How to Productively Manage Your Job Search While Working Full Time | InYour20s.com by Bessy Tam

How to Productively Manage Your Job Search While Working Full Time

Published on 14 October 2019 by Bessy Tam | Filed in Career

Job searching is probably one of the hardest things to do while you're at your current job. 

On one hand, you're frustrated. So you apply to anything you see that’s “interesting” and hope that you’ll get a response. 

In reality, you've been applying to this “black hole” for a while now. 

Then, you still have to go to your day job in "survival mode”, coming home drained from work and still needing to hunt for a job.

What if I told you that nothing YOU'RE DOING RIGHT NOW will get you to YOUR DREAM JOB?

I’ve been where you are before, frustrated… knowing that tech is right for me, but not knowing how to get there. 

Worst of all, I didn’t know how to manage my time. I was writing cover letter after cover letter, application after application. 

I felt anxious, hoping that any company would give me a callback and give me a chance.

But there was silence.

After 10 months of hundreds of applications, I knew that something had to change.

So I transformed everything I did; 

  • focusing on outreach instead of applications
  • talking to people instead of submitting my resume
  • figuring out their business challenges instead of focusing on ME ME ME!

As soon as I tweaked my approach, I got 7 interviews within a week, 2 of which were tech companies and I got offers to both of them.

Fast forward to now, I’ve been in the tech industry for 6+ years and started this blog to help people like you speed up this frustrating process.

This is also why people come to me for 1-on-1 coaching - to help them get into tech companies like Facebook and LinkedIn and to manage their time strategically so they don’t burn out. 

By teaching my approach, I get emails from my students all the time saying:

"Thanks for checking up on me ! ^.^ I'm doing well (which...has been a first during this job hunt)...I feel like your task assignment was perfect because it showed me how much energy would be "enough" for me to put in throughout the day and not feel guilty when I want to go read, listen to a TED talk, or code, or just hang out with my family. A big thank you for that! <3" 

Hilary*

From:  Neuroscience Academia

To: Referral in Tech Startup in 2 Weeks

"I finally have a structure I can follow. Now I don't need to stress so much and can actually enjoy the process!"

Lucy*

From: Finance/Banking

To: Offer at LinkedIn 


Here are the exact strategies you can use to manage your time and not get burned out:

The 6 Surprising Stages of Getting into Tech

When it comes to getting into tech, these are the 6-steps that really matter.

DO THIS:

  1. The deep-dive (identifying past projects that match a natural entry point in tech)
  2. The resume
  3. The outreach (talking to those in relevant roles to understand their business challenges)
  4. The referral
  5. The interviews
  6. The Final offer

AND NOT THIS:

  • “Researching Glassdoor online”
  • “Applying to companies I think are cool”
  • “Applying to anything I see out there and see what sticks”
  • “Talking to random friends who work in tech because their jobs seem so cool”
  • “Writing 100+ job applications for months and not hearing back”
  • “Checking jobs out on Google’s career page”
  • “Responding to recruiter inMails on LinkedIn. Even though they aren’t in the industry you want to get into”

Find out if you’re fit for a job in tech through my FREE 7-day email course here!

Why Is This Important?

Because your energy and effort are important - we want to work smart instead of just “working hard“

The result? You’ll..:

  • Get referrals in 2 weeks instead of applying to 100+ jobs in 6+ months
  • Skip the line against 1000+ “applicants” by having a sponsor in the company instead of “being in the dark” after applications
  • Go deep in 1-2 companies that really matter to you vs 15 different companies “on your list”
  • Get 100% satisfaction in the job you go for vs wanting to switch jobs within 3-6 months of working at your new job
  • Approach the job search stress-free and actually enjoy the process

  • Earn potentially 2 to 3X your current salary JUST by being in tech

Wouldn't that be nice? The best part is, it’s doable!  My students have done it, and so can you. 

A No-Brainer Way to Split Up Your Week

Now that you understand what the 6-steps are, next we need to find out the best way to structure these steps in a simple schedule during our work weeks.

The goal is for us to not burn out or feel guilty if we want to relax. 

Overview

Weekdays are meant for outreach and “informal coffee chats.”

