Cesar Bretana
Cesar Bretana's Blog

Cesar Bretana's Blog

Finding a job I — Preparation

Finding a job I — Preparation

Cesar Bretana's photo
Cesar Bretana
·Aug 6, 2021·

10 min read

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By no means I want to tell you how to find a job, that I strongly believe depends on each one’s individual capabilities, preferences and ultimately the circumstances that might have drove you to take that decision. What I’m here to do, is to share some tips and tricks I’ve been learning over several years taking the role of both interviewee and interviewer.

Start with Why

There might be several different reasons why you want to find a job, either your desire is to part ways with your current employer in favour of better conditions, wage or atmosphere, or you are a just graduated that want to find the first job, or you were laid off and find yourself feeling the worst part of the impostor syndrome. All these are valid and represent the circumstances I was mentioning before.

Looking for improvements?

Maybe you’re feeling mistreated by the company, or you’re feeling stuck in one role or stack of responsibilities for a long time, the best advice I can give you, rarely you cannot change this situation without having to leave your current workplace, more often than not, these situations can be fixed with proper constructive feedback and constant communication. If you see that after a while, nothing has been solved and everything is just smoke and mirrors, then, yeah, it’s the time for you to explore new horizons. What I’m about to tell in this article will be helpful.

Newly graduated?

It might be intimidating, I know, I’ve been able to speak with a couple of new-grads here and there over the years, and it’s always fascinating to see this kind of energy, willing to change the world by doing anything and everything. And trust me, I’ve been there, the best piece of advice I can give you, try to show that willingness and all the potential you can get out of yourself, and if for some reason instead of being a new-grad, you’re a hiring managed that stumbled upon this article, take that advice for yourself, remember that 20 years old people are not able to have 10 years of experience, hire for the potential, not for the raw knowledge in these cases, these are the people that might take your company to the next level, but if you’re that new-grad with a super charged will, what I’m about to tell in this article will be helpful.

Were you laid off?

First of, sorry about that, I know it’s a bitter taste and can forcefully hit your ego. But hey, the good news are, someone else will like you and want you as much as the previous one. Try and don’t get affected by it, stand up and keep walking forward, and remember, even if you were let go and you have to leave behind that baby project you’ve been working on for the last 2 years, your experience and knowledge remains with you, don’t let impostor syndrome to affect who you are and what you’re capable of.

Decision taken. Let’s work on it.

Alright, so now you’re pretty sure you want to start or continue your journey throughout your career, there are a couple of useful hints and tips I would like to give you.

Prepare your CV

Whether you’re a 40 years old approaching the 20 years of experience threshold or a new-grad with zero years of countable experience for recruiters, this is always common, the natural first step is to send out your CV, and, if you’re like me (or any other common human being on the face of the earth), you have to take some time to update it, or most of the times, revamp it, then it’s worth keeping in mind the following.

Keep it simple

Research shows that recruiters spend 6–8 seconds reviewing a CV before they decide whether it is suitable for a vacancy or not. So it’s maybe worth to think about what to jot down there, consider adding the experiences you feel the most proud off, and really important, try not go over one page.

Keep it straightforward

Instead of spending hours trying to redact the best prose you can find in a CV about what you did last, use that time thinking what your contributions were in your previous experiences in a streamlined and direct way, probably it’s more useful for the reader to see something like:

Decreased the expenses of the company in 20% by migrating the entire cluster to Kubernetes

Instead of:

I was an indispensable part of the company because…

You got the gist, I’m pretty sure of it, if not, well, that GIF above is all the reader is going to see in from of them.

Create an online presence

If you belong the digital industry, creating a portfolio is easy and almost free, if you’re a software engineer, Github is there, if you’re designer, Dribble is there, if not, well, Medium is right here. Most of the times when coming down to a final decision between two candidates, it’s more often than not that the hiring manager will go for the person who has a strong online presence over the one that doesn’t, and the reason is simple, there’s only so much one as hiring manager can extract from the couple of limited hours spent with the candidate, thus, let your work speak for yourself.

Ready… Set… Go!

Great! You passed the first monotonous step that is to make yourself a stand-out professional that picks the glimpse of any recruiter out there. Now the moment of truth starts, hunt or be hunted, and nope, it’s not what you’re thinking, not the Alien vs Predator kind, it’s more like creating a good organisation framework so you can keep your sanity after the typhoon that you have in front of your nose.

