Where do I start?
I get asked this question quite a bit and there are some obvious answers and not so obvious answers you need to consider. Sometimes people get a little confused with the new world of technology and social media in their job search. Social media is important to getting to where you want to land. It is important to brand yourself and take the right steps to get to where you want to be.
1. Ask yourself the question: do I enjoy large or small companies? There are pros and cons to both and you need to figure out what is best for you. This is important in that you want to determine if you want to be part of an organization that does things on a large scale and you may have to deal with more politics. In a small organization, decisions might be made quicker but you also might have more responsibility. In terms of programming, this might include gathering requirements, testing/QA, maintenance along with new development.
2. What kind of stability is important? Does the company have a good track record? Any layoffs in the past 5 years? These days some organizations will cut workforce without hardly any notice, perhaps a week and sometimes none at all.
3. Determine what else is really important to you? (salary, commute, stability, benefits?) There is a lot to consider when considering a new position. Work on large or small teams? Individual or team contributor?
4. The obvious: Are you networking? Are you staying on top of your competition? It is very important to stay in touch with your old co-workers. Where are they working, do they like where they work – do they have any openings? Stay on top of user groups or meetups in your field. There are also a lot of job search outreach programs everywhere, especially in the DFW area. Nowadays, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with peers and learn from them. If you are an expert in a certain area, consider blogging or speaking at local or national conferences to help others.
5. Personal Branding/Social Media: Do you have a blog or website? It is very important to brand yourself in several areas. Have you kept up with your LinkedIn account and is it up to date with skills, awards, recommendations? Do you have an Aboutme page? This is a free service that you can use to brand yourself and list places you can be found on the internet. If you do have a website, make sure you list your resume and any relevant information on your projects. Twitter is great to follow those in your field and find out what they are up to (Latest trends).
6. Update that resume – make sure you have your skills numerous places on the resume. Recruiters and Applicant tracking systems use tag words and key words to find you. Without the keywords and skills, you are not going to be found among the numerous applicants. Take out the header with your name/address and put it in the main section of Microsoft Word. Make sure to use Microsoft Word rather than PDF. PDF looks nice but it sometimes doesn’t get parsed in the applicant systems.
7. Keep track of the places you have applied or have interest in applying. This is very important! Make a spreadsheet on Google Docs or Excel with the apply date, name of company, title of position, and the recruiter you talked to if that occurs.
8. Follow up after you interview. Send a thank you email to the recruiter and the hiring manager. Make it brief and to the point mentioning the skills you can bring to the position. Persistence is key if you feel like you are a match for a certain position but try not to be a pest, that can be a turnoff. See if you know anyone on LinkedIn that is connected to the company of interest. As many people refer to a black hole when applying, unfortunately the internal recruiting staff usually has bad systems or are too busy to even get to the applicants. The managers are very busy behind the scenes. It’s a catch 22, they really need to fill the position but are sometimes too busy traveling or in meetings all day to make time to interview.
9. Landing: make sure you do your due diligence on the company. That might include Glasdoor.com, or finding people you know that work at the company. Are they listed on any Best Places to Work lists? What are the pros and cons? How is the industry itself doing? – are they stable, upward trending? good revenues? Make sure the benefits are in line with your needs (vacation, medical, 401K, work from home?, etc). Agree on a start date and you are ready to go!
Best of luck in your search!