...or at least, my approach, from both sides of the desk, some quick advice for job seekers
Prelims, i.e., Should've been doing this all along, so start NOW
- Make sure your linkedin is up to date and you take a good look at the public profile view, that it says what you want it to say. And, make sure it says, "I'm really good with language A, os B, and products like C." That's the news hiring types can use. Make really sure that those items come out above the fold of your public profile.
- Google yourself. Google yourself with your home city, with your last employer, with your blog title (got a blog?) See what shows up publicly and decide if it's something that helps or hurts if a potential hiring person sees it. If you have a less common name or spelling, you're more likely to turn up in the first page or two of listings. Most hiring folks will give up at that point. If you can change or request removal of questionable content, do it. Even if it's slightly negative, it can move you down the "callback" stack one or two positions.
- SEO yourself. Create profiles and posts in high reputation places, e.g., Stackoverflow, Angelist, Github and/or Bitbucket, Elance, etc. That last one, Elance, is a special case, it's a freelance consulting site (and there are others.) It's a double edged sword:
- Pros: You can make some money in between fulltime gigs, and demonstrate your skill, value and get rated by outsourcers, which looks good. There are also contract to hire opps, as well us individuals looking to build something, then fund it. If you play your cards right, it's a stepping stone.
- Cons: You'll have to answer to, "Are you really looking for fulltime, or are you a contractor?" The answer, "I've done contract work because I look carefully for my long term commitments, and short contracts help me stay sharp, pickup new skills, and pay some bills."
- Stackoverflow, Github, Bitbucket: These are great, proactive ways to build a rep. Stackoverflow is a great way to demonstrate talent if you're good at answering questions in your strong suit. If you build up a strong enough rep on s.o., put it on your linked in. Github and Bitbucket are great places to either...
- Find an open source project to fork and fix bugs or add features to. Just the know-how to use Git or Mercurial will look good; these are two of the most popular source code management systems in use today.
- Start your own project, build something, push it to one of those public repo providers. Someone asks for a code sample, just give 'em the url! For example, here's a Facebook demo I did a few years back: Cones.
TIme to Beat the Bushes
Either you know you need to look soon, you've been looking, or the change of job was a blindside...here are next steps:
- Back to LinkedIn. If you're a software professional and you don't have a decent network, then you've been remiss. Start now, connect with everyone you've worked with and liked, and any other friends, colleagues, or classmates you can think of. Send them inmails, personalized for them (how you know them, when you worked together, etc.) and let them know you're looking, if they have or hear of anything. You'll probably need to upgrade to a job seeker or premium account, at least while you're looking. Google around for specials and trials, though.
- Job sites
- LinkedIn Jobs is one of the better sites out there. I can tell you it's expensive for employers, so hiring folks who post there are serious. (Though, there are some recruiting firms that troll there; recruiters are a mixed bag, but don't have time here for my thoughts on that subject.) All the more reason to have an excellent linked in profile: that'll be the first thing they look at.
- Stackoverflow Careers is probably the highest quality meeting place for tech employers and talent. From the same folks I mentioned above, and all the better if you have a high Stackoverflow rating.
- Angelist Jobs is a solid way to find startup company jobs. They may pay below market, but there's a lot of good ground floor opportunities if you have the mindset for a startup. My experience with Angelist postings is they don't waste your time: either they act really quickly, or ignore you completely (probably not hiring any more.)
- Elance I mentioned above and won't say more.
- Dice: First there was Monster. Then there was Dice. Then there was everyone else who built their job site to not turn into Monster or Dice. Well, Dice is still good if you want to meet recruiters, and some recruiters are good, perhaps if you're an early or mid-career hands-on software or networking engineer. But, keep in mind that you don't pay these guys, employers do (sometimes begrudgingly) which is usually one mark down going in to recruiter arranged interviews. (Disclaimer: doesn't apply to retained recruiters.) Enough said.
There are certainly more sources and techniques, but these are mine. (Oh, do read one or two "How to interview well" sites.) Be patient, and keep in mind it takes a couple dozen inquiries, more than 10 warm leads, some time, timing, and a bit of luck, even if you're very good at what you do!
And if the search stalls...well, write some software, push it to Github and solicit funding for your own startup on Angelist!