Some valuable lessons I learnt in my recent job search experience
Tips and Tricks that helped me find a new job
A few weeks back, I moved to my dream company Microsoft as a Senior Data Scientist in the cybersecurity domain. Apart from this job offer, I also got multiple other great offers from top tech companies in the OTT, travel and e-commerce sectors. To me, this was a bit surprising as my previous job searches never had such a great response. So, what changed this time around? Here’s a small list of things I tried to do differently and that might help anyone else right now as well -
Beating the ATS
Resumes are not read by humans anymore, especially not in the initial screening round. Most top companies use a tool called Applicant Tracking System which maps the candidates resume and measures its similarity with the given job description. So instead of making a standard resume that you then forward to 100s of companies, try and optimize the % match score for the roles that you really like. Websites like resumeworded.com do a great job in this regard. I was able to improve my resume scores from low 40s to high 70s by interchanging or adding keywords in my resume targeted towards my top 4-5 companies and roles.
What tools you use to make your resume, ie, Word, Latex or some other creative design tool doesn’t really matter as long as your resume can be read easily by an ATS. I personally preferred Latex as it gave me the opportunity to learn an interesting software while working on a mundane job like resume building. As for the length of your resume, the thumb rule is that if you have more than 5 yrs of work ex, use a 2 page resume, else stick to 1 page.
Don’t waste time creating your profiles on Workday / Taleo / other recruiting platforms
Now, that you have created a targeted resume, your first instinct is to apply to as many companies and profiles as possible, right ? Wrong!
Do not apply to any profile direclty on a company portal. Infact, that should be your last option. Even with a highly targeted resume, you will still face competition for 100s, if not 1000s, of similarly qualified candidates. Your best bet is to get a referral from someone in that company. As soul crushing as this fact sounds, it’s true. Referred candidates get a MUCH higher response rate compared to any other similarly qualified candidate in the job market.
I personally feel that the whole process of referrals feels a lot like gate keeping. Referrals just help ensure you only end up referring candidates from your own school or past employer or social group, but that’s the hard reality of hiring processes everywhere.
As I did not have a good network of friends or past coworkers in the data science or ML space, so I had to resolve to the next best option.
Leverage social media
Get LinkedIn Premium. Buy more InMails if you need. Create a well crafted 8-10 lines of cover letter for LinkedIn messages. And then reach out to hiring managers directly on their LinkedIn. Maybe only 10-20% of the hiring managers will reply to your messages, but that is still a HUGE improvement over applying direclty on the companies job portal (~4-5% response rate). Plus, the hiring manager will appreciate your initiative and might give you some helpful recommendations to improve your application.
In the long run, your industry connections with people on LinkedIn, Github or Twitter might help you in more ways than just your job search. For me, it helped me reconnect with old colleages, meet interesting people, work on interesting side projects and learn about great oppurtunities I would have never known without these social media platforms.
Beyond all this, I think one must not underplay the role of luck as well. Due to the ongoing COVID situation, all kinds of interviews were being held remotely and this led to hirng managers be less choosy about the candidates who were living in a different city or state right now. For candiates, this gave them the opportunity to give multiple telephonic / video call interviews in a day for different companies without the need to travel anywhere. The remote working situation has opened up the competition geographically and also helps level the playing feild by giving more opportunities to candidates who would have been less preferred earlier due to logistical reasons. Also, giving interviews remotely from the comfort of your own home can help reduce the anxiety or stress factors as well during the interview process.
That’s all for now! Feel free to add more useful job search hacks in the comments section below that helped you in some way. If you are currently looking out for a job in the data science / ML space, you might find this post on SQL useful as well :
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