Passive Job Searching On LinkedIn

This article on passive job searching 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.

The internet has made it possible to easily find and apply for lots of available jobs in very little time. Unfortunately, it has also increased competition and made it less likely that applications will even be seen by hiring managers. 

Active job searching (aggressively looking for and applying for jobs) can feel like throwing your resume into a black hole. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to engage in activities that make you an attractive candidate, which can result in the job finding you instead of you finding the job (Passive Job Searching)

A successful job search should focus most heavily on passive job searching, activities aimed at making you a more attractive candidate. To do this, it is important to focus on growing your online professional brand. Engaging in your LinkedIn community is key to becoming a credible candidate who stands out from others. 

Let’s define what professional branding is, how LinkedIn differs from other social media platforms, and how you can use LinkedIn to stand out from others. 

Personal Branding and the Job Search

Our brand is a combination of facts that create an overall picture of who we are and what we stand for. It is created by how we look, how we behave, our skills, and who we interact with. In short, it is created by how we show up daily. In today’s world, our brand is easily discoverable through social media platforms.

While job seeking, creating a strong personal brand can help you market yourself to the world by highlighting your skills and making you stand out to your professional community. Consistent activity and engagement on LinkedIn can reinforce your professional knowledge and make you more credible to recruiters and employers that may want to hire you. However, posting on LinkedIn is not the same as other social media platforms.

How is LinkedIn Different from Other Social Media Platforms?

Most social media platforms were designed for us to share our lives with our social network of friends and family. Linkedin was designed for us to engage with and grow our network of professionals. Social networking platforms are “me” sites where we post content about ourselves. Linkedin is “we” oriented and posts are meant to share content that our audience might find relevant and interesting.

How Do I Become a Passive Job Seeker on LinkedIn?

As a job seeker, your ultimate goal is for recruiters and hiring managers to notice you. The frequency that your LinkedIn profile becomes visible to others directly correlates to your success in finding your dream job. 

Grow Your Network

Aim to grow your network to 500+connections. This will vastly increase the chances that other professionals in your industry will have a 2nd level connection with you (meaning you share a connection), will increase your professional credibility, and will increase the number of people who are alerted to view your activity and your profile. 

Optimize Your Profile

Optimize your LinkedIn profile by making sure it contains lots of keywords that pertain to your field. This will make you more likely to show up in industry searches. 

Interact With Target Companies

Follow companies and groups within your industry, and engage and connect with them. Spend 5-10 minutes a day going through your feed and looking for content to engage with. Watch for a group or company you follow to post something interesting or relevant to your industry. Comment on that post, or share it with your network with a detailed reason why you are sharing it. When sharing or commenting, it is important that you fully read the post and have something specific to say. Give thoughtful feedback or ask a good question about the post to encourage a continued conversation. You might even mention the author’s name to get their attention.

Make Your Own Content

Posting content (also known as status updates) is another way of increasing your visibility. Your posts can illustrate your expertise and interests in your field and keep others aware of your professional activity. As a professional new to your field, think of your posts as an illustration of your journey. The willingness to document your professional journey shows that you are enthusiastic about your new industry and you are willing to put yourself out there. Share about something new that you learned, a professional goal that you set and why, a project that you recently completed, a blog that you wrote, or an event that you recently attended. 

Remember, Keep At It!

LinkedIn is a great resource for becoming part of a community. You can find many companies and people that can help you land the job of your dreams. The more you engage with this community, the more visible you become. The more visible you are, the more likely it is recruiters will find you. Then, you’ll be referred to or directly contacted by hiring managers and recruiters. 

Start engaging today and watch what comes your way! Good luck!

About Kimberly McPoyle

Kim is a Flatiron School Career Coach based out of the Philadelphia area. She comes from a background in education. After spending 20 years raising 5 sons, she began working as an outside recruiter for mid-level software engineers and data scientists. Her passion for career coaching grew out of her excitement over developing relationships with her candidates and helping them find new and exciting opportunities.

The Hidden Job Market

 This article 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. 

Aside from public job posts, there is a hidden market of jobs with limited accessibility. By accessing this market job seekers greatly increase their chances of landing a great opportunity.  

The “hidden job market”  usually refers to jobs that — for one reason or another — are not publicly listed on job boards or elsewhere. Why should this hidden job market be a priority in your job search? Because it is estimated that 70% of jobs are never publicly published. 

Most of these un-posted positions are either filled by internal candidates or are created after a recruiter meets a job seeker through networking. The only way to access them is through networking or having a recruiter or headhunter reach out to you

So, how can you access the hidden job market?

Alumni Associations

The alumni association is often an overlooked resource. From connecting with other experienced alumni professionals to employers interested in the school, there is a lot of potential to crack into the hidden job market. 

I am an alumnus of the University of Virginia (the graduation year will remain on a need-to-know basis), so I would go to the UVA alumni website. Once you reach this website you will see a plethora of resources to help you with your job search, including:

  • Career Advising
  • Alumni Professional Networks
  • Industry Networks 
  • Employer Relations
  • Events
  • And More!

You can book an appointment with a career advisor, join networking groups by geography or industry (healthcare, tech, etc..), and review job opportunities available to alumni.  While these opportunities are not exclusive to past graduates, they are listed on your college’s alumni website and curated for alumni members.

Reach Out To Existing Contacts

Activate the group of people that you already know. 

Your friends know lots of people! All of us have about 150 people in our network. Each of them is connected to another 150 people. That’s around 22,500 people just one step away from you. 

