Why you struggle to get high-value tech positions

Do you have a dream job? The one that will finally make you happy. :)

My friend has three.

Obviously, these jobs are high value:

  • Talented engineers.
  • Solving hard problems.
  • Above-average compensation.
  • Global brand name.

These positions have multiple interview rounds and require months of preparation. There’s no room for winging it since you competing with 200–300 other applicants. This is not an exaggeration. People from all over the world will apply for these positions.


The interviewers at these dream companies are experienced, know what they want but with limited time.

This is important to understand:

  • They can’t spend hours reviewing your resume. (10–20 mins at most.)
  • They’ll do multiple interviews.
  • They are human with human flaws.
  • They have hiring KPI’s

With their limited time for reviewing your resume, you need to be proactive in selling yourself in the interview. Volunteer relevant information that makes it easy for them to move you to the next round. They need to know why you are the right person.

They are incentivised to find the right people and are your biggest ally. If you do your part, they’ll “pitch” you as the right option. They’ll make a case on your behalf. However for them to do this requires you to match the criteria.

What are these wonderful interviewers looking for?

Filling a role is a time-consuming and expensive process. Nobody wants to greenlight a bad hire so everyone is careful. You don’t want to be stuck with a bad hire for the next 2–3 years.

The basic criteria:

  • You are intelligent.
  • You have the skills in the job spec
  • You have the necessary experience.
  • You fit the culture.
  • You will add value.

This is it really. We can sum it up with “Will this person improve the company and can I work with them?”

A strong candidate will do well with 4 of the 5. However, the intelligence and culture-fit criteria are generally non-negotiable.

A smart candidate with a good attitude can be taught the skills or just teach themselves. They’ll probably add value with good mentoring.

A smart candidate with a bad personality will disrupt the team. Just not worth it.

Last thoughts

Taking the above into account… most candidates are woefully unprepared for the reality of competing for high-value positions.

They’ll still land a job somewhere but not the one they really want.

They’ll make less and never understand why.

So what about my friend…

Well, he’ll be prepping for the next 12 months to make sure he can be the obvious choice. Is that overkill? Depends on your level of ambition.

If he lands a position at one of those companies, he’ll possibly triple his income and have a brand name on his resume.

Another angle: he’ll be investing 1–2 hours a day for 12 months to triple his annual salary.

Like I keep saying, “Interviewing is a competitive sport”.

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Software Team Lead for high-growth consumer platform. Passionate about building + growing teams.