This is the sequel to my earlier post “Tech Job Hunting in Sri Lanka – Part 1 – Getting that Interview!“. If you haven’t read the first post yet, please read it before you continue. That will probably change your mind bout reading this one. Part 1 was my thoughts about the application process. This post is about what will follow if you have done the first part right. This is even longer and more boring than the first one. Read it if you really don’t have anything more interesting to do.
Research, Research, Research
This is not just about checking employers website before going to an interview. This is all about knowing what your audience and what make them tick. If you have inside contacts (by this time you should have some), try to find out who might be in the interview panel , their roles in the company, what are their interests, what impress them… You know where I am going. If you just find their names, google can help you with the rest.
You also need to find out why they are hiring and what is their general HR policy. Some hire because they need more people for one the projects they are currently running. Some hire based on their long-term staffing plans. If it’s the former reason, then they will expect you to have all the skills that they are looking for. You will have little to no time for leaning. Answers like “I can learn” is not really a good answer for those companies. But its different if they are hiring based on long-term goals. There can be other reasons why they are hiring. May be they are replacing some one, may be they are just starting up. In one situation that one of my friends came across, the reason was the entire IT department was resigning because they were not happy with something. Basically, how you should handle the interview, or whether you should stay out that company, will depend on these reasons. You better find them out.
You must learn about the company as much as you can. Nature of their business, their important clients, currently active projects, etc… This gives you material to talk in the interview. Find out as much as possible about their current financial situation, culture, work ethics, and pretty much everything that you will need to decide whether you want to work there or not.
Some of these things you can just ask at the interviews, even if you do not do your research. But some are rude to ask. For example, asking financial situation of the company at an interview is somewhat like asking the age from a woman. It’s rude to ask. Even if you ask and get the answer, how can you be sure if that is her real age. When you get close enough to see her wrinkles or gray hair, it’s too late :S.
You can also use your research findings to build an incredibly good lie. But if you do that, you may get through the interview, but you will not go that far. Remember! you are going to be working with those people at the other side of the table.
Keep Track on Your Prospects
When you apply to multiple job opportunities, it becomes very difficult to keep track of them. When you are called for an interview, most probably you will not even remember that you applied. This can get you in trouble. Specially if you don’t remember what you put in the resume for that particular application. This is why you need to manage job hunting process. I would recommend to first create a folder somewhere in your hard disk, and store your template resume and other common paperwork that you use for job hunting. Under that directory, you can create a directory for each place you apply. Those directories must contain at least a copy of the job advertisement, the resume and any other documents that you sent for it, including the dates. You can use the same place to store your research data when you are researching about the employer. This way, when you have to go for an interview, or when you have to make a decision, you have all the information you need in one place.
Prepare for The Interviews
Failing to plan is planing to fail. Do your homework before the interview. Prepare for the common questions that comes up in most interviews. Find out questions that might come up from the nature/business of the employer. Prepare for them. You can use your contacts to find out what to expect. Don’t make the interview a Q&A session. Try to turn it to a discussion. That way, it will be more comfortable and interesting for both :).
Most of the common questions to expect are only a google search away. For the rest, your research will help. I am not going to write too much under this topic. You can find plenty of help on the web. If you do a google search, you will realize that online material available on this topic are somewhat conflicting. That is because a lot depends on the culture. That is something you need to find out through your research.
Remember some employers might feel like calling you for a short phone interview. Specially if you are living far from the employers place. They can really catch you off guard. Therefore research and preparation must start after sending the applications, not after receiving an appointment for the interview. But at first, you don’t have to do a through research. Most of the time these phone interviews are informal discussions. There might be few technical and non technical questions. If you know the basics of your field right, and don’t panic, you will do just fine. If you are at a place inconvenient for you to have a phone interview, just say so and negotiate a different time slot for it.
There are few places who conduct first interview through Skype or some other tool that support online video chat. If you apply to one of those places, they will call you to schedule a Skype session. Make sure you have the infrastructure to do that. If you don’t, find a time and a place where you can access infrastructure needed. Just make sure it’s suitable for an interview. In case if you really can’t find it, try to arrange a face to face meeting with them. Is there any other way around it?
Be Mindful About Your Online Activity
“Truth is out there!” Everything you ever did online is only a google search away. These days many employers run a search on your online activity. Make sure you have a clean profile in social networking sites and you get a clean search result page when you search for your name. Here is an article on whats not to have on your facebook profile. You can use privacy settings to limit who can see what. But don’t block too much, because you might be blocking a PR gold mine.
Improve Your Visibility
Earlier point was about making sure nothing bad comes up when someone search your name. How about making good things come up. You can write a blog, you can become an active member of a forum. As long as you use your real name for it, those activities will end up in your search results. Make sure that those are things that employers are happy to see. If you are an active member of a forum you can even use your reputation in the forum as references. But make sure that the forums that you contribute are generally recognized in the field. Because it takes time to build an online reputation. You don’t want to waste your time at a place that does not add value to you.
You may have noticed that, regardless of what you do, its your facebook profile, Twitter page or some other social networking site that comes at the top of your search results. That is because those sites has better page rankings. You can turn those profiles in to full-blown resumes as long as it doesn’t freak out your friends.
Manage Your Targets
When you apply, you will always apply for multiple jobs in multiple companies. Out of the places you applied for, you will like some companies better than other. Different companies will process applications in different speeds. If a company looking for new recruits to directly put in to a project that they have already started, they will process applicants faster. If a company is hiring based on its long-term HR policy, they tend to move a bit slow. You will realize that once you apply some companies call you within the same day and some take weeks or months.
If you pick the first company that picks you, you might end up missing a good deal later. Make sure to give enough time for each company to respond. At leat the companies that you want to get in to. If you get an offer from another place, while you have gone half way through the selection process of a company you like better, feel free to call the offering company and ask for more time. But don’t forget to give them an acceptable reason. Also feel free to call the company that you are expecting an answer from to see how your application is doing. Check if they can speed things up.
Last but not least, Don’t give up on your goals
Some times it feels like you will never get a job, no matter how hard you try. But keep this in mind. You fail only if you stop trying. If you really want, take a break for couple of weeks and focus your mind on something else. And stop checking that dwindling bank account balance everyday. And No! you should not compare yourself with your friends who are employed. It’s not going to help.
That’s all I got so far. Hope it is not completely useless. Happy Hunting
PS: If you are looking for more articles on job hunting, take a look at “Job Skills Information“. I found it among many others, through a simple web search. It has a lot of articles on different aspects of job hunting. But don’t stick only to that one. There is plenty more on the web. You just have to search for them.
PS2: I know that you are now thinking why on earth did this guy type this entire post when he could have just shared this link. Well, I am thinking the same :). To be honest I found the link only after I wrote this.