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Recently Marty was on a panel at Boulder Startup Week talking about hiring from the point of view of employers. But many of the audience members said they were actually searching for a job. While they all indicated they got a lot out of the panel discussion we agreed it might be really useful to write up an article on things to do to help you land your next position.

I’ve given a talk on this topic before. I’ve also mentored a lot of recent bootcamp grads, college grads and many career shifters on the art of finding that next position. Here’s some of my common advice.

Needs, Wants, Will not tolerates

Everyone’s situation is unique. Individuals have different needs and wants by personality and by their stage in life. Because of that, it is important to assess your overall lifestyle before beginning the interview process. For example, when I graduated college the things that were important to me then were very different than what is important to me now that I have a husband and children (a toddler to boot).

So, the first thing I recommend people do is sit down and make a list of what the NEED. Then make a list of what they WANT. Then make a list of anything they are completely unwilling to deal with or tolerate.

All of these lists are very specific to the individual and what one person has on a needs list could be on another person’s will not tolerate. There are lots of examples of things that can go on these lists. I’ll name a few just so you get the picture: Insurance, ability to work from home/anywhere, flexible schedule, startup experience, mentors on team, competitive pay, and so on.

The Companies

Once you have your need/want/will not tolerate list you can start to look for companies you might want to work for. I typically recommend looking at places where people you know work or where people you admire work. Those are always great sources to help you.

From there you can branch out into specific interests. Are you into solar power? Look at solar power companies. Into tennis? Look into companies that do things with tennis. The idea is to create a relatively large list of companies that might be a good fit. Remember you really don’t have any idea at this point.

Ranking

Now you have lists of needs, wants, never gonna happens, and a big list of companies. Here’s the hard part. You need to go through that company list and figure out what of your needs they can meet, what of your wants they can meet and how many of your never gonna happens would actually happen there. You obviously can’t know all these things but you can get really close. I recommend going through their websites, reading about them on Glassdoor, following people on Twitter that work there, and even trying to grab coffee or meet someone at a meetup who works there and ask them about it.

After you have collected all the data, it’s time to put the companies in order. Rank them according to how they stack up on your needs, wants, never gonna happen lists.

Now that your list is all ordered and you know the top 3 to 5 companies that would best fit your particular needs, desires and place in life… I want you to forget about them. Yep, you heard me! For right now, forget about them.

Target Your Resume

I am not the best to speak to this particular piece of the puzzle. There are lots of great resources on the web for how to do this and that explain it much better than myself. I personally filled in all my data on LinkedIn and sent that to anyone interested in a resume however, I am at a place in my career where I can do that and for someone just getting started in the field it is probably a safe bet to spend some time making a solid resume correctly. Make sure your resume is targeted for the position you’re seeking. Highlight your experience and accomplishments that help show why you’d be a great candidate for this type of position. Keep resumes short and to the point. I would not exceed 2 pages. “6 Tips For Crafting a Tech Resume That Will Get You Hired” from Indeed and “Want a top tech job? These 8 expert tips will help you rise above the rest.” from Mashable are both great reads and resources for resume writing.

Prepare Sample Code

I suggest picking a few koans and publishing those on your github account. I also recommend making one smallish project that has at least a little bit of complexity to it that you can publish on github for review. Bonus points if the potential interviewer can use it some how or get it running on their own machine.

Get the Interview

I want you to go all the way to bottom of your list and I want you to figure out how to get an interview with them.

Here are a few things you can do to get those interviews:

  • Go to each company website and look for open positions that you are close to qualifying for (yes even if you aren’t exactly there but are close .. go for it. This is more for the ladies than the men. Men tend to go after jobs they are severely under qualified for but women tend to not apply for a job if they are a month short of the X years experience even though they have all the skills. - Blog post for another time for sure).
  • Look at the company on LinkedIn and see if there is anyone you know at the company who you could reach out to for coffee and maybe a recommendation into the HR process.

Do that for about 5 to 10 companies starting from the bottom and working your way up.

Interviews

Why start at the bottom of your list? Interviewing is a skill. It behooves you to practice a bit before you go running off toward that top company. How to interview is an expansive topic that is beyond the scope of this post. We’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to pursue that on their own. Get a few interviews under your belt and maybe even some offers. If you get offers that is great. You can use that to help you negotiate better offers later. The idea is to get you comfortable in the interview process. If it takes you 15 bottom tier interviews to get comfortable, then so be it. You want to walk into that number 1 company feeling like you got this, and doing all those practice interviews is what is going to help you. If you get rejected from the companies on the bottom of your list.. No biggie. Just pick off the next one and learn from what went wrong on the last one. Once you are feeling good, prepared, and confident you can move on to your top 5.

Negotiation

Once you have a few offers it is important to look them over and negotiate for the things that you really need and want (if some of the companies don’t have them all). If having a maternity plan that is X weeks is a NEED then let the employer know that you’d love to consider them but that you can’t really accept anything less. The key is to know what you need and ask for it. Again women are more likely to accept an offer that doesn’t fully meet their needs and the unfortunate thing is that many many employers would happily make changes and adjusts in order to accommodate needs… if only they know. You can also use other offers as an easy way to negotiate on things like salary and vacation. Almost all things are up for discussion.

If you follow the advice we have here and have success or failure we’d love to hear about it. Please hit us up and let us know how its going. Also if you have any modifications or additional advice after having given this a go we’d love to hear that too. We’ll post a future post that includes those! The more the merry!

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