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I’m a software engineer and had several great jobs at top tech companies, but that wasn’t always the case. At one time, I was just like the tens of thousands of other software engineering job seekers—sending out resumes galore to company sites, recruiters, job sites, and any other place I could think of—without any success. I’d excelled in college, but that didn’t seem to make much difference during my job search. There were tons of young people just like me searching for jobs in software engineering. I needed ways to stand out and get my cover letter and resume into the hands of people who would be able to offer me a job. After talking with one of my college professors, software engineers, and my fellow students, I discovered a few great strategies.
A software engineer I’d met via networking at LinkedIn told me that he landed a job at Microsoft as a result of an information interview he had with a software engineering manager. He said that although the goal of an information interview is not to find a job, it can also serve as a great way to make an impression with a potential employer. So that’s what I did. I contacted several engineering managers at top tech companies, and a few agreed to participate in an information interview. I spent hours preparing a list of questions to ask and researching the companies. The interviewees were impressed with my preparation and interest. One even asked for my resume and told me that she would keep me in mind if an entry-level position opened. A few months later, a job opened, and, after going through a demanding round of interviews, I had my first position in the industry.
One of my college professors also gave me some great advice. He told me to get involved in the startup community in my town to make contacts with people who make hiring decisions. I began attending industry meetups, tech talks by local startups, and networking events sponsored by local tech companies and professional organizations. I even competed in hackathons. People began recognizing me, and I began to build relationships with software engineers, entrepreneurs, engineering managers, and recruiters. I eventually mentioned that I was in the job market, and some of the software engineers told me about companies that were hiring and gave me the names of good contacts at the company. One entrepreneur asked to see my resume, and then asked me to interview for a job at his startup. These efforts paid off, landing me my current job. Despite loving my job, I continue to stay active in the startup community. It’s a fun scene and a great way to make friends and learn about industry trends and potential job leads.
Finally, social media is a great way to get your resume to the right person. I used LinkedIn to reach out to current and former employees at my target company to ask how they got their resumes past screening software. I also connected with engineering managers to learn more about job opportunities at their companies. I even became friends with a few people. They lived in my town, and we’d attended the same college. Eventually, when I thought about looking for a new job, they provided me with the names of recruiters at their companies. One of these leads led to a job.
The best advice I can give to job seekers is to focus on making personal connections in the industry, rather than just sending out your resume blindly to employment and company sites. By becoming active in the tech community and meeting people one-on-one, you’ll establish real relationships that often lead to a job.
The above post was excerpted from the new Vault Guide to Social Media, Second Edition.
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