It all started around a year back when I first heard about StackOverflow Jobs. Little did I knew at that time that this website would change my life for good. I have tried to share my journey through this article.

Part 1: What is SOJ

So, What is StackOverflow Jobs? – StackOverflow jobs is like any other job portals like Naukri or Monster, but there is a catch; it allowed something called Visa Sponsor. So, basically, software companies from all around the world post their job requirements here, and those tagged with Visa Sponsor; if selected, will sponsor an employment Visa for you to work with them at their location. One more cool thing that I found was Offers Relocation, which means that while you’re traveling to the employers’ country, the employer will bear the costs like Travel, accommodations for few days etc; depending on the contract. I suddenly realized this is what I was looking for. From there on started the most crucial few months of my life.

visa sponsor paid relocation stackoverflow jobs

Part 2: Exploring Jobs on SOJ

I started looking into what kind of jobs and requirements that were usually posted here. Since I was an Automation/Manual QA, I started looking into QA jobs. I was just awe-struck reading the Job descriptions of these companies and the expertise they demanded. I knew at that very moment, if I stick to my current skill set(Selenium Webdriver, Java, Manual Testing), I wouldn’t even get shortlist for an interview. The sad part was I couldn’t find a single job which required my current skillset exclusively – either they don’t want it or they want it with some combination of other tools, which in my lifetime I haven’t heard of.

I applied to a number of companies matching my profile (Automation QA) but didn’t get any reply from anyone of them. It was tough and that moment Quitting seems an easier option. I mean come on, to be very frank I was throwing stones in the dark and hoping to hit a bullseye.

Part 3: Running Away from Problems

I stopped everything and got on with my 9 to 5 routine. By this time I was fully convinced that not in a million years, I would be selected in any of the companies I was applying to. To be honest, these companies are going out of their way to hire somebody from a different geographical location which obviously implies, they need the best.

There are some battles that you’ve to fight alone and for me, this was the one. It becomes tougher when the opponent you’re fighting is ‘You’ itself.

Part 4: Realization

I decided to take some time off. I realized that I was stressing out myself too much and stress never does any good to anybody. I planned an outing to a nearby beach with my friends far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was a much-needed break for me. It helped me to regather my focus. With a fresh mind, I came home, jot down the issues one by one on a piece of paper and started working on the solutions.

Part 5: Solution

The solution to the most complex problem is often the simplest one. After a lot of self-analysis and Googling, I decided to look into the following things.

  1. Mastering the stuff I already knew  – Whatever I had knowledge of, I made sure that I shouldn’t miss any questions on them.
  2. Expanding Skill Set – There was no running away from this. So eventually I started exploring new tools and learned them one by one. Udemy helped me a lot.
  3. Building a Kick-Ass Resume – Having an attractive resume, will drastically increase your chances. So I made sure I had to create something unique, unconventional and different. Freesumes helped me in this regard. They provide tons of free resume templates, the one I used was Smart Freebie – The Minimalist. I spent 3-4 days to finally come up with a satisfactory resume, after researching a lot on what should be there and what shouldn’t be.
  4. *Knowledge Demonstration – Now this is again important to create a first good impression. Since you’re applying for a job position beyond your geographical boundaries, your interview will most likely happen in either Skype or Hangouts or on similar video chat tools. To reach the interview stage you’ve to convince the Interviewer first that you’re eligible and qualified for this job without actually meeting them in person, and that becomes a challenge. How can we achieve this? – I primarily did two things – Created a technical blog where I would share the things I learned from my professional experience and secondly I created few open source projects and contributed to some on Github. These two things were the only advantage I had because these were something I was working on for a year or so.Github Alapan
  5. Options – I realized that I am putting all my eggs in one basket, which in my case was SOJ. I started searching for alternatives, job sites that provided VISA Sponsor jobs. I found out about Linkedin Jobs and Indeed. I started applying there as well. But in my overall experience, I got more responses from Stackoverflow compared to other two.
  6. Reputation on StackOverflow Community – Stackoverflow is one of the biggest developer community on the Internet. Being active in the community has its own perks. As a matter of fact, most companies nowadays check your StackOverflow profile and reputation, those who hire through SOJobs will definitely do. I started taking this activity seriously and built reputation slowly by asking questions, replying answers/comments, following rules, avoiding spam, updating my profile and developer story sections. This is something that won’t happen in a single day. You have to devote some time every day to contribute.Alapan developer story stackoverflow

Part 6: Implementation

All the activities mentioned above were something that needed continuous changes as per the feedback and also required a considerable amount of time on a day to day basis. So I used to devote not less than 5 hours on a day to day basis on weekdays apart from my office hours and 9-10 hours on weekends; improving, learning and failing. I divided my time in learning new tools, contributing to SO, updating the resume and applying for VISA Sponsored QA jobs.

Apart from these, I made sure that I was eating healthy, doing my workouts and keeping a check on my Phone and social media usages.

Part 7: Good News!

I started getting responses from companies. Although most of them were rejections but then again those were beautiful as well. Finally, I felt I was doing something right. Some companies wanted more information, like expertise in certain scenarios or tools. Below are some rejections that I got.

