About four months ago I completed my Support Engineer contract with Finalsite. It was a wonderful two years of travel and work but it was time for a change. With travel and work, the constant burn out is all too common. Aside from needing some R & R time, I needed to step away from my day-to-day work. It was time for me to re-learn and discover what’s out there. I picked up new tools and different ways of building websites and lived in locations where it would have been difficult to manage work and travel. Now it’s time for me to get back to the work force. Here are my thoughts on my first few months of job hunting.
Although, I am seeking new opportunities. I am in no rush to receive an offer. My former employer, Finalsite is one of the best places to work for. I knew it was going to be even harder to find a company that is a better fit or at least of the same caliber.
Since job hunting process is done once every few years, relearning is part of the process. My first lesson was how to create attention grabbing online presence for recruiter and companies. I am venturing into the rapidly growing remote job market. The seven-seconds rule applies to every component of your online persona. The resume, personal site, online blog and social media are all required components of my online resume. Your work history and identity is highlighted with a single Google search.
For the first few weeks, I was using my generic Word doc template resume. The same one I used five years old with updated job experiences. I tried to shove my years of experience in one page and failed miserably. My resume was a large compile summary of my experience bled into one page black, white and green PDF. I received call backs on 10% of my application and for companies that I wasn’t particularly interested in working for. A friend in marketing saw my resume and provide me with a much-needed push to improve.
- Design Matters. There are no more excuses for crappy resume design. There are so many free design templates and software out there that’ll help you create a beautiful visual resume. Canva and Piktochart are my two favorites. You got 5 seconds to grab a recruiter’s attention. I doubled my callback and interview requests after the redesign.
- Research the industry title for the job you are looking for and reflect that title in your summary, job title. Let’s be honest, job titles don’t tell people what you do or what you are capable of. It is going to prevent a filter bot from finding you and vice versa. I had years of experience but I didn’t know how to properly market myself. My previous job title didn’t reflect the industry job title. The bots and filters on job search engines were displaying in the accurate job opening. I started updating my job title to the Support industry titles. I begin to use the industry job title for the position I am seeking.
- Your social media tells a story about you. I didn’t receive any requests for references. When your life is searchable, there’s no need to contact your friend and former colleagues. Sadly, their opinion is irrelevant in comparison to thousands of posts and images that paint a beautiful portrait of your inner thinking or at least at the very least your public persona. The hiring team can come up with their own conclusion on what type of person you are.
- Portfolios are no longer optional. Show people what you can do. I made an online portfolio or resume with a timeline of the things I been working on. It includes writings, presentations and projects. This is difficult for a support professional since many of the projects I participated in are private and property of my former company. In these cases, I grabbed some screenshots (no personal info) and wrote a project summary to explain what I did. I can not stress enough that you need to write, blog and document anything that shows the world that you’ve done something. People can lie on resumes. They can’t fake projects.
When your life is searchable, there’s no need to contact your friend and former colleagues. Sadly, their opinion is irrelevant in comparison to thousands of posts and images that paint a beautiful portrait of your inner thinking or at least at the very least your public persona.
I have been living in the freelance and remote work bubble for two years. Within the first week of job hunting, I realized how small that bubble is. Almost all the job search tools had limited search for remote jobs. Job search engines filter around a location. Did you know that there’s a ton of job openings in Remote, Oregon? Although I have been working remotely and lived in the remote work community, the rest of the job market is still location-based. I didn’t realize that many remote workers have transitioned into remote work due to location changes or by request. Full remote hires are still a small percentage of the job market.
Before I dive into the remote job world. Let’s take a look at why companies are hiring remote employees.
- It is a remote company. There are a small number companies that built their company around remote-first culture. Here’s a running list of those companies, here.
- Limited local talent. The company can not offer relocation packages. When a company is based in a quiet town or smaller cities, it’s difficult for them to recruit talent unless they present a relocation package. Some companies are expanding their search and offering remote work. This is great for both job seekers and employer.
- The position requires someone with a specific combination of skills.You must know all of these codes, under infrastructure and be a wordsmith that makes your clients feel like they’re flying on a cloud. There are countless numbers of insane requirements that a small number of applicants are truly qualified for. In those cases, you’ll have to expand your search globally.