 Here is an easy way to identify your  1st degree and 2nd connections on LinkedIn:

1. Go to “Me” > Settings & Privacy

2. Choose “Get A Copy of Your Data”

3. Click the 2nd Option

4. Select “Connections”

5. Request the Archive

LinkedIn will grab all of your connections and email them over to you.

Make sure that in connecting with your existing contacts you are as specific as possible about your job search objectives, roles, and companies in which you are interested. The more specific you are about your job search goals, roles, and target companies, the better position they will be in to assist in your job search.

Attend Conferences

Conferences are also a great place to start conversations with someone who might know someone who knows someone who is hiring for the exact job you are trying to land. Even if you don’t snag an interview that day, you are connecting, growing your network, and engaging in professional development, which says a lot to employers.  

Here is a listing of conferences by industry.  Make sure you prepare thoroughly before attending the confidence. 

1.    Prepare your elevator speech. 

2.    Update your online networking accounts. 

3.    Scrub your social media pages. 

4.    Get new business cards. 

5.    Peruse the speaker list. 

6.    Connect with pertinent people after the event.

Join Professional Organizations

Professional and trade organizations offer development and connections with others in your field and enhance your business profile

Having an industry association on your resume says you are very committed to your profession and actively participating in its advancement. Clients, customers, and employers like this. 

But don’t just use this as a resume enhancement, engage in the benefits that they provide, which can include:

  • Job listings are an excellent way to find targeted job postings for your area of interest. In addition, you may be able to post your resume or profile online.
  • Tips on effective resumes or cover letters, job searching strategies, and negotiating techniques.
  • Events, webinars, and podcasts on industry-related topics.
  • Training and certification classes for upskilling and bridging a skills gap.
  • There are opportunities to network when you attend events. You also have access to the membership list, which enables you to schedule meetings with other members.
  • Opportunities to volunteer (i.e. serve on a committee of the professional association to get to know other members or try out a new skill that you don’t get to do in your day job). 

Here is a good website to identify those organizations that would be most applicable to your particular job search.

Connect With Recruiters

Some employers use recruiters to find candidates for non-posted jobs. You can sometimes research and discover their internal recruiters via social media. 

If you decide to reach out to them, avoid asking for a job immediately. Try to build a rapport first and discuss the reasons behind your interest in the company. Then you can mention some of your relevant and beneficial skills. 

Match their level of engagement and give them sufficient time to respond. You want to avoid overwhelming them by sending too many messages or pushing for a response.

Here is a good article and how you will want to communicate with recruiters and here is a listing of recruiters by industry.

Stay Active On Social Media

Many of today’s employers have social media profiles, so follow or connect with those that interest you most. You can also use them to identify key employees within the company. 

Try to build connections with these figures by engaging with their content regularly and respectfully, providing unique insights when possible to show your industry knowledge. If you can develop a rapport with these figures, you can reach out to them to express your interest and ask for an informational interview.  

To find these content creators at your target companies, take these steps:

1. Search LinkedIn for job-related terms.

2. Filter for “Posts”

3. Go to All Filters > Author Company and add your targets.

Now you have a list of content creators at your dream companies!

About Bill Souders 

Bill Souders is a career coach with Flatiron School. Bill spent 30 years working for the Coca-Cola Company in various sales leadership roles before transitioning into coaching. His expertise is in the career coaching, transition, and placement of college grads, high-potential entry-level and emerging leaders, and c-suite executives.

How to Choose Your Next Employer

This article on how to choose your next employer 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. 

When beginning a job search, deciding on which companies, industries, or titles to focus on can leave job seekers feeling overwhelmed. It’s often helpful to develop a targeted search to get things moving in the right direction. 

One effective job search method that we’ll focus on in this article is determining an initial list of companies you want to focus on for networking and employment opportunities. 

Although you’re looking for your next position, remember that you’re not looking for “just any job.”  Rather, you’re seeking a career opportunity with a company that aligns with your interests and values. You’re seeking one that is personally and professionally fulfilling. Easier said than done, right? The following tips can help you better pinpoint which companies to start with.

Identify Your Interests

Before putting together a list of companies to focus on, ask yourself some questions. Questions such as, “what interests and passions do I have that may align with companies that are in the industry?” For example, if you’ve always been fascinated with aerospace and aviation, you can research what companies exist in that industry.  

Do you have a hobby or interest in nature or wildlife conservation? If so, what companies or organizations can you find in those fields?  

Working for a company where you’re passionate about its mission, products, or services can be an excellent fit. In fact, it can be a natural extension of your interests and motivations. 

Dig deep and take time to think through what is of interest to you, whether it be a hobby, a certain issue or mission you’re passionate about, etc. Doing so will help you narrow down where you can start looking for companies in related fields.

Conduct Research

After identifying some of your interests and passions, begin researching those industries to identify what companies exist in those fields. You can research via the internet, Google search, LinkedIn, etc.  

You may find both small and large companies turn up in your search, which is fine. Once you start networking with employees at those companies, you’ll learn more about the company size, structure, locations, remote/hybrid, overall culture, and even some of the perks and benefits – which can help you determine whether it’s a place you’d be interested in working.

Make A Wish List

Once you’ve researched and identified which companies you want to focus on, make a list. If you’re using any type of job activity tracker, document it there so you have all your job search activities in one place. 

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, perhaps start with no more than 15 or 20 companies on the list. You can always increase or decrease the number of companies based on your research and networking outcomes.

