Tech Job Hunting Tip: Have a Goal When Applying

When you apply for a new job, chances are good you’re not looking beyond the job description. You should; in fact, you should have your own private agenda before ever stepping foot in the building for your first job interview.

No, we’re not advocating for a “Mr. Robot”-esque plot to overthrow your entire company. You should have a personal agenda, though; one that keeps you engaged and pushing the envelope at work, even when there may be nothing specific to pursue.

In a video ominously titled, “Working at Big Tech Companies can be a Trap,” Michael Seibel, CEO and Partner at Y Combinator, compares and contrasts startups to working for large companies. Seibel points out that, at a large firm, you’re usually a small part of a larger operation, which can be limiting.

Though Seibel’s message is framed as a sort of best-practices primer for spinning your Facebook or Google job into your own startup, it has some excellent points. One of those points is how every tech professional should have a goal for their employment; even if you simply want to know how the loading screen animation works for an app you’ll be working on, have a goal – or several goals.

Your goals can be personal or professional. It doesn’t matter. Maybe you’re taking a soulless job to save money and pay off some bills. That’s fine; just stick to your plan. Don’t buy a Tesla, or eat out five nights a week.

Maybe the company employs several technologies you want to learn, but the pay isn’t great. Is this financial step back going to help propel you to much larger things later in your career?

If your goals are professional, make sure they align with industry trends. Studies show schooling isn’t teaching the skills that employers are looking for, so there’s no harm in taking a job just to get better in a particular language or skillset. That’s similar to why bootcamp grads feel more prepared than college graduates for jobs in tech.

Our own data shows many tech pros are eager to pick up new skills and move on, and Seibel’s message speaks to that, as well.

But you don’t have to think of your job as temporary. Doing some pre-interview homework can help you understand what the company is about, what they do, and whether or not the work is interesting. You’ll also have a better idea of what their final job offer will be with a bit of research, so you’ll know what the job can give you before ever stepping foot into an interview setting.

2 Responses to “Tech Job Hunting Tip: Have a Goal When Applying”

  1. Boot camps provide specific skill training. As an employer I want the computer science degree because it provides foundational knowledge that no boot camp can achieve. I will send employees to boot camps to learn specific skills as needed. If an employer isn’t willing to invest in you then you shouldn’t work there. Good employers hire for attitude, commitment and strength in technical foundation depending on job level.

    In reading this article you have to ask the question of whether you would hire a person with these goals. If you wouldn’t, then it is clearly a bad goal. I want to hire people who are committed to the work they will be doing, give their best effort and support their team.

    In general, the examples of goals in this article are purely self serving and I would not hire people who take this advice.

    • Well Liz, surely you realize that reasonably intelligent, self-respecting people do not willingly share their most intimate thoughts with just anybody. How ya gonna get past that hurdle—charm or coercion?

      Afterall, for many, nothing less than ones’ very existence is at stake in a typical job interview. Therefore, the real agenda is survival and it is incumbent upon every hired hand to play the hand that they are dealt, with the tools at hand.

      Yep, that is technically self-serving; but it is no less self-serving than an otherwise responsible employer seeking self-sacrificing drones to service the Queen Bee.

      So, whaddaya think, does the pot actually know that it is black when it holds the kettle to higher standards than it does itself, or is an uneven playing field the ideal?