recruiter call

If your resume is shortlisted, a recruiter will schedule a call and you might be asked to give a brief introduction about yourself and your work/internship experience. Along with that, they might ask you short technical questions related to the position you’re applying for.

Make sure you are prepped for this, and only give answers you’re sure about. Don’t bullshit your way through it.

On being asked your current and expected compensation

Most Indian recruiters ask for your current CTC and expected CTC in the first phone call. There is no way around it.

If the company is a prestigious one, you can ask whether the offer will depend on your current CTC. Many companies have a cap on the salary hike, regardless of how much (or low) your earlier salary was.

One way to stall is to tell them you’ll provide your expected CTC after clearing the interviews. You could also flip the question and ask them about their budget for this role. It’s better to know if they can afford you or not, so you’re not disappointed by a measly offer.

When the offer actually arrives, you can change your expected CTC and negotiate for more. Do not back down out of worries that you’re offending the recruiter. It’s in their favour if you accept a lowball offer.

III. Post-Interview: negotiating a better offer

Congrats, you’ve got an offer 

Now how do you turn it from just ‘an offer’, to the best offer?

Credit: Designed by Freepik

One word: leverage. You have leverage when you can turn around and accept another company’s offer, or keep interviewing at other companies. It’s also leverage if you can tell the recruiter that your current company pays you well and that the new offer hasn’t convinced you to switch. Leverage is that you have a good alternative to the offer.

There are four major things to understand to be able to negotiate a better offer:

  1. The more offers you have, the better your position to negotiate, and the more you can ask for.
  2. Be prepared to walk away and say no if you do not like the offer.
  3. Always negotiate. At most, they’ll tell you the current offer is the final one. Or, you might end up with a significant increase. On rare occasions, a company might withdraw the offer on seeing you push, which is why it is important that you have other offers or interviews going on at the same time.
  4. Think beyond fixed salary while negotiating. There are many things that can boost your offer apart from the basic salary, such as joining and performance bonuses, stocks, conveyance allowances, more vacation days, etc.

Haseeb Qureshi has an amazing article on negotiating a job offer. Read the two parts here: https://haseebq.com/my-ten-rules-for-negotiating-a-job-offer/

Got rejected?

I’ve had bad interviews. I’ve been rejected several times. Every experience is an opportunity to learn what went wrong, practice and become better, and jump back in.

Are you not getting any interviews? Maybe there’s an issue with your resume.

Faced trouble clearing rounds? Maybe something’s lacking in prep.

Can’t speak with confidence? Maybe your soft skills need work and you need to practice mock interviews.

If you don’t receive a message or call after an interview, you can ask the recruiter for feedback if they seem friendly enough. A lot can also go wrong on the company side so don’t fret too much about not getting calls after interviews.

In my first set of interviews, I didn’t clear any rounds. I then took a month’s break, practised harder, learned from my previous mistakes, and came back stronger with 4 solid offers. As with anything, you’ll get better with enough time and practice. And hopefully, get that job.

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Awesome!!!!!!