This mini course contains over six hours of expert interview video and audio content all centered around tips, advice, and guidance to help people get started with a career in tech or pull off a career pivot into a more in-demand field.
This course is a breakout of the larger and more comprehensive Tech Guide Podcast. The weekly show features interviews with people working at some of today’s leading tech companies, or with people working at the forefront of emerging tech jobs such as AI research or video game design.
While producing the Tech Guide Podcast, the show’s host, Ryan Atkinson, also interviews tech career coaches and recruiters who have worked with some of the world’s most well known companies. All of these interviews are full actionable advice and useful tips.
Along the way, these episodes reveal valuable insights and information about how to look for a job in tech — and how to best position yourself to land new opportunities.
When combined, the selected videos from selected episodes that appear below, form the foundation for a self-directed tech career course.
You can watch the videos that address specific needs, such as help writing a resume, or updating LinkedIn, or how to prepare for an interview. Or you can watch the entire series to get a firm overview of all of the various components that go into getting a career launched.
Key sections in this course:
- How to start thinking about a new job search
- Resume writing and rewriting
- Personal branding and messaging
- How to think about interview preparation
- The art of career networking
- What tech recruiters are looking for in candidates
Part one: Reflect and Set Goals Before Beginning a Job Search
How to Choose the Right Career — Long Term Success is Often About Finding the Right Fit
Tiffany Dedeaux works as a career and leadership coach and advocates for serious introspection in order to help uncover the right career path.
- Background and transition: Tiffany started her career in news stations, which she found fascinating. However, she transitioned to career coaching after realizing she wanted more from her professional life. She has worked with tech giants like Microsoft and has been a career advisor for Coding Dojo.
- Valuable lessons: One of the most significant lessons Tiffany learned from her news station days was the importance of communication, especially when things aren’t going as planned.
- Career pivot: Tiffany’s decision to change her career path was influenced by her desire for a new challenge. She organized a personal career development retreat, which helped her reflect on her aspirations and led her to a contract role that launched her freelancing career.
- Career retreat: During her retreat, Tiffany disconnected from all distractions and focused on introspection. She answered a series of questions that helped her understand her desires and aspirations better.
- Using background in new roles: Tiffany emphasizes the importance of leveraging one’s background when transitioning to a new industry. She believes that what people often term as a “career change” is just a different expression of what they’ve always done.
- Identifying passion: Tiffany suggests observing what excites you and what feels like a chore. Activities that make you lose track of time or problems you believe should be fixed can be indicators of your passion and potential career paths.
- Personality and career alignment: While personality tests can provide insights into potential career paths, Tiffany believes it’s essential to resonate with the results personally.
- Resume tips: Tiffany emphasizes the importance of tailoring resumes to specific job descriptions. She suggests using tools like jobscan.co to ensure your resume aligns with the keywords in a job listing.
- Long-term career planning: Tiffany recommends setting milestones towards a long-term goal and tracking progress. She also suggests writing down decisions to reflect on the reasons behind career choices.
- Balancing passion and practicality: Tiffany acknowledges that sometimes individuals might have to choose between a job that pays the bills and one they’re passionate about. Reflecting on personal priorities can help in making this decision.
Part two: Write the Best Version of Your Resume and How to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile
Tailor Your Resume — Learn How to Explain Your Experience in a Way That Attracts Attention and Gets Results
Paula Christensen is a professional resume writer and interview coach for the company she founded called Strategic Career Coaches.
Learn how to structure a resume, target and tailor your experience and background, and use keywords on LinkedIn to find good-fitting opportunities.
Here are a few highlights:
- Background: Paula Christensen is a Professional Resume Writer & Interview Coach for a company she founded, Strategic Career Coaches. Her services include resume writing, interview preparation, job search strategy assistance, mock interviews, and career/job search workshops and presentations.Paula’s work has been featured in Resume for Dummies, books, and she has won awards for her work.
- Resume structure: When structuring a resume, Paula advises being specific and targeting it towards the job you’re applying for. Use job postings and tools like LinkedIn to find keywords and align your resume with the role.
- Network: To make a resume stand out, Paula suggests building relationships with people at the company you’re applying to. Networking and personal relationships can often be more important than a great resume.
- References: Paula emphasizes the importance of having a reference at the company you’re applying to. Even if they don’t know you well, having their name on your application can make a big difference.
- Multiple touch points: For a successful job search, Paula recommends a multi-pronged approach. This includes focusing on your resume, cover letter, elevator pitch, networking, LinkedIn profile, follow up, and thank you notes.
