Build your job resume today with our free tool
Resume Surgeon > Resume Surgeon Advice > Industry Spotlight > Industry Spotlight: Software Engineer Careers

In this latest career interview, Resume Surgeon talk to Paul Taylor, a Freelance Software Engineer, to find out more about the job role and some career tips for those wanting to get into the industry.

Tell Us About Your Career Background

I joined the industry in 1998 after graduating university at the age of 23. After working for a couple of places short-term that didn’t quite fit, I landed a job working for an American-based Internet Service Provider, performing dual system administration and software development. In 2000, I left the permanent employment market to work freelance, spending 2 years working on various contracts. The .dot com bubble burst in 2001, so I re-entered permanent employment at this time, working for a number of design agencies. During this time I developed large, public-facing websites for external clients. I re-entered the contract market in 2007 and have been there ever since.

What Does Working as a Software Engineer Entail?

Being glue. Ultimately, the work of a software engineer remains consistent; turn a set of requirements into a software system. Early phases of projects normally involve the collection of requirements, which means talking with your customers to determine what they want. This is normally formalised into a specification. Development begins once everyone is agreed on system scope (defined as what the system should do). Once a spec has been produced for the benefit of the customer, the usual process would be to complete a technical specification. This contains the nitty-gritty that a customer won’t be concerned with, but is of vital importance to any other developer that follows me on the project. It’s also the stage where the system is actually written, despite no programming code being produced. When this step is properly completed, the actual task of programming becomes a colour-by-numbers exercise.

Do You Need Specific Qualifications to Work in this Industry?

Technically, no. In practice, it really helps. I know some really gifted people who work for very decent companies who don’t have a university degree, but I’ve also been involved in hiring staff and know that a lack of degree will immediately exclude candidates from consideration in some cases.

What Advice Would You Give to Someone Looking to Work in this Industry?

Only go into the industry if your motives are pure and you genuinely enjoy working with technology. Don’t do it for the money alone. You’ll be miserable, and will always play second-best to someone with a genuine passion for the industry. Besides, the pay might be great but the hours can be long, especially in the final phases of a project. Advice for anyone avoiding university would be to work on community projects in the Open Source movement. A well-received project will net you a ton of opportunities; no questions asked about your credentials.

In Your Opinion What is the Most Important Thing to Include on a Resume?

Relevant technical skills, length of time spent using them and examples of successfully delivered work. A great deal of access to the industry goes through recruitment agencies, who use keyword searches to narrow down their candidate lists.

Get started with our free resume service! Try it today!