23 Finding Jobs Online “[T]he online job search (OJS), which was used by less than a quarter of all jobseekers at the turn of the century, is now the most popular method of job hunting.” Richard Hernandez, Author, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Internet job boards have been around for decades, and you have likely heard of some of the more popular ones like Indeed, Mon- ster, and Career Builder. You can find posts for thousands of new tech jobs every month on these sites; not to mention lists of open positions on company websites and in random social media posts. The question is which ones are worth your time and effort? The answer to this question isn’t black and white. The success of your online job search depends on what strategy you use. In this chapter, we will learn about the types of places to find online jobs and how to strategize to make the most of your search. Where to Find Jobs Job boards This is the most common place your mind will go when you hear about online jobs. There are hundreds of these sites in three main categories: general ones with every type of position represented, programming-specific ones with different types of software engineering roles (and sometimes supporting roles at tech companies), and niche boards that target people in a specific area of tech or type of work, such as web development or remote positions. I recommend avoiding generalized job boards like Indeed, Monster, or Career Builder. The positions posted in these places have a lot of applicants applying to them every day, increasing the likelihood that you will not stand out as a new developer. You will also get screened twice, likely by automated software both times (once from the job board site, and once by the company looking to weed out most of the applications they receive before they have a human look at the remaining ones). You should not fault companies for doing this. They have to be profitable and it is a waste of money to filter through thousands of applications for one open position. Be smart and reach these companies through the other methods I mention in this chapter. Then there are tech-only job sites like techjobs.com. Most of the positions listed on these sites will be too advanced for your skillset. In the event that that there are entry-level job listings, they will receive numerous applications. I would recommend you do not spend your time applying on these sites right now. If you know you want to work in a specific type of coding, location, or environment, try to find niche job boards for it and look at what kind of jobs are listed there. Most of these jobs will be too advanced for your skillset, but you can find some great job opportu- nities on these sites. There is usually less screening on these job boards and much less competition. One thing that you might find on any of these sites is automated filtering, also called auto-rejecting. Auto-rejecting means that a computer program is set up to reject resumes that do not meet certain criteria, so the hiring manager or HR may never see your re- sume at all. For example, sites like Indeed will let you fill out and submit a whole application, but if you do not say you have expe- rience in one of the required fields, they will never forward your application to the company. One more important piece of advice: Do not upload your resume on these job boards. You mostly get a lot of annoying spam and it is almost always a waste of time. Company websites If you have worked through the action steps I go over in this book, you should have already decided on the types of jobs and companies that will be able to meet your career needs. You will now be able to make lists of companies in your area, find their web- sites, look at what jobs they have open, and apply through their company-specific portal. This is much better than applying on gener- alized job boards because there will be less screening and competition. Applying directly makes it look like you want to work specif- ically with that company instead of just randomly finding the company. If you do see a job you want to apply for on a job board, double check the company’s website to see if they have posted the same thing there. Large companies in particular will usually cross-post open positions in multiple places. Professional Websites These professional sites, like LinkedIn, also list jobs directly on their platform and are probably your best bet to getting hired on- line. The great thing about this type of site is that when you find a company where you want to work, you will be able to see the em- ployees that work there along with everyone’s position or title. I advise looking on LinkedIn specifically for all of the companies and positions you want to apply for. You should connect with both engineers and recruiters at every relevant company that you can. Ask them in a message for help with getting to know the needs of their company. Tell them that you really want to apply for a job and ask them if they have advice on what the company is looking for and how to stand out. Most people want to be helpful and will be happy to answer your question if you approach them in a friendly way. If they live in your area, offer to take them out for a coffee in a location that is convenient to them. Chat with them about the culture and what it is like to work at the company. You never know, if you stand out to them in per- son, they might even recommend you for the job so they can get a referral bonus. More details on connecting with other profes- sionals can be found in Chapter 11. Social Media Social media is also a great place for finding jobs and connecting with companies. You can easily find employees – on Twitter especially – from these companies you want to work at along with accounts from the companies themselves. As you are already building your social media presence, why not interact with companies directly on these platforms? If you follow companies and their employees, you may see them tweet out job openings that might not even be posted online yet. That is your chance to reply to the post and say that you are interested and are going to apply. Doing this will get the company to no- tice you and may give you a leg up with getting an initial interview. Strategy for Getting Callbacks Outside of a generic “thank you for applying” confirmation email, you may not receive word from the company that anyone has re- viewed your resume for quite some time. If you apply through an online job portal, you may be able to log back in and view the sta- tus of your application, but generally applying for jobs takes a lot of patience. You have to be very strategic to get a callback when you do not have development experience. Here are some tips to help. What To Avoid Whatever you do, do not resume spray! This means do not apply to lots of companies at once using the same resume and infor- mation. This will get you nowhere except maybe with low-caliber companies that will give you the run-around. It is also a good way to apply to fake jobs and get your email, name, and phone number collected by spammers. You will also find lots of companies online that have unreasonable expectations. Here are some examples: •Companies asking for multiple years of experience but still calling the position ”junior” or ”internship”. This makes them come off as cheap and out of touch. •Companies that are asking you to do too many things like