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Breaking It Down: Getting A Job

Ryan Latta
I've been in the SW game for 10 years. Somewhere I wound up helping devs navigate their career, and I fell in love with it. By day I consult for SW companies, by night I help devs with their careers.
・4 min read

A lot of people I mentor are unsure exactly what the process of getting a job is like. For many of us who have gone through it dozens of times, it's easy for us to take it for granted. I thought I'd share a bit about the major pieces of getting a job, and hopefully, that will demystify the whole experience!

1. Searching

The obvious place to start is when people start looking for a job! In this first phase, we are looking for available positions. Even this step is a bit mysterious. Where do you look for postings, and what do you look for in those postings?

Here's a list of my top three places to look for positions:

  1. People you know
  2. Glassdoor
  3. LinkedIn

I want to spend a little time on #1 here because people who refer you for a job boost your chances enormously. Also, most companies offer a referral bonus to people who bring in a new hire. That last bit is to make you feel less awkward about saying to people, "Hey, do you know if your company is hiring, or somewhere else is?"

The last two are in a bucket of general job sites, but the quality is higher than a lot of others. One thing to note is that many positions are going to be posted by recruiting agencies and not the actual company. For now, all that means is that when you apply you'll wind up working with a recruiter who will help you through the process as well as tell you about other opportunities.

2. Applying

I'll keep this brief, but this is where a lot of people go astray. In this phase, you're applying to jobs and hoping you get an interview.

A lot of people struggle here on a few spots. First, they only apply to positions that look ideal to them. Apply everywhere you might qualify. Second, they mistakenly believe that a lack of interviews is due to either education, portfolios, or GitHub. It is none of those things. It is your resume.

You can dial your resume in to get an interview 100% of the time you apply. It takes a few hours to do and that is way less effort than building a portfolio site.

Last, people don't apply to jobs because they're unsure of the years of experience or the title. For years of experience, subtract 5 from what is listed in the posting. For the title, if its your first job, you can apply to anything that isn't "Senior".

3. Interviewing

This is a huge one, but I'll keep it brief. There are multiple interviews you'll have. One will be with HR, and they will ask you cultural fit questions. One will be with leadership, and it will blend technical and team fit questions. Several will be technical and absolutely awful.

Mistakenly, people believe you can study your way through the awful technical interviews. While you can get more comfortable with the type of questions you'll get asked, you can never study enough. Also, giving correct answers isn't really what you're trying to do.

You want to give answers that the interviewer likes.

I have way too many stories from my own past and my mentees where they gave valid answers and knew they lost the interview that moment. So even if you know the technically correct answer, it's no good to you if it isn't one they want to hear.

Practice your storytelling, and engaging in conversation. The more back-and-forth dialog the more human the interview becomes and less of a test. Also, imperfect answers are judged favorably because you seem pretty cool.

The last note is that interviewing is intense. There is no substitute for real experience in the hot-seat, so get as many interviews as you can to get comfortable with that whole thing.

4. Offers

After making it through everything you'll get an offer. First, it will be verbal, and then one in writing will show up.

  • DO NOT QUIT YOUR JOB UNTIL YOU SIGN AN OFFER!
  • DO NOT TELL ANYONE AT YOUR CURRENT JOB UNTIL YOU SIGN AN OFFER!

Maybe I should have put those up top?

Things can fall through and not go the way you want in this whole ordeal. When you sign an offer though, things rarely fall through. If you're curious about the second bullet I yelled, well many companies begin to take action when someone is thinking about leaving the company. They have to. They might pull you off any important work, stop inviting you to things, or side-line you until you quit.

Enough of that! When you get an offer, they often come with an expiration. Don't fall for feeling pressured by it. Keep talking with the people about the offer and it will be just fine. At this point, you can negotiate if you want, and I highly recommend you get details on their benefits.

Understanding benefits and compensation is a big topic and it has a huge impact on your life. Get help understanding it and know the details.

Whew!

Well, that was a lot, but hopefully, it helps demystify the process of getting a job a bit. Each stage has its own challenges to overcome, but you can approach them systematically and become an expert in each piece. Good luck out there!

Discussion (1)

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Gracie Gregory (she/her)

Great advice!