Recap: New Year – New Career: Get Job Hunt Ready

January 31st, 2014  by Anna Starasts    No Comments    Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Girl Geeks Toronto January 2014 event

In preparation for a New Year – New Career, Jobspring’s tech-hiring experts, Dane Robinson and Matt McKinney, presented Girl Geeks Toronto with proven job hunt best practices that are sure to shake up your approach. They provided excellent insight into the hiring process and broke it down to offer tips and tricks that will improve your efforts and propel you towards your new career.

Your Search Begins with YOU!

Don’t kick off your job search by gutting your resume. Instead, begin building a strong professional online presence. Put forth considerable efforts to establish yourself digitally to create visibility, build credibility and to tap into a pool of contacts for job searching ideas and recommendations.

  1. Go ahead and Google yourself. Would you consider yourself for the position after seeing the results? Anticipate hiring managers will do a quick Google search of you before an interview and ensure the results aren’t jeopardizing your professional image. This especially pertains to your social media content.
  2. Put your work out there! Create a digital portfolio that showcases your work and expertise.
    Those interested in open source should sign up for a free Github account to follow others. If you’re a UI/UX designer, have a personal website that demonstrates your design skills as well as advertises you for hire. This helps generate great exposure and becomes quick and easy way for you to share your work online.
  3. Create a detailed LinkedIn profile in the image of your resume. This creates online visibility with the use of industry buzzwords. When writing your descriptions be sure to reserve the majority of detail for your most recent positions. You should also be using LinkedIn’s network to tap into the fastest growing job board to search and apply for interesting positions.
  4. Connect and uncover unexplored career opportunities through various social networks. Look for former colleagues on LinkedIn to reconnect and engage. Find out where your LinkedIn connections with similar work experience are currently employed and whether they’re willing to give you a LinkedIn recommendation to appear credible to interested employers viewing your profile. Other social networks such as Twitter and Github provide a unique opportunity to connect with others outside of your immediate circle so follow interesting people, engage with them by replying to tweets and see where that takes you.

Your Resume

The purpose of your resume is to get you in the door. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all of your positions and projects. Your resume should strategically highlight certain achievements and skills while being a good reflection of you and your capabilities.

  1. Your resume is not your professional life story. Human resources receive an influx of applications and will need to review your resume quickly. It’s tempting to try to fit everything in but it’s crucial to keep your resume relevant and concise. It’s often the first page and first job listed that are screened to determine your eligibility for an interview so make them compelling. Also, it’s quite possible that the recruiter will not be technical so use instantly recognizable buzzwords (such as optimization and scalability) to stand out from the pile.
  2. Communicate exactly what people should know about your background…and make sure you KNOW about it. Avoid details that draw attention to your weaker areas or anything you don’t want to be the focal point of your interview. Stick with detailing what you really know and excel in without overstating your skills. Embellishments can do more harm than good in an interview.
  3. Draw attention to important projects and/or experiences. Even if it was only for two weeks, if it’s a project that you’re proud of or if it’s relevant to the position then describe it in depth. The same holds true for highlighting your interests, although in a separate area from your experience. Interests such as tech meetups not only show your passion but can be a great talking point during an interview.

Application

It’s always good to get your resume out there but targeting specific companies and positions of interest can really pay off. There’s a chance you could lose yourself in the postings or miss an opportunity by inattentively sending out resumes.

  1. Know what you’re getting into with online job boards. If you’re someone with a lot of experience, consider how many calls and emails you want to get and then decide whether a job board like Monster is the right approach for you. You could get inundated by calls/emails so you may want to take a more targeted approach and apply only for opportunities you truly want to explore.
  2. Consider help from professional IT recruiters. If you decide to take this road, pick local agencies that focus on your city and let your recruiter get to know you so you can better work as a team. Refrain from situations where you’re unsure of who’s receiving your resume. It’s important that your recruiters help but you should maintain control over how you work with them to apply for opportunities. The best approach is to organize information on the jobs you’ve applied for in an Excel sheet and keep your recruiters in the loop about where your resume has been submitted. Make sure you’re not submitting your resume more than once for any job posting, as that could hurt your chances for being considered.
  3. Follow up with HR or the Manager–even if you didn’t get a call back. This may seem counterintuitive but it’s admirable and shows your interest. No one will fault you for being proactive so long as you’re not harassing them.

Interviews

The single best thing you can do to guarantee a successful interview is to prepare. You could be the perfect fit for a role but fumbling through a question or two could cost you the position.

  1. Don’t assume you’re ready! Think about what you’re going to say. If it’s been a while or you haven’t been interviewing regularly then you could probably use some practice. Go online to review sample interview questions and refamiliarize yourself with previously used technologies and past work experience. Be ready to speak to everything on your resume because it’s all fair game in the interview. Also, don’t lose yourself in discussing “team” projects. Rather, focus on your specific role and contributions.
  2. Go to all interviews even if you’re not 100% sure you want the job. Attending interviews is not only excellent practice but you may be pleasantly surprised about the company or position after your meeting. Sometimes companies don’t market themselves well which may have been the root cause of your disinterest. You never know for sure unless you go in smiling with a positive attitude and an interest to learn more.
  3. Know about the company. Your interview could end in minutes if you’ve got little knowledge of the company. Neglecting to do a bit of research indicates to your interviewers that you don’t really care. Besides, they’ve put aside their time to meet with you so it’s only natural that you put in the effort to get to know them. Also, having the ability to finish your interview with some detailed questions about the company and showcase your knowledge of them is extremely well received. If you impress your interviewers, you boost your chances of moving forward in the interview process.

Follow Up

It’s best practice to follow up every interview with a thank you letter/email. This is your chance to show your appreciation for your interviewers’ consideration and to re-illustrate why you’re qualified for the job.

  1. Send a custom, non-templated thank you. Write something that is genuine, detailed, and pulls points from the interview. If you don’t have the hiring manager’s email then there are a few tricks to finding their email address. Try searching common company email formats such as, firstname.lastname@company.com or firstnameinitial.lastname@company.com.
  2. Proofread the letter/email before sending to check for proper syntax and spelling errors. This could be your last chance to leave a lasting impression before any further decisions are made so make sure it’s a good one.

Passively posting resumes and casually attending interviews isn’t going to get you the job. The most successful candidates are dedicated to the task; they market themselves, connect and target strategically, thoroughly prepare for interviews and finish with a well-written thank you note. Master these job hunt strategies and you’ll have yourself a new career in no time!

Watch the entire presentation on the Girl Geeks Toronto YouTube channel

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