Search wisely

Before starting to apply like crazy (or at all), take a second or two and think about how society works, it can be applied on every phase of life, and trust me when I tell you, companies out there take good advantage of the idea I’m about to explain, you should too.

SocietySociety

Anybody as part of society is within one of these 3 circles for you.

The deep inner circle represents the people that are or have become close to you over time. When thinking on looking for a new job, first ask around to family and friends, remember, these are the people who want the best for you, and will be candid with you about expectations and reality, if you find a company you like within your deep inner circle, doesn’t mean you’ll be hired automatically, but trust me when I tell you also companies prefer this channel over others and it’s the first one they always go for when looking to hire new talent.

The mid circle represents the connections you’ve been gathering over time, co-workers that aren’t necessarily your friends or people you’ve gotten to know in a gala, meet-up or general gathering of any kind and you kept connected afterwards, an email is usually enough and trust me, most of the people out there are willing to help, they at the very least will dedicate 5 minutes of their time to listen and provide input.

The outer circle represents the external world, and it’s generally what you focus on once the other two circles have been exhausted. Belongs to this layer everything that goes from you reaching out to a company to a recruiter or talent acquisition manager reaching out to you. That being said, don’t get me wrong, all 3 are equally important, remember that ultimately is getting hired what you want to achieve,

Something that in my opinion should be left crystal clear to everybody regardless of the circle they’re located to you, you’re looking what’s best for you, hence, don’t feel you’re putting yourself in a compromise if for any reason you want to go for an offer that you got from the outer circle over another your best friend introduced you in the first place, remember:

Calendar must be your best friend

When going wild in your application process, keep your calendar close always open and manage notifications and time slots wisely, first start by defining your free time, remember that at work, as at sports, spare time is as important as work time for ensuring good performance. Additionally, take advantage of the fact that most of the times you’re the one picking up the slots in somebody else’s Calendar, I like to use The Pomodoro Technique whenever possible, leaving above 5 minutes span in between of each interview to refresh myself and prepare to the next one.

Handle free time as part of your day

Decide a starting hour for calls, it should be a time where you feel comfortable, not so early in the day so are able to workout, take a good shower and feel active. Then decide a lunch break of preferably one hour, this is a nice break you give to yourself and your mind and body will feel grateful for it specially in busy days. And finally, put a hard stop to your days always at the same hour.

DON’T become a CV Machine Gun

This is a simple yet powerful piece of advice. In reality, most of the people send out applications like crazy, and that approach backfires real quick for several reasons I’ll be mentioning further down. What you should keep from this idea, mainly apply to companies you feel compatible with. Remember, your workplace will be where you will be spending most of your time, and therefore you should feel comfortable with it. Moreover, if you don’t feel like you’re gonna be looking forward to waking up Tuesday morning well rested and willing to conquer the world, it is probably not the right place for you after all.

Take time to inform yourself

When applying, your brain is processing more information than what it’s capable of storing, and you cannot avoid but to forget some of the facts that drove you to apply to that specific challenge in the first place. Before each interview take ~10-15 mins to review and formulate a comprehensive idea about the company, this is a powerful tool you can have at hand as driving the interview based upon mission, vision, values, goals and strategy of the company might become the ultimate method to grant a great first impression to the person in front of you.

Interviews and applications

Remember what I mentioned about CV Machine gun? Well, I would not recommend going with more than 4 companies in a row so you can keep a sustainable pace in their application processes. I know that most likely this piece of advice is just words in the air and you’ll send out applications like crazy, don’t blame you, I’ve been there before, but be ready then to squeeze information out of your brain in every interview if at the very least you don’t adopt one of the following organisation methods.

Organise your applications as your work

Everybody like to organise their work differently, and that’s not different from being involved in a job hunt. Some friends just apply and rely on their memories, some others use Office tools like Excel to keep track of their application processes. I personally prefer to use Trello since it’s a versatile and easy-to-use tool. They provide an endless list of templates with which you can hit the ground running, but in this case, one in particular really caught my attention and is what I used the last time I was looking for a new job, you can find the template here and customise it according to your needs.

Final remarks and what’s next

You have no idea how glad I am you managed to make it all the way to this point. Initially my idea was to make a single article out of this, but it was becoming gigantic and therefore I decided to divide it in parts. In the next part I will be deeply covering the entire interview process of a conventional tech company.

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