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A retrospective on my tech job search

captainsafia profile image Safia Abdalla ・4 min read

So, I recently announced on Twitter (as one does) that I had accepted a job offer at a company called Tock and would be starting my first official job as a software engineer in April. Woohoo!

I figured that I would write a blog post about some of the things that ended up being most important in my job search. Following the recent trend on my blog, I’ll be focusing on three central themes. I’m trying to make sure this is a breezy read for y'all!

1. Leveraging my network

So I’ll admit that I made one mistake early on in my job search. I didn’t really reach out to anyone or ask them to refer me to their organization. It seems really irrational, but I was afraid that I would be “unfair” to leverage my existing network to get entry into a job. I’m sure if I got really introspective about it I could write a long discussion on how immigrants to America are conditioned to take what they can get and discouraged from standing up for themselves and how my internalization of that message resulted in my feeling like I could not leverage my network in my job search, but that’s too deep for this blog.

Side-note: I’ll probably write a whole blog post about what being an immigrant feels like. Not the usual discussion on discrimination and prejudice (which definitely happens), but how the messages that you internalize about your role in society as an immigrant can impact the rest of your life. Let me know if you’d really like me to write about something like this!

In hindsight, the job search process would’ve worked much more effectively for me if I did reach out to folks in my network with the following details.

  • My anticipated start date
  • The types of roles that I was interested in
  • The types of technologies that I was interested in
  • The locations that I was interested in working
  • The industries that I was interested in working in
  • A copy of my resume

I think this list is comprehensive enough to give people a good idea of what I want and to show that I thought diligently about my search.

2. Getting organized

This might be surprising to you considering how much of a to-do list making, neat-freak being, task-oriented person I am. I didn’t set up a good organization system for all the different interviews that I had going on, and I wish I would have. In hindsight, I think my job search would have benefited greatly if I had created different documents to store the following information.

One: a document to store information about the company that I was interviewing with, their official website, the average salary for the position I was interested in from Glassdoor, how old the company was, how many employees it had, where it was located, whether it was remote-friendly, the technologies they used based on their job description, their investors (if any), and their company mission. Essentially, a quick little fact sheet for all of the companies that I was interviewing with.

Two: a document to store information about each of the different individuals that I meet during the interview process, their role at the organization, how long they had been at the company, and their answers to the questions that I asked them. I informally kept this information in the Notes app on my laptop, but I definitely would have benefitted from a more formalized arrangement.

Three: a document to store the details of the technical and non-technical questions that I was asked during the interview process and how I answered them for my own reference.

3. Being more optimistic

If you know me personally, you know that I’m the kind of person who sets very unrealistic standards for themselves. Sometimes this is a fantastic trait that pushes me to achieve phenomenal things. Other times, not so much.

This personality trait bit me in the butt during my job search process. There were multiple (and by that I mean more than four) situations where I would get on a phone interview or go to an in-person interval, then go home and cry because I thought I had completely bombed it and that I would never get a job in the industry. Of course, later I would find out that I had advanced to the next round or received an offer.

As a result of this, the job search process wreaked havoc on me emotionally. It was a constant up and down emotional roller coaster: desperation and panic one moment and glee and delight the next. I set really high standards for how I would perform during job interviews and always thought that I fell flat of my expectations

I don’t know that I have a solution to this. Job searches are a stressful process, and anyone claiming they can be optimistic throughout the whole thing is probably lying. I probably should have picked up on the fact that I wasn’t an utterly terrible engineer but self-esteem is another thing I’m working on…

All in all, I think my job search process would’ve been much less stressful if I had done and kept the three things above in mind.

If you’re currently searching for a job or will be searching for a job one day (so everyone), I understand entirely how vulnerable, desperate, and painful the experience is at times. It’s something that you can’t really grasp until you’ve actually been through it. Here’s the thing though, all job searches eventually end. Hang in there! I believe in you!

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