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Hacking the Job Market: Self-Taught Engineers Leading the Way

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Hacking the Job Market: Self-Taught Engineers Leading the Way

There’s more than one route into tech (as most self-taught engineers can attest to), and it’s changing the shape of the industry for good. Persistently pesky skill gaps and sparse talent pools are pushing employers to think differently when it comes to recruiting top talent, but what are they finding?

In many cases, they’re finding incredible self-taught software engineers. The ‘self-taught’ moniker is nothing new, nor is it uncommon – what is new, however, is the growing appetite to hire them.

It’s not that the traditional degree-centred route isn’t valuable (it definitely is), it’s that we’re in the midst of a paradigm shift. As companies move to place a greater emphasis on hiring for skills or coachability over experience, getting a foot in the tech door is far more viable than it once was. Besides, every engineer is self-taught to some extent. The discipline is always changing, and thanks to a wealth of platforms, there’s always room to learn autonomously.

Who’s Hiring?

Netflix, IBM, Google, Spotify, GitHub, and many, many more of the biggest brands (and exciting startups) are well-versed in hiring self-taught tech aficionados, but it’s not just the top tech players that have their eye on the world’s autodidactic job seekers – plenty of ambitious startups are wide-open to the idea.

When it comes down to it, every company is different, and every one of those companies approaches their recruitment and working culture in very different ways. For job seekers looking to go the self-taught route, this makes doing your research an even more important part of the process.

Are they renowned for their inclusive hiring practices? What kind of training opportunities do they have in place? Are there internal networks you can join? What on earth does the interview process look like? These are all questions worth asking, and they can likely all be answered by a decent recruiter.

What’s Changed?

The rise of the self-taught software engineer in no way devalues the incredible achievements of those who got themselves a computer science degree. Every route into the industry is valid, and there are opportunities for people from every background.

What’s changed recently? The battle for tech talent has been fought at full speed in recent years, and despite the drop off in hiring (and waves of layoffs), tech jobs are still the most in-demand roles out there.

Skill gaps are still the prevailing issue for much of the global tech industry. In Germany for example, the number of open positions is expected to swell to 780,000 (according to McKinsey).

Businesses are being forced to rethink their hiring strategies, which, in many cases, means rethinking which kind of candidates they’re targeting in the first place.

Moreover, access to education is struggling to keep pace with the rate at which technology is evolving – alternative avenues must be explored if we hope to make entering the tech workforce viable for a wider and more diverse range of candidates.  

Tips for Job Seekers

In spite of the many exciting job prospects opening up left right and centre, landing a job can still be a mighty uphill hike. For the self-taught engineers, here are some tips to make the journey a little easier:

  • Build your profile – your personal brand is a powerful tool. It doesn’t necessarily secure you a job on its own, but over time, it definitely stirs up interest from potential employers and recruiters. Get posting and share your insights!

  • Show off your projects – you’re self-taught? What did you build when you were learning the ropes? Projects highlight your ability to develop your skills proactively, and they make a good case for your passion.

  • Find the right company for you – The blanket application approach scarcely yields the right results. Find an opportunity you like the look of, tailor your CV/resumé to the role, and familiarise yourself with the interview process. If you’ve got software engineers in your professional network, it’s worth finding out how they landed their job. Ultimately, a more targeted approach to finding an opportunity will typically result in more relevant roles.

  • Learn to pitch – Your dream role might never make it to the advertising stage. Learn to pitch your skillset, connect with the relevant hiring manager, and reach out! There are many ways it can go well, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

  • Don’t quit – Everyone has setbacks. Don’t give up when you feel like you’ve hit a wall.

Support from the SODA Squad

Here at Trust in SODA, we’ve placed many incredible self-taught engineers over the years, and we don’t plan on stopping any time soon. If you need support from a specialist digital tech recruiter, our consultants have you covered. Whether you’re hoping to join our growing community of tech professionals or you’ve got a goal to get hired, contact the team today, we’re here to help.