Although our research shows that technologists have fared better than workers in many other occupations during the pandemic, landing a job in the current economic climate is no easy feat.
In fact, some technologists with in-demand skills who were once bombarded with inquiries from recruiters have been struggling to land interviews, despite submitting hundreds of applications.
To make the job-hunting process easier, we asked four professionals who have recently started new jobs to share their success stories. Here’s a look at their battle-tested strategies during COVID-19.
Become an Opportunity Magnet
Charissa Enget applied to hundreds of jobs after graduating with a master’s degree in mechanical and energy engineering, only to land a few interviews.
The turning point came when she decided to stop chasing jobs and let the jobs come to her. Enget optimized her LinkedIn profile, displaying newly earned badges for MATLAB and Python programming. She also positioned herself as a thought leader by blogging about engineering topics as well as her job hunting experiences. Her profile went from appearing in 17 searches per week to over 1,200 and she scored 10 interviews due to her posts.
“I believe that you attract what you put out there, and my positive attitude came through loud and clear,” she said.
For instance, some 300 Google employees invited her to connect after she wrote positive things about how she was treated during the hiring process, despite being rejected.
Enget accepted a marketing position to pay the bills while she continues to search for her dream engineering job. She is now averaging three interviews a week and continues to follow up with the firms that promised an interview when their hiring freezes end.
“If you don’t feel confident enough to create your own posts, comment on other people’s posts to get your feet wet,” she advised. “Lots of people have master’s degrees… being active online gives employers a glimpse of who you are as a person.”
Avoid the Black Hole
Jennetta George and JayDee Lok also managed to land jobs during the pandemic, after making concerted efforts to avoid the infamous “black hole” of online job applications.
George took a top-down approach. The outgoing data scientist and A.I./ML specialist identified over 200 desirable companies and sent an introductory letter and résumé to their heads of talent acquisition. Her strategy yielded numerous phone screens, two dozen interviews and two offers.
Lok contacted everyone she knew, or had met, throughout her career when she was laid off from her events management job at Oracle. She didn’t beat around the bush, either. She specifically asked for referrals to the companies she was targeting and received 10 productive introductions.
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there,” Lok said. “Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for work, you never know what will turn up.”
Successful candidates have one thing in common: They never turn down a chance to interview or complete a take-home project, even if the position doesn’t seem like a good match on paper.
For instance, George used important but less-critical interviews to gain confidence and learn how to let her personality shine through during video interviews.
“Take as many interviews as you can,” George advised. “The experience will help you identify the essential qualities and skills managers are really looking for and to recognize and highlight the things you bring to the table.”
Naturally, some opportunities don’t pan out, Lok admitted. But it doesn’t hurt to apply, even if you feel underqualified. As proof, Lok says one manager was so impressed, he offered her an unadvertised assistant regional marketing role, after she took a chance and interviewed for a senior-level stretch position.
Perfect Your Craft
As a veteran of two previous job searches, Maribel Duran knew that it would take preparation and practice to pass a technical interview and achieve her goal of landing a level-2 software engineering position. She created a website and blogged to create a robust pipeline of opportunities, eventually working her way up to two to three phone screens per day.
Her preparation regimen reviewed fundamentals such as algorithms and as well as design and development concepts, including:
- • Retaking The Coding Interview Bootcamp: Algorithms + Data Structures.
- • Retaking Grokking the System Design Interview.
- • Solving a LeetCode problem (within 30 minutes) almost daily.
- • Refreshing on React.
“I never gave up,” Duran said. “I viewed each interview and missed technical question as an opportunity to identify the skills I was lacking and improve.”