Job hunting- Then vs Now

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Whether you are currently in a coding bootcamp, just graduated or have some experience I wanted to give you some of things I’ve noticed during my experience looking for jobs. As you may know, I graduated from a coding bootcamp in 2016 and job hunting was a little different back then. Now, after I have three years of work experience, I am on the job hunt again after a lay off and things have changed for me. Here’s a brief look at how my experience has changed.

Recruiters

Before it was tough to get recruiters to call me back. They would ask for experience and of course I had none 🙁 Usually the end result was them telling me not right now or something of the like.

Now many recruiters call and though I still don’t have what they are looking for, they still call me back though. I am still amazed. I started an application and did not finish it because they were asking for 10 years of work experience and asked questions related to being in the tech field for 10 years. So, I did not finish since I did not have the required experience. Anyhow, the recruiter called me the next day or so wanting to talk to me about the position and saying I did not finish the application. I called her back and told her that I didn’t have the experience required. She told me about a couple of other jobs but they weren’t a good fit. This interaction was different because usually the recruiter wouldn’t have wanted to get back in contact with me if I did not finish my application.

Work Experience

Before I didn’t have a lot of experience. As I mentioned before, recruiters would often ask for work experience. It’s tough to sell random projects which is why I stress the importance of passion projects. Another great option is freelancing – Working on real world projects is a great way to get your foot in the door. Though, I do understand that freelancing isn’t for everybody (including myself).

Now, I have more experience from past work experiences. More projects to talk about. I recommend that as you are working on projects that you write down the things you have done, take notes on the part you had on the project, talk about what you liked about it and what you could have done better as well as any challenges.

Community

Before – Not too involved in tech scene so I didn’t have a lot of people in my network. I had to throw my resume in a pot with so many other resumes.

Now, I’ve been involved in tech scene for a few years now and I know more people in the industry that I can lean on for support. I also have the privilege of reaching out to my network to find out about jobs.

Imposter Syndrome

Before – I had imposter syndrome because of my lack of knowledge and skills.

Now-a-days, I still lack knowledge in some areas and am not confident in my abilities as I would like to be. Imposter syndrome doesn’t go away.

Resources – Job Boards

Before, I was figuring out sites to look on for jobs and applied to the general job boards like Careerbuilder and Monster.com.

Now, I know a bit more about what sites to go on to find jobs or even how to go about finding the right jobs. I have other job boards I go on geared towards specific coding languages and job boards geared towards being diverse in tech.

Coding Interviews

This last one is specific to the pandemic.

Before coding tests were on the whiteboard because you had to go up to the company’s offices to complete them. I had to get comfortable being at a white board and solving problems. I think I felt pretty good about getting in front of a white board and solving coding challenges in interviews.

Now, they are over zoom calls and some even allow you to take them home. I recommend practicing interviews over zoom calls and solving problems online instead of solely at whiteboards.

In conclusion, no matter where you may be during your job search just know that it’s not easy, it takes practice but you can do it. Hang in there!

Organize your job search + Free download

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Job hunting is a daunting process, you apply for several jobs, you have to talk to many recruiters and if you’re tech you even have to go through coding interviews. It’s all a lot to keep track of. Fortunately, we can make this process a bit easier if we organize job leads.

During my job search, I’ve been keeping up with my job search leads via a spreadsheet. With this spreadsheet, not only can you keep track of your leads but you can also track the statuses of those job leads and it’s completely customizable to fit your needs. This spreadsheet is meant to be a template and should be tweaked to fit your own job search, I just wanted to make it easier for you to start.

Go to this link to sign up for your free copy of the spreadsheet. After you’ve received the email with your download, come back here and I’ll show you how to use it. 

Job status spreadsheet columns: 

Job name – the name of the job

Company name/size – it’s helpful to know how big the company is, you can usually find this by quickly looking on LinkedIn.

Company location – this a good place to add the location of the job and if they intend for you to locate or if it’s a remote position

Link to job – I keep track of my job descriptions in a google doc, however it’s also useful to have a link to the actual job on the company website so you can quickly have a link to refer to during the interview process.

Main languages – this is specially if you’re adding tech job leads. The language refers to the coding languages the company uses based on the job description

Date applied – once you apply, add the date here so you can see how long your response time is.

Where did you hear about the job? – This is a very important one. Hiring managers and recruiters will ask you where you heard about the job from and if a friend sent you the job, let them know. For example, I put that I heard from the job on twitter from John Smith and also keep track of that person’s twitter username so that if I need to I can quickly go back and see what that person said or if I sent them a message I can quickly refer back to it. Use this same process whether the lead came from any social media like linkedin or if you spoke to this person at an online event etc.