And  Saturdays and Sundays are meant for “researching” & “building.”

job search

Why does it matter what day of the week I do things?

People are not available to chat about work stuff on the weekends

On weekdays (Monday to Friday), people are on LinkedIn, social media, and ready to chat about their company while they’re at work. 

When they are out of the office, they are less likely to want to talk about work stuff. In addition, they might not have access to their laptops or internal system to refer you. 

If you reach out to them during the weekend, they might say, “Okay sounds great! Let me do this when I’m back in the office on Monday”. 

Guess what happens within 24 hours?

They forget.

And it really isn’t their fault. They’re busy!!

You don’t want to play a game of tag on LinkedIn. You want to be strategic so that you can reach out to them in the most convenient time possible.

Hubspot says that the highest engagement times on LinkedIn are between Tuesdays and Thursdays early in the morning, during lunch, or early evening.

As someone already in tech, I witness this phenomenon in my life given I have back-to-back meetings on Mondays and fire-drills on Fridays before I wind down for the weekend.

The Strategy

So on weekdays you should be following the 6 stages outlined above:

  • Stage 1 & 2: Talk to coworkers or past colleagues who’d have access to data points or project results

  • Stage 3: Reach out to cold contacts or relevant people in your network

  • Stage 4 & 5: Chat with previous contacts for insights and advice for interviews

  • Stage 5 & 6: Chat with the hiring manager and do interviews

Then, weekends are for researching and building things like cover letters, and interview prep docs instead of being on LinkedIn for outreach or on the phone/Google Hangouts for calls.

“It was painful but during lunch hours and after work, I would reach out to people on LinkedIn - it worked out because I would reach out to around 20 people each week. On the weekends, I would put everything together including cover letters.  I eventually chat with 20 people in total and got the referral and offers” 

Lucy*

From: Finance/Banking

To: Offer at LinkedIn 


Now that we know what the general weekend/weekday guidelines are, how do these apply to each stage of the job process?

Stages 1 & 2 -Find your Natural Entry Point in Tech and Write a Stellar Resume

Overview

In the first two weeks, you’re putting in time for Stages 1 & 2 of the job search: 

  • Stage 1: Deep dive into your history 

  • Stage 2: Resume revamp

Just like any successful SMART goal format, you’re going to have smaller goals the ladder up to your larger goals of getting transitioning from a non tech job to a job in tech. 

by the end of these first weeks, you’ll want to have a finished/polished a 1 or 2-page resume.

A lot of people ask which is better, a 1 or 2 page resume. The secret is, it doesn’t matter!  Either way, just don’t go beyond 2 pages.

PS feel free to email me your resume at bessy[at]inyour20s.com to take a look!

As you can see in the chart above, on the left and right sides you have the weeks, stage, and success metrics for the week.

In the middle, we have the actions broken down by Sunday, Weekday, as well as Saturday. 

Sunday

On Sunday, you should spend about 3 to 5 hours diving deep into your background to gather experiences and projects that you’ve done before. It can help to start all the way back from high school or college if relevant because those experiences are easier to recall.

How can you sit for 3 to 5 hours straight? Trust me, you can! 

Have your favorite snacks on your desk, a great cup of tea or coffee, a fresh Google Doc page and your most recent resume in front of you. 

Wear comfortable clothes and set a 3 to 5 hour alarm on your phone, and don’t touch your phone until you’re done!

Once you have the blank page open, ask yourself:

  • What projects did you do? 

  • What organizations did you lead? 

  • What roles have you held? 

  • What events did you host or run, what happened, how many people attended, what were the results?

  • What grade did you get or did you get any awards?

  • For internships - what were 1 or 2 cool projects you worked on? Ask yourself the 5 W’s + H - who was on it, what did you do, where was it, when was it, why did you start this project, and how did it end up?

Do the same for your current job with the goal of breaking out 3 to 5 different projects from work. 

  • What was your role?

  • Did you help out in any “fun” events or even “side projects”? 

  • How did your role change or evolve in the past 2 years? 

  • What were some of the things that people have said about you?

  • What were the results of those projects/your role? In revenue, attendees, number of excel cells you worked with (if you’re going for an analyst/data engineering role)

Once you’re done, you should end up with a 5 to 10 page document full of paragraphs highlighting all of your great contributions. 