Rejection Email
Rejection Email
Rejection Email
Rejection Email
Rejection Email
Rejection Email

Part 8: Eureka Moment!

And after months of hard work, I got the mail I was looking for.  It was from an employer asking me about my expertise in certain technology(Javascript and PHP). The best part was I had previously worked on some projects using the same technologies for my own learning and those projects were hosted on my Github. I simply shared the links to those projects. So, knowledge demonstration helped me big time here.

Mail from Recruiter

A few days later, I was shortlisted for the Interview. Finally, something to cheer about and feel proud about.

Part 9: Prepping for The Interview(s)

I was excited and pumped up. But I calmed my horses and started preparing for the interview. I made sure that I get through the Job Description very thoroughly and cover all the points. For Interview preparation, I made few pointers and followed it throughout.

  • Learn about the Organisation: Google and learn about the organization, about their culture, how they work, the team etc. It will definitely help you in your interview.
  • Technologies/Tools Mentioned in JD: This is very important as the employer would definitely be asking you questions about the tools and technologies that are used in the organization. Since you’re selected for the interview, most likely you are proficient in one or more than one tool/technology, so it’s a good start. Try to gain knowledge of other tools/technology as well. I know its very difficult to grasp everything in a short of amount of time, but you don’t really have a choice; my suggestion would be to at least cover the Interview Questions for the tools/technologies you haven’t worked on and make sure that you don’t miss the questions on the ones you have mastery on.
  • Roles & Responsibilities in JD: What is and would be expected from you would be clearly mentioned in the JD, so make sure to adhere to that. When asked about the roles of the previous organizations; frame your answers in such a way that it makes you a fit for the role described in JD. Again, since you’re selected, the chances are that the roles that have been asked of are something which you’ve already done, so no sweat; just keep your answers to the point.
  • Be Honest: Don’t over hype, don’t lie, don’t show that you know everything and don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
  • Ability to Learn and Flexibility: It’s very important that you demonstrate the ability to learn new things and also make sure that you’re flexible to work on anything as per priority.
  • Be yourself: I believe that the best shot you’ve of cracking the interview is being yourself.Your personality is unique, so don’t try to copy others’ personality traits and answers, if you’re telling something that you don’t believe in then it will affect your impression and may lead to a negative impression.
  • Prepare yourself for basic questions: Introduce yourself? Why should we Hire you? Strengths & Weakness? Why do you want to join our organization? etc. Rest you can Google ‘Most Common Interview Questions’.

Part 10: Interview Round 1

So, here we are on the day of the interview. My first round was scheduled on Google Hangouts. Millions of thoughts pondered, as I was waiting for the Interviewer, but then I had confidence that I have prepared well, so whatever happens, I will just give my best shot and leave the rest to destiny.

So the interview started, the first question that I was asked was Introduce Yourself? followed by some basic technical questions as well as some scenario-based questions; which I was able to answer properly. There were few that I couldn’t answer, but I made sure I express my ability to learn. So, the first round concluded in around 30 minutes.

The interviewers were super friendly and very supportive. They made sure that I was comfortable and the whole 30 minutes were very light and I loved the overall experience. I got a call from HR later that day stating that I have been selected for the second round.

Part 11: Interview Round 2

My round 2 was also scheduled on hangouts. The interview lasted for around 40 minutes. Most of the interview revolved around scenario based questions like – If a priority release was to be made and you have few hours to test (which is impossible to regress the whole app), how will you manage your testing; Say suppose there is a defect (a certain scenario was depicted), what would be your approach to find the root cause of that defect etc. In the middle, there were few technical questions as well.

To be honest, I had prepared thoroughly for all sorts of technical questions but not for scenario based questions. But then again, you just can’t really be sure about what questions are going to be asked. But for me, my work experience played a crucial role in answering the questions, because these were basic scenarios which QA’s face in their work if they are doing their work honestly. If I hadn’t done my work honestly, I was sure I wouldn’t have been able to answer the questions that were been asked, because I wouldn’t have known how to act or respond to these situations.

Well, the interview ended on a positive note. I was able to answer most of the questions, but there were few that I couldn’t. For the ones I couldn’t answer – I told them politely that I don’t know the answer to these questions, stated the reason of why not knowing them and expressed the ability to learn if and when required.

I successfully cleared the second round and was moved to the next and final round.

Part 12: Interview Round 3

The final round of the interview was with the CTO. The interview happened for around 10 minutes, where I was asked few basic questions like – Why do you want to join this company, Tell me about yourself etc. which I answered thoroughly and confidently.

Part 13: Success! At Last

After a few days, I got a call from the HR stating – “Congratulations! You’re selected. We would like to make you an offer”. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard those words. It was the most beautiful moment of my life. Finally, I was flying to Hamburg, Germany to join AboutYou.

aboutyou success story

So what followed next is applying for Employment VISA in German Embassy with help from AboutYou, Relocation to Germany supported by Aboutyou and finally Day 1.

The most important lesson that I learned from these few months is that: If you’re stubborn enough to not give up, good things will happen.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve any queries or you have a similar story to share.

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