Is Tech the Right Career for You?
At an event hosted by The Job Forum, professionals interested in working in the Bay Area Tech Industry had an opportunity to meet and talk directly with hiring managers and recruiters working within Tech companies. Tech company managers were there from Google, Autodesk. Splunk, Aeva Inc., San Francisco International Airport and Unity Technologies and gave their time to help job hunters increase their chances of being hired at tech companies.
One message the managers at tech companies shared is that in one way or another, we all need to transform in order to keep up with the world of work. If you are looking for a job it is necessary to understand the possible opportunity areas.
For example, when you think of working in a technology company, your mind probably floods with images of an engineer hunched over a desk coding the next big app, but the work in technology doesn’t always equate to what you may imagine. Technology is a broad term. Many jobs require technical expertise, however the roles available in tech do vary from company to company. Contrary to the myth, tech companies may also need your soft skills — communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and flexibility so you should communicate these. Also the tech boom has resulted in many adjacent opportunities, in other specialty fields, where you may have experience that tech companies will perceive as quite valuable experience.
Salespeople, for example, work in tech. Like all organizations, tech companies need to pitch their products to customers and align them with business objectives. The tech world also welcomes Project Managers who can organize, plan, and direct their programs, such as in IT. Marketing roles in tech ensure that the brand of the company is attractive, and the product features are understood and match customer needs. Human Resource roles attract valuable new talent. Other roles include but are not limited to QA testing, Account Management, UX/UI designers, Finance, Admin Assistants and so on.
So the message is you can work in tech without being a highly skilled technical worker or an engineer or computer programmer.
Where do the job applications go?
Job hunters wonder how the applications they carefully develop and submit to technology companies actually go and if they are saved for future possible hiring?
- Once you have submitted a job application it goes through the ATS (Applicant Tracking System), which is the way they organize the candidate information to keep it on file and to match it to openings. Technology company managers at Facebook, Google, Autodesk said that at their tech companies, HR and recruiters do certainly keep mining these databases for the right candidates. They also said they like the people who have applied in past and have shown interest in their company.
- A recruiter at Autodesk said “ You do have to be a little bit discerning about which jobs you apply for, and if you’re applying for everything, you get a reputation of just kind of throwing your resume at the wall, but if our company is a top choice for you, please do apply again ”. All the managers said “ Please apply for jobs even if only a portion of the qualifications match your skills, but don’t apply for jobs where there is no or very little connection”.
- There are a few reasons why you’re possibly not getting contacted even though you have some of the things that the job description says are wanted. There are some behind the scenes realities, and examples are that some of the managers may be leaning really strongly for one set of characteristics or set of experiences over another, and at other times, an internal candidate fills the open role.
Customize your application to make it easier for your relevance to the job description to be more clear and obvious
- A hiring Manager at Unity Technologies said “Taking time to customize, especially the top part of your resume, where you’re highlighting some of the summary features and really draw the parallel to what you’re reading in the job description is a very good use of your job hunting time ”. “Make it as clear as can be why you ought to be on the list of candidates to consider”.
Majority of tech and non-tech roles can be divided into these broad categories:
- System managers, analysts, administrators: They operate the IT systems and ensure that they comply with the company’s business goals. Business systems analysts are people who are going to be documenting requirements, do the evaluation part of the way towards delivering and implementing a solution.
- Data scientists and researchers: They use their technical knowledge to find answers to problems, and are critical to innovation and progress.
- Programmers and developers: They build applications or solutions for their own company or another one, and have frequent interaction with business stakeholders to gather feedback.
- IT support: They assist and solve problems for internal and external customers and see the impact of their job each day.
- Customer-facing technical roles: They are the customer’s trusted advisors, such as customer engineers, solutions architects, or customer success managers. They understand the pros and cons of technology solutions and help customers solve business problems.
- Project, Product and Program managers: The Product Manager usually is very specifically tied to a given product over its lifecycle in terms of initial development and deploying it and then evolving it. Whereas a project manager is really working on a project. The project may be enhancing a solution. It may be deploying a new business process. It may be deploying a product or not. A program manager usually will manage a portfolio and for example, they’ll probably manage multiple projects that are related.
- Technical Writer: Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. The tech company managers point out “It’s a wonderful way to get into tech and learn so much every day”.
- UX UI Designer: a UX designer works with everything related to the user interaction with digital products. From user research, persona creation, journey mapping, building wireframes and using a design thinking approach, to ensure that everything is intuitive and looking visually solid. They usually collaborate closely with engineers, product managers, QA and more.
- Management, HR and recruitment: Recruiter, coordinator or sourcer are great roles to start out in recruitment and help find great talent for the company.
- Finance roles: There are of course the basic administrative, running a business roles, and finance is just one and legal or other administrative roles are others.
There is, in tech, a tremendous opportunity for transferable skills. For example, experience with Salesforce, NetSuite or Workday, provides valuable training and experience for a lot of careers. Working on these kinds of solutions provides good entry points that give you an opportunity to hone your skills and then move around.
How to stand out during a technology company interview?
- You really need to have show some energy, and you need to seem like you’ve been looking forward to talking with them and are excited to be there in the interview.
- Growth mindset is so important. Showing the times in the past where you have not known how to do something, and then you have figured it out and is important because almost any job you ever apply for at a tech company, they’re hiring for problem solving and learning aptitude.
- Be prepared to talk about specific examples around work that you’re particularly proud of, and tell your lessons learned those experiences that if you could go back and do something again, you would do differently.
- Be proactive, detail oriented and discuss your ability to be resourceful and a problem solver.
How important are the referrals at technology companies?
- Employee referrals at tech companies are often thought to be the proverbial golden tickets of job seeking. While they don’t guarantee you a job, they can increase the odds that your application will be seen and considered by a recruiter or hiring manager. Referrals ultimately give you a boost in the hiring process.
- When a job has hundreds of people who apply, recruiters have a hierarchy of the people they’re going to look at. “If you’re referred, you’re generally going to go to the top of the pile.”
- The key to making a referral work is by finding a connection between a job opening and someone you know. “Once you’ve identified a connection in your network, send them an e-mail asking about the specific job that you’ve seen at the company (not: “are there any openings?”), and include the link to the job description if you can”.
“Hi (Name), I hope you’re doing well. I am in the middle of a job search and would like to apply for the open (insert title) position at (Company Name). Do you know who I should talk to? I have attached my resume for your reference. I will appreciate your time and a referral to help me connect and be considered by the hiring decision-makers”
Technical or non-technical, everyone has a place in tech. Every background, skill set and perspective can bring value to tech companies and helps foster innovation. So, find out what opportunities are right for you, get your LinkedIn profile ready, and take a look at company career sites and job boards for current openings at leading tech companies.
The Job Forum is there to help your job search efforts
Come to The Job Forum to actually meet volunteers who are managers working at tech and other kinds of companies. These managers are interested to help job hunters succeed. By attending The Job Forum, you can expand your professional network of contacts. https://thejobforum.org
The Job Forum has volunteers from over 100 companies and organizations who volunteer to help job hunters. You can sign up for 1 to 1 advising sessions over the phone on Tuesdays and for job search input about your individual special circumstances on Wed evenings at interactive Zoom sessions. You will get helpful input and referrals from 3-4 of our more than 100 volunteer managers. The Job Forum helps experienced as well as new job hunters and shares practical tips and “lessons learned” that you can use for your own job search situation.