“Good, experienced engineers don’t usually apply themselves — most roles are closed by headhunting,” Karyna reveals.
Every week, technical role recruiters reach out to hundreds of potential candidates. So how can you be one of the lucky ones?
“In technical recruitment, we create a sourcing strategy encompassing important keywords that help us target people with relevant experience.”
Karyna has some improvements you can make to your LinkedIn profile, which can make you more likely to be headhunted:
Fill in your skills section;
Write a description of all roles, including a breakdown of exactly what you did;
Include keywords throughout your profile to make it easier for recruiters to find you;
Add your education history. Education’s crucial for technical roles, and recruiters typically look for people with a computer science background;
Mention the programming languages you’re competent in, e.g. Java, PHP or C# Sharp, and your years of experience.
Thanks to an array of online resume-making platforms, such as Resumake, you can choose from various layouts to suit your preferences.
Remember that, on average, recruiters only view a resume for just 7 seconds, so keep it concise.
“Don’t make a resume longer than 2 pages,” explains Bolt’s Lead Technical Recruiter. “If it’s 3, 5, or 10 pages — that’s a bad sign. The recruiter won’t look at everything.”
Start your resume by providing your personal information:
Your full name;
Your location — this is important since headhunters select talent from all over the world;
Link to personal websites, Linkedin, GitHub, HackerRank, and other developer programmes.
Keep this section short and simple with relevant skills you want the recruiter to know you have. Remember to cross-reference with the job description to ensure you don’t forget any skills the employer’s looking for — the more skills you have that match the job description, the better!
Your list of technical skills should include programming languages, operating systems, and architecture types. Having an exceptional skill level in every language is unrealistic, so include your proficiency level to let the recruiter know which you’re strongest in.
Opt for 3 tiers: advanced, intermediate, basic, fluent, proficient, and familiar. To make it easy for recruiters to verify your skills, include links to your profiles on GitHub, HackerRank, LeetCode or React.
“A recruiter will check your profiles to see the activity on these resources,” says Karyna. “When we see, for example, that an applicant’s practising algorithms, it already shows that the person could be a good match.
High activity on those platforms also means that the person invests their time into expanding their knowledge, and that’s a good sign for us.”
For roles in the computer engineering field, the value of education can’t be understated. As such, you must include all relevant education in your resume.
Here’s what you can include:
University, college, or institution;
The period you studied there;
The degree you earned;
Higher education’s essential, but it doesn’t have to be from one of the major universities.
“If a person didn’t have a chance to study at a top university but did study computer science, it also works for us,” explains Karyna.
“Of course, the perfect case scenario is when a person gets a Master’s degree in computer science from a top university. But it’s also okay if someone didn’t attend a leading university.”
Once you’ve detailed your higher education qualifications, consider including any relevant certifications.
In the technical engineering field, skills are expected to be practised, and coding languages are learnt by taking supplementary courses, especially for senior positions.
“We appreciate when candidates expand their knowledge by taking different courses,” says Karyna. “By doing so, candidates show recruiters they’re committed and curious, and invest time in their self-development.”
For example, at Bolt, we use Node.JS, but we don’t expect everyone to be familiar with the language, nor do we look for people with specific Node.JS experience. Instead, an interest and eagerness to learn are just as important.
“If you’re curious enough and willing to learn, switching from another programming language to Node.JS won’t be an issue. If you already know something, are studying, and are curious to learn another programming language — it’s a big plus for us.”
You can show enthusiasm to hone your skills and brush up on coding languages via these additional resources:
For tech positions, experience is just as important as education. In this section, you can elaborate on the following:
Where you worked;
How long you’ve worked there;
Primary tasks and responsibilities;
It can be tempting to embellish past roles, but be aware that a seasoned technical recruiter can see through false claims.
“Under each project, if a candidate writes that they improved all processes or built everything from scratch, I can tell they’re exaggerating when I see they only have 3 years experience,” says Karyna.
Be honest, avoid using fancy words to dress something up, and only list your relevant skills and achievements.
For recent graduates concerned about their lack of work experience, personal projects are a great way to bypass the issue. Personal projects can be anything related to the field and show your dedication and skills.
“If you’re a junior and don’t know what to write in your CV, my advice is to go to the careers page, open the junior software engineer position, and understand the keywords,” Karyna says.
“This can also help if you don’t know how to describe your skills. Go to the job description, find the similarities, and add them to your resume.”
Internships are the best gateway into the engineering field. Since Bolt mainly recruits middle and senior-level engineers and above, internship programmes and junior positions aren’t something that we currently offer. However, once in a while, we run short internship programmes.
