Data point on why networking is KEY as a new grad (bootcamp or otherwise!)

Getting that first job out of school, either bootcamp or traditional degree program, is the toughest one to get. We know the paradox of jobs requiring experience (but how do you get it without a job?). There are ways to get around that, but this post is focused on why networking really is so important, particularly for that first job.

As a recent bootcamp grad trying to get my first engineering role, I’m constantly looking at indeed and LinkedIn for new job posts. I recently noticed something interesting. See if you can spot it:

These are two posts, right next to each other, for a “software engineer” job query in Austin, TX on LinkedIn. The first one is entry level. The second one is mid-level/experienced. They’re both based out of cities different than Austin, and about the same size. Notice anything particularly interesting?

The entry-level position has 96 tracked applicants in 7 hours of being live on the site.

The senior one after being live for 11 hours? 2. That’s about 50% greater time than the entry-level role, with about 2% the application rate! Why does this happen?

Theories abound that the Austin, TX job market is not balanced. Because of its start-up driven culture and economy, and lack of companies with large, local established engineering teams, there is much more demand for experienced engineers than there is for entry-level ones. Maybe that’s true. Maybe not. Either way, how does an entry-level candidate stand out to get that first job?

Maybe you graduated at the top of your class. You know data structures and algorithms back and forth, and can build beautiful well-performant applications with various frameworks. It won’t matter if the recruiter doesn’t pick you out the other hundreds of applications after an entry-level job post has been up for a week. How do you stand out?

NETWORKING

This is when the old adage of who you know being more important that what you know rings true.

If there is an opening for a job that gets hundreds of applications (typical for entry-level software engineering positions in Austin- and probably most places), you could leave it to luck to have a recruiter even look at your application. But if the recruiter, or hiring manager, or someone else at the company knows you, and tells the recruiter, “hey, take a look at this applicant”, the recruiter, more often than not, will. Not only because there’s an incentive to do so (referral bonuses), but because it makes business sense. It’s better to work with people that you know or like, than to take the risk on a stranger. No different than it would be if you’re selecting a roommate, or plumber, or a date.

So get over it. Do the meetups. Ask people to help you. Be active in the community. With numbers like I just showed, it’s likely the best shot you’ve got!

Always learning.