- The need for around the clock support services. This is specific to the support field. The customer service industry is changing, we’re no longer bound to location and time zone. People can access their app or software 24/7 and people expect support for the services whenever they’re using it. We’re far from creating a perfect software so there is a need for remote Support team members. Companies realize that their product can be accessed all over the globe. You can no longer limit support to a specific time zone. There is a spike in remote jobs for the support professional.
- Cheap labor. I avoid these jobs at all cost. The listings are usually part-time remote jobs with no benefits.
It’s extremely competitive. If you have tons of experience, it may be very easy for you to find jobs in the local area. Now, you’re competing with the world. Your skills need to be on par with everyone in the field. I also had my own set of requirements for the company. I wanted to work for a company that is 100% distributed. When a large part of your company is based in an office, the remote workers will always be the second class employee. It’s hard for the office worker to understand what they do not experience.
My particular field is likely responsible for the diverse approach to the application process. The degree of support knowledge range from non-technical to junior level developer. It would be an understatement to say the applications are a shit show. It looks like companies copied each other’s requirements without understanding what the real needs of the position. There were a few inspirational job applications that made me want to get to know the company.
I love discovering tools that I didn’t know existed. I love applications with a quick exercise. In particular, my application of the process took me down a learning journey through static gen tools, data integration, WordPress and much more. On a different spectrum, I also applied to positions that asked over ten questions and spent up to 3 hours answering. In these cases, I expected a little more than a template rejection letter.
To make the whole process a little more human, I also received a few requests video introduction. I’d love to see requests for video introductions on all applications. Although I understand this is another piece for the hiring team to review, it’s important for the applicant to know that they’re not just a number.
I was often disappointed by how inefficient and frustrating the whole hiring process is. I would receive requests for an interview with no guideline as to when or how to schedule. Unless this is an intentional step to delay the hiring process, I find it particularly time-consuming to send several emails back and forth to schedule a date and time. There are scheduling tools such as Calendly or better yet give me a time and I’ll step out of my day job to talk to you. There were a few cases where the company would not return my emails (ghosting). I know that the job hunting is a dreadful process but there are certain steps from both prospective employee and employer can do to approach the process with compassion and understanding to make it as painless as possible. It’s like online dating, you’re trying to find that one special company that is a perfect match but most of us will settle for good enough.
For smaller companies, the department head or team lead manages the hiring process. These team leads become hiring manager over night with no knowledge of the experience of the hiring process except for their own experience when they first joined the company. There is a need for education and guidance that recruiting management software can offer to the small to medium-sized companies. These tools should set in place hiring best practices and providing consulting services to companies.
There is a need for education and guidance that recruiting management software can offer to the small to medium-sized companies. These tools should set in place hiring best practices and providing consulting services to companies.
In the case of hiring, the companies are in a stronger position of power. They have the power to hire/reject you. Some companies take advantage of this position. Ideally, the hiring process should be a mutually beneficial to both companies and individual. That means respecting each others time and communicating every step of the process. Lastly, rejections should be communicated early and quickly from both parties involved.
Interaction with users during the application process affect the companies’ overall reputation. As a support professional, I am a huge advocate of brand identity management through every interaction.
Traditionally, new hires are placed in a probationary period during the first few months of hire. Often time, companies will keep the employee beyond this period even if they are not a good fit. This is because they’ve already invested a lot of time in the person and the benefit of keeping the employee outweighs the restart of the hiring process. A few companies have challenged this traditional practice with a part-time paid trial contract. The prospective employee works 20 – 30 hours a week to see if it is a good fit for both parties. I really love this approach. I have participated in a few trial contracts and love the experience. Not only am I paid for the whole process, I also get an introduction to the inner workings of the company. My only complaint about this process is the trial time. The trial should be no longer than three weeks. At the three weeks point, you and the company should have a sense of the company culture and whether or not the position is mutually beneficial for both parties. I don’t see the benefit of dragging out the decision longer. The number of trial contractors participating affects the experience of the hiring process. Large number trial contractor means the company did not do a proper initial screening. You need a team of three or more people to evaluate one applicant. I love the experience because I walk away from the trial with a new set of skills I can use in the future.
I’m still looking for the one.