Do Your Homework

Next, you can do some research on the company by checking its website. Read about what products or services they offer, who some of their customers are, and where they’re located. Search for current information such as press releases, executive interviews, employee testimonials, reviews, etc. 

You’ll want to check out their careers page to see if there are any relevant opportunities available. Some companies even provide an overview of their company culture, values, and benefits.  

It’s critical not only for your job search to have some general knowledge about the company, but you’ll also be well informed if you have a networking conversation or job interview, especially if you’re asked the question, “What do you know about our company and why do you want to work here?”

Network, Network, Network!

As a job seeker, you’ve undoubtedly heard and experienced how critical networking is in a job search. It can be the difference between getting an offer or being overlooked. 

Now that you’ve identified some companies of interest, follow their page on LinkedIn and begin engaging. Seek out employees in the company for informational interviews and discussion. Some company websites have staff directories. You may be able to find the email addresses of company employees on them to reach out with. 

If you see a job on the company’s job page that you’re interested in applying for, go ahead and do so (and don’t forget to tailor your cover letter and resume for the job for which you’re applying) but take the extra step to reach out to someone at the company to let them know you applied, why you’re interested in working there and how you can add value based on your passions, background, and experience. 

Some companies sponsor local community events that you can participate in and build relationships with. These types of opportunities are invaluable as you are directly participating in supporting the company’s mission and bottom line. 

For example, one job seeker was interested in working for a local conservation organization in a web developer role. The organization held several beach cleanup days and other related events, and this job seeker volunteered her time at these events. She met many employees and developed solid professional relationships with them. A part-time, contract opportunity opened up that the hiring manager felt she’d be an excellent fit for, so the job seeker got the contract role. Even better, the contract role eventually became a full-time opportunity with benefits. The job seeker was thrilled and is still working there. 

Never underestimate the power of networking!

Keep Your Options Open

A targeted job search is one crucial component of your overall job search strategy. But, you’ll still want to devote some time to attending industry meetups and perusing job boards. 

Looking at job boards not only shows you which companies are hiring, but it often helps introduce the job seeker to new companies, some of which they may not yet be familiar with. 

As an example, one job seeker found a relevant job on a job board that was in the automotive industry. She never had a particular interest or passion in that industry, but the job description and company mission intrigued her, and she felt she was qualified for the job. Long story short, she applied and landed a job there and couldn’t be happier. 

It just underscores that sometimes an industry or company that you may not have been particularly interested in or even knew existed can often open up a newfound interest for you! 

So, get that targeted company list ready and get going….but keep your options open too. You can have the best of both worlds!

Final Thoughts

Starting with a targeted list of 10-15 companies of interest can help start your job search on a positive note and helps build your momentum and confidence. Even if you don’t land opportunities immediately, you can still increase your exposure in the field by making new connections and relationships. 

Those new connections may even be able to refer you to others for more exposure and career opportunities – so it’s a domino effect.  

As you move forward in the job search and begin talking with employees, managers, and recruiters, you can then decide which companies would be a good fit for you. You can focus on those companies while researching and updating your list, as needed. 

There is no time like the present, so go ahead and take that first step of your job search and carve out some time on your calendar to start this process using the steps identified in this article! 

About Andrea Towe

Andrea Towe is a Career Coach with Flatiron School. She has 20+ years of experience in career coaching and corporate human resources, including employee relations, talent acquisition, career and leadership development, training development, and facilitation.

The Value Of Asking Questions In An Interview

This article on interview questions 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.

As a career coach, I spend a lot of time with job seekers on interview prep.

It often baffles me when, at the end of a mock interview session, many job seekers have no questions prepared. And, when they have questions, these are often poorly crafted that add little-to-no value to the conversation or their candidacy for the role. 

Yet, asking questions during an interview is very important for a candidate. Having questions not only shows that the candidate is interested in the job. It also provides opportunities for the candidate to learn more about the role and the company and build rapport with the interviewer, while assessing if the role is a good fit for them.

In short, asking questions is a key step of the interview that the candidate should not overlook and must prepare for. Not doing so could jeopardize their chances of advancing to the next stage in the interview process, regardless of how well-qualified they may be for the job. 

Why Some Don’t Ask Questions

In my experience, candidates asking no or poor questions during an interview is often because of the following:

  1. They don’t have a lot of experience interviewing 
  2. They don’t know what questions to ask, and hence have “no questions” 
  3. They don’t understand the value of asking questions during an interview

The good news is that all of this can be mastered with preparation and practice.

Hence, the objective of this blog is to prepare job seekers not only to ask questions but to ask good questions: Open-ended questions that further engage the interviewer in conversation, allowing the candidate to unearth important details, challenges, and opportunities about the role. Ultimately, good questions increase the candidate’s chances to move to the next step in the process and empower the candidate to assess their fit for the role and company they’re interviewing for. 

Below are a few tips for asking good questions during an interview:

Craft Your Own Questions

You will find many  ”frequently asked interview questions” on a simple Google search. While you may be tempted to use these in your next interview, crafting your own will yield better results. 

For instance, a typical question on these templates is “what does a typical day look like in this role?”, a general inquiry that may send the interviewer in any direction in their answer, giving you an answer not useful to you. 

Rather, you may ask, ”I know that the main functions of this role are XYZ. Will you please tell me more about what X looks like on a typical day?” 

The latter shows that you understand the job’s key functions, demonstrating that you’ve done your homework. Because of the specificity of your inquiry, the interviewer may provide information not readily available online or the job description to help you further discern the job and set you up for success. 

