How To Take Control and
Accelerate Your Career
Getting a job in tech can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding decisions you’ll make in your career. Not only does the tech industry pay well, it also offers great benefits and opportunities that can help you accelerate your career at a much quicker pace. However, due to the irrational, inefficient, inconsistent, and overwhelming hiring process, landing and securing a tech role can be quite difficult. First, you have to get noticed by the company. Then, you must navigate the recruiter screen, hiring manager screen, full set of interview loops, and negotiate your offer. And, despite all the talk of diversity and equity, if you are a member of an underrepresented group, you are at an even greater disadvantage due to many systemic biases in the system.
In the recruiting space, recruiters are responsible for hiring a lot of people fast. Because of this, they focus on volume and speed over getting to know you, the candidate. Therefore, as a candidate, you are just a cog in the wheel of talent acquisition. Unlike the company you are trying to work at, Kadima approaches recruiting from a candidate-centric perspective to help job seekers navigate the entire process more successfully with faster results that yield higher compensation at the best companies in the world.
Lots of books and resources can offer helpful and practical job-search advice, such as Steve Dalton’s Two Hour Job Search and Dawn Graham’s Switchers. At Kadima, we build off of the effective tactics covered in these books and take a holistic and operationally efficient approach, based on real-world experience. I created Kadima to offer my unique perspective as a hiring manager, candidate, and operational leader to empower job seekers with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their careers, quickly.
Much of my operational background has been focused on driving business results for large organizations, such as reducing the time to resolve customer issues at Salesforce by 40%, retaining 60% more revenue with the same amount of resources at American Express, increasing sales operations throughput by 45x at Facebook, and increasing Customer Satisfaction from 80% to 95% at Google. I have worked for 21 companies over my 33-year career and spent the last decade in Big Tech. In that time, I have conducted more than 2K interviews, and hired hundreds, all of which has provided me with a unique insider’s perspective. In addition to my role within companies, I have been on the outside as a candidate trying to land jobs, too. I’ve interviewed for more than 200 companies, been interviewed more than 1K times (including more than 120 times for “practice” while running Kadima), made it to the final rounds more than a hundred times, and received dozens of offers in my career.
I’ve also worked in a range of industries and sizes of organizations, including startups, venture capital shops, investment banks, and baseball teams. Of the 29 different roles I’ve held, I landed only five without connections. The remaining jobs originated through my network, including three from nepotism. As I became more aware of the privileges I’ve been afforded, I decided to dedicate my time and energy towards helping others do the same for their careers.
Through my vast experience, I’ve learned to optimize each stage of the job search. This article will describe each of those stages, beginning with how to narrow down your search for jobs and successfully navigate through the entire workflow. It is the first of an ongoing series Kadima will publish, so be sure to subscribe here for new content to help you through each stage of the process.
Why You Should Pursue Jobs In Tech
Having worked in several industries and stages of companies, here are just a few of the reasons why I recommend people pursue a career in tech:
- The companies are hiring like crazy. Kadima tracks hiring trends for the top tech companies and right now, these companies are hiring like mad. Currently, there are more than 80K open positions at some of the best tech companies in the world.
- They pay very well. Tech pays better than most other industries and generally increases compensation at a higher annual rate.
- They generally treat their employees quite well. Whether this be via robust benefits packages, perks, massages, free food, flexibility, etc.
- Having a big tech company on your resume improves future earning potential. Brand name recognition and corporate experience will benefit future job prospects.
How To Search For Tech Jobs
The sooner you get started, the sooner you will earn a significant boost in your overall compensation and be exposed to new opportunities. When I transitioned from American Express to Google, I increased my compensation by $62K. While that was an impressive and instantaneous bump, I then accelerated my compensation over the following decade and, as a result, earned $184K more annually in my last role at Salesforce than had I remained at American Express. Despite these impressive results, I left plenty of money on the table due to errors I made along the way. I want to help you earn more than I did in a more efficient manner by leveraging operational rigor, tried-and-trued processes, and preparation for success at every stage of your career journey.
Below, I’ve outlined the 7 stages of the workflow, from self-assessment through negotiating your deserved compensation.
Stage 1: The Self Assessment
What Are Your Values?
First, you need to understand your values. Really start to think about what’s most important to you when it comes to finding and keeping a job. Identify what you absolutely need to have in your next role versus what simply would be nice to have. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you better identify your needs versus your wants:
- Do you prefer remote work, in-office work, or a hybrid arrangement?
- What locations can you work in?
- Are you okay with traveling?
- What is the minimum compensation that would entice you to take a new role? (need)
- What compensation do you think you deserve and are truly seeking? (nice)
- What type of work/life balance do you need to succeed?
- What type of benefits are most important to you? (i.e. family leave, continuing education, etc.)
- Do you prefer working for a company whose values you care about (i.e. culture fit)?
Assess Your Experience
Next, you’ll need to review your experiences at the companies you’ve worked for in the past and assess what your skills are. Here are some questions you can answer to help you identify your functional skills, prove your successes through quantitative data, and flesh out your experience in a more comprehensive way:
- What exactly do you do in your current role? What have you done in past roles?
- What types of cross-functional partners/stakeholders have you worked with?
- What strengths do you have that can be supported by quantifiable impact?
- How many years have you worked in a specific type of job?
- What teams or projects did you lead, and for how long?
- Have you managed people before?
- Have you managed global teams before?
- What departments have you worked in? (i.e. Marketing, Product Management, Project Management, Finance, Engineering, etc.)
Determine Your Impact
Think about the tangible impact you’ve had in your past and/or current role and provide quantifiable data to back this up. Even in cases where you may not have met your desired goals or KPIs (key performance indicators), were there any lessons or findings that you were able to apply to help solve future problems for the company? Capture all of this information to help give you (and future interviewers!) a clearer picture of your overall impact as an employee.
Factor in Family Planning & Work-Life Balance
Be sure to consider what plans you have for you and your family. Do you have a partner? Do you currently have children, or are you planning to have children in the future? Are you more of an integrator (you combine work with your personal life, such as replying to emails while on vacation) or a segmenter (you like to log off completely when the workday ends). Thinking about these things now will help you better determine which benefits and job demands align with your plans and desires.
Stage 2: Goal Setting
Once you determine which functional skills you have as an individual, you can begin to map these skills out against the type of roles that exist, whether it’s as a project manager, program manager, product manager, account executive, customer success manager, financial planner/analyst, engineer, etc. While many candidates think about what they want, now is the time to flip your perspective to the hiring manager’s view: what are they seeking in a candidate?
Create Your Target Company List
It’s time to compile your list of 40-60 companies that you would be excited to work for. Don’t limit yourself! You can begin with some well-established lists like the LinkedIn Top Companies 2021, The Glassdoor 2021 Best Places to Work, and the Kadima 100.
Stage 3: Awareness
Inventory Your Current Network
Expand Your Network
Leverage Your Network
Gain Boosters and Referrals
Stage 4: Consideration
- Tell me about a time where you disagreed with your colleagues about a strategic direction.
- What did you do?
- What were the results?
- What did you learn?
Stage 5: Offer Assessment
- We like you, but not for this particular role
- We love you for this role and want to make an offer