How to Get Your First Job In Tech: Search, Apply and Interview Effectively with Grant Ovsepyan20:23 with Treehouse
Treehouse graduate Grant discusses his journey from retail manager to web developer. He covers the importance of networking, how to interview, and how to find a company that shares your values.
All right. 0:04 Hello, my name is Grant Ovsepyan. 0:04 I wanna thank everyone for taking the time to be here. 0:07 Welcome to How to Get Your First Job In Tech Search, Apply and 0:09 Interview Effectively. 0:13 Let me share my presentation. 0:14 So a little bit about me. 0:19 I recently graduated from the Treehouse PHP Techdegree program back in February. 0:21 Before that, I was a store retail store manager for 12 years and 0:26 manage the FedEx Office stores the most recently HomeGoods store. 0:30 At HomeGoods, I managed a team of 40 to 60 people, depending on the season. 0:34 For those of you who don't know what a HomeGoods is, it's an off-price retailer 0:38 that sells furniture, home decor, and kitchen accessories. 0:42 Even though I had no background in tech, 0:45 I always had the desire to become a developer. 0:47 I kept finding success as a retail store manager, though, so 0:49 I kept putting off studying programming. 0:53 There were times I tried to learn on my own, 0:55 but I would become overwhelmed by all the information and just give up. 0:56 After a friend recommended Treehouse and graduating from their amazing program, 0:59 I was able to finally overcome hurdles that couldn't do on my own. 1:03 This allowed me to successfully change my career. 1:06 I officially started my new career as a developer on May 11th. 1:09 I got a job as a junior PHP developer working with Laravel at a company called 1:13 Enerflow. 1:18 Today, I'm going to share with you how I was able to successfully search apply and 1:18 interview for my job. 1:24 Where to start. 1:27 So you're on the path of becoming an engineer, 1:28 you've completed the training and are ready to find a job in tech. 1:30 It's a big world out there so where do you begin? 1:33 We all know the big job boards, Indeed.com, 1:37 Glassdoor.com, Ziprecruiter.com, and many more. 1:41 This is where I started looking for it. 1:46 There were lots of job postings, it was easy to search and narrow down results. 1:48 You can also create an account and configure your search to send you updates. 1:52 You never know when an opportunity might come your way. 1:56 I was able to get a few interviews through these websites and 1:59 going through them helped me better prepare myself. 2:01 There are lots of pros and cons to the big job boards though. 2:06 Some of the pros. 2:10 So the benefits these job boards are all the options, right? 2:13 You see job posts from multiple companies and 2:15 even multiple cities depending on your search criteria. 2:17 You can narrow down and expand your search easily. 2:20 You can also sign up for automated emails that let you know when 2:24 new jobs have been posted that match your search criteria. 2:29 You can sign up for it to get as many or as few emails as you would like. 2:33 One of the benefits I got from doing all these job board is essentially job market 2:39 and core skills that hiring managers are looking for. 2:44 You start to see what is in demand and this can give you guidance and 2:47 what skills you need to work on. 2:49 Next, if you have a particular role or position in mind. 2:51 These can also save you time. 2:56 You can upload your resume and 2:58 basic information to your account by not having to input your basic information and 2:59 upload your resume every time you apply to a job to speed things up quite a bit. 3:03 So what are the downsides? 3:07 Downside is that it can get overwhelming. 3:12 I know at times, I felt a little bit of despair getting emails every day and 3:14 searching through these jobs feeling like I don't qualify for anything. 3:18 It can be difficult when you've worked hard to get to where you are and 3:21 it feels like it's still not enough. 3:25 You might start to feel like these are your only options. 3:27 Even reading the posts might make you feel like there aren't jobs that match your 3:30 skills. 3:34 This led me to lose my confidence that I could successfully find a job. 3:35 Obviously, that is not the case, but I had to persevere. 3:39 My personal recommendation would be to network. 3:43 This is where I was able to overcome many challenges. 3:46 I worked on building a career support group for myself. 3:50 Surround yourself with people that will encourage you to succeed. 3:54 Jennifer Nordell, the student success specialist in the Treehouse PHP Techdegree 3:57 program was an amazing advocate. 