As everyone knows that nowadays the most straightforward way to get a job is through interviews. However, stats from 2014 shows that 98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening and only the “Top 2%” of candidates make it to the interview.
As that being said, majority of people didn’t even get a chance for an interview, which is quite disappointing as many of them have spent months or even a year to prepare for it.
In this post, I will give a complete list of common “techniques” to teach you how to get an interview from tech giants.
Getting referred to a job is 5-10X more effective than applying directly, which applies for majority of companies. A lot of people have no idea of how and who to ask for a referral, which is more common for people haven’t been in US for long.
However, referral approach is not as hard as some people think. Before getting into that, I’ll briefly describe how referral works.
Suppose you are applying for Google and one of your friends who is working their is willing to refer you to its software engineer position. To do that, he will fill out a form by answering a bunch of questions including how you guys know each other, how he thinks about your technical skills, leaderships, whether you fit into the culture well etc.. You will also provide your resume of course.
After that, you may be contacted by a recruiter in a short period of time to tell you if you can proceed with an interview. Also if you get the job and accept the offer eventually, your friend may get referral bonus (usually few thousand bucks depending on the company).
The rule of thumb on getting a referral is always being aggressive. Remember that the person who gives you a referral is not necessary to be your CLOSE friend although the closer the better. If you already have someone close in your mind to ask for, then it’s great. Otherwise, you need to do some extra work.
Go through your Linkedin/Facebook/Twitter/G+ networks and try to identify the following kinds of people:
- People who is working/worked for your target company
- People who is working/worked for an equivalent company
- People who have a lot of connections (like recruiter, professor)
Then just ask them if they know someone who can give you a referral. Again, don’t be shy as you won’t lose anything if you get rejected. Another approach is to take advantage of your alumni networks. If you graduated from some top university, it’s almost for sure that you can connect with someone who would like to give you a refer. Never underestimate your indirect connections.
#2 Career fair
If you are at school, career fair is definitely a great chance for you to connect with recruiters. The tip here is not telling you that you should attend career fair, but you should be well-prepared for career fair.
More than 90% of students go to career fair without any preparation. Remember that career fair is a great chance for you to impress recruiters in a face-to-face communication, which is way effective than submitting your application online.
When I say well-prepared, I mean you should be at least be prepared for the following items:
- Very familiar with companies you apply for. If it’s a small company, you have a great advantage if you know more about it. If it’s a large one, try to know more info than average people.
- Prepare your elevator pitch. You only have one minute to make yourself stand out.
- Prepare some coding questions. It’s more and more common to be asked about a coding question in career fairs. Most of them are not difficult, but it’s always better to prepare well for them.
- Of course you should have a well-formatted resume.
Write down your elevator pitch and keep refining it. Preparing in front of a mirror is also recommended. You can check this 2min tutorial for more details.
#3 Online challenge
Many companies provide online challenges (like this one) as a way to select good candidates. if you would like to take some extra effort to accomplish this, you will definitely get a great chance.
Those online challenges are quite similar to programming competitions except they are much easier. Here are few tips you should keep in mind:
- Be really careful of input/output format. Since most of those challenges will be evaluated by programs, it’s very important to make sure your input and output format are exactly the same as required.
- Consider all kinds of corner cases. It’s almost for sure that the black box testing contains many corner case inputs. Make sure your solution covers cases like extreme inputs, invalid inputs etc..
- You can also write test cases by yourself to make sure your solution actually works. Many online challenges don’t have time limit, then you can spend these extra efforts to double check your solution.
- Optimize both speed and memory. Some black box testing may contain input with large amount of data and if your solution is too slow or consume too much memory, it won’t pass.
#4 Attend talks
Companies like Google, Dropbox etc. usually conduct public talks with different topics by its employees. If you are at school, you may also have more opportunities.
Try to attend these talks and be very aggressive to talk with presenters after it. Prepare some good questions about the topic and you can also ask more about the company. Show your interests to the company in the end and friendly ask if you can give your resume to him.
Again, always be aggressive and don’t be afraid of rejection. In fact, attracting good candidates is part of the talks for many cases, so it’s totally okay for you to approach them. Don’t do this without preparation and treat it as another career fair.
#5 Online submission
Although this is the most common way of applying for a job, a lot people don’t do that correctly. There’s no wonder that some people didn’t get reply when they spent only 5min to finish the online form. The advice is always being well prepared for every approach you tried, otherwise don’t even do it.
Some tips for online application can definitely make you stand out:
- Thoroughly read job descriptions. If it’s clearly marked that C++ is required but you never mentioned in your resume, recruiters may be hesitant. In other words, your resume should reflect key points in job description.
- Refine your resume. I would cover this topic in detail in a separate blog, but in short, you should try to make your resume clear and easy to understand for people have no prior knowledge about your experiences. Also many people tend to make it 3+ pages long, which is not recommended.
- Fill out all fields within the application process.
- Ensure your social profile is current.
- If you have a lot of side projects, you can also includes your Github page.
#6 Reactive approaches
Sometimes you can wait for recruiters to contact you, which usually doesn’t work if you want to apply in a short period of time. But you can use it to prepare for your future job switching.
Keeping your Linkedin profile updated is very effective. As most recruiters use Linkedin as a way to search for potential candidates, it’s always better if your profile can attract many recruiters. Also you should keep all your social profile updated as well.
In addition, you can also create a personal website. Linkedin doesn’t have enough space for all your projects and details, which can be displayed in your website. If you have a bunch of side projects, just list them online and don’t forget to put the link on all your social profiles.
#7 Uncommon approaches
There are some other very uncommon approaches, which I don’t expect most of people will give it a try, but it doesn’t hurt to list here. Maybe you are lucky enough.
You may have heard the story that someone landed a job by reporting a security flaw, which is not that rare recently. Similarly someone has built an awesome service for the company’s product and got the job later.
I would say people usually don’t do that on purpose, they just do it for fun.
Although referral and online submission are the most common ways for applying a job, many people didn’t do that correctly and there are also other approaches.
The rule of thumb is being aggressive and don’t be afraid of rejection. In fact, you won’t lose anything.
Also always be well-prepared for any approach you try, otherwise it will never work.