If using a template, reference it for ideas of types of questions to ask. 

Use Questions To Show Off Soft Skills

According to a study in 2016, 93% of employers term soft skills, or interpersonal skills, as either “very important” or “essential. 

Soft skills are assessed throughout the interview, but your questions –  what you inquire about, the framing, and the overall quality of your questions – are unique opportunities to further showcase them.  

For instance, asking questions that reveal new aspects of the role demonstrates creativity and problem-solving. Or, perhaps you refer to something your interviewer mentioned, exhibiting strong attention to detail and active listening

Interviewers often leave very little time for candidates to ask questions. This challenges you to prioritize what questions to ask and how to ask them. 

End With A Positive Impression

You may ask follow-up/clarifying questions during the interview if you must, but the interview format determines when it is your turn to ask questions.

Use this time wisely to wrap up the interview and leave a positive lasting impression. Here are some tips: 

  1. Show your preparedness by having a list of questions readily available. The rule of thumb is to have 3-5 questions, though the focus should be on quality versus quantity.
  2. Ask about the next steps and know when the interviewer will follow up. This will keep you from wondering, and you’ll know when to follow up with the interviewer.
  3. Close the meeting by reiterating your interest in the role, and thank the interviewer for their time.

About Junior Manon
Junior Manon is a College Access and Success and Career Development professional with over fifteen years of experience. He currently works as an independent consultant and career coach, helping organizations develop opportunities and support for people of color to break into, and succeed, in tech industries.

Why You Should Consider A Tech-Adjacent Job

This article on tech-adjacent jobs 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.

The job search process can be discouraging for entry-level candidates. With a recent decline in hiring for technical roles, entry-level candidates are having a harder time finding their first job in tech. 

However, an increasing number of companies are seeing the benefit of coding knowledge in non-engineering roles. These types of roles provide alternate paths that students can take to ultimately land their dream job and reach their career goals.

Tech-adjacent roles are ones that closely interact with developers or a technical product but may not actually do any of the coding.  This can make them ideal for those with little or no work experience, providing the opportunity to grow soft skills and gain professional experience.

There are both pros and cons to tech-adjacent roles for aspiring software developers. In determining if a tech adjacent role is for you, it is crucial to understand your ultimate career goals.

What is Your Ultimate Career Goal?

Defining your desired job and creating a path to get there involves two things. One, understanding what specific kind of work you want to do, and two, what skills you need to become an ideal candidate for that kind of work.

Do you want to work exclusively on front-end or back-end development? Become an expert in one language and mentor others? Would you like to work in the cloud?  Do you have a passion for Machine Learning (ML) or Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Is there one specific company that you dream of working for?

Once you define what you want to do, determine what skills you will need to get to your ultimate career goal. By answering these questions, you can then work backward to create possible steps to get you closer to that dream job.

Rather than focusing on companies and titles, focus more on the skills needed to get to your ideal career. When deciding if a tech-adjacent role is right for you, consider whether you will gain skills that increase your knowledge of the role or company you are ultimately seeking.  Look for roles that expose you to systems knowledge, customer support, and product design, or increase your experience with communication and collaboration. 

Finding The Right Tech-Adjacent Role

Having a clear vision of the company or role you want will help you decide whether a specific adjacent role is for you. You always want to be working towards your ideal role rather than away from it.

A tech-adjacent role is a way to get your foot in the door at a company. 

If you want to ultimately work for Google, taking a lower-level role may be a good idea. Taking the same role at a company you don’t ultimately want to grow with may not be such a good idea. If this is a company you could grow with, you can become an ideal candidate for your dream job. You will be able to highlight your soft skills and show your potential and enthusiasm for the company. You will have the opportunity to network within the company and get to know the company’s product and culture. If you are successful in your role, you will become a candidate that the company can already trust.

Some tech-adjacent roles will give you the opportunity to get to interact with developers doing what you want to ultimately do. Even if these roles are not with a company you ultimately want to stay with, you can increase your knowledge and the skills needed to qualify for your ideal job, and see what the role is really like.

Are There Disadvantages to Tech-Adjacent Roles?

You need to consider each opportunity independently in order to determine its advantages and disadvantages. If the experience you’d gain from the role does not provide relevant experience for you, it is likely not getting you closer to qualifying and landing your dream job.

You’ll still likely need to put in effort outside of your daily work. This includes creating projects related to what you want to do, practicing your interviewing skills, and building connections through networking. But, a tech-adjacent job can be a massive help in these efforts with soft skill practice and in-company networking.

Sample Tech-Adjacent Jobs

Technical Support/Support Engineer

This is a customer-facing role that requires some knowledge of code. You will not likely interact with coders. But, you can gain an understanding of user experience, work on debugging, and increase your communication skills. This is a great role for those who enjoy helping others and solving problems.

Quality Assurance (QA) Specialist/Engineer

This role provides experience with product quality and shares traits with software development. It may provide experience with front-end user flow or writing test code. Working in QA will likely give you interaction with Developers, and maybe even the Operations team. You likely won’t be designing and building projects. Instead, you will be making sure that a project is completed to its specifications and working properly. QA may be a desirable role if you enjoy identifying and correcting potential problems.

Developer Advocate (Technology Advocate, Developer Evangelist, etc.)

This role focuses on communication involving the outside community and the company’s product. You will act as an advocate or ambassador for a company’s product. Opportunities might involve speaking at public events or workshops or interacting with the community through a company’s open-source projects. A great role for people who enjoy interacting with others as much as the technical side of a project.

