What are the best approaches to job hunting in Silicon Valley? Here’s how I go about it.
Resumes and Curriculum Vitae (CV)
I personally take a different tack than most: I always have an up-to-date resume and CV available.
I have a master CV which I keep updated on a monthly basis, and revise it again when something eventful happens (like learning a new technology or programming language). My personal CV is currently about 30 pages long and covers my entire career, including academia, service, writing, projects, patents, etc. CVs are normally only required for positions in academia but they allow a job seeker to have a complete and up-to-date form that covers their entire career. It’s not something you send to employers, it’s more of a reference for your job hunt.
From the CV, I create a resume that just covers the last 10 years of experience, my academic records, and skills that would be relevant to the position I’m applying for. The resume is usually about two pages long.
Remember, this is the 21st century. There’s no reason NOT to tailor your resume to each specific opportunity. However, if you’re attending a job fair, it’s OK to create a generic resume that’s no longer than two pages and highlights your high value experience and skills.
Your resume IS your primary job search tool. So make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. I’d also recommend that you have it critiqued for format and content. Often, a job applicant’s resume provides the first impression to a prospective employer. You always want that first impression to be a positive one.
Social Media Profiles
With the advent of social networking, especially for job hunting, you should have a a social media profile, and reference it by URL on your resume.
Normally a these profiles have the same information as your resume, though it’s expanded and has more depth. Don’t attempt to post your entire CV. It won’t fit. If you do want to have an online CV, put it on a separate static Web page.
This is the most important component of tech job hunting in Silicon Valley. By networking, I mean meeting other people either in person or virtually, in a venue where you have a common interest. Since many tech people are interested in meetings related to their profession (which for many is their passion), these are the best places to meet.
If you’re new to the Valley, here are some of the best places to go.
- Hacker Dojo
- Silicon Valley Code Camp events
- The many Hack-a-thons held in the area
- The many User Groups (Online or in Person)
- SF Bay Area ACM SIG presentations
- ACM Professional Development Conferences
- IEEE Santa Clara Valley Computer Society presentations
- Startup Weekend events
- Classes at UC Santa Cruz Extension
- Classes at UC Berkeley Extension
- Presentations at Stanford University
- Presentations at Santa Clara University
- Online, contribute/support of an Open Source Project (through SourceForge)
- Technical Book Stores
Networking should be done even if you are not actively looking for a new job. Staying connected to the high tech community is very important because you never know when you may be looking for a new employee (for that referral bonus) or a new opportunity yourself.
The best way to get your resume into a company for a specific opportunity is to use someone in your network to walk it into the hiring manager. Again, this is why networking is so important. The objective is to get your resume into the hands of someone who can make a decision to interview you. This WILL NOT be an HR person.
So Network! Network! Network!
Job Search Websites
Given that most high tech companies use online jobs boards like, say, Dice, check for jobs you’re interested in.
Another good source of information are the websites of venture capital firms. It’s in the VC’s best interest to help the companies they invest in find the talent that they need.
Most companies maintain a site containing job opportunities. However, not all open jobs are listed. In fact, many are unadvertised outside the company. This is another excellent reason for networking.
Employment Career Services
They’re especially good at provided classes in areas such as like interviewing skills and resume workshops, resume critique services, and career counseling.
University Alumni Associations
Many universities have job search resources available to alumni members. Take advantage of this services, which are quite often free. University alumni associations are also fantastic places to Network.
Research the Company
Before you interview with a company, always do your research. How? On the Internet you can find out specific company information (like financials, in-the-news, etc.) through sites like Edgar Online, Dun & Bradstreet, MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal, and SiliconValley.com.
To obtain specific information on how the company is viewed from the inside, take a look at glassdoor.com and vault.com.
Research the Interviewer
If you are able to find out in advance who’ll be interviewing you in advance, do a Web search and find out as much about them as you can, especially to see what their expertise is. In other words, do your homework.
After the Interview
After the interview, send an e-mail or letter thanking interviewers for their time and mention some subject that you may have discussed. This keeps you fresh in their minds, and it’s good manners.
Also, contact the HR person you’ve been working with and ask what are the next steps and the timeline for making a decision. Always keep your dealings with HR professional. They don’t make the ultimate position, but they usually have enough influence to torpedo it.