4:02 She not only helped me succeed in the course but was amazing supporting me and 4:04 helping me feel confident in my skills. 4:07 I definitely would not have been able to accomplish what I have without her help. 4:09 Take every opportunity you can get, 4:14 I was able to go to a mentor day at a company called Picasa. 4:17 This gave me the chance to meet and speak with developers and other students there. 4:20 I was able to gain insight into the programming world. 4:23 There, I also met Alicia Ram, the director of platform engineering. 4:26 I shared with her my experiences and she was so kind and genuine and 4:30 wanting to help me. 4:34 Ask for advice. 4:36 Please give me advice on where to look for work and 4:38 also got me in touch with recruiters. 4:40 These personal connections were key in me being able to find a career. 4:42 Even after I was able to land a job, 4:46 I still keep them updated because not only am I grateful for that help, but 4:48 these connections can lead to greater opportunities in the future. 4:51 Look for these kinds of opportunities where you are whether in your current job, 4:55 neighborhood or at Treehouse. 5:00 And don't be shy to ask for recommendation letters and references. 5:02 Someone who can vouch for you in the field you're trying to transition to will help 5:05 with any lack of documented experience. 5:09 Mostly of the people in tech I spoke with recommended LinkedIn.com. 5:14 If you already don't have a LinkedIn page or 5:17 haven't dusted it off in a while, I urge you to get it up and updated. 5:19 This is the first thing at least asked me and 5:23 recommended I get it updated right away. 5:25 I still had it as a store manager at HomeGoods and she told me, 5:27 you're a developer now and make sure your LinkedIn shows that. 5:30 Build your network on LinkedIn, create connections and follow people. 5:34 The recruiters at least introduced me to connected to me through LinkedIn. 5:39 They helped me find more resources and speaking with them, 5:42 I was able to refine and update my resume. 5:45 I also frequently see them post about jobs on. 5:48 These people want to get you a job and 5:51 it's in your benefit to make these connections as soon as you can. 5:53 Make sure to let the rest of your network know that you are looking for work. 5:58 Many people will come to your aid and help you succeed. 6:01 Keep your account up to date with each new exciting thing you do, 6:06 share any new skills you obtain. 6:10 Doing all this will certainly applied to a lot of jobs. 6:12 So some people, myself included, try the shotgun application approach. 6:20 You know what I mean when you're making a generic resume and cover letter and 6:25 pepper every job post you barely qualify for and hope for the best. 6:29 It's not the most effective method though. 6:32 Instead, really dig in deep and find the jobs that you really want. 6:34 Don't feel intimidated by some of the job requirements. 6:40 You may not have all the skills listed, but rarely are companies looking for 6:43 someone who has everything mastered, ready to go for a junior engineer position. 6:46 If they are, then I recommend you move on as that face probably doesn't 6:51 have the correct environment to nurture a junior developer. 6:54 Even if you don't have all the skills listed in the posting, 6:58 try to break down what they're really looking for. 7:01 Look for core skills. 7:04 Are you applying at Tesla to their self driving program? 7:06 Okay, then maybe you do need to know AI and data science. 7:08 Are you applying to a WordPress theme building company, 7:12 then that computer science degree requirement isn't truly a requirement. 7:15 Think about the business and what skills they really need versus prefer. 7:19 Look at the other skill requirements. 7:23 How quickly can you fill the gap for the rest of the requirements? 7:25 Are there things you can fill in between now and potentially hiring? 7:28 Are there any things you want to learn? 7:31 Make sure you will be happy and successful should you get the role. 7:34 Take your time to research the company. 7:39 Do their values match yours?. 7:42 Not only is it very difficult to work for a company whose values don't match yours, 7:44 it's also very hard to convince them to hire you. 7:48 You aren't bought in and that gets conveyed during your interview. 7:50 Does their mission statement sound like something you can get behind? 7:55 Do you believe in what the company is doing? 7:58 This alone can help you get hired. 8:00 If you're passionate about the product or service the company offers, 8:02 then that excitement will be felt during your interview. 