Don’t worry about constraining your words or sentences yet. At this point, you should be expanding and listing out everything you’ve done as much as possible.

Monday to Friday

During the weekday you’ll want to reach out to any resource that would have information on results from your previous experiences.

One of, if not the biggest challenge for a lot of my readers, is to quantify results or data in your resumes. This is the most important focus area for a successful resume!

A student of mine said during our Resume Revamp coaching session:

“I know I need to use data and numbers... I've struggled for a long time to use results in my resume but i think it's really hard to quantify.  I previously wouldn't think the number of events would be a data i could quantify, i thought it had to be revenue"

Lucy*

From: Finance/Banking

To: Offer at LinkedIn 


These are some examples of numbers you can use:

  • 150-person attendance with 4.9/5.0 satisfaction rating
  • +51% y/y growth in revenue
  • +20% increase in website clicks
  • Analyzed 250K units of data in excel with 15-columns/variables
  • Reached 10M users
  • Decreased operational errors from 50% to <10%
  • Launched 15 products in 3 months for a $4M revenue
  • Started 15-person class now expanded to 250+ attendees
  • Launched first-ever campaign..

And here are some examples from the work I’ve done with my students:

STUDENT 1

Before:

After:

STUDENT 2

Before:

After:

STUDENT 3:

Before:

After:

Have the data points you need in mind. Then email your past coworkers or colleagues during the weekdays about the projects you worked on together. Ask them whether they could get those specific results/data points for you.

Here is a sample email or message with a request for data

“Hey Janice! 

Hope you’re well, it’s been a while since we’ve talked and worked together! I really enjoyed our time working on the white claw lime flavored project, and when I heard you ended up transitioning to a different product role that you’ve always wanted I was so happy for you! 

By the way, I’d love to ask you for a small favor if that’s okay. I’m currently in the process of transitioning to a new role and wanted to get some data points to have as results of the white claw project we worked on. If you have access to that data and have time, may I ask when you compare May data to April data of 2017, how did the users and engagement increase or change?

Thank you so much for your help again! Really appreciate it”

Make the message warm, the connection personal, and data-ask clear and specific.

Then you’ll be able to get data points for all of the projects you listed out before. By the end of this process, you might have too much data to work with. But no fret, even if your “original resume” ends up being 5 to 10 pages with additional data points, some of that work can actually be on your LinkedIn instead.

In the end, it’s better to have more data points and project-work first before you cut anything down.

Saturday

Lastly, on Saturday you’ll build your resume. 

Look through the 5 to 10 page document you’ve built. This document is your “original resume” where you’ve gathered additional data points, projects, and job experiences together.

Notice a theme of what you really liked or excelled in amongst your past 3 to 8 years of experiences (including school).

Once you notice the theme, you’ll be able to search up job descriptions with the particular title in a relevant tech company and understand what “keywords” and experiences to have in your resume.

For example, if you’re an analyst in your company right now, you’d have something similar to below:

  • Stakeholder Management: worked with CEO and CMO to identify 5 key product opportunities for the business by analyzing key market trends, current product sales data, website analytics, and both quantitative and qualitative customer research.

  • Analysis and Insights: Analyzed 150m lines of data amongst 5 variables through SQL. Presented key insights to Head of Sales with 2 other teammates. Resulted in +101% y/y growth in sales.

In addition, you should be linking decks and presentations into your resume (eg. on the word “Presented key insights”) so that the hiring manager or recruiter will be able to see your presentation/visualization style. 

Be mindful though, some role titles are not translatable. Eg. I had a student whose title was Performance Manager but her transferable title would be Sales Operations Manager. I had another student who had a Project Engineer title but her transferable title would’ve been Analyst.

Ultimately, when you transition into tech or in fact transition in any career, you want to focus on only changing ONE variable amongst these four:

  • Location

  • Title

  • Company

  • Industry

In our scenario, you’ll be switching companies into tech, but your industry would ideally be the same (eg. marketing analyst in insurance company switching to marketing analyst in tech company managing insurance clients)

Stages 3 & 4 - Get Your First Interview Through Informal Chats and Referrals

Overview

In weeks 2 & 3, you’ll focus on the 3rd and 4th stages:

  • Stage 3: The Outreach
  • Stage 4: The Referral

According to JobVite, more than 50% of hires are through referrals. 

