Recently, I conducted a panel discussion on what to look for in an employer and how to find the best opportunity. I was joined by three 8th Light software developers who shared perspectives from their careers, and even more tips. Watch the video to gain their insights and set yourself up for success in future roles and projects. Further, check out some additional tips in the article below.
At 8th Light, our software crafters are developers, designers, leaders, teachers, and lifelong learners. We want our team to take pride in their craft, while celebrating and showcasing work filled with complexity, innovation, and creativity.
Regardless of where you are in your career, you should be proud of your journey. Showcasing the right elements of your journey can help guide you toward an organization with the right fit. Start implementing these best practices today.
1. Take a Personal Inventory Check
A personal inventory check not only makes you more self aware; it also can help identify the type of organization and working environment best suited for you. Take some time to reflect on the following questions:
- What do you have to offer? Recruiters will typically filter their searches by skills; what filters do you want to appear with?
- What do you want from your next opportunity? What things are you looking to get out of the next chapter of your journey?
- What are the “must haves” for your next employer? Some things on your list might include:
- More vacation time.
- More flexibility in how and when you work.
- Maybe you want to go to an org that emphasizes balance and finding a focus on wellness in the workplace.
- What situations and environments do you thrive in?
- What kinds of support might you need from a manager or even a team?
- Most importantly, what do you need to work on? As a software professional and as a person, what skills are you hoping to improve?
Try to be idealistic in what things can be, but realistic in how you can approach them. It's very difficult to push your technical skills if you never push what currently exists toward what ideally could happen. And for me in my career so far, the best things that have always happened are when I knew mentally what was the idealistic scenario solution for everyone engineering wise.
Two years ago I got certified to teach Gracie jiu jitsu; and the concepts of how to communicate to an audience, how to break down techniques that are very complex into simple-to-digest pieces — those communication skills have been incredibly beneficial to my tech career.
— Hank Lin, Senior Software Crafter
Personality assessments are a really great tool to help you find answers to these questions. There are a wide range of free and paid assessments available:
- DiSC (Paid)
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Paid)
- Clifton Strengths by Gallup (Paid)
- 16 Personalities (Free)
Last but not least: Understand your value and align your compensation expectations. You will want to have a general understanding of the market rates for someone of your experience level, and tenure.
2. How To Improve Discoverability
Whatever platform you’re using for your job search, make sure your skills and profile information are fully up to date. If you’re working on a new language, library, or framework — or any other type of experience that might be relevant toward a job you’re looking to get — indicate them, no matter how mundane it might seem. Employers are looking for folks who might fit a specific role or skill, and often conduct searches for this specific criteria.
Just sort of own your experience (or lack thereof). There are so many important things about working in tech that aren’t coding or programming. Your ability to communicate, your ability to understand problems, your ability to work with people on your team and people on other teams to make sense of what the actual thing you’re trying to do is — so many parts of my day to day don’t actually involve programming.
— Martin Gaston, Principal Software Crafter
Join online meetups (like the 8th Light University Meetup group) or interest groups that are of interest to you. There are a lot of niche groups that are aligned to different and unique interests, and you’re likely to encounter like-minded people who can help you grow your network in the areas you’re passionate about.
Make sure your resume is a PDF and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is enabled. OCR allows recruiters to search the individual words on your resume, ensuring you won’t be overlooked due to minor technical issues.
3. What To Look For When Searching For Your Next Role
I tell folks to start with a career page, as that can often be telling to a prospective candidate. This landing page is how the company has chosen to represent themselves, so you can begin looking at whether they align with what you’re looking for.
When you’re applying for a job, make sure that you are going to have somebody — at least one person, at least a mentor of some sort, or a team of people — whom you can go to when you’re stuck. Because I get stuck a lot, you know?
— Nicole Carpenter, Principal Software Crafter
What are things you might want to look for on a career page?
- What’s the interview process look like? What time commitment is it going to require to participate? And how are you going to be evaluated?
- Many employers today provide salary ranges, as many regions are now making it a legal requirement. Make sure the salary an organization is offering is aligned with your expectations before investing more time in an application and interview process.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. What focus and efforts are on bringing different prospective talents into the organization?
- Growth opportunities. After taking a personal inventory, you should have an understanding of where you’re looking to grow; how can the prospective employer support you and help you grow in your journey?
- Get a glimpse into the organization. Sometimes you can get some snapshots behind an organization’s culture. Is their website using stock photos, or actual employees? Do they have in-person events or virtual events? And what does collaboration look like?
- From a financial perspective, what does the organization’s ownership look like? Is it backed by a private equity or VC, or do they follow a different approach, such as employee ownership like 8th Light?
Remember that perfection is an illusion. Take a chance in the opportunities you pursue. You will never meet every single qualification on a job description. Continue to remember your worth and take ambitious leaps.