Initially qualified? – I added this because I want to know if the positions I’m interviewing for are seemingly within my reach just at a glance. For me, the main thing since I’m looking at tech jobs is that I have some of the coding languages and most of the amount of experience they are looking for. Spoiler alert, I’m not always initially qualified and that’s okay, I still apply if the position looks interesting and I feel that I could learn the skills they ask for. This column can be answered with yes you are or no you are not

Cover letter – Some jobs ask you to, some jobs you have to apply via email with a message stating your interest and qualifications (this is considered a cover letter) and others don’t require it. Either way, this column can be a simple yes you did add a cover letter or no you didn’t. If I want to provide further information, sometimes I’ll add that the cover letter is saved in my google doc.

Heard back after applying? – Did you get an email after submitting your application whether it was a rejection or an invitation to interview. This is a yes or no column and is used in conjunction with the initial contact column. 

Initial contact For this, I add the first and last name of the person I talked to first from the company in terms of a recruiter or hiring manager. I don’t put down phone numbers usually because we’re talking over zoom. It could be a good idea to add their email here in case you need to quickly refer to it. Also in case you need to write a follow up email, you now have it in this sheet as a quick reference

Initial interview – Here, I write down whom I had the initial interview with and what date and time. If there are important details we talked about or things that may be helpful later down the line, I jot them down here. This may be good time to write down the rest of the interview process to expect for this position. Also jot down how you feel the interview went.

Second interview & Third Interview – Same here, jot down whom the interview with was and the date and time of that interview. As well as any additional notes that may be important throughout the interview process.

Side note, you’ll notice there are no additional columns for any subsequent interviews, feel free to add additional columns as you need them. This is meant to be a template that you can tweak as you see fit

Additional notes – In this column, you can add any information about coding interviews here or you can use it to keep track of important details about the job that you may need later on in the process. You can also use this column to write down how you feel about the job – maybe it’s a good fit but you didn’t like the conversations you had with the people on the team during your interview process. Use this field to write out any helpful details you will need or that may be helpful for the future.

Offer amount – This is the fun part of the spreadsheet! You did the hard work of interviewing and then you get an offer, keep track of your offer amounts for positions. Even if you only have one offer, take note of it here. Write down what all comes with that offer as well including bonuses, equity, vacation days etc. This is important for future reference. Chances are you aren’t staying the same job forever so it’s great to have this to refer back to as where you started at and what you want for future opportunities.

I do hope this was helpful for you. If you have any questions or comments you can find me here.

Failing coding challenges :( Job Search Update 2

Job Search update for the Week of 11/30/20 – 12/6/20

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Monday – I attempted a coding challenge and I failed miserably i.e. I didn’t finish it b/c I was stumped

Tuesday – I turned it in, I ended up putting in comments about what I was going to do. On Friday, I officially found out I was rejected. This evening I was also a part of a panel that discussed finding a job after a coding bootcamp. I’m always happy to share my experience with that and this was a fun thing for me to do to take my mind off of my coding challenge woes I had earlier. Here’s a link to the interview if you’re interested.

Wednesday – I had a final interview with a panel of 5 people. I was not prepared for an interview with so many people and was slightly caught off guard. The first part of the interview was 2 questions from each person. Questions were over the process I used when I get a task, testing my code, dependency injection (which I couldn’t remember the definition of btw) and storing passwords from users. The second part of the interview was coding 2 questions. They did this process a bit different than I have seen thus far: Sent me a link to a question, I went to the link which had an IDE to code the question, they set the clock for 5 mins, after the 5 mins was up I sent them I link to my solution, then I talked over my solution. During my 5 mins, we sat in silence until I was finished. The second questions was more difficult than the first and they didn’t expect you to finish.

Also, on Wednesday, I filmed a podcast regarding my journey into tech and some tips as well. When it comes out, I will provide a link.

Thursday – I took it easy this day and did the hacker rank coding challenge – had to do with an api but I could not for the life of me figure out how to access the data. Later on that day, I went back and coded it and was embarrassed of the mistake I had made earlier…All I had to do was get the response and from the response access the array called data…super simple oversight cost me the job. 

Friday – Therapist appointment, yes I see a therapist…I have been for a year now. And then I had errands to run because my dad’s birthday was the following day and we were celebrating with cake!

Isn’t it cool?! Looks exactly like the real thing! The inside was lemon and tasted delicious

In conclusion, I’m realizing that I need to study more on backend concepts and algorithms, especially in a timed environment.