Hello there! You may remember my blog post about my first week at Lambda School.
Well I'm all grown up and have finished my last week of Lambda School! 🎉
Now that I'm officially on the hunt, I decided to share my job search experiences, successes and failures with you week-by-week to serve as a keepsake for myself and a guide to help others trying to break into their first tech job.
I am very lucky to have access to career coaches at Lambda School pretty much any time I need them. They will review my work for typos, areas of improvement and missing items that would make me stand out against the competition.
If you don't have access to a career coach, you can have a friend or family member you trust review your work. Make sure you remind them you want critical feedback and not an ego-boost. This is no time for being nice! You want to know if your portfolio doesn't look good on their device, if there's a typo on your LinkedIn, or if your profile picture isn't professional.
When you're creating your resume keep in mind that most people will spend about 10 seconds scanning your resume. Make sure you're thinking about the architecture of your information and that the most relevant information for the employer is at the top or easy to find, such as recent projects and skills.
After you've had someone review your resume, make sure you apply the suggested changes and then do a final review. For my final review, I used a tool called CV Compiler that will scan your resume to find weak spots for improvement. I absolutely loved this tool and how it helped to put the finishing touches on my resume. I felt confident knowing that I am using every advantage I can to make my resume stand out from the rest.
Although I technically have no frame of reference since I haven't tried the method of filling out tons of applications yet, I'm still confident that networking yields better, more quality results.
I like to use dating as an analogy for this. If you're just walking up to each person in a local bar asking "Want to go out?" you will probably get a lot of rejections. What if you spent time on a person who seemed interested and built up a rapport before you asked them? I bet you're much more likely to get a date out of that! Networking can be just like that!
If you're not sure how to start networking, here's how I got my first interview. I noticed recently on LinkedIn there were posts asking for new devs looking to break into tech to comment/like/share to boost their visibility to potential employers and recruiters.
I thought, "what the heck do I have to lose?" I left a comment and didn't think much of it. Within the next day I had a response - from an employee at Facebook!
They ended up liking my work and referred me to their employer as candidate for a team they were looking to add a new member to. Since then I've had two phone interviews and am being prepped for the next steps (more on this in my next post for week 2). I truly believe I wouldn't have made it to the first phone call if I hadn't networked for this opportunity and only cold applied for the position (if it's even publicly available to apply for). I also now have the advantage that I was referred to them by their own employee, not just some random person who applied.
If you've only been cold applying and not having great luck, definitely try to start meeting new people who are looking to help others break into tech (and maybe get a referral bonus if you get the job).
Networking isn't building friendships where only one person benefits, so make sure to give back to the people who are helping you. Even if it's only a thank you and a promise to help others break into tech once you do.
Remember the dating analogy - if you want to make networking really effective you need to actually build a rapport with someone.
Unless you're some sort of coding prodigy reincarnated, you're going to face a lot of rejection and negative feedback so it's really important to have a healthy mindset going into your job search.
I've decided to focus on being my most authentic self and be okay with going into an interview knowing that statistically I'm not going to get the job. I try to find gratitude in just being considered and getting the opportunity to connect with new people and practice sharing my story and hearing theirs (Seriously! Ask the person interviewing about their story. I bet they'd love to share it).
Yes, this is much easier said than done but in order to make it through many rounds of interviews and multiple rejections you will want to remind yourself not to get your heart set on a certain outcome and to think of every interview as a learning experience that will help to better prepare you for the next one.
I hope these tips help and I plan to continue providing more along my journey to help us both live our best lives. If there are any topics you would like to see covered, please feel free to leave a comment here or reach out to me on Twitter!
This article is intended to share my experiences and results may vary using the techniques I used.