Written by Tahuana Cirati, Bridge alumni.
As part of our commitment to help level up junior and intermediate women, agender and non-binary professionals in tech, we’ve been offering a series of Professional Development Sessions for our alumni. We had the honour of kicking off 2019 with Karen Kua, who talked to our grads about their job search.
By day, Karen helps to build teams for enterprise organizations and startups entrenched in Big Data, Machine Learning, Risk, and more. By night, she develops with a MERN tech stack and is an education guru. She also mentors and does program management at IT non-profit organizations.
She gave us so much wonderful information, that it was impossible to write a short post. So, get your coffee and enjoy your reading!
1. Working with recruiters
Internal recruiters vs External recruiters
- Internal recruiters only hire in their own company, and for their own company’s roles.
- External recruiters (aka agencies/vendors) work with many different clients, placing professionals in other companies.
External recruiter benefits:
- They sometimes work on roles that are not published.
- They sometimes work on contract roles that are given to external recruiters only.
- They can give you detailed insight into the role and quicker feedback, such as interview tips, format of interviews, and advice to perform better.
- They will notify you about multiple roles across different companies that suit your skillset.
- Assess the recruiters you work with, ensuring they are responsive and trustworthy.
- Get as many details as you can: client name, location, job description, job ID, information about the team, the project, etc. Anything you feel you’ll need to make a decision.
- Keep in mind that recruiters have quotas to meet, so some recruiters work to collect resume submissions regardless of the candidates’ suitability for the role. These are the types of recruiters to avoid.
✨ Hot Tip ✨ The job ID is a unique identifier for the position. It is important to know it, so you do not duplicate your application. If you apply for the same job with different recruiters, the hiring managers may not move forward with you to avoid possible conflicts.
- Never give out a RTR (right to represent) statement before speaking with the recruiter about the role. The RTR provides the recruitment firm you give it to the exclusive right to your application for a particular role. Be careful! Read the RTR in detail, ensuring it does not include any clauses that may affect your applications for other roles.
- Never forget to ask about their payroll process. In some cases, there might a delay in your first payment when you become a contractor under the recruitment firm. More on contracts below.
- Never apply for the same job on the client’s website if you’ve already applied through a recruitment firm. As mentioned above, if the hiring team receives a duplicate application from you, they may not move forward.
2. Optimizing your Resume and LinkedIn
Hiring managers receive thousands of resumes for the roles they work on. It is not possible to read all of them, so it’s important to submit Applicant Tracking System (ATS)-friendly resumes. When you have ATS-friendly resumes, they’ll be processed with higher accuracy when they’re submitted to these platforms. For example, your contact details, experience, tech stack and so forth will be more accurately parsed. Therefore, when hiring managers query their ATS platforms for resumes matching particular keywords/parameters, your resume will have a higher chance of appearing in the search results if its data has been parsed accurately. ATS-friendly resume templates don’t look as stylish, but they ensure a higher chance that your resume will appear in their talent pipelines.
✨ Hot Tip✨ To learn more about ATS-friendly resumes and to build your own, check this out this great tool.
- Keep your LinkedIn updated.
- Your status should be Open to New Opportunities.
- Put your email and other contact details in your description/summary at the top, above your work experience.
- Include technologies you’ve worked with in your position descriptions.
- Fill out your list of Skills at the bottom.
✨ Hot Tip ✨ When there’s a request to connect, check if there’s a message attached. Many recruiters use this resource; it’s free, compared to sending you a direct message called an InMail.
When a recruiter reaches you out via InMail, try to avoid clicking a button labeled “Not interested”. That will close the channel completely, and they will not be able to send you a message again unless they purchase another InMail message. Just reply to them and keep the channel open as they may present you suitable employment opportunities for you in the future.
3. Salary and benefits
- If you’re asked about your current income, it’s your choice to answer or not. You can give a range you’re comfortable with.
- Try to put yourself in the middle of the range, to keep yourself competitive. It is less likely for the client to pick you if you’re closer to the ceiling. However, ensure you’re comfortable with the numbers at all times.
- Always ask for $5–10k more than what you want to leave room for negotiation. It’s common to have your number negotiated down by this much.
- You should also consider other add-ons in the compensation package, such as vacation time, team culture, RRSP plans, equity, bonuses, education funds, etc.
If it is your first job in the field, you are a junior. But avoid using the word “junior” as much as possible.
- Usually, the seniority is defined based on performance + years of experience. But it can be flexible. If you were great in the interview, you can be considered for a higher position, even if you have less experience.
- Do not predefine yourself!
5. Interviews and whiteboarding
- Be prepared for 3–4 rounds of interviews (even for junior-intermediate roles).
- Take home tech coding challenges can take a few hours to 1 week to complete based on what’s been assigned.
- Don’t panic if you make a mistake during whiteboarding and/or the technical verbal questions — the interviewers want to see how you catch mistakes, deal with failure and stress, and troubleshoot mistakes. Maintain a calm composure at all times and be open-minded to their feedback.
- Maintain your calm during the interview process: try reframing the way you see your interviewers. Think of your discussion with the interviewers as another discussion with fellow team members and developers — have fun and show your authentic self!
- Practice whiteboarding / technical questions on your own or with friends to build your confidence.
6. Finally, here are the top 3 questions to ask in an interview:
- If they haven’t described the team culture, ask them about it.
- What they describe as the traits of a successful hire. This can be valuable information to help you upsell yourself in the next round of interviews.
- What are the next steps?
A huge thank you to Karen for sharing such amazing and valuable tips; and to Executive Director Emily Porta, Bridge in general, and Rangle.io for hosting!
Also, big thanks to Bridge alumni Rose Wan for taking notes during the event, Stephanie Zeng for helping with the room, and to all Bridge alumni for sending questions for the Q&A and for attending the event!