Questions about jobs

I have received some emails from people ask me for advice. Many go directly to a subject such as: “I have programming skills in Java, C++ and some network experiences, do you think I can get good job in current market?”, “I have Microsoft and Cisco certificates, do you think  I can go to work for these companies?” “Is it true that there is a global shortage of software developers? How can I get a job as software developer with foreign companies?”  and many similar questions. Of course, I cannot give you answers to such questions without additional information. Following are some of my comments that you may want to consider:

  1. What is your education degree? (High school diploma? Two year vocational degree? Bachelor’s degree? Master degree or higher?) Without a bachelor degree as minimum, it is impossible to get a good job anywhere because today the competition is fierce.
  2. What is your work experience? How many years of work, and what kind of work have you done? Is your work experience relates to your education? Is your work experience relates to the job that you are seeking? Without some work experiences, it is very difficult to compete against other candidates who have several years of working experiences. Some companies consider part-time work to get experience in their chosen fields is preferable because you have the ability to hold a job when in school. Many foreign companies consider no work experience as “laziness”.
  3. Have you ever do volunteer work? Have you ever do any charity works? Many companies consider people who are willing to work for nothing as volunteers, to spend time in charity works more positively rather than people with no work experience.
  4. What is the demand of your current local job market? Before looking elsewhere, you should look for something close to home first. Do you know what your local job market need? What skills are in high demand? What is the opportunity for someone like you? Are they hiring entry-level people? If you cannot get job in local market, the chance to work in global market is probably limited.
  5. What other technical skills beside programming do you have? Having programming language skills in Java, C++ is NOT enough to distinguish you from other applicants. Every candidates in software industry also have programming skills. You need more than just programming skills to compete. You need knowledge of software life cycle, methodologies and tools as minimum.
  6. What kind of special and exceptional skills do you have? Large software companies like Microsoft or Google are very selective in their hiring due to the overwhelming of candidates. The minimum requirements are a bachelor or master degrees in specific fields from specific schools. Certificates in Microsoft, Cisco products are mostly for technical supports, entry-level jobs at other companies who use their product, NOT in their companies.
  7. There are at least two situations with foreign company that must be explained here: Some foreign companies open offices in local area, hire local developers to work in the local area. In that case, beside technical skills, additional foreign language would be required. The other situation is foreign companies that hire developers from a foreign countries and bring them to their countries to work, this is more of a special situation that require exceptional candidates who have highly skills that these foreign company need.
  8. How good is your English? Can you read, write or carry a conversation for about fifteen minutes in English? If you do not read or write in English or carry a conversation in English, what would be your chance to work for a English speaking foreign company?
  9. What are other skills that you have beside the technical skills that you learned in school? Technical skills alone is NOT enough, you do need to have some soft-skills. Have you identified what soft skills that you have?
  10. If you already working as a software developer but want to seek another position. Are you interested in management job or prefer to stay in technical job? You need to know exactly what you want and state your purpose clearly. Be prepare to answer more questions on the reason that you want to switch job.
  11. What kind of job are you doing now? What kind of job would you like to be doing? Why do you want to change job? How important is salary to you? How important is job satisfaction? If you could have any job at all, what would that be? Be careful when answer these questions. You must be prepared and know exactly what you want because they are key questions to determine hiring and not hiring a person. When changing job, changing company you must be prepared to answers questions like these.
  12. Why are you seeking the same work as your current position? Why do you want to seek the same position? Are you NOT happy with the current company? What do you expect from our company? Why do you want to work for us? You must be very careful about these questions. NEVER be negative about anything, NEVER say any bad things about anything. Always stay positive and answer in a clear manner that you are seeking new challenge, new opportunity that can help you to learn more.
  13. Have you ever manage any software project? Be prepare to discuss your experiences and what kind of skills you learned as management. You will need to explain all the phases of project and how do you plan, how do you monitor and track, how do you estimates etc. Project Management is a highly sought after, always in high demand, have good salary but it requires significant “practical experience” based on years of managing project.
  14. What are your long-term career goals? What do you see yourself five years from now? If you do NOT know yourself, if you do NOT have a plan for your career than you are NOT ready.

With answers to these questions, you will get to know more about yourself as well as your capabilities that your are pondering. By going through some of these questions and answers, it will help you to prepare yourself in seeking work and create a “career roadmap” that can guide you to do what you want. I hope it can help you to determine your short and long terms goals that you can apply to any specific location or situations.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
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