According to the undercover recruiter, referrals have the highest applicant to hire conversion rate, quickest start date, and highest satisfaction. 

That’s why companies always prioritize referrals and that’s why you should too -  ultimately you’ll have a higher chance of getting into a tech company by getting a referral than just applying online.

It seems counterintuitive, but none of my students who go through my coaching program EVER apply to jobs online.  Learn to kick start your informal chats with free PDFs, scripts, and contact trackers here!

my students get offers and interviews in companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, L2 Gartner, Salesforce, Startups and more with a 95% success rate.

What do we do if we don’t have a network in tech though?

We want to be able to reach out cold on LinkedIn, in our network, and through mutual friends on LinkedIn.

Then, we chat with relevant contacts in the 1 company you’re targeting to learn more about their experiences in the role, what they do on a daily basis, and what the team’s business challenges are.

Then throughout these conversations eventually get referrals. Recent students even got referrals to LinkedIn, Google, and Headspace within 2 weeks of doing these outreaches.

Sunday

On Sunday, we want to “build” our outreach list as well as outreach scripts.  

Use this LinkedIn Hack (Video) I found while on a coaching call with my student in order for you to find the right people on LinkedIn without reaching the search limit. This way, you don’t have to pay for LinkedIn Premium!

You want to build a list of 20+ contacts in a Google Sheet. Subscribe and write out exactly what you’re going to write to them. 

The script goes something like the below:

“Hey [Name]! 

Hope you’re well – I’m [Name], a [title/role] in [industry]. I saw that you [some mutual and specific trait/experience that you both have]. I’m hoping to get into [xyz industry] w/ my [relatable background]. Would it be okay if I picked your brain for 15m after 6PM M-F/anytime weekend? I’d love to learn more about you [desired company that he/she is currently in] too!- 

[Name & Phone Number]”

Remember, you only have 300 characters to reach out to someone cold on LinkedIn so try to get to the point as quickly as possible.

And FYI the script would look a bit different if it were for your friends or mutual friends.

Monday through Friday

Once you have the “target list” or “outreach list” built out on Sunday, on Monday you’d be set to reach out to those contacts. 

We want to aim to reach out to 10 to 20 people during the week and get 3 to 5 chats confirmed per week. 

A few of my students would do outreaches during lunch time. Some would block of an hour or two in the afternoon. 

The key is to have the LinkedIn app downloaded on your phone so you can do these seamlessly.

During the week, you’ll also be on calls. If you don’t know what to ask about during these informal chats, watch my video here 

Saturday

Saturdays are great to use to prepare for informational chats. This means creating a prep document to jot down notes on the person’s background, listing out the 3 to 4 most relevant questions to ask them based on their experiences. 

Don’t know how to reach out or what to say? Email me at bessy [at] inyour20s.com or get the free PDF kickstarter guide and Google Sheet trackers here

For example, for someone who’s been in the company for 6 years, you can ask about the various teams, business challenges, and overall very in-depth questions about the company’s structures. These are things you can never find online.

You can also ask them to refer you to 2 to 3 contacts in the end who may be relevant for you to learn more about the team you’re targeting near the end of the conversation as well.

On the other hand, for someone who’s been in the company for 1 year, you’ll want to ask more about their personal experiences transitioning from X industry to the current company, what the onboarding process was like, what was their biggest challenges as X role in the team or company.

Ultimately, by the end of each week you’d want to have sent out 10 to 20 messages for outreach and confirmed 3 to 5 chats. By the 2nd week of doing this (or overall week 4) , you should already have a referral.

My students on average get referrals within 2 weeks of starting the outreach process. 

For my student who got referrals from LinkedIn and Google - it took her about 2 weeks, 25 outreaches, and 5 informal chats before the referral.

For my other student who got a referral for HeadSpace, it was also about 2 weeks after the Resume Revamp, 22 outreaches, and 3 informal chats.