8:05 You will also be much happier going to work there. 8:08 Also, be sure to note what you found interesting about their company. 8:12 Things like if they donate to a charity, you also support or 8:14 seem to have an amazing company culture all great things to look for. 8:17 So first impressions are extremely important. 8:23 First impression you leave on a hiring manager happens before they even get to 8:28 meet you, which is when they see your resume. 8:31 Take the time to tailor your resume and cover letter for each application. 8:35 Your time is precious and so is the hiring managers. 8:38 As a hiring manager, it is easy to see who generally took the time and 8:40 care to apply for the position and to weed out the others. 8:44 When you have large quantities of people applying for the same position, 8:47 you look for any quick ways to eliminate the applicants. 8:51 Your resume says a lot about you on top of what is actually written. 8:55 Are there spelling or grammar mistakes? 8:58 Do you have consistent punctuation across your resume? 9:00 Are there spacing off on some parts? 9:03 All these little details give hints on who you are. 9:05 It can show that you are either someone who has a high attention to detail, or 9:08 someone who can't be bothered. 9:11 Do you care about quality, or are you someone who does the bare minimum work? 9:13 These are all key abilities that you convey without even writing about it. 9:17 So how do you make sure your resumes are amazing? 9:21 Get help with your resume. 9:25 To be sure my resume was perfect, I had multiple people look over it. 9:26 The more people that review a resume, the better polished it will be. 9:30 One advice I got from the recruiters was to convey confidence. 9:36 Present the work that you have done confidently. 9:39 It's okay if it was your first project, use it to show your growth. 9:42 That project five you were stuck on a Treehouse, 9:45 display that with pride as it shows how you overcame a challenge. 9:48 There's a time and place to have imposter syndrome and that is not on your resume. 9:51 Every hire is a risk, so 9:55 make sure your hiring manager knows you're confident you will succeed. 9:56 Your current work experience is also important. 10:02 What key qualities and 10:04 traits can you show from your past that will help you succeed as a developer? 10:05 Being ambitious and self-driven are traits that can be displayed in any career, but 10:08 it's still important in tech. 10:13 Another big thing people look for are soft skills. 10:15 Well, these are things you need to succeed in any job. 10:17 Make sure to highlight those experiences. 10:20 And lastly, be honest. 10:23 Do not put on your resume, you have 13 years of experience or 10:24 know a programming language, if you don't. 10:29 It may help you get an interview, but it won't help you get the job. 10:32 Do not wait until you are applying to start preparing for your new job. 10:37 What you are doing today matters. 10:42 Use your current job to develop yourself. 10:44 I used to tell my employees that even if this might not be your final destination 10:46 for your career, use the time to develop any skills you can. 10:50 No matter what you will be doing in the future, 10:53 customer service skills are something you need to know universally. 10:56 In retail, it's called customer service, and in the medical field, 11:00 it's called bedside manner. 11:03 And in tech, it's called soft skills. 11:04 The name is different, but the essence is the same. 11:07 Even if you don't end up working directly with customers, your ability to take care 11:09 of customers becomes skills on how to take care of your teammates. 11:13 If you don't work with customers right now, you can still work on your teamwork, 11:16 time and task management, problem solving skills, and many other skills. 11:20 Interviews consist of you telling stories of your past experience. 11:23 Hopefully, that doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. 11:27 What you are doing today will become those amazing interview answers. 11:30 This came almost as a surprise when I was trying to explain it to my employees. 11:34 When it comes time to interview for your next job, I don't think, well, 11:40 I did enough just to get by because I really wanted to become this, or 11:43 I was only doing this job while I went to school, will impress any hiring manager. 11:47 Take the time to excel at your current role. 11:51 Use that to show your ability to problem solve and overcome challenges. 