- Virtual interview tips: In the age of virtual interviews, Paula suggests practicing with the platform, ensuring your background is appropriate and represents your brand, and creating engagement by smiling, laughing, and using hand gestures.
- Prepare for the right interview type: For different types of interviews (behavioral, situational, technical), Paula recommends preparation and practice. For behavioral interviews, she suggests using a framework similar to the STAR or CAR methods, but emphasizes the importance of detailing the results of your actions.
- Storytelling: Paula believes storytelling is important in interviews. Sharing your experiences and what you learned from them can demonstrate your emotional intelligence and soft skills.
Part three: Personal branding and messaging
Understanding Personal Branding — Update your LinkedIn Profile
Learn how to stand out in the sea of job seekers. Watch this interview with Derek Iannelli as he talks about how he screens candidates as a tech recruiter.
Here are the highlights:
- Background: Derek Iannelli has a diverse background, having worked as a Project Manager, IT Strategist, and even started his own company, Samurai Recruiter. He now sources, recruits, and screens candidates for clients at Mission Box Solutions.
- Recruiting philosophy: Derek views recruiting as a calling and enjoys the entire process. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the needs of all parties involved – the recruiter, the job candidate, and the hiring manager.
- Recruiting process: The process begins with a discovery phase where the recruiter understands the client’s needs. This is followed by weekly updates as job requirements may change over time. The recruiter then uses various tools and platforms to find suitable candidates.
- Candidate communication: Derek advises job seekers to communicate openly and professionally with recruiters. He appreciates personalized messages and encourages candidates to be confident in presenting their skills.
- Resume evaluation: When evaluating resumes, Derek looks for contact information, a short summary of skills and experience, certifications, and evidence of longevity with previous employers. He also appreciates when candidates explain any gaps in their employment history.
- Job hopping: Derek doesn’t necessarily view job hopping negatively. He believes it’s important to understand the context, such as contract positions or layoffs due to COVID-19. He also sees the value in the diverse experience that job hoppers can bring to a new role.
- LinkedIn and personal branding: Derek emphasizes the importance of maintaining an up-to-date LinkedIn profile. He suggests using keywords relevant to the job you’re seeking in your profile and maintaining a professional image. He also notes that having a personal brand can be beneficial in the job search process.
Concise and Assertive — How to Email Recruiters When Applying For a Job
Andrea Logan is a resume writer, career coach, and content creator. She is the founder of Career Island, and gives tactical advice on how to create resumes, branding, and messaging that aligns with the needs of the job poster.
- Background: Andrea Logan is a Tech Resume Coach and Content Creator. She is the founder of The Career Island, which provides resources for job search, resume advice, and guidance on how to break into the tech industry.
- Personal brand: She has a significant following on TikTok and LinkedIn, where she shares job advice. She has over 300K followers on TikTok and over 40K followers on LinkedIn.
- Customize:She emphasizes the importance of tailoring your resume and cover letter to match the job description and the company’s brand. This includes using the same language as the job posting and even matching the colors of the company’s brand on your resume.
- Research: Andrea suggests that job seekers should research the company and the people they are going to connect with. This includes understanding the company’s culture, values, mission statement, and current projects.
- Direct email: She advises job seekers to directly email recruiters with a clear and direct subject line. The email should be concise and assertive, making it seem like the interview is already set up.
- LinkedIn profile: For breaking into social media marketing, Andrea recommends having a well-set LinkedIn profile. She believes that everyone who uses social media is already working in social media to some extent, as they are contributing to the algorithms and analytics of the platforms.
- Showcase: She suggests that job seekers should not over-optimize their resumes with keywords. Instead, they should focus on showcasing how their work has impacted the bottom line of their previous employers.
- Creative portfolio: For creative roles like social media marketing, having a resume that reflects some creativity (like using the company’s brand colors) can be beneficial. However, it’s not necessary to have a heavily graphic resume.
- Invite leads: Andrea believes that the best way to break into any field, including social media marketing, is to set up your profile in a way that recruiters reach out to you first, without you having to apply.
How to Make a Career Highlight Reel — And Use it to Land a First Interview
Anna Miller is the founder of Second Careers, which helps people pivot into tech careers from a wide variety of backgrounds. She talks about how to stand out during the job seeking process, including the idea of making a career highlight reel.
