Getting a good job even if you don’t have a trendy resume.
Welcome to all the other things, where I talk about the non-technical parts of building a career in tech.
In this bi-weekly-ish newsletter I share interesting content and original ideas about career development, soft skills, productivity, leadership, and product building. You can read more about me and this newsletter here.
This class system makes the job search process painful for many, causes companies to miss great people in the screening process, and unfortunately isn’t changing anytime soon. That said, most people can find ways to successfully navigate it.
The bias towards trendy resumes is pretty understandable. It’s easy to assume that the most talented people end up working for the best companies. And bad companies hire the least talented people. But we all know this isn’t true.
Ineffective people work at great companies. Very talented people work at companies you’ve never heard of. Someone that’s great at one company can underperform at another. It’s all very messy.
Regardless, recruiters continue to filter out resumes for mostly superficial reasons.
And to be fair, recruiters often feel like they have little choice. There’s not much useful information on a traditional resume. You can’t interview everyone so you have to filter on something.
For companies, the advice is pretty simple: start being more creative with the filters you use to screen and interview candidates. Be willing to look at unconventional applicants and force your team to take a chance on more types of profiles.
For job seekers that want to eventually work at the trendiest companies with the highest comp, there are many tactics. Below are a few of the higher leverage things we recommend.
Be picky early in your career
Having no experience is sometimes better than having the wrong experience, so you want to choose your first few employers wisely. This can make some of the best early career advice seem counterintuitive.
Start by going after the trendiest companies that you’d be most excited to work for, even if you think you have no chance of getting hired.
Be audacious and prepare well. You’d be surprised how many early-career people get the job they want if they are prepared. There are a lot of resources out there to help you do well in the trendy company hiring processes. Put in the time to study.
Also be prepared to take a job with a 2nd or 3rd tier company, but only after you’ve applied and interviewed with all the top-tier companies you are interested in.
Find a good gateway company
If you have an established career but aren’t getting interviews because your resume isn’t trendy enough, there are few things you can do.
One of the higher leverage moves is to start looking for a new role at a company with a good brand and a friendlier hiring process.
High-growth startups and other companies with good brands that are known in the industry are a great place to look. They’ll be less picky during initial screening but still make your resume more trendy.
Be willing to compromise on the tech stack you work with, your title and even your comp depending on the situation. Don’t compromise on finding a company with a strong brand or reputation.
If you are looking for help finding good gateway companies, I can help.
Showcase your skills
Showcasing skills is a broad topic that deserves its own post, but here are some of the higher leverage things you can do:
Work on your GitHub profile and include it on your resume and in applications. Remove any public repos that are incomplete or messy. Highlight at least a few strong examples of your work.
Contribute to open source projects and highlight it on your resume and on your Github profile. Contributing to popular public repositories that the company uses can be a big help.
Aggressively highlight some of your most impressive projects at work. Talk about business impact and the specific role you played but keep it brief, recruiters won’t read an essay on your resume.
Create and publish content that you can share as part of your application process. Bonus points if the content is at all relevant to the company you are applying to.
If you are looking for any additional help finding a good a job in tech, Laskie can help.
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