Navigating the Job Waters

The job market we are currently seeing in Seattle is one that is in high demand for specific skill-sets, we all know this; but how do we take advantage of that?

The first step in this process is to do your research, the better your understanding of what’s going on in the market the better your outcome.

Start by doing research on which companies are hiring, don’t try to accomplish this by doing a quick Google search and calling it a day. Supplement that Google search with a search on Linkedin, checking through the job boards, checking meetup groups, and most importantly chatting with a few good recruiters.

Remember, this is fact finding- you are looking to accomplish something specific- who is hiring, and how much the market is paying. Probe and ask what their clients are paying for your skill-set. Try to talk to a few recruiters from different groups, most tend to have different relationships with different clients. If that recruiter has a client that interests you, give them a shot! Keep in mind, tools, company, type of compensation, and experience vary wildly for this skill-set.

Once you’ve gotten a good sense of what the market pays for your skill-set try to also think of a range of other options i.e. is the base salary a deal breaker, how does equity play into your needs, what about bonuses, will you take less for working remote, will you accept a larger sign on bonus with a lower pay rate? You might not get everything you want, but you can leverage these other options to think creatively and find a compensation level that works for you. Companies are increasingly becoming more creative when it comes to compensation in order to retain and attract talent. If you come to the table with a clear set of goals or expectations, then that makes negotiation much easier.

Once your fact-finding mission is accomplished, there’s a few natural next steps: apply to companies directly, putting a resume on the job boards, or working with a recruiter. In the next section I will give a few tips on best practices.

Let’s first chat about applying to a company directly. There’s a few ways of doing this that will get you more traction than simply uploading a resume to a posting and calling it a day. You would be amazed at how many people who aren’t qualified for roles do this- so it ends up being a system that gets inundated with too many resumes to go through.

Instead try to make an impact and apply with intention. Instead of applying directly to the posting- try to do research on the company to figure out if you can identify a likely hiring manager or internal recruiter. Reaching out directly to a PERSON with a customized cover letter and resume that tells your story is much more impactful than reading a resume. It separates you from other applicants and to do this you must have done homework. In the end it is much more about the act of networking and sharing your story than anything else, you might not be the fit now- but by doing this you’ve put yourself on someone’s radar. Don’t treat these interactions as transactions, or as a means to an end- instead personalize and make an impact.

In terms of utilizing job boards- your resume, with contact information, is getting stored in not just the board itself- but each recruiting agency is copying it for their records. For the sake of your sanity, get a google voice number and a separate job hunting email address. You’ll thank me later. Think of this as fishing, your resume will attract recruiters- but make sure your resume has everything important. Include a summary of skills/tools you have used, talk about what you’ve done in your current/past roles, and include a technical environment summary at the bottom.

Finally let’s talk about recruiters, but let’s make a distinction between internal and agency recruiters- these are two very different beasts with different motivations. An internal recruiter hires for the company they work for and their motivation is to partner with hiring managers to build great teams. Agency recruiters hire for a number of other companies and their obligation is to help their clients find the best talent it can. Agency recruiters do business by charging companies a fee based typically on a percentage of a placement’s first year salary.

Partnering with an agency recruiter can give your resume more exposure, but it is important to work with good recruiters. The best way to tell is by asking them questions about the relationship with the company, can they walk your resume to a hiring manager directly? Have they filled roles on this team before? Do they understand the difference between java and javascript? Are they calling from your area code? These are all good questions to keep in the back of your mind when you evaluate which recruiters to work with.

By now you should have a good starting point for applying for jobs, but there’s much more to it than that! Stay tuned for subsequent articles detailing interview tips and how to negotiate salary!