Interview w/Women Who Code, Girl Develop IT & Last Mile Coding Teacher!


I met a woman who I thought was just amazing at work, Poshly‘s Aysegul Yonet, so I was really excited when she agreed to do a podcast interview with me ūüôā

So, she may not be teaching inmates at San Quentin code through The Last Mile just yet (she’s been preparing a curriculum as she awaits approval to go in) but she has been leading coding classes and office hours for both Women Who Code and Girl Develop IT, great organizations that help women get into coding.

If you can’t listen to the podcast, you can read the transcript here. Resources Aysegul recommends for learning to code are also included in there.

Otherwise, feel free to leave questions for Aysegul or feedback for my future podcasts in the comments section. Enjoy!

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Your Network Rocks, But…


LinkedIn Network

Try InMaps to see your network’s spread

Let me start this off by making it crystal clear I do believe getting a warm referral to a job can make a huge difference. It tells a prospective employer that someone they believed in enough to hire and keep around, someone who knows more about you than they will learn from your resume, thinks you would be great at this job.

However, unless you’re very well connected, your network is not the holy grail of job searching, and should definitely NOT be the only tool you use. As preferable as it is to just ask around for a job, here’s why it may not be enough:

  1. Your connections are not endless. Great jobs you will be great at and that will make you happy are out there, but the odds you know someone who can help you get it are directly dependent on your network (and I don’t mean knowing recruiters.) How many people do you know who work in a company or an industry you really want to work in? That’s probably what your network is limited to.
  2. People only remember you’re looking for a week. Or maybe two. The deal is though, unless you see someone every week and talk about your job search, they may not think of you the next time someone tells them about a job. That doesn’t make your 2nd and 3rd connections on LinkedIn sound so promising all of a sudden…
  3. You party with your friends. It’s sad, but true. Friends see you at your worst sometimes and that can affect how they perceive you’ll be at work. A stranger who interviews you, on the other hand, will only see what you want to show them. I’m not advocating being deceitful, just putting your best foot forward and being the person you want to be.

In short, definitely leverage your network when looking for work, but don’t forget to explore all of the other avenues out there. I’ve gotten most of my jobs so far just by applying in.

How to Get a Job/Internship


JobDid a presentation for high school Girl Scouts a few weeks ago and completely forgot to post the presentation online! This is especially helpful for high school and college students, but there are some good tips for job seekers of varying stages.

Feel free to share!

WordPress  incorporates PowerPoints as links: World Of Opportunities PPT

And here’s also an example resume:¬†Sophie Bousset Resume Oct 2013

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How to Make Yourself Stand Out (AKA How to Get an Interview)


First of all, let me apologize for not writing in a few weeks. My new job has been awesome and I’ve been so focused on making sure I do a good job there that a few things have had to fall to the way side. So thanks for sticking it out with me!

Now on to the good stuff =]

Recruiters, sourcers, hiring managers, etc., who does everyone you want to impress look for? Rock stars. It’s the recruiting #buzzword of the day. So are you a rock star? I bet there’s something that makes you a rock star. Whether it’s a cool hobby, some impressive expertise in a domain, or your ability to just make something look easy. I won’t write about figuring out what that special something is just yet, maybe that’ll be good for another post.

So, assuming you’ve already followed the first few common-sense steps to applying for a job… (in no particular order)

  1. Make sure you’re actually qualified for the jobs you’re applying for
  2. Follow directions
  3. You’ve got a resume and a cover letter draft ready to go (yes, you are supposed to tailor them to each job you apply to…)

…you should be ready to rock star up your resume and cover letter.

What makes a rock star?¬†Outstanding accomplishments, deep expertise, an unquenchable thirst to learn…. oh and some crazy notion that challenges are fun and exciting. So how do you show people you’ve got a little (or a lot!) of that?

You tell them a story. Not a long, 10-pager mind you. Just enough to help them see what’s so special about you. Your story starts at the objective line.

  • Are you a recent grad?
  • Do you have 10 years of experience?
  • Do you have an unquenchable thirst for learning
  • Do you love challenges?
  • Are you just way too excited to change this industry?