knowing three or more different programming languages or doing design and front-end and back-end and customer service, etc. •Companies that post an unreasonable salary range for the type of job. You can easily find both national average ranges as well as how much employees in your area can expect to make. If a company is offering to pay you well below that range, move on to the next application. Run away from companies like these. They will just waste your time that you could be using to apply at companies that will re- spect you and help you grow. When to Apply While there are studies that show that if an applicant doesn’t meet 90-100% of the criteria in an online job posting, they will not even be considered for the position, this doesn’t apply quite as much in tech. This is partly because of the overwhelming demand for software engineers, and partly because, many times, the people writing the job descriptions do not understand the technology. There is nothing wrong with applying for lower-paying jobs like internships or junior developer positions if it is temporary or there is a path for you to move up from there. I would say if you are motivated, it should take between six months and a year to move past the junior level into a mid-level position. It is completely okay to apply for jobs even if you do not meet all of the requirements, the truth is, you will probably have to in order to get hired. I have seen many job postings that require two or more years of experience be filled with entry-level developers. Do not lie about your experience, but do not be afraid to try to land a job that is advertised as beyond your current skill level as long as it is in the same kind of software development that you have already been studying, like mobile or web development. I would not recommend going outside of your area of study if you do not have to in the beginning because it can cause a lot more work and additional stress. You can also try to give yourself a leg up by applying to a job early in the morning (before 7 am). Some studies suggest that you are far more likely to get an interview if you submit the application at that time. Personally, I have never tried this time-based method, but it is an interesting idea if you want to give yourself an additional advantage. How to Apply The applications you submit should be customized to every employer. You will have to do some research and, most importantly, carefully read the whole job description. If they want you to apply via email then make sure you include the different pieces of your cover letter in your email, plus a few sentences touching upon specifics of the company and job requirements to let them know that you did your research. Make sure you attach your resume. I have forgotten to attach my resume with several email applications in the past so make sure you double check everything before you hit send. If it is a job application portal, scroll through all of the answers you need to respond to first and write them out in another place like a digital notepad. Then paste them into the application when you are done. You have no idea if you will be able to view those an- swers later and you can reuse them for future applications. There are also more creative ways to apply to these jobs online. If the company only has their open positions posted on job boards, you can try to contact the company directly and say you would like some help applying and ask for HR’s or the hiring man- ager’s contact info. Then you can reach out to that person directly and skip the line, so to speak. Following up Keep a list of all the places you have applied to and the dates that you submitted the applications. If you haven’t heard back from a company within about a week, you should send them an email or message to check on the status of your application. Do not worry about being bothersome. They posted a job and should expect to be contacted about it. I got hired at one company I had applied to online because I was very persistent with the owner and manager until they gave me a shot; I probably sent them between eight and ten reminder emails. I ended up working there for almost two years and had a great time. I do not recommend ‘bothering’ anyone that much, but it doesn’t hurt to send a few reminder emails to get your resume dug out of the pile and probably reviewed more quickly. Set a goal Set a goal to apply to at least 3-5 places every week in addition to the in-person networking you are doing. You can either batch them all at once or try to do one per day. I personally like batching them once per week so I do not have to remember to do one every day. Creating your Own Opportunities There are a lot of companies that are always looking for the right people, even if they do not have any job openings posted. I recom- mend inserting yourself into these roles by contacting the company, telling them how interested you are, and trying to set up a chat with whoever does the hiring, even if it is just a quick phone call. Ask them to give you a shot, maybe an internship or another work- ing arrangement to see how you work. They may like your boldness and figure they might just be hiring their next good engineer for a steal. One time, at the end of a second-round interview I had with a company I really wanted to work for, I asked them to just let me spend two days with their employees to see if it was a good match. They agreed, so I worked for two days and they liked me so much that they hired me after that. I do not think I would have been hired for that job if I had just let that second interview end with the usual, “You will receive an email from us within the next few days.” Be bold. Ask for what you want. If you do not get the job, you can just move on to the next company. Other Tips & Recommendations •I really want to hammer this into your head: Use spelling and grammar checks. Make sure every message you send has been double-checked before you hit the submit button. You want to give yourself the best shot at every opportunity by being very polished. •Fill out every field in the job application to make sure you are not auto-rejected. •I didn’t talk about jobs on sites like Quora and Stack Overflow here because it is very difficult to get jobs on these and I do not think it is worth your time right now. •Do not put your desired salary in an application. If there is a field that asks for that, I would suggest writing “Nego- tiable” or 0 if the field requires a number. Conclusion You can absolutely get hired online but you have to have a strategy so you aren’t squandering your time and energy. If you stick to your goals, keep applying, and network consistently, you will start getting callbacks and interviews out of your applications. Action Steps: 1.Based on how much time you have available, make a goal for how many applications you want to submit every week. Set aside time on your calendar when you will fill them out. 2.Make a list of the companies you want to apply at and connect with employees who work there. 3.Ask their employees for help in standing out in the application process. 4.Do your research on the company and carefully read the job posting, if there is one, before applying. 5.Customize the application. 6.Follow up with the company after one week. If they do not respond to your follow-up, then continue to follow up every week after that until you get an official ”yes” or ”no” on your application.