Project Manager/Customer Success Specialist

This role provides an opportunity to help develop a project. You may also get involved in some of the marketing and sales.

Business Analyst

Many companies are finding coding skills to be beneficial in solving business problems. Could be a great option for candidates with some business background or education.

Deciding whether to explore tech-adjacent roles is a personal decision. Have a clear vision of what kind of job you ultimately want and the skills you need. Take actions that will get you closer to your dream position or company.

About Kimberly McPoyle

Kim is a Flatiron School Career Coach based out of the Philadelphia area. She comes from a background in education. After spending 20 years raising 5 sons, she began working as an outside recruiter for mid-level software engineers and data scientists. Her passion for career coaching grew out of her excitement over developing relationships with her candidates and helping them find new and exciting opportunities.

Before The Interview

This article on interview prep 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. 

Your interview’s success depends on the quality of your preparation. Here are five steps to follow as you prepare for your interview:

Step 1:  Do Your Homework

Here are things you need to know:

  • Size of the company
  • Company mission/culture/priorities
  • Core product / what the company does
  • Corporate priorities
  • Current company news/press releases (set up a google alert)

Knowing the above information will provide you an edge against the other candidates that don’t do this kind of digging. This preparation will also allow you to stay calm during the interview and better allow you to seamlessly integrate this information into the responses you provide to show that you are informed about the company and know your stuff.

Sources to find this type of information include the above:

  • Google the company
  • Visit the company’s website
  • Visit the company’s LinkedIn page
  • Glassdoor reviews
  • Ask your network

Research The Role

Before the interview, try and find out the following: 

  • Why the position is open (Is this a new position? How long was the last person in the role? Where they promoted?)
  • How long has the position been open? (Has it been hard to fill? Or have they just started looking?)

Find out this information by doing the following:

  • If there is a recruiter or HR person assigned to the role, then ask these questions of them
  • Ask these questions of the hiring manager, prior to the interview
  • Connect with someone in the department serving in a similar role

Research The Culture

A company is more than facts, products, and statistics. You want to know what it’s really like to work there. 

Spend time on Glassdoor company reviews, salary reports, and interview reviews and questions.  Go to LinkedIn and identify people that used to work at the organization. Reach out to them to see what their experience working at the company was like.  

This should provide you with the information you need to see if your values and work/life balance priorities are aligned with the organizations. 

Use social media, especially LinkedIn and your network, to research the company and the interviewer. Spend a little bit of time on Twitter, too. Search the company and see what employees, customers, and clients are saying about them. You can also find out key information from the recruitment agency or Human Resources.

Step 2: Prepare

Your number one job in the interview is to convince your interviewer that you have the right combination of skills and experience to do the job at a high level. You accomplish this by connecting your skills with the key requirements in the job description.   

Prepare a worksheet that lists the job criteria (requirements) expressed as tasks, responsibilities, competencies, skills or traits that appear on the job posting. Reflect on your background and experience to select accomplishments that give the best evidence of your capabilities as they relate to these requirements, such as the below example:

Job Criteria: Creative Problem Solver

Accomplishment Statement: While working at XYZ company, I came up with a consolidated template that streamlined the process by eliminating the need for several clicks when inputting data.

Step 3: Prepare Questions For Your Interviewer

Preparing questions is part of participating in a successful interview process, and getting a job offer. But don’t ask questions for the sake of it. 

Think about asking a question whose answer will provide insights that provide for meaningful discussion, reflect the level of research that you have completed on the role and company, and that drive a conversation forward. Below are examples of what to think about:

  • Goals the company has for its employees and the organization
  • Problems the company is solving
  • Future plans the company has for growth or new products
  • The company’s mission/values and how they align with your own

Some sample questions you may wish to ask:

  • What is the work environment like here?
  • What kind of person does well here?
  • How would you describe your management style?
  • How are decisions made?
  • What is the greatest challenge a new person may face getting started?

Related Reading: 10 Job Interview Questions You Should Ask

Step 4: Prepare for Behavioral-Based Questions

In addition to the typical interview questions, you can expect to be asked how you acted in specific employee-related situations. The logic behind these questions is that how you behaved in the past will predict how you will behave in the future.

These questions are typically open-ended, which means you can respond with as much or little detail as you deem appropriate. Consider using the SOAR framework to provide the best response whenever possible.

Behavioral interview questions usually begin with phrases like:

  • Describe a time when you?
  • Give an example of …?
  • How did you handle …?

General answers are not what the interviewer wants. You must describe in detail a particular event, project, or experience, how you dealt with the situation, and what the outcome was. While you cannot prepare specific answers to behavioral or hypothetical questions, review your accomplishments so that you can demonstrate that you possess the skills in question.

Step 5: Evaluate Your Digital Footprint

While you’re doing homework for your interview, the interviewer is also doing homework on you. Make sure you’re sending the right (and most current) message.

Update your LinkedIn profile with a current photo, job responsibilities, and achievements. Ask for recommendations from colleagues if you haven’t already. Make sure your resume is up to date.

Check your profile settings on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Turn on privacy settings so that only friends can view your profile, and limit past posts if they were ever made public. Disable the option for people to tag you in pictures and videos.

Google yourself. Once you’ve made the updates, see what’s out there when you Google your own name. Modify anything that comes up that you’d rather not be seen by the public.

