Struggling to secure a job at a large tech company? Here’s what you’re doing wrong

By Othmane Ramtani

“I want to apply for this position but I’m afraid I’ll be rejected”, “I’ve sent my resume to all the big companies, but got no response”, “I wish I could join that company, but my background isn’t interesting”, etc. Do you have any of these negative thoughts? Do you feel unqualified to work for a large tech company? Do you think you don’t stand a chance with the big players in the industry? Here’s the truth: you’re wrong! I will explain why. 

My name is Othmane, I’m a Software Engineer and technical interviewer at Delivery Hero. Since starting my career, I have met so many talented Engineers who have great potential, yet feel unqualified to work at large tech companies. Often, they have tried and failed to join these companies, or have refrained from applying altogether. This is usually down to one problem: making the wrong assumptions. 

Before I get started, let’s agree on one thing: it’s difficult to get noticed by large tech companies when you’re an underground Engineer. You have to be very active. Hoping to be given a chance is one thing, working towards your goal is another thing entirely. So, how do you get your foot in the door of a Tech Giant? Here are the top 5 tips I wish I knew in my early career. 

1. The Must-Haves checklist

The main struggle that almost everyone faces at least once in their career is to feel unprepared for a big professional move. Some believe their skills are not enough, others are conscious that they will have to make a switch from another domain into Software Engineering. Some believe they should learn some very complicated technology before applying, etc.

First of all, define your ideal position: what Engineer are you? Front-end? Backend? QA? Data? It’s rare to find job opportunities as a Full-Stack Engineer in big companies. So look through the open positions on the company’s portal and choose one!

In any case, you have to have a certain set of skills that are required for the role. These consist of the basics of algorithmic, data structures, and problem-solving skills. I emphasize the term “basics”. You don’t have to be a Guru of your favorite technology (good for you if you are!). It’s about being able to carry out your daily tasks, and progressing from there.

If you are a beginner in Software Engineering, set up a roadmap to reach the necessary level. I recommend checking Developer Roadmaps to find useful illustrations for different roles. I also recommend the book “The Pragmatic Programmer” to lead yourself towards mastery.

2. You are the storyteller

A lot of Engineers fall into the trap of predicting what companies are looking for. Are you one of these engineers? If so, you may find yourself thinking that big tech companies are looking for high-profile resumes, or that they are not interested in your online presence. You may try to adjust your application, or perform differently in interviews, based on misconceptions. That’s not good!

Again, I admit it’s challenging to get into a top-tier company due to the high volume of applicants. Sometimes, other candidates have a “better” background than yours. But you will get noticed if you have a remarkable profile. It might be your open-source contributions, your passion for specific technologies… but most importantly, it’s your motivation. Companies want to have a personal, almost intimate, connection with you that adds value to the success story of the team and company. 

You are the perfect candidate if interviewers remember your story. In addition, you know yourself more than anyone does: if you pitch your skills and your qualifications for the job, there is no reason why you will not advance further in the hiring funnel.

3. Understand the scale of the company

It’s likely that you’re unfamiliar with the stack of your future company, or that you’ve never had an experience on a similar scale. For example, Delivery Hero processes millions of orders per day. I’ve never worked with such a volume of data before. However, I had the chance to prove my readiness to overcome the company’s challenges. 

You may not have any experience with the technology used by the company you are applying for. You may have worked in a smaller environment, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you come prepared. For example, you should improve your knowledge of large-scale applications, understand the complexity of distributed systems, and simply read more about the organization and business you are applying to work for. A good company will be willing to invest in your learning and development if you convey your long-term interest. 

A good tip to get insights about the company is to follow it on social media, attend its organized events, reach out to its employees, or simply read its blog articles. For example, Delivery Hero’s tech blog has interesting Tech & Product insights.

4. It’s all about the values

Performing well in interviews is not only about talking to multiple people and getting the job. It’s not only about nailing the coding interview. I would even go so far as to say it’s not only about excellent skills in some specific technologies.

Companies are looking for people who fulfill their values and enrich their culture. At Delivery Hero, we cherish the Heroes who care, deliver solutions, and always aim higher. Those values are prerequisites in the recruitment process. It’s important to display your soft skills as much as your hard skills.

When you’re looking for a position, you should think about the bigger picture. Are you excited to meet new people? Are you eager to learn new technologies? Are you ready to relocate? An open mindset is key, but that’s not all… be aware that the learning never stops once you get the position: teams change, organizations grow, priorities shift, etc. I advise setting a long-term development plan, which definitely requires a long-term vision of your professional career.

5. Don’t give up on applying

It’s okay to fail at your first few attempts to join a Tech Giant – or any company for that matter. I couldn’t join Delivery Hero the first time I applied, but it was a good learning experience to go through the hiring process because I had a better idea of the company, its business, its structure, etc.

The secret most Recruiters want you to know is that they love seeing you back on the candidates’ list.  It’s a sort of follow-up on your progress: did you consider their feedback? Did you learn from your previous mistakes? Are you better prepared? I guarantee you that the second interview is always better than the first one. So give it a few months, improve your skills, and apply again. There are lots of reasons why you will do better the next time you apply.

Wrapping up

It’s clear there are no magic tricks to get your foot in the door of a Tech Giant. No matter what your background is, soft skills are as important as engineering skills. Why not start your next application now? Delivery Hero is listed among the best places to work in Germany in 2021. Read our guide on how to prepare for technical interviews. Join me and many other Heroes by applying now.

Thank you Othmane! Would you like to secure a role at Delivery Hero? As always, we are still hiring, so check out some of our latest openings, or join our Talent Community to stay up to date with what’s going on at Delivery Hero and receive customized job alerts! Are you interested in training as a Junior Developer? Take a look at our newly launched Tech Academy.