The Two Mindsets Job Searchers Need

According to Career Coach Dyana King, finding a job requires two mindsets: the pre-offer, and the post-offer. Here’s how, and when, to implement them.

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This article on the two mindsets a job searcher needs is part of the Coaching Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School.

Getting a job is a process. That’s something I’m always reminding the graduates I work with when they begin their job search. 

Working through the job search process requires two very distinct mindsets – the first mindset that wins the offer and the second mindset that decides whether or not to take the offer. The trouble many recent grads have is not keeping these two mindsets separate. This can result in a long search, missed opportunities, and sub-par compensation packages. 

After exerting so much effort and time in education, it’s natural to imagine the type of organization that would be the best choice to launch you into a new tech career. 

If you are an aspiring software engineer, perhaps you have visualized yourself working in a sexy Big Tech firm position that would impress your friends and relatives. Maybe you have always loved gaming and you can see yourself designing games for a top gaming studio. Maybe you want a job with a professional sports team because you are an avid fan and working for a pro team is a dream come true. 

Figuring out the best cultural fit for you is an important component of career development and it can also get in your way at the beginning of a job search if you don’t know how to separate the two different mindsets. 

Mindset #1: Pre-Offer

The first mindset is the pre-offer mindset. In this stage, you should apply and interview for every job you qualify for as if it is your dream opportunity.

As a recent grad, you will likely have to make many applications to land a single interview. You shouldn’t have too many filters at the front end of your search. 

While not a purely black-and-white decision, if you meet 70% of what is on the job description – apply. It doesn’t matter if the job aligns with your big-picture desire to work with Major League Baseball or Google or if the compensation is six figures or if working in some obscure corner of the solutions engineering department is for you. Those are indeed important things to explore during the interview process and carefully consider once you win an offer, not before you apply for the job. 

Focusing on those things before you apply could cause you not to apply at all and will unnecessarily limit your choices and negotiating leverage.

Benefits of practicing mindset #1:

  • All interviewing is good practice for those early in their career. 
  • Interviewing is good networking and relationship-building practice for anyone at any stage of their career. 
  • The best negotiating leverage is a competing job offer; there is value in holding an offer from a company even if you don’t want to work there.

Mindset #2: Post-Offer

Once you win an offer, only then can you decide whether or not you want to take the position.

The most significant reason for mindset number two is that you have zero negotiating leverage until you have an offer. Once the offer is made, apply mindset number two. 

Carefully consider all the aspects of the offer. Talk it over with your family and your career coach. Calculate what your out-of-pocket medical expenses will be with the healthcare insurance plan. Hopefully, you’ll be in a position to compare a couple of offers. Compensation is only one aspect of an offer package. You can negotiate paid time off, continuing education reimbursement, accelerated/early eligibility for pay increases, what team you are assigned to, whether or not you work remotely, and aspects of healthcare or other company benefits.

Benefits of practicing mindset #2: 

  • Once a potential employer makes an offer, that’s when you have maximum leverage for negotiating favorable terms.
  • Higher likelihood that you will feel valued in your new role and enjoy more opportunities in your job.

Recent grads make all kinds of assumptions about a company’s environment, culture, management practices, compensation, and working hours before they even apply for a job. 

The old saying the answer is always no unless you ask applies here. 

Getting a job is a process; applying and landing the interview is step one, and deciding if you want the offer is step two. Mixing up the order could mean missing the best job for you.

About Dyana King

Dyana King is a career coach with Flatiron School. She previously worked as a technical recruiter and co-founded a technical recruiting agency, Thinknicity. She became a certified professional coach (CPC) in 2012 and specialized in transition and career engagement coaching.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of February 16, 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

About Dyana King

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