11:53 Explain how you work well in teams and have examples to show that. 11:57 Becoming an expert in your current role shows hard work, drive, and initiative. 12:01 Your awesome coding skills might be what get you the interview, but 12:05 these are the things that will help you land the job. 12:08 Having the personality traits to succeed no matter what work you do is highly 12:11 desired and you can show that now. 12:15 As you work and accomplish great things, 12:18 write them down now to reference them when you need to prepare for an interview. 12:20 It may seem like you will remember, because you were so awesome, 12:24 how could you possibly forget? 12:27 But it can be difficult months from now. 12:29 Remembering details when answering interview questions will make your answers 12:31 that much better. 12:35 But how do you convey that all during the interview? 12:36 So what makes a good interview answer? 12:39 After interviewing hundreds of people and reading different guides, I've come up 12:42 with, I think, is the secret formula to answering interview questions effectively. 12:46 Most people think that simply answering the question is enough. 12:50 But the interviewer is looking to see how you think and approach a problem as well. 12:53 This can and usually is more important than the answer. 12:58 When asked, tell me about a time you overcame a challenge or 13:01 some variance of that, you could go, I just did this and it fixed the problem. 13:04 But that's not the correct answer. 13:07 You haven't really told the interviewer anything about it. 13:10 I've come up with my secret five-step way to answer interview questions effectively. 13:13 So what is my secret sauce? 13:17 This is the recipe to better answer interview questions. 13:20 Phrase your response in this format. 13:25 Step one, state the initial problem. 13:27 Step two, state how you originally planned to solve the problem. 13:30 Step three, state how you actually solved or failed to solve the problem. 13:34 Step four, state the outcome. 13:40 And step five, state what you learned from it. 13:41 Be as detailed as you can, and let's break it down. 13:45 So, state the initial problem. 13:49 How did the problem come to your attention? 13:52 Usually, interview questions consist of how you overcame a challenge. 13:54 These questions can vary from tell me about a time you had to work on a project, 13:58 or tell me about a time you had to deal with an upset customer. 14:02 Or even quite literally, tell me about a time you had to overcome a challenge. 14:04 Make sure your initial statement covers who gave you the task or problem. 14:09 Was it an issue that you noticed on your own? 14:13 And some examples of how this would start are, my boss asked me to, or 14:16 an upset customer, or I noticed this issue. 14:20 So how do you planned to solve it, Explain your thought process. 14:22 How did you initially think about solving the problem? 14:28 Did you initially have a clear solution or did you need to do more research? 14:31 What was your gut reaction? 14:37 What resources, if any, did you think you would need? 14:38 Did you need to seek guidance or have to do more research? 14:43 What made you realize you lacked information? 14:46 Example of this would be how to start, I initially thought to, or this wasn't 14:50 something I had dealt with before, so I knew I needed to ask for help. 14:54 So step three, explain how you solved it, or didn't. 14:59 Explain if you had had to take a different approach. 15:02 What caused you to need to take a different approach? 15:08 What unforeseen hurdles did you need to overcome? 15:11 Did you need to recruit any help? 15:15 Did something happened that made you unsuccessful? 15:18 Sometimes telling a story of initial failure and 15:22 how you grew from that experience can be an even better answer. 15:24 Step four, state the outcome. 15:29 So, what was the outcome? 15:31 Was the initial problem solved? 15:33 And then what value did the customer, your boss, or you gain from it? 15:35 Step five, state what you learned, What you learned from the process, 15:40 what you would do differently next time, and 15:46 any processes you put in place to prevent the issue from occurring in the future. 15:49 So let's bring it all together. 15:56 I'll give you an example of a question I had during one of my interviews. 15:58 So, which project or concept did I find difficult in learning programming? 16:04 So, state the initial problem. 16:10 One of the projects I found difficult was project 5 in the Treehouse program. 16:11 At the time, we're using the Slim 3 framework to create a blog. 16:17 It was a huge jump from previous projects as we hadn't used a framework before. 