Are you on the job hunt in the Australian tech market? Looking forward to applying to your dream companies? In this post, we will cover the experiences of three software engineers from various backgrounds, different countries, and different situations(one of them taking care of a newborn baby) who successfully found tech jobs in Australia that were meaningful to their careers. Presenting,
- Sagar Ghimire, Software Engineer at Finder
- Monica Mendes Montanha, Junior Software Engineer at Domain
- Iryna Propenko, Java software engineer, Tyro Payments
How did they find themselves a perfect tech job? The topics below will uncover what they think helped make their job search easier.
It matters that you get in touch with the tech community around you. It helps you reach out to people who have been on a similar journey that you are going through. You may find people looking to team up with someone like you. Explaining his initial job search days in Australia,
Sagar says, ”I came to Sydney from Kathmandu, Nepal in July 2018 with my wife who was starting her Master’s degree in IT. I started looking for jobs online through portals like Seek, Indeed, LinkedIn, and such. I got a few interviews but it didn’t get much past that. We started going to tech meetups around the city to learn about the tech industry here, during which I got in touch with the Nepalese tech community. One of the people I met was Geshan who is working as a Lead Software Engineer at THE ICONIC. He introduced me to a project called ResPos that a handful of the Nepalese techies were contributing to at that time.”
Let’s say you now found a project/company you are interested in. What do you do if it doesn’t offer any positions currently that you feel confident about?
Monica , who is a physiotherapist turned software engineer shares how to get in touch with relevant people. She is now a software engineer at Domain, one of the most sought after tech companies of Australia.
Monica Mendes Montanha, Junior Software Engineer at Domain
"You might frequently find job ads postings that require a lot more experience than you got. But if you really want to work for/with them, give it a try to talk directly to any of the people from there and express your interest. There is a great chance that they might open their doors for you.", she shares.
Battling Job anxiety:
How do you look at failure and what do you say to yourself? It seems that your mindset plays a huge role in keeping your mental health in check when the job search gets tedious.
On this subject, Sagar suggests, “Get used to rejections. They are part of the process. Rejection does not always mean you have failed, oftentimes the companies are looking for something very specific which may not be the right thing for you. Do your research to find out if the company and its culture feel like a place you could fit into.”
Sagar Ghimire, Software Engineer, Finder, AU
I applied for over 200 jobs and interviewed for about 20 roles before I got my first two offers in 2019. Learning from rejections and applying them to my next interviews really helped me. -
Sagar Ghimire, Software Engineer, Finder, AU
Some people break down mentally when they need a job urgently and can’t find one sooner. Some others face adversities with everything they have. For example, It’s inspiring to see how Iryna, a software engineer at Tyro, went about her job hunt while also managing to care for her baby.
“I sent my resume to The Iconic (for the first time)in Australia and they called me. I almost died I was so nervous 🤪😂 but I was glad to hear the recruiter say that I had cleared the first stage of their hiring process. I was emotionally overwhelmed because this came at a time when I couldn’t afford childcare so I ask my mom to come to Australia and take care of my son while I was doing all these interviews”, she reminisces.
Iryna Propenko, Java software engineer, Tyro Payments, AU
How to find a job? You should be motivated, that's all. I found a job in a new country, without a PR visa (on a fiance visa) with a baby on my hand, without English and previous experience. -
Iryna Propenko, Java software engineer, Tyro Payments, AU
In an empathetic note, Monica shares how we may never feel like we are ready but we have to take a leap of faith anyway. She says,
“From what I know, I would say that every junior's big question is always "When will I land my first job?". The job-hunting process is exhausting to everybody, but being a newbie itself makes this journey a little more daunting. Unfortunately, people are preferably looking for someone who has years of experience and/or rarely has time to mentor/teach you, so as a junior, most of them expect you to be ready."
Monica at the right end of the picture with the MUSES JS CREW in Sydney.
One thing that I'm always questioning is, sincerely, we are never absolutely ready - even if we say we are, we all know that, by the end, we’re gonna do the best that we can and learn by doing (if we get a chance)But, ready ready... NEVER! There is always something that we haven’t even heard about.
”-Monica Mendes, Junior Software Engineer, Domain, AU
Giving back through side projects:
Turn it around and instead of looking for what you can get; look for people and places that need your help. This can be achieved through side projects or other involvement with your tech community. You may never know what might turn into a sustainable work opportunity. Monica leads by example here. She has involved herself in many events and communities that have helped her grow as a professional. You can read more about her work here.
As a solution to take such a step forward she says,
“Be involved with the community, attend meetups, and volunteer on organizing tech events and conferences. Be willing to mentor someone despite being a Junior dev - We know how easy is to always find someone that knows more than us, but the inverse is also true, try to help someone that is taken their first steps, it is really satisfying and also it is one of the best ways to learn and grow."
Monica Mendes hosting the ServerlessDays ANZ 2020.
Finding a tech job as an immigrant in Australia:
Iryna shares her struggle of searching for tech jobs as an immigrant while having a language barrier and a child to take care of.
“I have two degrees: finance and engineering. I used to work in an insurance company as an investigator and later shifted to IT in the same company. I feel like my experience as an IT professional made it a little easier for me to look for similar jobs in Australia. After I received a fiance visa, I left for Australia. At some time, I got pregnant and gave birth to my son there.
Iryna with her son, Leo.
After a year I got a wife visa and now I wanted to be more secure with my finances. At first, I wanted to go to the coles or woolies to unpack food as a job, but my husband guessed that they wouldn’t hire me unless I could speak fluent English(I never learned English, I spoke french). As an alternative, I thought I would bake cakes and cook other food. However, my mother in her good humor suggested that someone may get poisoned and blame my food and turned down the idea.
