10 ways to improve your job search

This blog post has been updated and was originally authored by Metis Career Adviser Ashley Purdy.

 

Searching for a job has challenges and frustrations at the best of times. Take the global pandemic for example, which has undoubtedly an added an additional layer of challenges. Here are 10 actions you can take to get an ‘edge’ during your job search.

 

 

Create Google alerts

One easy and proactive step is to create Google alerts for companies you’re interested in working for. When setting up an alert, use Boolean strings to help you target a company or a specific skill. Examples might look like this: jobs (‘Company 1 OR Company 2’). You can also incorporate keywords, such as ‘data’, ‘Python’, or ‘SQL’. This ensures you’re able to quickly apply for jobs aligning with your interests. Being one of the first people to apply for a job can help you get noticed by the recruiter.  Any action that gives you a head start is especially important throughout your search.

 

Keep applying

It’s normal to feel frustrated at times throughout your job search. Job seekers often take their foot off the pedal while they’re busy with interviews, so if those opportunities aren’t successful, your pipeline can quickly dry up and set back your search. One way to avoid this pitfall is to maintain a consistent application volume, even when things seem promising.

Metis Data Science Bootcamp graduate Austin Graves is an excellent example of someone who found success by consistently applying for jobs. In April 2020, Austin was told by an internet company they were going to offer him a position, but weeks went by and they didn’t have any offer details to share with him. Austin continued to apply and interview for other jobs and was able to secure a written offer from another company. As Austin was more excited about the potential opportunity with the internet company, he was able to use his offer with the second company to finally get a formal written offer, which he accepted. Austin’s persistence and proactivity in applying for roles allowed him to have a safety net backup offer and it also helped him to nudge his first choice forward.

 

Quality applications – follow up is key

Cold or ‘one-click’ applications aren’t usually effective. When applying for jobs, it’s important to ensure your application gets the attention it deserves from a recruiter. You can do this by following these three steps:

 

1. Look for someone you know – a referral can often help you get more attention from an employer because someone is vouching for you. LinkedIn is also a great tool to use to search your network. Metis graduate Sonali Dasgupta took this step when starting her job search at the end of June 2020. Sonali was targeting healthcare companies and contacted a data manager she knew prior to studying with Metis. The manager had recently started working at a healthcare company and although there was initially no headcount for a new role, he was able to convince the team to hire Sonali based how great and hardworking she is. Sonali joined the company recently.

2. If you don’t have a connection, apply via the company website – this is where internal recruiters first look for candidates. The company website often contains a more thorough application process, allowing you to share more information about your background and experience. It’s also important to write and attach a cover letter to support your application.

3. Follow-up if you have the details of those managing the hiring process – this step’s extremely important. You could be one of 500 candidates, so it’s ideal to follow up with someone who manages the candidate experience and interview process, if possible. By following up, you’re drawing attention to your application and expressing your interest in the role.

 

Think creatively

Thinking outside the box can accomplish several things in your search. It can help you get noticed by an employer, stand out amongst a crowd of other candidates, and can even help you get hired. One example is Metis graduate Ake Paramadilok. Ake has used creative thinking to help him progress through the interview process for a job he’s excited about at a San Francisco healthcare company. During his first technical interview, Ake felt he didn’t communicate his technical aptitude to the best of his abilities, specifically his Python skills. Instead of sending a typical post-interview thank you email, he worked on a small project and included this in his thank you email. The company was very impressed by his dedication and initiative that he was able to progress to the final interview stage.

 

Informational interviews and virtual networking events

The pandemic has meant businesses are having to make big changes and adapt to the situation. With all the changes companies are having to make, it can impact their hiring capabilities and make them more cautious when proceeding with a candidate. This is why networking is important because it can potentially lead to a referral, which may boost a company’s confidence in you as a candidate. It can also allow you to connect with someone internally at a company to learn more about the role.

Two ways to go about networking are to reach out to individuals on LinkedIn and attend virtual networking events. Metis graduate Darien Mitchell-Tontar got in touch with a data science lead at Lark, who’s now helping him with other connections and keeping him ‘in the know’ of future Lark opportunities. While these interactions haven’t yet led to an offer, Darien feels he has a better understanding of the data science landscape where he lives, and he has developed meaningful relationships in the data science community.

 

Optimise old projects

If you’re pivoting your career to data science and already have a portfolio, revisiting old projects and optimising them is helpful. Your portfolio’s something you’ll talk about a lot with an employer and it’s the main evidence you have to support you’re capable of getting the job done. It can be easy to forget the steps you initially took in your project, so revisiting the project helps refresh your memory and can help you explain your process to an employer.

Your first iteration of the project was likely a learning experience and it may not have worked out the way you wanted it to. This is a huge part of being a data scientist. The other big part of being a data scientist is re-evaluating the process and making changes to a project or process when something doesn’t work out. Talking to an employer about a project you worked on and explaining your improvements is an example of taking your portfolio to the next level.

 

Work on new projects

Working on new projects is a valuable way to keep your data science skills sharp. You can dig into a project to learn a new skill, enhance and practise skills you need to improve on to ensure your portfolio’s robust. It’s also ideal to add these new projects to your Github. Working on projects can also be a nice break from submitting job applications. Use a new project to take a mental break from your job search to help prevent you from burning out.

 

Blog

Blogging’s a great way to position yourself as someone who understands what they’re talking about and it allows you to showcase the work you’ve been doing throughout your job search. One recent graduate Anupama Garla wrote a blog post on her final Metis project about predicting potential income for Los Angeles homeowners. The article generated a high number of views and through Anupama’s own promotional efforts, it resulted in two start-ups requesting to interview her.

 

Form a study group

You know the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, it takes a village to raise a data scientist. You need a community to help foster feelings of connection and support. It’s also a great way to be accountable to others and facilitate networking opportunities. Metis graduates Scott Kroeger and Samy Palaniappan have gone above and beyond to feel connected by creating weekly study groups with their peers over Zoom. They found it’s significantly helping them build confidence with their job search too.

 

Stay positive and celebrate the small wins

Attitude is everything. There may be setbacks throughout your job search. Rather than letting them get you down, use them as an opportunity to grow, improve and do better the next time. Rather than discount a seemingly small step forward in the interview process, such as getting a phone interview, see it for what it really is – the recruiter picked you for over other candidates because they think you might be the right fit. By pivoting your point of view on the ‘small stuff’, the phone interview goes from an obligatory call to an opportunity to showcase your skills. This perspective will help you celebrate the small wins in your job search; this positive mindset can even lead to a job offer.

 

As a job seeker, being determined and proactive will take you far. Breathe deeply and take the job search one step at a time. You’ve got this!