- Brand management: Anna advises against extreme methods of gaining visibility and instead suggests a multi-faceted approach, both online and in-person.
- Referrals:Referrals play a crucial role in getting noticed by hiring professionals, and Anna provides strategies for obtaining referrals through LinkedIn.
- Highlight reel: Anna introduces the concept of creating a career highlight reel using transferable skills, which involves showcasing specific accomplishments and outcomes relevant to the desired role.
- Training: Technical skills training, such as attending boot camps, is recommended for individuals transitioning into technical roles in the tech industry.
- Learn the lingo: Non-technical roles, like customer success and project management, also offer opportunities for transition but require understanding industry-specific terminology.
- Pull the pivot: Factors to consider when contemplating a career pivot include growth opportunities, salary potential, and lifestyle preferences.
- Learn the market: Reading job descriptions is valuable for self-education, understanding industry language, and evaluating skills in relation to job requirements. Job descriptions should be treated as research, and fitting about 60 percent of the requirements can be a good basis for reaching out and pursuing interview opportunities.
Part Four: How to Think about Interview Prep
How to Prepare for an Interview — Good Interview Prep Helps Boost Confidence and Can Provide an Edge
Nadar Mowlaee is a career coach for engineers and is the founder of Engineer Your Mission. He provides actionable advice on how to prepare for a technical interview, how to handle salary negotiations, and how to tackle a job search strategically.
- Background: Nader Mowlaee is the founder of Engineer Your Mission, a career and life coaching service for engineers. He assists engineers with resume writing, LinkedIn optimization, and interview preparation.
- Build a brand: Nader advocates for personal branding, especially for engineers. He believes that a personal brand should be defined by the problems one solves and the results one creates. He encourages engineers to be specific about the problems they are passionate about solving and the impact they want to make.
- Optimize online: He emphasizes the importance of having a complete and optimized LinkedIn profile. He views LinkedIn as a more effective tool than a resume for showcasing one’s skills, experiences, and connections.
- Think strategically: Nader advises those looking to pivot their careers to start with a job search strategy that considers the most effective hiring strategies from the perspective of businesses. These strategies focus on the cost, quality, and time of hire.
Master the Tools of the Trade — How to Prepare for the Next Career Step
Brian Fink has worked as a tech recruiter for big companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Twitter. His advice to people looking to level up their career is to invest in self-education, learn the tools of the trade, and showcase your skills.
- Get educated: Continuously seek knowledge and learning opportunities, whether through formal education, books, online courses, or self-study.
- Master the tools of your trade: Become proficient in the essential tools and technologies relevant to your field, whether it’s coding languages for engineers or marketing tools for marketers.
- Portfolio showcase: Create a strong portfolio that demonstrates your projects and achievements, highlighting your skills and capabilities.
- Network actively: Attend meetups, conferences, and online forums to connect with industry professionals and learn from the best. Focus on providing value to others in your network.
- Embrace curiosity: Stay curious about the latest developments in your industry and subcategory, and maintain a mindset of being a lifelong learner.
Part Five: The Art and Science of Networking
Master the Art of Professional Networking — A Meaningful Career Requires Constant Cultivation
Mark Pasadilla is a career coach at the tech bootcamp provider, General Assembly. In his role, he often gives career development advice for people looking to pull off a pivot or to upskill.
- Background: General Assembly offers immersive tech boot camps for individuals looking to upskill or pivot careers in fields like data science, data analytics, UX design, and software engineering.
- Set goals: Setting goals is essential for young professionals, but it’s important to focus on tangible and achievable objectives rather than distant, vague aspirations.
- Build a network: Networking is crucial for career growth, and platforms like LinkedIn, meetup.com, and ADP list.org can be valuable resources for making connections.
- Read, write, and speak: Soft skills, such as communication and being personable, are highly valued in the professional world and can set individuals apart in their careers.
- Find the middle: Common networking mistakes to avoid include being too aggressive in outreach and failing to take action due to a fear of imperfection. Embracing failure and learning from it is crucial for progress.
Part Six: Behind the Scenes With Recruiters
A Look Behind the Scenes — Learn How Tech Recruiters Do Their Job and the Best Way to Get in Front of the Right People
Dell Oliver has worked as a tech recruiter for companies like Amazon and Buzzfeed. He talks about specific tactics to help gain entry into a tech career, including contracting roles, and building a personal brand on social media.
- Background: Dell Oliver started his career in recruiting without knowing much about the field. He was hired by Lead Global Solutions, part of the Aerotech family, after attending a job fair. He found satisfaction in helping people find jobs, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic when many were struggling.
