How to Get a Job in Tech, According to an Ex-Google Recruiter | Entrepreneur
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jeff Sipe, a private tech career coach and former Google recruiter. It has been edited for length and clarity.
Big Tech layoffs were always going to receive backlash — that said, I don’t think any of them have been handled perfectly, and many of them could have been avoided. Yes, companies needed to cut down on costs, but more than that, I think layoffs have become trendy.
After layoffs, the company’s stock price usually goes up, and the board of directors and shareholders (most of whom don’t work there) are happy. It starts becoming more and more acceptable to conduct them; Twitter did it, so Google can do it, so Microsoft can do it, and so on.
But there are other ways to cope with a recession. A Stanford business professor says that layoffs often don’t cut costs and suggests companies could implement other strategies like a 10% wage cut across the board.
That said, I don’t think anyone who’s been laid off or wants to break into the industry should be discouraged — it’s always a good time to get into tech. Tech workers will always be needed. So if working at Google or Amazon has always been a dream, I always advise people to go for it.
Use LinkedIn to work smarter, not harder
Whether you’ve been laid off or are hoping to break into tech for the first time, the first thing that you should do is clean up your LinkedIn profile. You could be sleeping, working, or going to the gym, and your profile will do the work for you. Every aspect of your profile, from your picture, to your headline, to your name, to your about, to your experience, that should be buttoned up.
I rarely see true red flags on LinkedIn, but I think it’s unappealing when candidates don’t include their photo. Your headshot should be shoulders and above; I see a lot of people use a photo of themselves with sunglasses on or a photo with their families, and it’s just not professional. I recommend just taking a selfie or having somebody take a picture of you against a clean background.
You should also be using the platform to reach out to recruiters at target companies — with a giving approach, rather than just asking for a job right out of the gate. A message like this will go a long way: “Hey Sue, I came across this really cool article about machine learning, I thought I’d share it with you.”
Take a look at what’s trending in your space and devote time to sending notes like this, as well as commenting on other people’s posts. It will make you much more noticeable to hiring teams on LinkedIn.
I also like when people keep track of what we’ve spoken about in the past. Let’s say you send another message to Sue a month or two later. Keep track of your connections in a spreadsheet so that it’s easier to follow up. Trust me: continue with that giving approach, and eventually Sue will ask how she can help you out — it will come full circle.
Be open about your layoff
If you’re coming out of a big tech company, chances are you’ve built up a great network. You should be announcing to the world that you’re looking for work. Make a LinkedIn post saying, “Hey, I got laid off. Here are the types of roles I’m looking for.”
I’ve noticed that many employees who have been laid off add the “Open to Work” feature to their LinkedIn, but don’t necessarily make it clear that they’ve been laid off.
I recommend creating a banner to set as your profile’s background photo. Anyone can create one for free, using Canva for example, that says, “Impacted by Google Layoffs.” I’d also include the types of roles you’re interested in, as well as your contact and locations.
From a recruiter’s point of view, I’d see this and immediately understand your status — I know you’ve worked in a tough environment, and I know how to contact you. I haven’t seen laid off candidates do this yet, but I think it would definitely help them jump up the list.
Don’t underestimate soft skills
Going into an interview, it’s critical to have a plan. Any interview coach will tell you to practice with other human beings. It could be with a friend or a family member, but if you fumble through it with someone one-on-one, you’ll get significantly better.
For me, positivity is huge. We’re all going to make mistakes, but I look for how candidates can show they’ve learned from them. Use positive language — call it a challenge or an opportunity, rather than a failure. If you were impacted by a layoff and you’re angry, you don’t want to put down your former company. Focus on what you’ve learned and what you’re grateful for.
If someone looks good on paper, they’ll only make it so far in the hiring process. But soft skills are just as important. When recruiting at Google, I always paid attention to whether the candidate arrived on time, if they were friendly, and if they were communicative. Not being able to meet certain requirements can definitely cause an otherwise strong candidate to lose out.
For anyone trying to bounce back from a tech layoff, it’s easy to get imposter syndrome, but remember: recruiters aren’t looking at people impacted by the layoffs in a negative light. They know that some people were just unlucky, and it had nothing to do with performance.
Own your layoff, use your network, and show gratitude.
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