My Job Application Strategy

A continuation from a previous post on how I get my first dev job.

If you haven't yet, checkout my previous post on how I got my first dev job. This post is a continuation of that, and will focus on my job application strategy today.

I want to preface that I just spent the past few weeks applying to jobs and went through a few recruitment cycles so I wanted to write this while it's fresh. I also want to preface that I am not an expert in this field. I am just sharing my experience and what has worked for me. I hope this helps you in your job search.


It's been almost 3 years since my last post regarding job applications and I've gotten a lot more DM's and phone calls about how to apply for jobs. Many of the people reaching out have been through Veterati, a mentorship platform for veterans. I've been a mentor on the platform for a few years now and it's been a great experience. This post is for all of you who have reached out to me and for anyone else looking for a job as a software engineer.

Revisiting Privileges

In my previous post, I go in depth of what privileges but I want to reiterate the importance of recognizing them. Not to self shame or have an irrational sense of guilt, but to recognize what you have and how you can use them for yourself or to help others. Everyone uniquely has their own set of privileges and it is important to navigate your application process with them in mind. My network for example is a profound privilege. Connections through LinkedIn or Veterati have for the most part led to a fruitful conversation and sometimes referrals. Make note of what you have. Use them kindly. Learn. Be an open book. Be prepared to share and give back.

My Strategy


Your resume is the heart of your applications. Within 6 to 7 seconds, you must catch the attention of the recruiter/hiring manager. Prior to becoming a software engineer, I was a Senior VP for an investigations firm and acted as the hiring manger for all of my departments. I've scoured thousands of resumes and interviewed hundreds of people. Please don't try to make your resume "visually pleasing" (everything in this link sucks) beyond a standard organized format.

Adding tons of color or big blocks of useless information will not do anything but hurt your chances of getting passed the 7 seconds a recruiter has for you; and please do not add those skill bars or metrics like 'JavaScript - 5/5'. Think about it - good recruiters have to go through hundreds of resumes every week and it's your job to sell yourself to them. Those fluff pieces don't do anything but distract them from what they are actually looking for, your experience and skills.

Place your experience first, projects next, and education last. When hiring managers look at resumes, they are working off of a job description and they want to see that what you're working on or have worked on to match your skills to the job description. Your experience and project work will be the first thing they look for and if skills align, they will hopefully move beyond the 7 seconds. Most people don't care how stylish or visually pleasing your resume is. They care about the content.

If they are interested, the next thing they will likely take a look at is your LinkedIn account so make sure you have the URL to your profile in there.


One of the mistakes I made in the beginning of applying was taking the easy apply feature seriously. It doesn't hurt to utilize the easy apply function, but I've learned to not expect anything from them. Those job posts get flooded with hundreds to thousands of people just like you who clicked easy apply. You're lucky if any of them lead to a response.

My suggestion is to keep track of your applications (I use notion) and follow up on them. LinkedIn is a great tool to find these jobs, but the market is saturated and you want to make sure yours gets seen by an actual human. The best thing to do after you see a job that interests you is to navigate to that company's website and apply through their portal. Companies have their own portal where they find and access people's applications and those will always take priority. Using it will give you the best chance that it gets seen by an actual person. Tracking your applications will keep each one you submit intentional.


Referrals are powerful. Utilize your network as much as you can. Know someone that knows someone at X company? Ask for connection and ask questions. You never know what it may lead to, especially if the person you know can vouch for you. My wife is an amazing design lead. She hasn't applied for a job in almost a decade because she was always able to get a referral. Referrals at the very least will get you a phone call.

Phone Screen

Phone screens are there to make sure you can talk through your resume and that you're not just bs'ing. Definitely don't lie on your resume. There are so many people out there that tell you to lie or fluff things up and my suggestion is just don't do that. A good recruiter will be able to sniff out the bs and put you on the no-go list. Be confident and be yourself. If it's a possible good fit, you'll move on to the next round.


For devs, technical interviews are typically the next step. I know, it sucks. Most of the time, you will do some type of whiteboarding exercise either through hackerrank or similar. I've failed tons of these interviews. Many times because of nerves. I don't have much I can say about this other than practice. Go fail and practice more. It's funny because after I failed them, I'd look at the problem on my own and realize it was easy but I just didn't perform under pressure. Whiteboarding is a skill in and of itself. The only way you get better is by doing them, failing, and trying again.

After the technical, you will start meeting other people on the team or other key members in the company. They are mostly there to see if you'd be a good culture fit. Again, don't lie. Be yourself. If it is a good fit, then you will move on and possibly get an offer.


Get used to constant rejections and be thankful if a real human sends you that rejection email. Most of the time, you're going to get a ton of automated rejections that get sent every Friday. I've become so accustomed to checking my email on Friday mornings only to find a ton of rejection emails. Some may feel heavy but you just have to move on. It hurts for sure but you're just going to have to move on. It's weird sometimes. I got rejections for jobs that I thought I perfectly matched and then got calls back for jobs that I didn't match at all. It's all a part of the application game. Just move on to the next one. It is largely a volume game. The more good applications you send, the more likely you are to receive a response. Remember, you only need that one.


Create a schedule for yourself. Treat it like a job. The recruiters/companies are the client and you must sell yourself. Pace yourself. When I was fresh out of bootcamp, I applied for 12-14 hours a day. I completely burnt myself out and needed a break. Allocate a few hours of your day to apply. This is going to take grit and effort. It's supposed to be hard. Create a schedule and follow it.

Keep Pushing

The worst thing that happened during my first application process was receiving an offer that was rescinded. I got a $90k offer from a digital agency and was set to start the week after. Well 1 week goes by and they lose their biggest client. Nearly their entire dev team was laid off and my position disappeared.  I didn't even get to start. I'd only heard of something like this happening to people online and then it happened to me. The process is going to be rough. Keep going. Find a mentor and community and ask for help. You are not alone in this. Nothing good comes from something easy. Try, fail, and try again. It took over 200+ intentional applications for me to get an offer. If you don't have grit and tenacity, find some.

Remember, it only takes one.

I hope this helps. If you're reading this and feeling lost, feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn! So many people have helped me along the way and I'd love to pass it forward.