Before I dive into a post on strategies to find a technical job, I wanted to address how important it is to have the right mindset for the job search. Many people not only go about the search for a job in an ineffective way, but they also allow their job search assumptions to put them at a disadvantage for communicating with potential employers and landing a job. Unfortunately, all of us have a tendency to make some of these assumptions on occasion and we probably don’t even realize it. So with that said, here are a few thoughts on the mindset needed to best succeed in a job search.
- Landing a job requires proactive action from you. No employer is going to call you up out of the blue or swing by your house to give you an offer. You have to get out there and get active! Sitting in front of your computer firing off resumes ain’t gonna get it. Get out and get in front of employers, attend networking events and tell everyone you run into that you’re looking for a job.
- Public job postings are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the opportunities actually available. Plenty of employers have positions that they pull because they weren’t able to fill them or have positions on the books that they aren’t actively advertising. And small business owners probably have a grand plan in place for expansion and hiring but haven’t acted on it because they’re busy running the operation. The bottom line is that there are more opportunities out there than what Careerbuilder or Monster have to say about it.
- People hire who they like. When you do get in front of an employer, be likable. The employer is measuring in her mind if a) she likes you, b) thinks she can work with you, and c) you will fit in well with her team. Don’t make her doubt your ability to fit in and get along.
- You don’t know anything. Never forget that the employer knows their business, their industry, and probably their area of technology far better than you. They just have more experience doing what they do at that company than you do as a new hire, so be humble and courteous, and be careful not to tell them where you think they’re getting it wrong.
- Employers are trying to solve a problem. Help them do that. Their decision to post a job and eventually hire you are decisions they are strategically making because they believe it will benefit the company and solve a problem they have. Figure out what problems they need to solve and solve them. A great question to ask your employer is “what accomplishments would a successful employee in this position have achieved within the first six months on the job.”
- Everything is negotiable. Maybe the employer doesn’t think they have the budget to bring on a full time person. Maybe they don’t think you have all of the skills you’ll need for the position. Negotiating an alternative arrangement works surprisingly often and surprisingly well. Could you propose a part time position instead? How about just covering shifts that are tough to fill? How about working for a few weeks pro bono to prove yourself? How about an internship they can end whenever they want? How about a temporary contract just for a specific project? How about covering the phones while someone is on vacation or out on leave? How about starting at a lower salary with an agreement to increase when certain goals are met? There are lots of ways to get in the door. And once you’re in and prove yourself, it’s often hard for an employer to let that go.