With almost 70% of jobs being landed through networking, the job searching process is not easy. At Microverse, our career coaches support students as they progress through the curriculum towards employment, making sure they have the tools needed for the greatest chance of success—not just to land their first job—but for their entire career.
We brought four global career coaches together to share their job search advice and discuss how they work with our students. Microverse coaches Jennifer Best, Yvonne Alozie, Crystal Mbanefo, and Eric Newport talked about SMART goals, professional skills, networking, interview preparation, and what happens once students complete Microverse and land their first job.
SMART Goal Setting and Professional Skills with Yvonne Alozie
We encourage students to develop their goal setting skills early in the Microverse program, and recommend SMART goals in particular because they’re specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. (Read more about SMART goals here.)
When it comes to job searching, SMART goals are particularly useful for increasing focus and motivation, but effective goal-setting is also about understanding what’s working and where you could improve. Yvonne recommends that at the start of each week you consider two things: what you’d like to achieve in the week ahead, and how you might overcome anything that blocked you in the week before. By evaluating your behavior you can identify what works for you and get clarity on how to best move forward.
Yvonne also talked about how important improving your professional skills are. In the Microverse curriculum, we help students set up LinkedIn and GitHub profiles, and create online portfolios and resumés to showcase their technical skills. But honing your professional skills is not just about showing employers what you can do—it’s also about showing them who you are.
Yvonne puts it like this:
“It’s important to understand that recruiters aren’t just looking at your technical skills, they also need to see your human side. We support students to make connections outside of their comfort zone, and cover areas such as effective networking, collaboration skills, conflict resolution and other soft skills they can take into their professional career.”
Networking with Crystal Mbanefo
Your career success relies on the relationships you make with others, and networking is all about relationship building. As Crystal says, “It’s not about how many followers you have, it’s about communicating with other human beings.”
There are four types of networking:
1. Professional social networking: e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Slack.
2. Content networking: Articles or blog posts written by you and published online, perhaps on Medium or Dev.to.
3. Networking through personal social networks: e.g. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat.
4. Events networking: Meetups, conferences, or tech events (traditionally these events happen in person, but since 2020 some have moved online).
At Microverse, our coaches work with students on the first two types of networking: professional and content, but also encourage them to pursue events networking where possible, as a chance to form professional connections and build interpersonal skills.
Dealing With the Fear of Rejection
One of the biggest challenges with networking is the fear of rejection: the worry that if you put out a LinkedIn request you won’t get any replies, or the anxiety of writing a blog post only for no one to interact with it.
Crystal’s key piece of advice here is to recognize it takes time to build a network, so start early, and realize it gets easier with practice. Networking skills are important to develop which is why, at Microverse, we focus on helping you build them. For more information on effective networking check out this article, The Importance of Networking for Landing Remote Jobs.
Eric Newport on Preparing for Interviews
At Microverse, once students have completed the technical program, they move into interview prep, where the focus is on practicing their interview skills via three types of mock interview. Here’s an overview of those, that you can also use to practice on your own.
Peer mock interviewing: One person acts as an interviewer while the other acts as interviewee, then they switch roles. They solve coding challenges together, with a strong emphasis on algorithms and data structures. Which is great because interviewing can be hard, and stressful—so the more you practice it, the more comfortable you feel doing it.
Pramp mock interviews: Pramp is a public online platform which matches people from all over the world to practice mock interviewing. Being matched with strangers adds an extra layer of realism to the interview process, and the coding challenge might be different than one you've seen before.
Industry professional mock interviews: Industry professionals work with students to do a mock interview that is a simulation of the interview they do when they’re hiring someone. It’s as close to the real thing as you can get!
We encourage all job seekers to take on a side project while job searching. This can be independent or via open source, with the aim to maximise your ability to connect with people who are hiring. Open source is great for that; if you contribute to a bug fix for a company you could impress a hiring manager and get an interview.
How to Answer the Salary Expectation Question in an Interview with Jennifer Best
It can be really anxiety-inducing when an interviewer asks what your salary expectations are, especially early in your career. Jennifer recommends you do your research before an interview.
"Use the salary calculator on Stack Overflow to find out the typical salary in the country where your potential job is based. But also realize that if the job is located in a company in the US, Canada, Australia, or the UK, they may be hiring from other countries to save money. So keep that in mind.”
Jennifer also notes that you can say, “I'm not as concerned about salary as I am about finding a place where I can grow my skills and work with a great team on a great product.”
Likewise, you can turn the question around by being totally honest and saying, “I'm new to this industry and I've done a little bit of research, and I feel like somewhere between this number and this number is about what it should be. Can you please share with me the salary range for this role, so we can talk about if that's a good fit?”
What to Do When You Don’t Feel Experienced Enough to Apply for Jobs
Crystal recommends, “Keep applying until you find that company that’s ready to hire you at that level of experience you have. And if you haven't found it yet, keep building your skills: contribute to Open Source projects, or create your own and put them on your resumé, and on your LinkedIn as well—that way recruiters can clearly see that you're capable of creating applications. It may seem like a Catch 22 situation but please don’t get stuck in the mindset of I don't have experience, so no one will hire me. That is definitely not true.
Crystal also advocates applying to a lot of jobs; recommending five a day. And when a recruiter finally says "I want to meet with you," that’s when you sell them your skills and show them your value—and your value is way more important than experience.
Job searching can be a stressful process, but by focusing on the things you can control, such as cultivating a balanced daily routine, being goal-oriented, and building your skills, you’ll be able to deal with setbacks and add value to your resumé until you get the one ‘Yes’ you need.
To date, Microverse has enrolled full-time students from 100+ countries, received applications from more than 200 countries, grown to a team from 12 countries, and helped our alumni from around the world land life-changing jobs. Get started below!
** Please note, the Career Coaches answers have been edited for clarity. To learn more about Job Searching and career coaching at Microverse, view the full webinar here.