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Your Job Search: Roadmap To Career Success

Your Job Search: Roadmap To Career Success

Through this “Your Job Search” series of blog posts, you will get an in-depth walkthrough of the job search and hiring process. Together we will walk through the steps that will save you time and frustration and put you on a path to successfully get a job in technology. The full blog series will cover:

  1. Guidelines and best practices for setting up and starting your search
  2. How to learn to code to qualify for the job. 
  3. Understanding the job search landscape -- knowing your options and what positions to apply for.
  4. How to focus and conduct an efficient job search, so that you do not waste your time searching for jobs that are not a fit
  5. How to position and market yourself towards the right jobs for you
  6. How to create a plan and execute successfully against that plan
  7. How to navigate the interview, hiring, and offer process

This post focuses on beginning to set yourself up for success in your search.

The 3 Golden Rules Of The Job Search Revealed 

The topics covered in this blog series are designed to help you formulate a narrative that will help you address the three golden rules. These golden rules are universal and apply to every company, regardless of size, industry, and type. When evaluating candidates, companies seek positive answers to these three questions. 

1. Can you do the job? 

Do you possess the skills required, and do you have the aptitude to quickly learn new skills along the way. Technology changes at the most rapid pace of any industry -- so it is important to employers that its employees are able to adapt and evolve as well. Employers will likely test to see where your current skills ceiling is, and also evaluate your ability to learn and stretch. This blog series will cover how to present your skills and your aptitude for learning new ones. In this area, an online learning resource such as SoloLearn will help you get you where you need to be, be it to learn a language or skill from scratch, brush up on existing knowledge, or applying your knowledge to challenges and tests for understanding. 

2. Will you do the job? 

Just because you can do the job, doesn’t mean you want to do the job. How motivated are you to do this work at this company? Hiring the wrong person is costly in terms of money, time, and company culture. A manager can always work with you to up your skills game and help you take on new responsibilities but no manager can improve your motivation. Developing your story and narrative will help you show your motivation. 

3. Are you a fit? 

Companies intentionally craft and nurture their company culture. While they seek a diverse employee talent pool, they also want to ensure that their hires will “row the boat”  in the same direction. While less tangible to measure than the other two questions, it is nonetheless equally as important. Throughout this blog series, we will address how to convey this alignment.

In short, you should be able to demonstrate your ability to do excellent work, you should be able to show how you will continue to learn on the job, your motivation and enthusiasm to do the work should be evident and palpable, and your ability to fit into company culture and work as a team should be easy to qualify. 

Now that we know the three golden rules that the entire job search follows, let’s cover some guidelines useful in setting yourself up to start a successful job search:

Best Practices To Prepare for a Successful Job Search 

1. Employ a growth mindset

The concept of a growth mindset, popularized by Carol Dweck, and broadly applied by educators, is the belief that an individual’s basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. A growth mindset fosters a lifelong love of learning and a resilience that is necessary for continued accomplishment. A growth mindset sees challenges and failures as opportunities to accelerate learning and skill development. Your career exploration and job search is part of your learning journey. Many of the same practices you set in place when you learn to code will be critical to also apply when you start your job search. Work hard, enjoy the process, and continue to stoke your curiosity by asking a lot of questions along the way. 

2. Change is okay

You have the right to change your target job and your opinions along the way. This is quite normal for anyone working toward a new career. Consider this a learning experiment --- your theory is that you are interested in a career that involves programming. This theory is based on your existing knowledge and information. As you continue to gather more information, research, and learn about your potential new career, your interests and opinions might shift and your theory can be tested and evolved. Embrace this process!

3. Possibilities:

As you continue to learn throughout the search, take the time to zoom out and think big picture. What is possible with your emerging skill set? What kinds of things can you build? What kinds of problems can you solve? What is happening in your industry? What trends are you noticing, what are people saying about companies that you may be interested in working for? What events (conferences, meetups, etc.) are taking place? How will you stay connected with the industry in which you intend to work? How are your coding skills relevant to real world problems that companies are trying to solve? Jobs are opened because employers need to hire someone to come and build things and solve problems for them. As you learn more, broaden your perspective on what is possible, what you can build, and what problems you can solve -- and adapt your search accordingly. 

4. Talk to people 

Balance your new skills with conversations with others that are learning to code and experienced programmers. Sololearn will build your skills towards mastery of your desired programming languages. Conversations with programmers will help you learn what it means to be a professional programmer. Doing an ‘informational interview’ is an excellent way to ask questions and learn from someone that does the job you aspire to do. Who you know is sometimes as important as what you know in your job search. Talking to people will grow your network of programmers in your network. 