About Bill Souders 

Bill Souders is a career coach with Flatiron School. Bill spent 30 years working for the Coca-Cola Company in various sales leadership roles before transitioning into coaching. His expertise is in the career coaching, transition, and placement of college grads, high potential entry-level and emerging leaders, and c-suite executives.

How To Structure an Effective Job Search Strategy

This article on job search strategy 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.

You’ve made the exciting decision to embark on a job search, congratulations! 

Before getting started, be sure to set yourself up for success with a job search strategy. Job seekers often become overwhelmed before they even start because they don’t know where to begin or how to stay organized. Adding structure can help make your overall job search less stressful, more efficient, and more effective – all of which can help land that job more quickly.

This post will introduce you to some helpful tips and suggestions for getting your job search off on the right foot, and how to avoid some common pitfalls new job seekers make. 

But, keep in mind that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to adding structure to a job search strategy. Everyone has different styles, schedules, and interests, so what works well for one job seeker may not work for another. 

As long as you are keeping your momentum up and moving forward each week, then you’re on the right track. Remember – this is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Designate A Job Search Area

Before you even get started networking or firing out applications, you should designate a job search area. This should be a (preferably) quiet space where you can brainstorm, reflect, concentrate, and stay on track. 

If there is an area in your home or living space where you can retreat to – whether it’s a separate room, table, or even the back porch – claim it as your designated job search space. If you prefer to go outside your living space, locations such as a library, bookstore, or coffee shop can work too, as long as you can focus and avoid distractions.

Organize Your Thoughts

To target your search in the direction you’d like to go, it’s helpful to first think through what is important to you in your next job. 

Are there certain companies or industries you want to initially pursue? Are you looking to join a local company, or are you open to relocation? Remote, hybrid, or in-person work? 

These are some of the many considerations that can help jumpstart your search and get your search more defined and focused.

Track Your Progress

You will likely correspond with many employers via networking and applying for jobs. It’s easy to lose track of which companies you applied to or with whom you’ve communicated. It’s therefore critical to keep track of all this. 

There are many ways to track job search activities. Some examples include a simple Excel spreadsheet, Google sheet, Microsoft OneNote, or online tools such as Huntr (which all Flatiron grads now use during their job search). Some people even prefer pencil and paper, flip charts, or even sticky notes. These tools, particularly online tools, help automate your job search. 

Whichever method suits you best is fine. The key is to use what works for you and stick with it. Whatever tool you use, keep track of all job search related activities such as: 

  • Jobs you applied to
  • Company name
  • Date of application
  • Link to the job posting
  • Follow-up dates
  • Interview date
  • Response from company date
  • Next steps

You also want to keep track of people with whom you’ve networked, so track details such as:

  • Their name and title
  • Date of correspondence
  • Method of correspondence (email, LinkedIn, phone, in-person meeting, etc.)
  • Response date
  • Follow-up dates
  • Next steps

Finally, don’t forget to track any upskilling or training, such as blog posts you’ve written, GitHub commits, additional training, etc.  

Tracking these activities can help you identify what’s working in your job search, as well as what’s not working. Not only will it help you see what you’ve done and any progress you’ve made, but it can also help you determine if you need to make any changes or “tweaks” to your overall job search strategy.

Use Your Network

Networking is a critical part of any job search, as roughly 80% of jobs are obtained through some type of networking or referral. 

Develop and implement your networking strategy by identifying which connections you can refresh in your current network, and new individuals you want to connect with in your field.  

Refer back to your initial strategy about which companies or industries are of interest to you.   

Research those companies to see who you can reach out to for informational interviews and make new connections. Keep your LinkedIn profile and personal branding strategy current and  “eye-catching”. 

Once you start reaching out and making new connections, document it on your tracker.

Apply To “Good Fit” Jobs

Apply to jobs where you meet at least 50%-60% (approximately) of the preferred qualifications and that are of interest to you. You can always expand your scope as time goes on, but starting with a focus on which jobs to apply to will get you started. 

It can also help avoid feeling overwhelmed because you won’t be applying to any random job you see posted.

Submit tailored resumes and cover letters based on the job you’re applying to as opposed to using the same resume and cover letter for each job. This is a part of adding efficiencies by developing focused job search materials. You can also create job alerts so you receive notifications when a job becomes available that meets your profile and interests.

Manage Your Time

This is one of the most critical components of a job search. Carving out a certain amount of time each week to devote to a job search will help hold you accountable and leave you feeling like you’re making some progress. 

Again, there is no one size fits all approach here. The amount of time you can devote will vary based on your circumstances,  such as whether you’re currently employed and other family or personal obligations. The key is to set some goals for yourself based on your schedule and when you work best. 

For example, are you a night owl who works better at night? If so, devote several hours per week during the nighttime. You can devote a few hours to networking outreaches, another hour or two for searching job boards, a few hours a month to attending virtual or in-person industry meetups, etc. 

Another suggestion is carving out some time on a weekly or monthly basis to keep your skills updated. This could be reviewing coursework, reading new content, taking a free online course, writing a LinkedIn article or blog post, etc. A common interview question these days is “What have you been doing to keep your skills updated while looking for a job?” Just be sure you have an answer to that question. Making time for upskilling is invaluable when it comes to your job search.

Speaking of time management, finding a balance during your job search can be challenging, but it’s critical to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Again, do what works best for you, but make sure you factor in some much-needed rest breaks into your everyday job search activities. 

