By Cheryl Lock
An HR manager shares her top tips and tricks to standing out in tech
On Saturday, April 7, 2018, Amanda Townsend, career coach and previous HR Manager for sales engagement platform Outreach, spoke to a room of approximately 20 soon-to-be or recent tech graduates about some ways to more easily make themselves stand out in the tech industry. Her advice was actionable and direct — applicable to anyone in the market for a new or better job.
Here’s what she covered.
Taking control of the future: 5 steps to take today
The group started by filling out a worksheet meant to help them underline some actionable things they can do to help attain their goals.
- Time travel: The grads started by answering questions about their future. For example, they wrote down what job they wanted to have in a year, where they would live and what skills they would have.
- SOAR: They then wrote down their strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results (or accomplishments). “We talked about what you will do next year, so this exercise analyzes where you are today before you get to the next step,” Amanda explained to the crowd.
- Growth plan: They then developed a growth plan — including five steps they need to take to reach their aspired results — to walk away with actionable steps forward.
- Personal advisory board: The group wrote down three people who would be on their personal career advisor board. It didn’t have to be specific, either – the CEO of a company, for example, could be one, or even a mom, brother or friend.
- Accountability partner: After the exercise, the women wrote down the name, email and phone numbers of an accountability person, or someone who they should contact to help keep them on track.
“One more thing that’s really important is finding your copilot,” Amanda said in conclusion of the workshop section. “I’m talking about mentors. I wouldn’t be where I am today without mentors who gave me advice. One in five women in the U.S. don’t have a mentor, and 62% of women who say they have never been a mentor say it’s because no one ever asked. We don’t achieve success alone.”
7 Tips and tricks for standing out
Having an outlook on the future is one thing, but it’s important to develop a way to get there, as well. To that end, Amanda shared some tips and tricks for getting noticed.
- Have a great LinkedIn profile: By expanding your digital footprint, you’ll be more discoverable. Amanda shared that people who included a profile photo were often viewed 14 times more than those who don’t. In addition, a summary of 40 words or more makes you more likely to turn up in a future employer’s search, and members who include skills get around 13 times more profile views. Adding an industry could get you 15 times more profile, and your profile is 15 times more likely to be viewed if you join and are active in groups. Finally, members who have an education on their profile receive an average of 10 times more profile views than those who don’t, and 42% of hiring managers surveyed by LinkedIn said they viewed volunteer experience as equivalent to formal work experience.
- Get more out of LinkedIn than just a great profile: Amanda suggested using LinkedIn for more than just your own personal page. Prospective employees should also be getting updates from companies they’re interested in and getting referrals for job applications. LinkedIn members can (and should) publish industry-related articles, expand the number of people in their network and connect with recruiters. As a heads up, Amanda admitted that the tech recruits at her own company spend all day on LinkedIn searching for talent.
- Avoid some common pitfalls: Along with the proper ways to use LinkedIn, Amanda shared some no-nos, as well. She suggested shying away from posting political opinions or talking badly about your employer or boss, as well as shying away from harassing hiring managers. “Some people apply for a job and try connecting with hiring managers on LinkedIn, and I would say not to do that, because they might feel pressured into giving you feedback, and a lot of hiring managers don’t give feedback,” she explained. “It’s okay to add recruiters, but try not to bother hiring managers.”
- Stay active: While it might seem cumbersome to log onto your profile every single day, Amanda highly recommended it. “You should follow people who inspire you, and follow companies and different groups,” she said. “You have a newsfeed, and the more you post, the more views you’ll get.”
- Have a purpose and set intentions when it comes to events: Networking events can be scary, especially when you go by yourself, Amanda admitted, but it’s important to show up and have a play in mind. “A lot of people leave events early, but there’s a lot of competition, so networking is super important,” she said. “In fact, 85% of people who gets through referrals or networking.”
- Use Meetup: Amanda also suggested using Meetup as a tool to network and meet others in the same field.
- Be innovative: Don’t be afraid to push boundaries a bit, either, Amanda suggested. For example, Amanda posted on LinkedIn in January that she was setting a goal of meeting a new person every week this year for coffee — she called it #52weeksofcoffee. “I had about 70 people message me that they wanted to meet, and it was people in leadership, entry-level people, all over the board,” she said. “You can use this, too, because sometimes reaching out to people to meet can be scary, so this might be one way to do it that doesn’t seem as random.”
Putting yourself out there in the professional world to find that elusive perfect job can be scary, but using Amanda’s tips is a great way to ensure you’re off to a good start.