As I write this, the COVID-19 pandemic is still in full swing and with it, it's claimed many jobs. Whether you're a seasoned CS professional or new to CS, this post will highlight some of the things that I experienced while applying to jobs.
If you're spending hours and hours and hours applying to jobs that sound alright, navigating through the multiple stages of an application process and still getting rejected... It's normal and this normal sucks.
There's only so much rejection you can take, it really is a crush to the system every time you open up that email. Your heart starts pounding extra fast and half of the time, you don't even read the first sentence, you just skip to line where they're talking about their decision. NO!
If this is you, if you've applied and applied and still nothing, then we need to turn this on its head –– we need to think differently.
Where to apply
When I was applying to jobs, I just looked up "customer success manager" on LinkedIn or Glassdoor and read the description. If it sounded alright, I'd add it to my list of companies to apply to.
This was my first mistake.
I didn't know the majority of companies on my list. I didn't know the industry they were in, their team size, their leader, their mission, etc. All I knew was that they had a job and I needed a job.
It wasn't until I asked a LinkedIn friend of mine if he knew of any company that was looking. Here's his response to me:
After I read that, I realized just how vague and backwards my job search was.
I was open to EVERYTHING when really what I needed was to compress my focus and make a list of companies that fit my needs and profile.
In retrospect, it was hard applying to jobs at companies that didn't really do it for me. I know deep down inside, cybersecurity isn't for me! That wouldn't make me happy day in and day out.
In the process, I learned that I loved productivity tools and I didn't want to be at a mega-sized company. This was my focus!
Get a referral
If you rolled your eyes as you read that, I feel you! But it's not that hard –– let me explain.
Mistake number two.
In my midst of my apply-a-thon, I didn't look up to see WHO could refer me to these places I was applying to. I was too busy just applying.
Here's the thing, there's this evil monster called ATS whose sole purpose is to reject your resume if it doesn't match EXACTLY what the job is looking for.
So now, I am applying to places that I don't even want to work at, and there's an evil machine throwing my application in the trash because I didn't list "communication" as a skill?
Let's think differently here.
Halfway through my job searching journey, I found this blessing of a person named Austin Belcak. After college, Austin went on 50+ interviews and perfected his application process. By the end, he had landed interviews and offers at companies like Google, Twitter, Uber. Now, he runs his own company teaching people how to leverage his process to land their dream job.
This isn't an ad, I don't know Austin, but he gives away a lot of free tips on his LinkedIn and back then, I started picking up what he was putting down.
I started building more personal relationships and networking on LinkedIn. In a blog post he wrote about networking, this image stood out to me:
The majority of hires come through referrals even though they make up a small portion of total applicants 🤯
The catch is that this process takes time. Your first message to a person shouldn't be "hey, can you refer me" because they do not know you. You first need to build a foundation before you go in for the ask.
It's extra work, it takes time but the results do not lie.
Take a good look at yourself
I was lucky enough to be a hiring manager for years, so I knew what to look for in a candidate. This, of course, doesn't mean I know what everyone is looking for in their job applicants; For that, I need to rely on feedback.
So we're on to the third mistake.
Self-awareness is critical during the job application process but it can also be detrimental. If we're only relying on our own guidance and feedback, you could be missing the outsider's perspective.
The goal here is to ask for feedback from every job interview (you won't get a 100% response rate here). And get feedback on your resume, cover letter and job interview answers & presentation from your peers/friends.
For my last presentations, I relied on my friend, who I trust would give me bold feedback. She agreed to listened to my entire presentation and gave me pointers on where I was losing energy, where my presentation was missing something and overall, how close my presentation was to what was being asked of me.
My poor husband also had to listen but hey, it's one of those unsung perks of marriage 😅
By bringing other perspectives in, I was able to see where I was falling short from an audience's perspective.
With every bit of feedback and recommendation, weave that into your future interviews and presentations.
To close things up, I just want to say that if you're in the process of applying I know it's hard. I know you're tired of reading posts that do nothing for you and I know everything is easier said than done.
Hang in there, you will find what you're looking for 🖤
- Follow Austin
- Start building relationships (these lead to referrals)
- Get your friends/peers involved in your application