As the old saying goes, hunting for a full-time job is a full-time job unto itself.
Although tech-industry unemployment is lower than the national average, it still takes work to land a position that suits your skills and experience. For one thing, jobs on the cutting edge of the industry, such as machine learning and autonomous driving, demand experts who can really elevate projects to the next level. At all levels of tech, though, there’s a lot of competition for those positions that not only pay well, but also provide interesting opportunities.
With all that in mind, there are some basic steps that tech professionals can take to ensure they’re at an advantage in their job hunt. It all starts with a solid résumé that accurately (and persuasively) details your skills and experience. From there, tech pros need to ensure that every public aspect of their presence puts their professional experience in the best light; for example, if you’re a programmer, make sure that your code samples on GitHub and other repositories are up-to-date. If you’re a new graduate, your résumé and professional profiles must show off your academic accomplishments as well as your best projects, early jobs, and internships.
Don’t Limit Your Options
Whatever your career stage, you’d be well served to expand your search beyond the traditional “big name” companies. Sure, having Google on your résumé would look great. But at a smaller company, you may also have more responsibility and autonomy, as well as the opportunity (depending on the firm and industry) to mastermind projects that you find personally interesting.
In short, there’s nothing to be gained by limiting your options. When beginning your job search, cast your net as wide as possible, because you never know what interesting opportunities you might land.
Make (Real World) Connections
During the job hunt, social-media management is important. Make sure to curate your various social profiles; employers are looking at them to judge whether you’d be a good fit, so it can only help to seed links to interesting articles, talks, and other things with a direct bearing on the type of tech you wish to pursue. Broadcasting the need for a job (“Please hire me!”) probably won’t gain you very much, but posting about your latest project on GitHub or a cool app you designed may help quite a bit.
And remember to connect with people off-line, as well. Go to networking events, and put some effort into making contacts in a field that interests you (informational interviews are your friend!). You never know when someone you know in the real world might have an exciting opportunity.
Under-Preparation Is Your Worst Potential Mistake
You’ve heard it said that you need to prepare for your job interview, and that’s certainly true. It’s important to re-familiarize yourself with your previous experience, projects, and skills; in addition, you must take all of those disparate elements and fold them into a grand narrative that sells you as the tech pro that the prospective employer needs.
For example, rather than memorizing (and reciting) a laundry list of programming languages that you know, take the time to create a story that shows off your knowledge in the best possible light. Use those languages as a springboard for describing your most effective projects, and how your knowledge resulted in a positive outcome.
Some tech pros find it helpful to sit down before an interview and actually write out a story about your experience and skills. Read and re-read the story until you’ve internalized it. That way, when you’re in the interview, you can spin a compelling narrative. Don’t just say you have iOS skills; talk about how you created an iOS app that drew massive downloads and engagement from users; describe in detail how you overcame challenges related to its creation.
Prepare for the Long Haul
If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself in a lot of job interviews. Whether it’s your first, third, or tenth interview of the week, though, don’t let the repetitiveness or the strain get to you. Yes, it’s hard not to show at least some exasperation when someone asks you the same question for the fifth time; just keep in mind that, if you really want the gig, you have to maintain your professionalism from the outset.
As anyone who’s ever gone through it knows, the job hunt is often a tedious and lengthy process. Don’t be afraid to take the occasional “mental break”: watch a movie, or play some video games, or whatever might relieve you from thinking about the hunt for a few hours.
In your quest for a great job, just remember: it takes time, patience, and a willingness to explore all options. Having a great résumé and materials is important—and so is the right mental outlook. If you put in the time and effort to learn your tech skills, you definitely have what it takes to keep climbing the tech-industry ladder to success.