How Developers Scan Job Descriptions: SDE

How Developers Scan Job Descriptions: SDE

Software Development Engineer (Seattle)

Previously, Geekology interviewed an iOS Mobile Developer and an QA Engineer to learn how potential technical candidates feel about the job descriptions they would run into. In this installment in our series, we set to find out more by interviewing an experienced SDE currently working at a leading technology company. You will soon see from the candidate’s perspective on how he approaches the application process. Please note: the following analyses only reflects the opinion of the specific interviewee.

Please give us your career summary.

I’m a software engineer with 4 years of experience – 2 years at startups and 2 at a corporate level company. My key skills include:

  • C++
  • iOS Development
  • Parallel Computing
  • Computer graphics

If you were to get a new job today, what would it be?

I would remain in the software development field.  However, what’s more important is the freedom to choose the code/languages I want to utilize, as well as the chance to work on a strong team.

How would you go about conducting your job search?

First, I would find recruiting information at target companies. Next, I’d then look for open positions with my specific skill-sets. If possible, I may ask friends for internal referrals. Lastly, I will also browse emailed contacts from recruiters.

When you do an online search, how would you do it?

I have developed a routine that I follow when doing an online search during the application process. First I use Glassdoor to get a sense of the company I’m interested. I also use HireTeamMate to get a clearer picture of what kind of working environment I would be exposed to. Lastly, I have a subscription to the ACM Newsletter, where I will browse the recruiting section for more information.

Let’s find a job description. Please tell me what comes to your mind.

Okay, here’s a generic one found on LinkedIn when I searched for SDE related positions.

Company Info

I usually skip over the About Us section because it is more than likely generic, and a waste of my time. Unless it is a small company, there is little I need know about the company as I have already done my research elsewhere. I am more interested in the sections where I can find detailed specifics on the job position itself.

Job responsibilities and qualifications

Most important to me is the responsibilities section and preferred qualifications. This gives me a glimpse into the specific problem I will be working on, and what skills I will need. Oftentimes, the skillsets listed are generic. To me, this means that they are looking for fresh graduates/new hires and will team match once an offer has been made.

One thing that I think is important for me to mention is that generic descriptions only work for larger companies. A startup that has a generic description for their open positions means one thing to me – I will interpret generic descriptions at hiring startups as the startup having no specific goal in mind. If I see something like this from a startup, I will more than likely skip over this application as we are both wasting each other’s time. I will read over the preferred qualifications in detail; because the minimum qualifications are so generic, it doesn’t give me an idea of the specific team I may be applying for. To me, what’s more important are the skills that make me stand out from the pool of applicants when they team match after an offer is extended.

Miscellaneous Job Info

Lastly, I’ll take a couple seconds to browse over the remainder of the description. Miscellaneous information such as location, the years of experience necessary, etc. isn’t important as long as I can pass the technical portion of the interview.

Here is the interest heat map for the entire job description.

Overview: Sections of Interest of Job Description



Overall, our interviewee rated this job description a 2/5, as he believes positions are often listed this way for large companies. However, if it was a description provided by a small company, it would have be even lower. In his opinion, a 5/5 job description would explain, in detail, problems the team will be facing once he’s been hired.  He didn’t find that in this particular job description.


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