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Luis Zugasti
Luis Zugasti

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Maintaining momentum in the job search.

Last week's post covered a few key aspects that helped me survive my job search. In this week's post, I'll cover the importance of maintaining momentum on your job search while you overcome rejection.

Rejections are a part of the job hunting process, especially so for developer roles. You will have to learn how to deal with them and steer past them. Spending too much time and energy on rejections is the least efficient use of your time, as it hampers momentum from your job search as well as other aspects of your life.

When I talk about momentum, I talk about the feeling of flow you get when you've been working on a piece of software for about a half hour or so. You're in the zone. If you face a bug in your unit test, you dive right in to fix it, make sense of it, and improve the code base as a result. Rejections are the same, and when I faced them in my job search, I took a hint and devised a set of more effective tactics to lead to better success in my job search. The advice here will help you to maintain momentum and enjoy your jobsearch.

Pitfall - Think that you're going to hear back from every position you apply to

Two darts on a corkboard.

From just anecdotal experience, I heard back from about thirty or so employers to make it to the next round, from over 400 applications (around a ten percent success rate). Not hearing back can be due to a wide variety of factors - large applicant pool, dynamic company budgets, or simply bad luck. Even worse, my number of callbacks remained at zero for a long time. It was like I was playing darts, but always missing the board. Once I took control, I started hitting bulls' eyes.

I recommend to apply to tons of jobs - Set up a job alert on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and ten of your favourite companies (if they should offer that functionality on their portal). Do create a separate email account for this (name it mail.list or something like that), so your personal inbox can remain relatively clean. In the case of my search, I applied for developer and support engineer roles - If you will be applying for multiple roles, tailor your resume for each of them. Even within different development disciplines, write distinct resumes.

Writing a cover letter for a job won't hurt, although to save time I recommend writing two or three madlibs style cover letters and tailor them to each job. Eventually, you will perfect the formula and reduce to one madlibs style cover letter. If you're applying to one of your favorite companies, definely apply with a cover letter.

In the end, you will absolutely not hear back from every job you apply to, and that's ok - just keep applying.

Opportunity - Read about other people's experiences - with a huge grain of salt

Two people having a conversation.

My job search was pretty special, as it was the second job search I had ever done in my life. I knew nothing about what to possibly expect, and when times got rough, I felt alone. Reading through other people's experiences helped a lot, and helped me to celebrate other people's successes as well as learn from their failures. Reddit's r/cscareerquestions is a good place to start.

I mention to read them with a huge grain of salt (edit: Ginormous) because some posts come accross as very unrealistic. For example, there was a post detailing a candidate's success in securing a job within four months with no prior computer science knowledge. The catch was that they performed this feat by only completing coding challenges on Leetcode. If it appears to be something only a computer can do, then it's likely exaggerated.

Another catch - people tend to overshare their failure online. This is not such a bad thing, as you can identify if you are in a similar situation as others. However, read a max of two negative stories per day. Reading too many negative stories will lead to diminishing returns and potentially distort your view of success in the search, since there is a lot of unwritten success.

Opportunity - Ask questions and be curious

The becurious hashtag

Ask questions? Aren't I supposed to be telling you better advice than this? Bear with me. When you're entry level, you have a right to ask questions, even if you think they are incredibly silly. In fact, it's expected for you to ask questions. Someone with little to no experience in the field is not an expert, and deceiving yourself by not asking questions closes doors.

Come across some iffy stream syntax in Java? Search Stack Overflow and bookmark that answer so when you come back to it, you can the concept better and you get good at it. Get stuck on a company's coding challenge? Seek out how others completed questions with similar concepts and learn from their ways. Have a discussion.

What I'm trying to highlight with these two examples is a. as a developer, becoming a better seeker of knowledge will help you. It's a vital career skill. b. more pertinent to the topic of managing rejections, asking questions and being humble about your rejection creates a connection with other applicants. It's the perfect conversation starter when you and another person both wrote code that timed out on a company's coding challenge.

Signing off

I hope these three pieces of advice help you to see your job search from a different lens. I like to think of a job search like running in the rain without an umbrella. You will make it home, but if you just waste your energy complaining about the rain, you'll get soaked in the process. Let the rain refresh you and use it to your advantage.

Until the next time.

All the posts in this series

Part 1

Part 3

Runner Image credit to Great Run. No rights reserved.

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