Best Job Search Tips Going Into 2016
As the year wraps up, it is commonly a time of reflections and resolutions. One of yours is making yourself more aware of the job market as it relates to you and even being open to making a change for the better. But it has been a while since you have, so this resolution comes with a bit of uncertainty. These are my tips on a few related topics to serve as a refresher as you start your process.
Template : As a Tech professional today, you have touched on and used a lot of technologies. Understandably some more intimately than others, but that rare debugging program that you used for 2 months on the project that was eventually scrapped is very possibly something that you could need to recall at some point. My suggestion is to create a historical template resume where you detail everything and anything that you use. Being a template, this is a document that you can update every few months as you finish new projects. Think of it as a personal timeline of your professional career. No need to worry how long it runs or how much detail goes in, it is never going to be seen by anyone other than you. This is going to be the foundation in what you will do next.
Unique / Specialized Version: After seeing a Job Description you should have a better feel for what a company / hiring manager is looking for when posting a particular role. Most current experience is hopefully most relevant, but where your resume template has 18 successful projects over the past 12 months in your current role, maybe only 6 of them should be included. Remember the goal is to grab the reader’s (hiring manager) attention quick and hold it. Fluff and non relevant work is not going to do that most likely. Take the historical template resume you have and unique it, specialize it for each specific job you are applying for based on what is important to the role.
Contact Method: Make sure it is easy for a company to contact you should they want to speak with you. Phone and email should be in the top of first page or header. Do not even think of putting it in the footer. Phone numbers should be mobile number so that you can be reached via text message as well…..yes its going to happen. Speaking of contact information, be smart about your email name. There are plenty of platforms where we can all get email, so I know it’s convenient since all your contacts from the past 8 years are in there but I think you can represent yourself better than KickBallChamp4523@yahoo.com splashed across the top of your resume as apply for a Senior Software Engineer role. Beyond that, if your address includes an @aol.com or @hotmail.com it may be a time to consider an update.
ONLINE PROFILE (S):
Give yours some attention: Be realistic. If you want to be noticed in consideration of a new role, realize that anyone you would actually want to work for is going to look in other places aside from LinkedIn. If your profiles on any social media site are publicly accessible, make sure you give them the same attention you give your resume. Seems like common sense, but it clearly is not. Not a place for job/boss bashing, pictures of excessive drinking or any drug abuse, or radical political positions. Give it a little attention as it is not a question of IF someone will see it, it is WHEN will they see it.
Portfolios: Specific to the tech industry, there are ever growing repositories for you to display your work. Whether it is a collection in your GitHub account, an About.me site, your meetup.com profile, or LinkedIn account, work that you have done and you are proud of should be kept up to date (depending on confidentiality requirements of course). Be wise about this, the key is that it is work that is done well and a strong representation of what you offer.
Google yourself professionally: At some point in the process, someone is going to do it. I’d venture you have done it for social reasons, but have you looked at the results with a professional eye of a hiring manager? Consider adding a word or two (such as title, current company or past company) after your name that uniques your search to exactly you. Best case, it eliminates a blind side surprise during interviewing and allows you to get in front of it. Worst case, well lets hope there is not a worst case.
FINDING NEW OPPORTUNITIES:
Networking: If this is not a regular, ongoing part of your professional development it needs to be. The number of opportunities that exist for networking today are staggering. With such volume, it is inevitable that there are some poorly run events and it is quite possible those are the easiest ones to find. If your belief is that you cannot find a beneficial event worthy of your time, I contend that you are not trying hard enough. More importantly, you need to. Look at new resources, search out new groups, introduce yourself to new industry colleagues, but doing nothing is not an option. The responsibility is yours.
Using a Recruiter / Agency : I openly admit that before I came to this industry, I did not have a proper understanding of the depth of work recruiting agencies actually did. I knew of reputation and I let that paint my impression. Now I know that every professional, not just technology professionals, should make it a point to find at least one recruiter they believe in and can utilize. Think of other professions that could have a better general reputation but you are sure glad you know of a good one: auto mechanics, plumbers, and lawyers to name a few. Find an agency that listens to your wants, answers your questions, treats you professionally, and respects your time and confidentiality. Then let them do their portion of work for you, there is no expense to you aside from time of conversation. Like all good relationships, it needs to be 2-way. I promise the time put into creating a good, open relationship with an agency will come back to you many times over.
Attire: No surprise here, each company is different in the extent of what you should wear to an interview. Regardless if it is suit or casual or somewhere in between, basic rules apply. If you (or a very close friend) do not know how to operate an iron, find a dry cleaner. Hiring manager share stories (way more often than you would believe) of candidates sitting across from them in a state of wrinkled disheveledness to the point the interviewer could not remember the first 5 minutes of the meeting. I understand and appreciate every one’s personal statement of attire but let’s agree on this so YOU can make the first impression instead of that button up that honestly should have been retired 2 years ago……make sure you have clothes that fit, make sure they are clean, and make sure they do not look like you slept in them the night before.
Preparation: The days of looking at a company’s website and getting some of the key points on their business before speaking with a hiring manager are gone. Employ your preferred search engine and look for current (and hopefully independent) news on the company. Any agency worth your time is going to give a prep of information before each and every interview, from phone screen to final in person and everything in between. Prep is information of WHO will be calling you and WHAT their role is with the organization, a reminder of the background of the particular project or reason for the opening, and hints about making your strongest impression. If it is an onsite interview, prep would include hints and instructions on finding the location, parking hurdles you may have, what kind of extra time needs to be accounted for register with reception. All details that allow you to focus on the interview and not sweat the little stuff. Interviews can be rare………failing to prepare is likely preparing to fail.
Thank you: Interview is over, it went really well. It is a role that you are interested in. You were prepared for all the little stuff and nailed all the conversation questions as well as you could have hoped to. Hiring Manager walked you out, thanked you for your time to come in and said you would hear from them soon. Perfect, now you wait. Wrong! Some how, some way you need to connect with the Hiring Manager and get them a uniquely crafted thank you and do so in a timely manner. Nothing lengthy, nothing cookie cutter. A brief note thanking them for their time and a quick mention of possibly something that was left as an action item from the interview. And yes, email is entirely fine for this so if you are offered a business card be sure to grab it. The key is timely delivery of this, so make sure you send it within 24hrs of your interview.
Best wishes on your process. With a little attention and planning, your likelihood of success will only increase.