Celebrate Small Successes

When your job search is organized, structured, and documented, you’ll be able to see what progress you’re making on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This allows you to celebrate your activity, progress, and milestones. 

Job searching can be grueling and frustrating, so practice some self-care and be sure to recognize and celebrate your successes, no matter how big or small they appear to you!

Once you land your new opportunity, you can look back at your tracker and be proud of all the initiative and hard work you completed that landed you that new job.

About Andrea Towe

Andrea Towe is a Career Coach with Flatiron School. She has 20+ years of experience in career coaching and corporate human resources, including employee relations, talent acquisition, career and leadership development, training development, and facilitation.

Authenticity In The Job Search

This article on authenticity 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. 

Before working in the tech sector, I spent over a decade helping high school students who were not interested in and/or able to attend college to enter the workforce. 

These job seekers often had the following in common: 

1) They were between 18 and 25 years old

2) They did not have a college degree or a postsecondary/professional credential

3) Their work experience often came from low-skilled, low-paying jobs

4) They were predominantly men and women of color

For many of these students, job searching was an uphill battle. Authenticity played a big role, in the struggle to craft resumes and cover letters that truly articulated their experiences and preparedness for jobs they applied for, along with a lack of confidence throughout the interview process. 

Now, as a Career Coach at Flatiron School, I guide recent graduates through the job search process. Though the struggle for authenticity is less critical for my current students – race still plays an important role when breaking into the tech industry, an industry that employs notably fewer people of color

For this reason, I find it necessary to highlight race in this blog to help job seekers forge strong authentic relationships that set them up for success during and after the job search. 

Why Authenticity Can Be A Struggle

Job seekers of color struggle with being authentic through the job search, more so than their white peers. 

This is different from imposter syndrome, which many tech bootcamps grads struggle with, regardless of race, gender, or professional experience. This is about job seekers feeling they don’t belong because of a lack of representation, resulting in them altering their behavior to fit the white male dominant culture of the field. 

Being authentic is not only important in preparing cover letters and resumes but throughout the interview process when employers are assessing for “fit”, which is more about the person’s soft skills, including their ability to develop strong relationships while on the job, according to Harver, a hiring solution for tech talent. 

This results in prolonged job searchers, full of anxiety and lack of self-confidence. Hence, the importance of helping job seekers of color bring their whole selves to the job search, and below are some tips for job seekers to bring their authentic selves to the process. 

Tips for Bringing Your Authentic Self To The Job Search

Bring ALL of yourself to the interview.

Do not be afraid to speak about the experiences, personal and professional, that make you who you are, if they’re relevant to the job search. 

This is especially important when they ask you “tell me about yourself” in the job interview. 

For instance, perhaps you’re interviewing during the Holidays, and to try to build rapport, the employer asks for your Holiday plans. You may want to talk about foods that are unique to your family and/or culture; or perhaps you may want to share the tradition of celebrating the Three Kings Day in your family, using this as an opportunity to show off your story-telling skills. 

Being authentic in the interview will help you relax, giving you a platform to highlight your unique talents and experiences, and set yourself apart from the rest of the candidates. 

Practice and develop self-awareness.

Being authentic as a person of color does not mean you have to overshare or serve as a token of your ethnic or cultural background. You alone know best what to share or not, and how to best carry yourself, as there is not a “right” way to be authentic. 

However, it’s to your benefit to be approachable, demonstrate vulnerability, and be able to connect with others at a very basic human level. And, a great way to find that balance is by practicing self-awareness, which is described as the habit of paying close attention to the way you think, feel and behave in certain situations

Increasing your self-awareness will make you less self-conscious about how others perceive you, and help you carry yourself more authentically. 

Do not code-switch.

I know! You may have learned that you need to speak or behave “white” in certain situations, which is different from speaking or behaving professionally. 

Adaptability and professionalism are important soft skills, and you can lean on these, and your emotional intelligence when you’re not sure how to behave or speak in certain situations. But, do take and display pride in the things that are unique and important to you, i.e., the way you do your hair, the things you do with your family and friends, where you were born or grew up, etc. 

Those are things that make you special. After all, you are a multi-dimensional individual with many interests and experiences. 

Build your brand around your authentic inner voice.

Consistency yields results, and it’s really difficult to be consistent across the job search – in your cover letters and resumes, in your elevator pitch when networking, during interviews – if you’re not being authentic.

Recognize that the job search is time for rediscovery and transformation.

You must rely on what you know well about yourself – your values, your personal story, your background – to help you craft a strong brand identity that highlights what’s unique about you and helps you get the job you want.

Ask your coach for help

While a good coach will develop a safe space for you to be yourself, feel free to ask your coach for guidance if you’re not sure how to behave in certain situations. 

For instance, perhaps you’d like to mention your passion for Black Lives Matter in your elevator pitch because it’s relevant to the role you’re applying to but you think it’s a sensitive topic. Not only should you ask your coach, but also take and practice using their feedback during your coaching sessions. 

Your coaching sessions are the ideal place to bring your whole self and practice authenticity and ask for help when you need it.

Remember – Bring Your True Self With You

Authenticity helps job seekers find purpose and clarity in their job search, keeping them motivated and present, and helping them accomplish their short and long-term goals. 

For people of color, however, this is not an easy task given the lack of representation of people of color and the white dominant culture in the tech industry. 

In addition to serving as a resource for job seekers, I hope this blog sparks conversations about creating safe coaching spaces and relationships for job seekers of color to bring their whole selves into the job search, shortening the time they spend in this process, overall, helping them land higher-paying, more satisfying jobs. 

