3 Lessons from #OfficeHack18 to Help You Land a Job in Tech

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Written by Teresa Ruiz Decker 

Just about anyone interested in working in tech has considered applying to companies like Google or Instagram, but we’ve all heard how ridiculously hard it is to land a job. If you’re a POC and/or LGBTQ job seeker interested in tech, you probably already know this industry has some work to do to recruit and retain diverse talent —  but that’s why I love events like #OfficeHack18.

OfficeHacks are a series of one-day, tech crawl style events hosted by 2020Shift to connect leading tech and digital media companies with diverse talent. Attendees have the chance to visit the offices of top tech companies and hear from a panel of current employees to get an inside perspective on what it’s like to apply to and work at organizations like Google, Instagram, Vimeo, LinkedIn and more.

While we all wish we had mentors to pass along our resumes to a hiring manager (or even have someone review our resumes before we apply), that’s not always an option. The good news is you don’t have to figure this stuff out on your own. The awesome team over at 2020Shift and diverse, talented people already working in the industry want to take the mystery out of building a career tech. Here are some key insights that should help bring a little clarity on how to prep your application for a tech company:

Skip the cover letter

As you can imagine, these companies get thousands of applications so while recruiters are open to reading cover letters they’re really focused on finding resumes that stand out from the pack. Feel free to skip your cover letter, unless you have a truly compelling story that explains resume gaps. Instead, start using all your writing skills to polish up your resume.

Brainstorm skills and experiences that help you shine

It’s tempting to try to fit all your work experience into your resume. While most of your work experience may relate to the job, you'll want to put a spotlight on the best skills and experiences for the job. To do this try creating a list of tangible examples in a few key areas. Check out the list of skills and qualities below that #OfficeHack18 panelists mentioned tech companies look for in candidates and employees. Remember, this is a brainstorm, so don’t hold back. Just get down all the examples you can and the more concrete your examples are the better:

  • Role-related knowledge. Read and re-read the job description to make sure you really nail this. Circle keywords that jump out as areas of strength for you
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Resourcefulness
  • Passions and interests outside of school and/or work. Include how you follow those passions and interests in a way that demonstrate you go the extra mile
  • Testing out ideas and not being afraid to fail
  • Comfort with ambiguity
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership and initiative
  • Taking ownership and action

CLEARLY connect your resume to the job posting
By now you should have a solid list of skills and experiences. Narrow that list down to showcase your very best work and skills that directly relate to the job you’re applying to. Now turn those into concise resume bullets. Don’t know what to keep? Consider keeping only those items that you can speak to easily in an interview. Once you have things narrowed down, start to drop them into your resume.

If you’re struggling because your chronological resume just doesn’t paint a clear picture of all you can do, try creating a skills-based resume. Whatever format you choose, keep your resume short and to the point. Believe it or not, real people are still reviewing resumes (not bots) and they’re moving FAST. One recruiter mentioned they scan resumes in less than two seconds! That’s not a bad thing, but it does shed light on how concise we need to be to make their job easier and prove you are a match for the job.

Hopefully, the combination of these tips and information online about both Google and Instagram will encourage you to apply — and not just one time. Several panelists mentioned they knew many current Googlers were passed over for a job at first but later landed a job down the line. You know the saying, “if at first you don’t succeed…” apply again and show them your tenacity.

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