5. Use it or lose it

Practice coding every day (your skills will quickly atrophy and diminish if you do not!).  Apply your skills by building new things and solving new problems. Document your latest creations by committing to Github, Stack Overflow, etc. From experience and evidence, we know that daily practice is the recommended cadence. Set aside time each day to review the previous day’s work and practice what you have learned. The more that you apply your skills, the longer you will retain the information, and the better you will understand the nuances of each skill you are building. Your increased understanding will build your problem solving skills. As you practice solving problems and building new applications, commit to Github each day. Not only will hiring managers look for examples of your coding skills in Github (or other repo), regular commits on Github also demonstrate your enthusiasm and motivation to code. 

6. Take inventory 

Notice your energy level during your learning journey. What gives you energy while learning is an indicator of what will give you satisfaction in your future career. Your energy level is difficult to fake. How wrapped up or engaged you become in particular parts of your learning journey will be great data points to remember when it comes time to make decisions about your career direction. For example, if you notice that you are particularly interested in developing visually pleasing websites that are intuitive, and are passionate about how human behavior affects visitor behavior on your website, then front end website development, and UX/UI development, would be a job worth exploring. If you are fascinated about building things, making things work, building a system that is efficient, robust, and can handle a lot of users, then you might take a look at developing your database skills more. Take note of what you enjoy doing along the way!

7. Ups and downs

Your learning journey and job search will include achievement, rejection, and a lot of hard work in between. Expect emotional peaks and valleys. Recognize when it happens, re-engage a growth mindset, and move to next action steps. Learning will be new, exciting and fun. It will also be frustrating and confusing at times. You may feel like quitting -- this is expected and normal, and means that you are learning and stretching yourself. You will also encounter many of the same feelings ranging from euphoria to frustration during your job search. Your job search will be difficult, but if you follow our plan, put in hard work, and approach it with the same enthusiasm as when you are learning to code, you will be successful. 

8. Get into a rhythm 

The most successful job searches set up a schedule with a daily cadence. Think of the endurance athlete that is training for a marathon, or a cyclist that trains for the Tour de France. Setting up daily goals, learning something new each day, furthering your search with additional preparation and research will result in a regular cadence of achievement that will become addictive and self-rewarding. Though life will sometimes surprise you with scheduling challenges, having a schedule and plan to fall back on once the disruption is managed will re-introduce stability and control back into the process. 

9. Don’t do it alone 

You will learn faster and create a deeper understanding of the material if you learn with other people. Asking questions among a group of peers will help get you unstuck. Conversely, answering questions for those who are stuck will increase your depth of knowledge and understanding -- if you can teach a concept, you better understand it. Employers know this. Your ability to teach and explain concepts will be tested when you interview with companies. Lastly, your study buddies will help motivate you when your motivation is low. Protip: visit SoloLearn’s coding community, introduce yourself, say hello, and get involved!

10. Enjoy the process

SoloLearn will help you learn to code. Your new skills are powerful and will allow you to do amazing things. Enjoy learning to code and how your skills will help you get a new job in technology. 

Finding the Right Fit

The key to an effective job search is at the intersection of your interests, your skills, and the skill requirements of the job.

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In this Venn Diagram, your interests, the industry skill requirements, and your skillset are all equally important and balanced in your job search and together become the sweet spot of your search. As you grow each circle, so does your sweet spot grow. As you learn, each new skill will open new doors in the job market. As you continue to learn to code, your interests will likely grow as you practice your new skills firsthand, which in turn expand your career options. Crafting your job search strategy in this fashion will help prioritize your focal points. 

In review, we know that learning to code and your job search are both potentially new and exciting journeys, and that in many ways they parallel each other. Both require planning, diligence, and determination. Having the right mindset going into each journey is critical to success. Developing your interests and targeted jobs will build the foundation for your success planning for your job search. We will do a deeper dive on how to establish a growth mindset, and how to match your interests to industry jobs in the future blog posts in this series.

 

In his over 20 year career, James Van has helped thousands find their next job. James began his career as a technical recruiter in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. After nine years of recruiting, James completed his Masters in Counselor Education at San Jose State University and transitioned into career counseling and coaching. James has supported the career growth of his students at institutions such as UC Berkeley, Hult International Business School, and Galvanize. He recently joined SoloLearn , a self-paced earn-to-code platform providing excellent technical instruction. In his personal hours, James enjoys spending his time with his family, windsurfing, surfing, and cycling.