Our guides for employers and candidates on how to navigate the entry-level job market.

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Software Development Roles

How to hire a graduate for a Software Development role

Candidate profile:

A logical thinker with basic computer science skills and a passion for code. They should be a perfectionist with great attention to detail and very patient – bugs and design glitches will occur frequently no matter the company so it’s important the candidate can remain calm and work under pressure. It’s also important that the candidate is able to work well as part of a team with the ability to write clear instructions and reports for other team members.

Candidate must have a degree in Engineering, Computer Science or other related field. They should be familiar with at least one programming language and operating systems. These languages evolve and change over time but currently some of the more popular languages include C++, C#, Java, Lisp, Python. At entry-level a software developer would expect to be supervised in jobs such as designing code and formulating the scope of systems.

Top skills:

  1. Logical and structured thinking: software developers should be able to work methodically to solve problems that arise
  2. Attention to detail: necessary to ensure that mistakes are not made
  3. Willingness to learn: software is continually developing so potential developers should have an eagerness to learn and hone their skills
  4. Teamwork: the ability to work well with others on big projects
  5. Time management: the ability to juggle deadlines and ensure projects are delivered on-time

Non-office experience:

  • If the candidate has been involved with projects at university which required them to develop their programming skills and coding then this is valuable.
  • Any creative hobbies – putting software together is a creative process so a candidate should be able to think outside the box when designing programs.

Office experience:

  • Any relevant experience is valuable – this could be in the form of a placement year as part of their degree or part-time work within an IT field.
  • If the candidate has volunteered their skills to a charity or local business and it has helped them increase their knowledge of a computer language then this is valuable too.

Green flag

  • A curious individual who is willing to learn and is passionate about what they do.
  • A logical thinker who can think through set tasks and arguments step-by-step without getting frustrated or impatient.

Red flag

  • Someone who is sloppy and lacks attention to detail – so much bad coding is down to developers who haven’t taken the time to do what they should have done.
  • Someone who is impatient – when developing software or sorting glitches/malfunctions, a software engineer must patiently work through the code. Developing software can be very time-consuming!

At interview:

  • Ask the candidate to review and write some basic code either before or during the interview. This is the best test!
  • It’s also good to ask how the candidate about their favourite programming language and what they like about it to get a sense whether their passion for coding is genuine.

Employee expectations

Graduate salaries in this field are usually expected to be in the region of £18,000-25,000, with the scope to progress further in software development from anywhere between £25,000-£50,000.

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