Stages 5 & 6 - Stay confident and stop the nerves during interviews

Interviews usually happen in these stages:

  1. Round 1 Screening: Recruiter

  2. Rounds 2 & 3 Behavioural Interviews:  Teammates

  3. Round 3 & 4 Team fit or  Role & Responsibility: Manager and possible External Manager

  4. Rounds 4 or 5: Last round: Director or Panel

In the 1st round or initial screening, you will be on the phone with the recruiter talking through general questions such as “Tell me about yourself, why do you want this role, what are your experiences with XYZ skillsets/responsibilities.”

In the 2nd or 3rd round, you’ll be meeting with teammates to walk through some  behavioral questions amongst 4 topics: 

  • Solving Problems

  • Leadership

  • Team Fit

  • and Roles & Responsibilities. 

In certain cases, 1 interviewer will be focused on interviewing one topic with you. In other cases, 1 or 2 interviewers will be in the same room with you but they will cover all 4 topics.

In the 3rd or 4th Round, you will be interviewing with the hiring manager about roles and responsibilities. 

In another round, you may also be interviewing with another manager separately from another team. This is to eliminate any biases and ensure objectivity. 

The last round may be with the Director of the region or team. This round may be similar to others in a conversational setting, or it may include a presentation. 

In order to not burn out, your goal is to have 1 to 2 weeks time before your interviews so that you can have enough time to prep. 

  • List Element
  • List Element
  • List Element

Prepping for an interview would mean:

Sunday

You would be building an interview prep doc, doing mock interviews, and writing cover letters to ensure that the interviewers know your intention and why you’re a great fit.

Monday through Friday

On the weekdays, you’ll be talking to people and reaching out to relevant employees within the company to learn more about the interviewers’ style, how the interview process is, any tips, and most importantly what business challenge the team is specifically looking to solve. 

You’ll also be having your interviews during the week since hiring managers and recruiters will be off during the weekend. 

How do you attend interviews while employed? Well try to have interviews during off hours - in the morning before 9 or 10am, during lunch 12 to 2, or after work around 4pm onwards. You want to be respectful.

Often times, you will have full day interviews if you get into tech as well and they will fly you to Mountain View or whereever their headquarters are. 

When that happens, feel free to take a personal day on a Friday that will occur 2 weeks later. You don’t need to tell your employer why you’re taking a personal day, but a Friday or Monday is generally less suspicious.

Saturday

You would be reviewing the interviews you’ve had in the previous week, prepping for the next interview by adding questions they’ve asked in your prep doc, and continuing to build your outreach list to get unanswered questions answered.

By the end of each week in this stage you should have:

  • Written a cover letter for each job
  • Built an interview prep doc for each interview (1 week prior)
  • Did a mock interview for each interview (3 weeks prior)
  • And aced interviews - since you would have had 5+ chats prior to your very first interview to understand what they wanted!

What Should You Do For The Rest of the Time?

If you have 3 to 5 hours spent on Sunday and Sunday towards building and researching , then 1 to 2 hours each weekday towards outreaches, then what should you do the rest of the free time?

RELAX!!

Interviews and outreaches should be a fun conversation. If you don’t do anything outside of your job or your job search, would you have anything fun to talk about during those conversations?

I once had a conversation with HR prior to the last round of my interview with the CEO for 45 minutes. She said“this is amazing, I am just so engaged with this conversations!”

The best part about living life outside of work is that you have time to rejuvenate.

If you’re too stressed, too tired, too busy, or too focused on “getting the job”, you won’t have time to gain experiences outside of this setting nor be able to truly reflect and understand whether that job was right for you in the first place.

So make sure you have this schedule in place and set up non-negotiable time in your calendar to complete the tasks above. Other than that, have FUN during this job search. 

And like my coaching students, you should be able to land a referral within 2 weeks and job offers to companies like LinkedIn and Facebook in no time.

How are you going to schedule your approach differently based on what you learned? Tell me in the comments below!

About the Author

Bessy Tam is a career coach who helps marketers get into tech. She’s helped dozens of clients get interviews and offers from companies such as Google, Lyft, Amazon, and Mckinsey. She currently works at Google.

  • Bessy Tam says:

    What are your thoughts? How have you managed your time so far?

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