If you’re not one of the lucky ones who landed your dream job before you even graduated college, it’s okay. Really, it is. Some people find their perfect fit right off the bat, and for some it’s more trial and error.
In fact, it can be argued you know more about yourself and what you’re looking for in that elusive perfect job when you’ve had some roles that weren’t a great fit. And in the ever-changing tech landscape, nailing down exactly what you want, and what you’re good at, can be even harder.
So, if your search for the perfect fit at a tech job is proving to be a little more difficult, don’t sweat it. Below, we’ve outlined the questions you need to ask yourself to figure out if this is your perfect fit.
What Are My Goals?
Don’t always be taken in by brand names. Sam Gavis-Hughson from Byte by Byte says new grads, especially, need to ask themselves what kind of person they are and what their underlying goals actually are.
“Understanding that is huge because that determines what jobs you should look for,” he says. “Do you really need to get a job at Google or would you be just as happy anywhere else?”
Make a list of your top priorities and compare those to the positions you’re applying for. Are you looking to move up quickly, or wear many hats, or find a company with great continued education offerings? Now, reexamine that company profile in light of your goals to make sure it aligns with them before applying.
What Skills Are Needed?
It’s a good idea to ask a recruiter or mentor what technical skills are needed before applying for a position to make the process more efficient for all parties, says Kelly Hoey, author of Build Your Dream Network. She points out that some technical skills can be learned on the job so not knowing one set isn’t always a disqualifier. But, Kelly encourages candidates to lean on their networks to give them a fair assessment of their technical skills.
And technical skills alone won’t get you where you want to go. Employers are paying attention to a range of “soft” skills like problem-solving ability, work ethic, communication skills, creative thinking and professionalism.
Don’t have a ton of tech skills? You can still make it. Dana Levin-Robinson, Chief of Staff at VirtualHealth, came to the tech field from the advertising world and says persistence pays. She got her foot in the door by “asking friends for introductions to people they knew in tech and applying a ton online.”
“Now that I am in a hiring position, I make sure I look for how proactive and passionate the person is, less so which exact industry they came from,” Dana says.
Bottom line, try to be realistic about your qualifications. Keep soft skills in mind, but if you don’t have any of the technical skills required of the position, it’s not going to be a great fit for you or the employer.
Will It Be a Culture Fit?
Here’s the part we’re all familiar with—stalk (ahem, I mean research) your potential employer online. If you want a sneak peek at office culture, take a look at social media, Kelly advises. “Check out the profiles of people working at the company and see if they are the kinds of people you see yourself working with side by side every day.”
In addition to the people, look for key words throughout a company profile that point to the company’s values. You can learn a lot about a company’s culture by discovering what values they choose to emphasize.
And, if you do make it to the interview process, ask the right questions to alleviate your concerns. “Asking ‘will I work with anyone who is remote or in another office?’ [means you are] better equipped to negotiate your own flexibility once you have an offer,” Kelly says. Posing questions like this is a better way to get info than just asking whether you can work remotely from the outset.
You’re a Good Fit for the Company—Now What?
So, say that you’ve found a company that aligns with your goals and feels like a great culture fit, and you have all of the skills for the position. Now you have to actually land the job, and killing the interview is your key to success.
“Technical interviewing can be really grueling especially the part where you solve questions on data structures and algorithms at a whiteboard,” Kate Rotondo, an iOS Content Developer at Udacity, points out. It’s understandable to be nervous but getting enough information as to how the interview will likely be structured, ahead of time, helps drive down jitters.
It’s a good idea to practice for all interviews but especially so for technical ones. Mock interviews are especially useful to learn the material and fine-tune delivery.
And remember that it’s okay to stumble. If you don’t know an answer, admit you don’t and suggest you can loop back with answers later. Nothing rubs people the wrong way more than inauthenticity so be as transparent as you can. The more sincere you are, the more chance you and the interviewer will get a real feel for whether you’re a good fit for the position and company.
If you’re currently searching for a job in tech, finding a company where you fit in well is probably at the top of your list. And it is possible! With a little research, honest assessment, and preparation, you’ll be able to spot the job that’s right for you in no time.