When I googled some of the top struggles of job seekers, the following popped up:
- They don’t know what they want
- Their past experience does not align with roles they want to switch to
- They aren’t getting interview calls
- They are getting interview calls but not offers
While an impressive resume studded with ‘technical skills’, ‘certifications’, prestigious ‘alma mater’, ‘work experience’ and Fortune 500’s are good hooks, lack of clarity about the kind of role you want can thwart all your milestones on paper and otherwise.
Every company we apply to is building solutions to help customers. They have a pipeline for every offering and it is our responsibility to highlight where we fit in best with our skill set, how and why so. And this is because we use technology and our expertise to help build and shape informed business and product decisions.
Of course, job hunt is 70% you and 30% luck. Sometimes, in spite of acing the technical, behavioral, and case study rounds, we get rejected because we did not meet the expectations of the interviewer. And sometimes, after reading the job description we think to ourselves ‘ Wow I would fit really well into this role’ only to end up receiving an automated rejection email within days of applying for the same.
So in the end it boils down to:
- What do recruiters and interviewers look for in our resume to begin with
- How do I convince them I am ‘a great fit’ for the role
The ultimate trick? Put yourself in a recruiter/interviewer’s shoes and then draft your resume and answers.
What did you do, Why and How did you do it, What impact did your actions have are how we are told to structure our bullet points in resumes. You can be a software developer, a product manager, or a management consultant, the rule of thumb remains the same. And that is because every employee in an organization contributes towards helping optimize, streamline, improvise or launch business and product solutions with the help of technology.
C++, Java, SQL, Tableau, HP ALM and the likes wouldn’t count for anything if they did not help deliver and build better solutions. To be able to showcase your skills and expertise (both technical and non-technical) in ways that highlight the business challenge and henceforth the solutions you were a part of is key. When listing projects (whether as a grad student or as an industry professional) make sure to give some context in terms of what the challenge was and what technology tools you used to come up with a solution.
For those who struggle with switching roles, it is important to showcase some of the transferrable skills you can bring to this new role. With the help of past work experience and passion projects, you can bolster your reasoning for ‘Why you are a great fit even though your work experience was in a different industry’.
A simple example is as follows:
You have worked as a data analyst at an ecommerce company for the past 3 years and are now keen on applying for a product management role at a social media company. Here are some skills that you could immediately use in your new role:
- Your ability to format, analyze and interpret data, along with your strong familiarity with SQL, Python and data visualization tools can be of immense help when trying to identify the need, scope, priority and impact of a product feature you are contemplating at your new job.
- Your experience as a data analyst can also help come up with insightful Key Performance Metrics that will help measure the success of your proposed solutions as a product manager.
- While you haven’t worked for a social media company before, you do have ideas on how one can slice and dice data, and optimize queries when investigating millions of user records.
I hope this gives you an idea of how to highlight your skills and navigate through a role change.
But beyond this, I also think providing links to every project you mention on your profile goes a long way. Make sure these links don’t just contain 1000 lines of code, but also give some business context and describe what each step is aiming to achieve along the way. Whether or not recruiters click on it is up to them, but it definitely says a lot about how prepared you are and how you structure and tackle problems at hand.
Now onto the next step.
Prepping for behavioral rounds seems very easy.
- Oh, ‘Tell me about a time you implemented an improvisation you suggested in the first place?’. I realized that ABC was not as efficient and proposed XYZ. The team went ahead with it and we have been using it ever since.
Now imagine hearing any slight variation of this answer. Would you be left impressed? Would you follow up with questions as an interviewer?
Irrespective of how technical or non-technical your role is, it is very important to give some business context.
Who were you working with - What was the existing solution - What led you to think of an alternate solution - How did you investigate it - What solution did you propose - Which stakeholders did you have to convince and How -What was the impact of your implemented solution.
- Answer these questions for the interviewer without being asked to. Show that you can anticipate questions and have them served even before you are prompted to do the same.
- Give them a little more than they ask of you. “Tell me about a time you lead a team?’, I can tell you about a time I lead a team AND faced some hurdles but overcame it by doing XYZ. I also ended up learning ABC is really important when working in a team and can go a long way.
Remember to research the company — it’s latest acquisitions, it’s latest solutions, new features in their products and so on.
- This will not only help you resonate with the company better when answering ‘Why us?’
- It will also give ideas in terms of suggesting new solutions that leverage and go hand-in-hand with their existing solutions.
- It will help you when its your turn to ask questions to the interviewer at the end of your interview.
Hope this gives some direction and helps you in your job hunt.