Book review - Land the Tech Job You Love

The The Pragmatic Programmers books are my favorite ones. Their authors are great, their books are sexy and I really enjoyed all the books from them I read. Land the Tech Job You Love, by Andy Lester, couldn’t be different.

The book is something like a guide on how to get the job that you want. It explains you all the steps you need to follow to maximize the probability of getting hired, and how to assess that you’re looking for the right job (the one that you really want). It goes from finding a job to preparing your résumé and the interview process, giving valuable advice that are applicable not only to tech jobs, but to many other fields.

I was looking for a new job when I started to read the book and, as a first time job seeker, I followed most of the steps Lester showed on the book. That way I managed to leverage my technical expertise and pose myself as a real professional, even though I had no formal job experience. I received several job proposals on the following weeks, and I ended getting hired by a outsourcing company. The overall “experience” was more pleasant than I thought it’d be, thanks to this awesome book. :D

Book on Amazon:

My personal notes

  • Be honest with yourself.
  • Be honest with others.
  • Think like the boss.
  • Be a problem solver: you must present yourself as one.
  • Sell yourself.
  • Tell stories and give samples of your work.
  • Be positive.

What do you want in a job?

  • Don’t take a job that doesn’t give you what you want.
  • Basic motivation needs (from highest to lowest): self-actualization, cognitive, ego/steem, social, safety and psychological.
  • Make a worksheet of a “brain dump” of your motivations. It will help you evaluate opportunities.
  • Motivating factores to consider: money and benefits, location, pride and prestige, important work, type of work to be done, company department size, co-workers, technology, autonomy and direction, dress code, working hours, fun factors, career advancement, stability.

Résumé content

  • Your résumé is your most important selling tool.
  • A résumé must speak to its specific audience, tailored both for the company and for the job.
  • Basic sections: contact block, professional summary, work experience, education, achievements outside work, list of buzzwords and skills.
  • Have your résumé in three formats: Word, plain text and HTML.

Résumé documents

  • Presentation is content.
  • Your name must be the first thing the reader notices. It should appear on every page.
  • Use a sans-serif font for the headings and a serif font for everything else.
  • Don’t justify your paragraphs.
  • Don’t use all capitals, even on headings.
  • Create an effective summary. Use bold to call attention to the most important words.

Finding your job

  • The most important tool in finding a job is relationships with other people.
  • Communication: Face to face > Phone > Email
  • Ask people for help.
  • Use every tool to find the job you love:
    • Newspapers
    • Job ads/boards (low “return” rates)
    • Employers (specific companies)
    • Chamber of Commerce (Agência do Trabalhador)
  • Research as much as you can about the company: website, Google, mailing lists, employee/former employee email (high risk, high reward).
  • Keep your notes accessible.

Applying for the job

  • Customize you résumé in every application.
  • Bold callout words in your summary.
  • Highlight keywords.
  • Create a cover letter. They increase your chances.
  • Introduce you and contextualize you and your résumé.
  • Explain where you found the job ad, what you’d bring to the company, show that you researched about the company, tell about the contacts you may have with people in the company, show that you want this job.
  • Follow the job ad directions.
  • Name your résumé file with your name.
  • Don’t send a salary history. Say it’s confidential.
  • Answer a request for salary history with a salary expectation.

Preparing for the interview

  • Clear your schedule: the interview should be treated like the only thing that matters in life.
  • Prepare to sell the interviewer on you.
  • Prepare to answer tough questions:
    • “Tell me about yourself.”
    • “What do you know about your company?”
    • “What’s your greatest strength/weakness?”
    • “Why should we hire you?”
  • Prepare a relevant portfolio: bring code/work samples, documentation of your working past.
  • Prepare your questions to ask: always take a list with you.
    • “What will a day be like?”
    • “What are the hours like? Overtime? Weekends?”
    • “What sorts of projects will I be working on?”
    • “Is this a new position, or is it replacing someone?”
    • “Tell me about the team I’d be joining.”
    • “How do I deal with outside projects? And open source?”
  • Don’t be late.
  • Bring copies of your résumé.

The interview

  • Listen to everything.
  • Treat every person like the CEO - you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
  • Introduce yourself to everyone.
  • Keep notes of what happens/will happen and whom you meet.
  • Sell yourself by telling histories.
  • Ask questions.
  • Expand your question answers to sell yourself.
  • Show your portfolio when appropriate.
  • Sell yourself by doing the job: ask about the company problems related to the job, to make a scenario.
  • Ask about the job, and about the follow-up.
  • Summarize the interview and take notes.

Handle the tough interview questions

  • Answer truthfully.
  • Never complain or disrespect.
  • Make sure you don’t fall into traps that uncover your flaws.
  • The tough questions:
    • Tell me about yourself: talk about yourself and your high points in about 30s.
    • What do you know about our company?
    • What interests you in this job?
    • What’s your greatest strength/weakness?
    • Why should we hire you?
    • Tell me about a project that didn’t go well.
    • Tell me about your biggest mistake.
    • What would you do if…
    • Do you prefer to work on teams or solo?
    • What do you want to be doing in five years?
    • Why do you want to work for us?
    • Why are you leaving your current job?
    • Do you have any question for me?
  • Always ask for the answer to a technical question you don’t know.

Too much information

  • Keep things professional and factual.

The job offer and beyond

  • Send thank you notes. Send physical note cards instead of email.

Staying hirable

  • Always be prepared for the next job.
  • Improve yourself: teach, write, help others.
    • Aim to have something to add to your résumé every three or six months.
  • Improve your network:
    • Go to user group meetings.
    • Keep track of your contacts.
  • Improve your brand (reputation): maintain an online presence, such as a journal of your day to day activities or a technical blog.

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