There may be a lot of technical job opportunities out there when you look at a job board or LinkedIn, but they may not all be a good match for you. When I coach people to find a great match I don’t just help them find a job. I find a good career match.
When I start talking to a coaching client I need to assess their strengths and weaknesses. A good way to do this is with a DISC profile. I like to use Dan Miller’s of 48 Days to get a baseline of their talents. This is a great way to try to reach what I aim for “Career Alignment.”
1. Finding Alignment
Working as a software developer I have found most of us like to jump right into the code and begin creating a solution. After doing this for a few years I found that taking a little time up front to think about a plan and strategy can help.
When I start working with coaching clients they can want to start with looking for a job. We first start with finding alignment in your career. If don’t have that in place you will soon be frustrated and be looking for a change again.
What are your top 3 strengths? List these out yourself and then talk to a few people who know you well. Perhaps a spouse, friend, or parent. We sometimes don’t see what talents we have and can overlook them. Finding the right fit requires knowing yourself first.
What environment do you thrive in? Answering this question will help you eliminate some organizations from your list of possible opportunities. I have taken a job where I didn’t work well in the environment and I ended up leaving shortly after coming on board.
Do you like working with a team? Or do you prefer working solo? In some technology careers, you work alone while others work in teams. How do you deal with change? Some companies move a warp speed while others move slower. What about the size of the company? If you like to know everyone involved perhaps a smaller company is for you.
2. Potential Companies
In my first job out of college, I sold business forms. The first day on the job I was told to drive my territory and find potential clients. I first had to look at a map of Des Moines and figure where I could go. Then I drove a bit with a legal pad in the next seat.
Finding a technical job is really similar to sales. Most technology people abhor sales, but it has a lot to teach us. We need to find companies that we would be willing to work at. If we use the criteria we discovered earlier this should help pinpoint some and remove others from the list.
3. Use your network
Many of the great jobs you want never get posted on job boards or advertised. Companies will hire from within, use a referral, or find other ways to fill the position. Using your network is a reliable way to find those hidden gems. In Danny Beyer’s book The Ties that Bind he shares how our network can help us in our career.
Take the companies you have a look at your network. If you have connections at the company reach out to the individual you know. Otherwise, you can send a letter of introduction to the Human Resources department at the company. A few weeks later you will follow up with a resume then the following week you can call to inquire about opportunities.
4. Find 3 Good recruiters
Ask someone in IT about recruiters and you can get some strong opinions. Some hate recruiters and will tell you stories about how bad they are and others will share how lucky they are to have a good one. There are many recruiters out there so when I say “good” here is what I mean. You want to find one you trust and won’t shoot your resume out to every company. Also, they should be able to help you prepare for the interview as they should have some insight on the job and company.
If you get a recruiter that doesn’t respond to you and let you know where they have submitted you it can make them and you look bad. So that is why you want to make sure you trust the person. You want more than one because each company has relationships with certain companies. You can use the recruiters as allies in finding a new place for you to work.
5. Online profile
Keep your online profile up to date. I recommend everyone be at least on LinkedIn. Twitter is also a good place to be active. Make sure you keep them up to date or close them down. If you haven’t tweeted in over a year, just shut it down. It is like a deserted island. Make sure you keep connected with people you have worked with before. You may need their help (See step 3).