16:21 I initially struggled with the project. 16:26 It was hard to conceptualize all the magic that happens in the background of 16:28 frameworks at the time. 16:33 I tried to utilize the documentation, but 16:35 it was difficult to see how it all went together. 16:37 I started to look at other student's examples of 16:41 the project to see how they put it together. 16:44 I also made sure to partner with the student success specialist to help answer 16:46 any questions that came up. 16:51 With those two combined, I was finally able to start putting the pieces together. 16:53 I could finally conceptualize how the MVC pattern works. 16:59 I understood how the frameworks separate the settings. 17:02 I knew where I was getting those seemingly magic methods, and I was super excited. 17:05 I took my newfound understanding and 17:11 tried to help answer other students' questions on the Slack channel. 17:13 This helped cement my knowledge and also helped me to continue to learn things. 17:17 I was excited to finally understand how it worked, and 17:22 wanted to share that excitement with the other students. 17:25 As you can see, 17:29 I provided a lot of details on how I approach to solve a problem. 17:30 I also touched on what I took away from it, and 17:33 used it to better enrich those around me. 17:36 I could have just given a basic answer, I struggled with project 5. 17:38 It was on Slim 3 framework. 17:42 I worked hard and figured it out though. 17:44 That answers the question but doesn't really show how my though process and 17:46 problem solving skills are. 17:50 And it's an opportunity missed to show what a great candidate you really are. 17:52 I spend a lot of time interviewing people, and being interviewed myself, anywhere 17:56 from doing mass hires to practicing being interviewed by previous mentors. 18:01 Being interviewed is a skill. 18:06 It's something you can work on and should be something you develop. 18:07 Find some basic interview questions online and have your friends and 18:11 family interview you. 18:15 The act of speaking your answers out loud in front of another person will make you 18:17 a better interviewee. 18:20 You might feel weird and goofy at first, but push through that. 18:21 Practice forming those amazing experiences you're creating right now into interesting 18:25 and well-articulated answers. 18:30 Receive feedback on how you did, and afterwards, try again. 18:31 Keep at it until you feel confident enough in your answers that the confidence is 18:35 conveyed in your voice. 18:38 Have them mix in some questions you didn't provide. 18:40 This will help you formulate your thoughts on the spot. 18:42 It's okay to take a moment to collect your thoughts before answering. 18:45 Try to speak clearly without a lot of ums and uhs. 18:48 If you feel like you have to say or don't say anything at all. 18:51 That two to three seconds your brain needs to process can be done in the silence. 18:54 It takes practice to get over the habit of saying fillers, though. 18:59 Just like anything else, practice is key. 19:01 Even with all the practice, you'll probably go through multiple interviews 19:04 before you're actually in the job. 19:08 It can be hard to get rejected. 19:10 Remember though, rejection does not reflect your value. 19:12 I had multiple companies I applied to that I had my heart set on. 19:15 I did my research, spent time on my resume, cover letter, and 19:18 did the best that I could at the time, but still did not receive a job. 19:22 It can be tough, 19:26 but viewing each interview process as a learning experience can help. 19:27 Use the interview as an opportunity to learn and grow. 19:30 Do not take the rejection personally, but instead use what you learned from that 19:33 interview to be better prepared for the next one. 19:38 What new questions did they ask that you struggled with? 19:40 How can you better prepare for that question? 19:44 And if they give you any feedback, sometimes you can ask for 19:45 it afterwards and they may provide it. 19:49 Each interview is a step forward towards your goal. 19:52 Eventually, with enough effort, you will be successful. 19:55 Every day, I wake up amazed that I'm finally able to do my dream job. 19:59 It was a difficult path, but one that was well worth it. 20:03 I'm grateful to Treehouse for being able to help change my life for the better. 20:06 I know searching, applying, and interviewing is only one step of the long 20:11 journey, but once you finally get here, it feels amazing. 20:16 Thank you for taking the time to listen. 20:20
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