Are you thinking: “it's a numbers game. The more applications I send, the greater my chances that employers will get back to me. In a couple of days, interviews left and right. In a couple of week’s time, JOB!?"
If so, think again. A scattershot job search has little chance of succeeding. The goal of this article is to enable you to make search focused and effective: target the right companies, take advantage of your existing network, track your applications, and save lots of time. I will expand on strategy and some time at the end to showcase JobTracker, a tool that SIT Academy students initially built to track their own applications and have now made available to everyone.
The Job Search Strategy
Assume you are a pop star in a boys/girls band. Or, closer to our topic, a senior software developer with 10+ years of experience. In both cases, people will come running to you. Case closed.
What if none of the above? You can still get the offers, but you will have to work at it a bit harder. If you are trying to sell a skill that you have just acquired, the market may be skeptical at first. The obvious question is: where do I begin? There are many job portals and companies with ads on their career pages, but how do I approach them so that they take me seriously?
This article describes a strategy all focused on quality. It uses a three-pronged approach (something about the number three, you might think?). The idea is to divide your job-seeking time equally into three different segments. In the next three sections we will populate the three parts of this picture. Notice the horizontal “quality” axis.
1. Blind applications: more useful than you think
A “blind application” happens when you approach a company where you don’t know anyone, by applying directly on their website or through a job portal. Like casting your net into the ocean. You don’t know where your application is going to end up or what they’re going to do with it. A blind application is the lowest point on the quality spectrum.
Still, as long as you do not spend too much time on them, blind applications have their place. They help you to:
Get your CV and Cover Letters better each time
Identify companies that you want to work for
Keeping you in job search mode
A variant of the blind application is the spontaneous application where no job description is mentioned but you contact the company anyway, to show your interest in working for them. Don’t be shy: many companies, especially smaller ones, do not have a Career Page, so this is your chance to get in before others do. With spontaneous applications it is more imperative than ever to make sure that the cover email is convincing as you send it to them with your CV. (The cover email follows the same rules as the cover letter as discussed in my earlier post, but is more informal.)
2. Networking: the importance of human contact
Moving to the middle part of the quality spectrum is the art of looking for work by engaging with people, either physically or virtually.
In my experience advising SIT Academygraduates, I can already tell, just from seeing how active they are on this front, who will get a job first. Face-to-face contact improves both the speed of the process and its effectiveness.
Networking provides you with opportunities to get through key parts of the process: first impressions, elevator pitch or equivalent, synergies, … Here are some ways for you to be that go-getter:
Get out of the house to build a network.
Take advantage of the numerous MeetUps and other events to access directly those with hiring power.
Become a visible part of the community in which you’re looking for work.
Quick bonus: many companies hold events that aren’t listed anywhere else. Subscribe to their newsletters and get invited!
Before we close this second segment devoted to the power of networking, we again turn to LinkedIn and add to my previous blog: Maximizing the power of LinkedIn. Right now, most events are held virtually, killing the face-to-face experience. This situation can be pretty taxing for today’s job seeker. LinkedIn provides the best approximation to personal encounters. Make the best of it: contact one of the speakers after an online event and praise him or her to get the conversation going; connect with one of the technical team members in the company where you just applied; ask a friend with connections in common for an intro to a key person in the hiring process... Get all the LinkedIn leverage you can!
3. Personal contacts: best of the best
At the top 1/3rd of the quality spectrum lie what Americans would call “biscuits and gravy” and the Swiss “Vitamin B”: personal contacts.
It would be great if you already had all the right contacts so that you don’t have to write blind applications or network. I’ve rarely seen such a case.
If someone is willing to make an introduction for you, either by putting you in contact directly with the right person or persons or sending them your CV, never sit on the opportunity:
When getting introduced to someone by email, follow-on within 1-2 days if the person doesn’t make the first move.
Plan on applying to the job as well. It’ll be easier for your contact to make the recommendation internally.
4. JobTracker: organize and follow your applications
Some may favor the freestyle approach. Those who’re a little bit more organized, a simple Excel file to track everything. In today’s world, however, where there’s so much technology out there to help simplify and automate such a process, why not take advantage of it?
Enter JobTracker, a tool built exactly to optimize your job search, developed right here at SIT Academy and based on the experience of real-life students.
Key features include:
Personalizing a job ad with key information and drag-and-dropping it throughout the entire application process, from the wish-list all the way to acceptance.
Reporting functionalities to show your activity, from daily to monthly and beyond.
CV and cover letter templates, appealing and easy to create.
Job-matching based on your CV
Ability to share your job board with a career advisor or friend.
I hope that I convinced you to put in place a serious job search strategy and that you’ve also taken notes of the key ingredients. The next article, The art of mastering the interview, takes us from trying to get into the door to staying in the building!
Interested in reading more about SIT Learning and tech related topics? Then check out our other blog posts.