How to Land a Six-Figure Software Developer Job

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Want to land a software developer job at financial giant Bloomberg? If so, you'd better be ready to answer questions like this: "What is a singleton? How would you code it in C++? How can you make it thread safe?" The right answer could help win a job that pays $91,000 a year.

The folks at Empirix, a development tools maker in Massachusetts might ask you this:

object* p=NULL;
p = new object();
delete p;
// ?? Whats wrong with above

Landing a job in this economy is tough -- so who wouldn't want to find a strategy that could make a difference? Not surprisingly, various entrepreneurial types are moving to fill that need by providing tools and information designed to help you and help themselves find a profitable business.

[ Concerned about your tech job? Check out InfoWorld's IT career survival guide. | See InfoWorld's résumé-writing tips for techies. And learn if your e-mail's domain matters to prospective hiring managers. ]

The two questions above are real, submitted by users of, a 10-month-old site packed with interview tips and salary information on some 23,000 companies for IT types seeking work. The price of admission? No money, but you must submit a nugget of information that would be useful to another job hunter before getting full access to the Glassdoor database.

A rival site called CareerCup offers a $25 book that looks a lot like publications geared toward helping high school students score well on the SATs or GMATs. A quick search of the CareerCup site yields a wealth of interview questions for dozens of tech companies, including about 500 each for Amazon and Microsoft.

One example for would-be coders:

Pick two data structures to use for implementing a Map.
* Describe lookup, insert, & delete operations.
* Give time & space complexity for each.
* Give pros & cons for each.

Motorola's Greg Brown: The Man They Love to Hate

Proving once again that successful startups beget more startups, one of the founders of Glassdoor is Rich Barton, founder of Expedia and Zillow. Barton and partners Robert Hohman, a one-time Microsoftie and president of Hotwire, and Expedia vet Tim Besse put up their own money and then secured funding from Benchmark Capital and Sutter Hill Ventures.

Having been on the management side, the founders decided early on that Glassdoor wouldn't work if it was seen as hostile to employers, says Besse. Glassdoor has an advisory panel made up of company executives and meets regularly with employers to avoid friction. And Besse figures that employers, particularly smaller ones who can't afford consultants, use the site for competitive analysis of items like salaries.

Even so, some of the information on the site isn't very flattering. Who, for example, is the least popular (with employees) tech boss in the database? Hands down, it's Motorola's president and co-CEO Greg Brown, with an approval rating of just 10 percent. The most popular? No surprise here, with Apple's Steve Jobs pulling a 91 percent rating, second only to Reed Hastings of Netflix.

Who Pays Developers $100K?

Salaries haven't changed much -- neither up nor down -- in the year or so Glassdoor has been collecting data, says Besse. Knowing what employers pay is a big advantage when negotiating for a new spot, and it makes for interesting reading as well. The average salary of a Microsoft development engineer, for example, is just under $100,000 a year, including bonuses, but excluding the value of company benefits. And that bright kid who mans the genius bar at the Apple store is paid $18.10 an hour, according to Glassdoor.

Along with sample questions, Glassdoor users give job hunters tips on how to get through a particular employer's interview process. "Eat a good breakfast, you'll be talking all day," says one, along with anecdotes about one company's interviewing process.

I didn't have a chance to evaluate the paid sections of CareerCup, but they look interesting and probably has more actual interview questions than Glassdoor. CareerCup also offers several paid services, including a practice telephone interview and feedback for $225 and an on-site interview in Seattle or the San Francisco Bay Area for $300.

Both sites look useful, and I figure that any honest edge a job seeker can get these days is worth a shot.

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Reach me at

This story, "How to Land a Six-Figure Software Developer Job" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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