About Junior Manon

Junior Manon is a College Access and Success and Career Development professional with over fifteen years of experience. He currently works as an independent consultant and career coach, helping organizations develop opportunities and support for people of color to break into, and succeed, in tech industries.

After The Interview

This article on the interview checklist 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. 

You have just completed your interview. You feel good and think it went well. Time to sit back and wait for them to offer you the job, right? Wrong!  

You can’t kick back and relax just yet because you know that you have one final, critical task to perform: the post-interview checklist. 

#1 – Send A Thank You Note

Time is of the essence

Send this within 24 hours of your interview.  Speed is of the essence.  This will show that you are interested in the opportunity, professional, and that you possess good follow-up skills.  

There is some conflicting information out there about whether or not to send an email follow-up or a handwritten note.  Go with the email for speed’s sake.

Send A Custom Note To Each Interviewer

Before leaving the interview make sure that you get business cards from each person with which you interviewed. Send thank you emails to everyone you interviewed with. Don’t send generic notes – make sure you say something a little different to each person.  

Remember that you are attempting to differentiate your candidacy from the other candidate contenders.

Focus On The 3 R’s

Think about the 3 R’s when composing your follow-up:

Reinforce. Re-state why you are the right person for the job.  The best way to do this is to align your skills, experience, and abilities in comparison to the primary requirements in the job description.  Consider using a two-column format to compare your capabilities to the job requirements.

Recoup. If there is something you wished you would have said or a piece of the technical challenge that you just did not get, add this to your note.

Remind. In the closing sentence, express interest in the next step. Tell them that you’re excited about the role and that you look forward to any next steps they have in mind for you as they complete this stage of the process.

Here’s an example of a thank you note you might send:*

Dear [Recruiter or Hiring Manager’s Name],

I’d like to thank you for chatting with me about the [Name of Position] job with [Name of Company or Institution]. I enjoyed learning more about how you’re doing things differently with [Conversation-Specific Point].

It sounds like something that would be perfect for someone with my background in [Skills and Qualifications], and I’d love to talk more about the opportunity.

I look forward to hearing about the next steps in the process. Please let me know if there’s anything else you need from me to help with your decision.

Sincerely,

Your Name

Title

GitHub link

LinkedIn link

Email address

#2 – Perform An Interview Post Analysis

More than likely you will participate in multiple interviews before you land your job.  Learn from each experience and use your cumulative learning to continuously improve your interviewing skills.

Use the following questions as a post-analysis checklist:

  • What went well? Why?
  • What did  not go well? Why?
  • What would I do differently if I were to repeat the interview?
  • What are my key learnings?
  • What interview skills must I further develop?

Take note of all the things that went wrong or weren’t ideal in your opinion and think about how you can improve on these points. Before heading out to the next job interview, you should revisit this list. Remember that making mistakes isn’t the end of the world, but it is crucial to learn from them.

#3 – Get Back Out There

No matter how well the interview went, you should operate under the assumption that you did not get the job. 

Continue to market yourself for other positions, stay on top of new opportunities, and continue your social networking strategies. This will maximize your opportunities and keep the interviews coming in. Remember – never put all your eggs in one basket! 

About Bill Souders 

Bill Souders is a career coach with Flatiron School. Bill spent 30 years working for the Coca-Cola Company in various sales leadership roles before transitioning into coaching. His expertise is in the career coaching, transition, and placement of college grads, high potential entry-level and emerging leaders, and c-suite executives. 

*Thank you note sample by Maddie Lloyd – Jul. 7, 2022

Jeffrey Hinkle: From Chef to Data Science Curriculum Writer

Jeffrey Hinkle, a Junior Curriculum Writer for Data Science, spent more than two decades in the restaurant industry as a chef before pivoting into tech. The driving force behind his life change was the desire to spend more time with his family, and the work/life balance he now has as a Data Science Curriculum Writer allows him to do just that. 

Jeffrey shares his journey from Chef to Data Scientist below.

Give me an overview of your experience – where did you start and how did you get where you are today?

I was a professional chef for over 20 years and needed a career that would allow me to spend more time with my wife who is a middle school teacher. I found data science and fell in love with using information to gain insight into real-world problems. 

As a result, I attended [Flatiron School’s] Online Data Science Bootcamp. Upon graduation and at the beginning of the pandemic, I began my job search where I was hired as the Data Science Interview Coach. 

The role eventually changed into a traditional coaching role and I transitioned to the curriculum team as a Curriculum Developer.

What are some notable projects you’ve worked on?

I migrated a majority of the Data Science curriculum to the canvas platform. I developed a few Python scripts to help to automate some of the processes along the way.

What are you most proud of in your career (so far)?

I am proud to have the opportunity to work for an organization such as Flatiron School.

The instructors’ dedication and hard work helped me succeed in the program and make it possible for me to be where I am today, still learning every day and helping keep the curriculum up to date with what is happening in the industry.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective Data Science students?

Don’t give in to “imposter syndrome,” if you are uncomfortable with something you are doing or working on, you are expanding your knowledge. 

Staying in your comfort zone will not allow you to push yourself.

Inspired by Jeffrey Hinkle’s career pivot story? Apply Today to our Data Science Course to take charge of your future in as little as 15 weeks.

Not quite ready to apply? Book a 10-minute chat with admissions to see if you qualify, or test-drive the material with Data Science Prep

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of 02 September 2022. For updated information visit https://flatironschool.com/