- Working at Amazon: Dell was recruited to Amazon as a contractor. He found the interview process challenging but manageable with preparation. He started as a contractor and was eventually hired full-time. He emphasized that working as a contractor is like a continuous interview where you’re assessed on your success, compatibility with the team, and adherence to the company’s brand.
- Contract work: Dell discussed the pros and cons of contract work. While the uncertainty and lack of full employee benefits can be downsides, the opportunity to trial a company, gain recognition, and potentially transition to a full-time role can be beneficial. He also mentioned that some people enjoy the flexibility of contract work, taking breaks between contracts as they wish.
- Recruiting tips: Dell shared tips for job seekers. He suggested reaching out to recruiters on LinkedIn and tailoring your resume to highlight key achievements and skills relevant to the job you’re applying for. He debunked the myth of resume screening robots, stating that recruiters do look at every application.
- Transition to Buzzfeed: Dell was approached by a former colleague from Amazon who was a recruiting manager at Buzzfeed. After a series of interviews, he joined Buzzfeed, where he is responsible for tech recruiting across all organizations.
- Breaking into media companies: For those interested in breaking into media companies, Dell suggested building a personal brand on social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram. He also mentioned the possibility of starting as a freelancer or fellow to get a foot in the door.
How to Break into the Cybersecurity Field — What Recruiters Look for in Candidates
Matt Jones works as a senior IT recruiter for VIP Staffing. He talks about how to break into the growing field of cybersecurity, and what, specifically, IT recruiters are looking for in candidates.
- Career advice: Matt Jones shares his insights on the misconceptions of cybersecurity as a career and how to break into it. He emphasizes that cybersecurity is not an entry-level field and suggests gaining experience in IT infrastructure before transitioning into cybersecurity. He also advises against starting in a help desk role due to limited upward mobility and recommends a desktop tech role instead.
- Interview and resume tips: Jones advises candidates to be able to articulate their experiences and skills in detail, both on their resumes and during interviews. He suggests focusing on what you can do and have experience with, rather than what you can’t do or don’t have experience with. He also recommends using specific keywords relevant to the job role on resumes.
- Career journey: Jones shares his career journey, from being unsure of what to do after college to finding his passion in recruitment. He initially worked in insurance before realizing he enjoyed recruiting more. He then transitioned into IT recruitment and has been with VIP Staffing ever since. He takes satisfaction in helping others navigate their career paths, especially those struggling to break into the IT industry.
- Cybersecurity education: Jones discusses the limitations of current cybersecurity education, stating that most curriculums focus on theoretical knowledge rather than hands-on experience. He suggests gaining practical experience and earning relevant certifications. He also advises against starting with a Security Plus certification, viewing it as a glorified vocabulary test, and recommends starting with more hands-on certifications like A Plus or Network Plus.
How to Navigate the World of Software Sales — Learn Where the Opportunities are in the Dynamic World of Tech and SaaS Sales.
Jen Doskow has worked for over 25 years in the realm of enterprise software, tech, and SaaS sales. She now runs her own tech recruiting firm and often recommends that people early in their career find companies that provide great training programs.
- Background: Jen Doskow has over 25 years of experience in the recruiting business, with the last 11 years spent running her own SaaS recruiting firm. She specializes in sourcing great talent without posting ads and conducts thorough interviews with candidates to ensure she is only submitting the best talent in the market.
- Emotional intelligence: Doskow also talks about the importance of emotional intelligence and intellectual curiosity in sales, especially in the SaaS world which is constantly changing and shifting. She believes that salespeople need to be self-driven, motivated, and have a high level of emotional intelligence to succeed.
- Find training opportunities: For those looking to get into tech sales, Doskow recommends starting at a company with a solid training program. She advises against starting with a startup as they often lack the structure and training tools needed for development.
- Bootcamps/certs: Doskow also shares her insights on sales boot camps and certifications. While she hasn’t seen a job description that requires a bootcamp, she believes that no one can take away your education. If the bootcamp provides real-world experience and a certification, it could be beneficial.
- What to ask during an interview: What are the benefits of working for a SaaS startup in a sales role? And the questions to ask during an interview for a sales role.
If you like the content in this course, be sure to visit TechGuide.org for more career profiles, degree information, bootcamp, and certification information.
Also, be sure to subscribe to the TechGuide podcast wherever you get your favorite shows.