“To get accepted for an internship, there are a few interview stages where graduates need to perform coding skills, plus an interview with a hiring manager or the team to assess soft skills.”
Given the nature of technical roles, the technical skills we explained earlier have greater importance than soft skills. But some critical soft skills are still important to consider.
“Hard skills are more relevant and important for engineers,” says Karyna. “It’s difficult to describe soft skills, but some important ones are communication, problem-solving, and thinking outside the box.”
It isn’t possible to assess these soft skills by reading a resume, so candidates need to display them during the interview process.
During an interview, recruiters will keep a close eye on such qualities as:
Intelligence: we look for intelligent people who think systematically and can learn and solve complex problems;
Drive: we look for hardworking people who are motivated to tackle complex challenges with enthusiasm;
Integrity: we look for people who show empathy and are ethical, trustworthy, and honest. They demonstrate a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values.
When you make it to the interview stage
Whether you’ve been headhunted, referred, or you’ve applied for a position, the interview process for Bolt tech positions is the same.
The process consists of 4 stages: an introductory call with a recruiter, a live coding interview, a system design and API challenge, and, finally, a non-technical interview. You’ll need to show a variety of skills throughout each of these stages.
Stage one: relaxed call with the recruiter
To begin, applicants can expect an informal call with the recruiter, where they share more details about relevant open positions.
“We usually don’t have just 1 open engineer position. We’re looking for backend engineers in multiple teams,” Karyna says.
The introductory call’s designed to best place the candidate and act as a screening process to assess the person’s motivation and see if there are any red flags.
Although the interview’s informal, it’s still a job interview and an excellent opportunity to make an impression. Prepare by researching the company and all possible job positions, and make a case for why you’d be a good fit for the roles you’re interested in.
Stage two: algorithmic live coding interview
Candidates progressing to the next stage will be invited to demonstrate their technical competencies with a live coding interview. Bolt’s algorithmic challenge is held on the HackerRank platform in a language of the candidate’s choice and lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The candidate will receive a task, and the interviewer’s available to answer questions and guide them from start to finish. The candidate’s technical skills are assessed throughout, but equal emphasis is attributed to their ability to communicate and ask questions.
“We don’t look for magical unicorns or someone who can resolve every single problem,” Karyna says. “It’s possible that the applicant might be using the platform for the first time or be nervous at the thought of being watched while coding.”
“If a person can own up to mistakes and ask for help or hints, this is the most important quality we look for.”
For a successful live coding interview, communicate well, explain your choices, be transparent, and own up to your flaws.
Stage three: coding challenge
Any engineering role that involves designing and building products will require an API design interview — the third stage of Bolt’s technical interview process. Here, candidates will need to assess, plan, design, and review an API that meets the problem presented by the interviewer.
API design interviews are a relatively new addition for tech companies and primarily act as a tool to determine an applicant’s seniority level.
“At this stage, we’re checking seniority — if the person’s ever worked with architecture or been responsible for feature development,” says Karyna.
You should prepare for this interview to avoid being lowered into a more junior position or missing your next job progression.
Stage four: non-technical interview
The process ends with another informal conversation. But this time, the focus is whether a candidate would integrate well with the team and is a good ‘fit’ for the company.
This is particularly important at Bolt since many recruits are relocated to one of our 4 engineering hubs. “In 80% of cases, we relocate specialists from different countries, and it’s a huge risk for both parties,” explains Karyna.
This stage is just as much about getting to know the person and judging if they’re a good match for the team as it is about explaining the working environment to them.
“We provide as much information to candidates as possible — the team environment, the challenges, and what this person will do.”
Be prepared to detail why you’d be a great fit for the organisation and vice versa. You can score extra points by researching the company’s culture beforehand. And remember to ask questions — the more you know about the team and the company, the easier it’ll be for you to understand if it’s somewhere you want to join.
Diversity in computer engineering
The gender disparity in computer engineering is an issue Bolt and other leading tech companies are working hard to resolve.
Only 20% of computer science professionals are women, and there are multiple reasons for this. But for recruiters like us, we must promote gender equality and increase diversity in the field.
“We have a specific diversity project in our sourcing, and we’re trying to attract more and more female engineers each quarter.”
Searching for your dream tech job?
If you’re searching for a new tech role where you can build solutions for real-world problems, look no further than Bolt.
We’re always on the lookout for top-tier talent for our engineering hubs. Put your tech skills to the test in a collaborative environment that builds products used by 150 million customers worldwide every day.
If you have what it takes, dust off your resume, browse our careers page, and apply for a suitable role.