Over time I realized that I could try to find office work. I started looking for positions like business analyst, product owner, etc., and everywhere I needed relevant experience and perfect English.”
Monica recollects her early days of looking for a tech job as a software engineer in Australia.
“I am a Brazillian and a former physiotherapist who used to work helping kids’ development for 7 years. I decided to change my career to become a software engineer. My journey began when I came to Australia in 2017. I reckon my big challenge was dealing with anxiety in trying to be myself, learning a different language, in another country and another culture, we know that things like that take time, also at the same time I was switching careers which usually comes along with a big level of uncertain in every single step that you take as everything is new.”
Applying to many jobs and waiting for them to respond may seem like a long time. As a more proactive approach, you can seek an employee referral that helps you gain the trust of an insider of the company you would like to work for. It is a game-changer because it almost doubly improves your chances of getting hired. Sagar reflects on how to look for an employee referral.“Tech skills are definitely an important part of your core skill set but you also need to work on your soft skills. They will help you communicate better with people, contribute your ideas and relay your challenges even after you land a job. Connecting with people can also help you get referrals to the companies that you wish to work for.”
At the time of writing this, I’ve been with Finder for 6 months now. The preparations were similar to the first job searches in Sydney. But this time I had more experience and a referral to help me fast track my application. - Sagar Ghimire, Software Engineer, Finder, AU
He further explores, “I wanted to join a place that values learning, growth, and collaboration. Some of the things I did as a preparation include looking up the company and doing some research around what they did and what values they stand for, Lookup interviewers in LinkedIn to get an idea of what area they specialize in.”
Enhancing your existing skillset in your relevant area of work can give you the leg up to land your dream tech job sooner. There are many ways you can build yourself to become a more skilled professional.
For example, Sagar says, “ One great opportunity to expand my portfolio and learn something new is to work along with people who helped me identify gaps in my knowledge as well as job applications.”
Iryna says, “I enrolled into a $14 java course for testers and another free manual testing course in udemy.”
Monica talks about involving in your respected work community through events and meetups to get a good sense of idea about your field of work. She says, “Get a better understanding of "best practices" in your field through good books, blogs, podcasts, etc when you are beginning as a junior. I’ve been working at Domain for roughly 1 year and 7 months now. Before that, I’ve embedded myself in the tech industry by attending meetups, enrolling in the LevelUp program at ThoughtWorks, and studying the Software Engineering Immersive course at General Assembly. I’ve got a chance to help organize a few conferences and meetups such as ReactConfAU, YOW!, DDD Sydney, ServerlessDays, and MusesJS, which on the last two I’m still involved as a Co-organiser and as a mentor respectively."
Resume and interview tips:
Working on your tech resume, preparing for interviews, writing a good cover letter will be a part of the job search process once you start applying. Even in this stage, our software engineers share tips to get you through the thresholds by learning from their experience.
He says, “You can ask for interview feedback from companies where your application doesn’t move further. Not all of them may respond but some will give you a good idea of where you can improve. Also, it’s important to follow up on your application if you don’t hear back in a couple of days or weeks. It’s easy for your CV to get buried among all the applications coming into a company and sometimes following up can make a big difference.”
Sagar Ghimire, Software Engineer, Finder, AU
Reflecting on his personal experience, he shares, “ Each failed interview felt like a setback but they always helped me do my next interview better. I became more aware of my strengths and weaknesses. Eventually, I got 2 job offers.”
Iryna shares a personal account of how she landed interviews: “There was a lot of learning, working, CV revisions, and referrals before I started to land a significant amount of interviews. I looked up interview questions on Google and used Glassdoor to learn about company feedback. My friends helped me a lot with my resume and interview. I did mock interviews with my friend who pretended to be a recruiter. For a local experience, I wrote selenium tests for a guy on Facebook and got regular feedback for my work.”
Iryna with her son, baby Leo.
She talks about an emotional moment when she finally landed a job.“For the interview that got me this job, I had given it when I was getting better, only a few days after my surgery. So when the recruiter called me to say that I was hired I cried because I was so happy, and that was how I got my first job in Australia. The next 3 months were challenging as I learned English on the fly and had a job where I had a lot to learn, but that story is for another time!”
Working around the pandemic:
He relates to current times when Sagar says,” One good thing that has come out of the pandemic is that most companies have started seeing remote work as both possible and efficient. This means you are not restricted by your geographical location to apply for the company you wish to work for. I've seen and experienced that interviews are now happening over zoom/teams. While this might make the interviews more comfortable it can also lead to a longer than usual interview.
Zoom interviews, Iryna says, were both convenient and challenging for her. “It's easy because you don't need to commute. If it goes bad, you are still in the comfort of your home. It's challenging because I am social so I can smile, be funny and read facial cues better in person.”
Monica considers herself lucky to have landed a job before the pandemic hit. “We are living difficult times,” she says. “Luckily, I’ve found my job before this worldwide crisis around COVID - but what I can imagine is that knowing how a company carries itself in times of uncertainty like the pandemic could be an indicator of whether you would want to be a part of it as an employee.”
To conclude, Monica brings attention to an important fact that it's not just the company that chooses you. The job seeker also chooses the company. She elaborates, “ Understanding well what kind of people I want to work with and for is important. It’s good to have the clarity that it’s not just the company that chooses you, but that you also have the power to choose to work for them. Considering that their values, their missions align with your life values or even from the start how they treat you at the interview makes all the difference in this process and it will help identify if it is the kind of atmosphere that you wish to work in .”
Through these nuggets of wisdom, we hope that you get some kind of direction going forward in your job search. It certainly isn’t a one-day process and these software engineers do a great job at highlighting more ways than one that can help you reach your tech job goals.