A lot of the time when people try to get a job as a developer, they apply to a ton of places, even places they don't even know the name of.
It is obvious, whether you are genuinely interested in a place or not, hence most such applications get rejected.
This is when you are focused on the quantity of your applications.
Focusing on quality is what this article is about.
It is obvious
It is obvious if you are mass-applying. People aren't stupid, they can tell whether you randomly applied or didn't, in most cases at least.
I remember when I mass-applied. At first, it made me feel good, as if I have been productive, but in actuality, I have just wasted my time.
You don't apply with quality by sending a cover letter to every company you apply to, you do so by reaching out to the leaders of the company.
- Head of Engineering
- Engineering managers
- Tech leads
- Senior+ engineers
The first thing you want to do is to look up the company. Learn everything you can about their values, principles and mission. These are valuable things to mention when you are reaching out. You would mention the things you like along with the why you want to join the company and be a part of it.
Already, this makes you stand out immensely.
This, of course, takes a longer time. That means you should pick the company wisely and intentionally which companies you want to go out your way and try getting to the door with quality.
There is not really an objective stance here I think, reach out to the companies you genuinely like after having learned about them.
I know, all the text above might make you feel lost or anxious. Don't worry, let's go over an example.
We want to join Linear which is a really cool company.
Opening their page and scrolling down, we can already collect some information:
- Linear is a product for teams building products
- Linear's design is astonishing
- Linear is an issue-tracking tool that is enjoyable and has a great experience
- Great companies like Vercel are using Linear
- Linear also has a feature for roadmaps
Navigating around, we can collect some more information that makes Linear even a better issue tracking product:
- Linear has a public Changelog. They value transparency and are open to the progress of their work.
- Linear has custom integrations. They care about their customers being able to use Linear in ways that suit them.
Let's navigate to their Method page. That is where they share their principles and practices.
There is a bit to read here. We don't have to read everything, the introduction to their Principles & Practices should be enough. Let's read it and collect some information about what we like in particular.
You can read it yourself, we may differ in what we like the most.
- Build for the creators
- Simple first, then powerful
- Aim for clarity
- Decide and move on
I like these 4 points a lot from their principles.
- Mix features and quality work
- Write a changelog
- Understand your users
- Work in n-week cycles
I dig these practices a lot.
Linear seems to have a blog as well!
This is not necessary, but another thing we could do here is read a few posts, and collect feedback which we can mention when we're into the conversation a bit with the person we reach out to.
Now we have some information, let's reach out to someone!
On their about page, we can find all the people that work there and their socials.
You may have to scroll down, but we can find the CEO Karri Saarinen and his socials. It seems like it is possible to send him a private message on Twitter!
Now, I won't send him an actual message, but if I was to send him a message, this is how I would have written it:
Yo Karri, hope you're doing great! I saw what y'all are building at Linear, it is really cool! The design and features of the product look really awesome, y'all got some big customers too like Vercel despite being founded just 3 years ago!
I got curious and ended up reading about your Principles and Practices. There are numerous points that I love, in particular, building for the creators and understanding the users, considering they are the ones that will use the product in the end!
I'd love to be a part of the mission at Linear, helping dozen of companies in the world build their products more effectively :D Let me know if we could chat sometime soon, I would love to work at a place where I get to wake up excited every day for the mission ahead of myself, it'd mean the world!
One thing, this has worked great for me whenever I'm informal, if I'm writing it formally, then it already looks like a copy-pasted thing.
You may want to write it like that with some emojis.
That's it, this is how I would have approached trying to get into Linear. If the CEO wouldn't reply in the next 2 days, I would have sent a message to someone else, maybe a co-founder or engineering manager.
Mass-applying can work, but if you want to get into companies you genuinely like, apply with quality, that increases your chance drastically!