Point it out! Your objective line is a great place to do that! “Recent grad with 1 year of experience in PCB design for consumer electronics looking to take on new challenges and make company XYZ’s products even better!”

Make sure whoever’s reading your resume doesn’t miss that because it’s drowned out in some not-so-glittering details about all the super technical, in-depth things you did.¬†

  1. Cut out the jargon. Does your mom understand what you do when she reads your resume? If yes, you’re on the right track. If not, consider changing some of your verbage…
  2. Bring out the meaning in the tasks you did. Did your technical jargon accomplish something like creating a new product for your company? And oh, you were in charge of doing everything from A to Z all by yourself? Well, make sure you write that clearly and simply! I sure as heck don’t that’s what your “oscillometer design, integration and validation” experience means.
  3. Don’t undervalue your college triumphs. Winning some cool competition or working on an electric car in college is just as valid once you graduate as it was when you were trying to flirt with the not-so-geeky sorority girls (although I would continue to do cool things after college, especially if it’s been several years since you did anything that exciting. You want to continue being a rock star!)
  4. Show off a little. There’s nothing wrong with dedicating a few lines to some cool personal/research projects you undertook or having a section where you list all of your accomplishments and awards. Heck! Have both (just stick to the 2 page rule. Less is more.)

The point is – don’t be afraid to show off, and write it all in a way that makes it easy to understand for everyone who did not sit in those mechanical engineering courses with you.

Freebie insider tip: Don’t apply to a whole bunch of jobs at one company – the recruiters and hiring managers can see the list of the 10+ openings you applied to. Let’s face it, how likely is it you’re a good fit for ALL of those roles?

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

How to Apply for a Job


Professional Kitty! Photo Credit: ladydinahs.com

Been kicking around a rather mild form of writer’s block, but I’m back with more job search advice! Today’s topic: what to actually do to apply for a job in the most effective way.

  1. Update your resume. Make sure all of your recent / relevant positions are included and the start and end dates are correct, then use online tools such as my toolbox (and there are tons of other websites with great advice!) to make your resume as appealing as you can.
  2. Make a list. It won’t look like you’re organized or know what you’re doing if you apply to the same role several times. The recruiter will notice this and may think you are desperate (you never want that to come across, even if you may be in dire need of a new job.) Keep a detailed list of each position you applied for, the link to the job description (so you know what the recruiter’s talking about when they call you), as well as an updated status if you know for sure you were rejected, had a phone screen, or went in for an interview. It only takes a few extra seconds and could make you look much more professional.
  3. Read the ad carefully. Do you meet the skills and/or experience requirements? If not, by only a little or by a long shot? If you’re nowhere near what the ad asks for, you’re wasting your time applying (and most likely the sourcer/recruiter’s too.) Also, does the ad specify how to apply? Are there application instructions? Do you need to email someone your resume instead of clicking on the big red “Apply” button? Do you only need a resume and no cover letter? Paying attention to these details will demonstrate your attention to detail, ability to follow instructions, and ultimately give you a leg up.
  4. Tailor your resume and cover letter to each position. For your resume, this does not mean only add new bullet points with phrases from the ad to each position, if you do that you will end up with a 3-page resume. Instead, take out the bullet points that don’t relate to the ad (or take out whole positions — just leave the title, start and end date, and one bullet point summarizing what you did), and summarize less important points. For the cover letter, do something similar. You can probably keep your first and last line, but change the info in your cover letter to show you have the skills this specific company is looking for (not all of the others you applied to as well.)
  5. Beware of typos. Are you applying Facebook but your cover letter and resume say you want to work at Google? Small details like that aren’t going to help you position yourself as a top-notch candidate.
  6. Follow up. Didn’t hear back? Give it 4 work days and email/call/LinkedIn InMail. If there isn’t any contact info listed anywhere, then unfortunately they just don’t want you to reach out. In that case, I would assume you were not selected for interviews and move on. *Ideally, you should still have been applying to other positions while you waited anyway, and it will be an even more pleasant surprise if you hear back 2 – 6 weeks later!
  7. Research. Once you’ve applied, be prepared to get a call from someone at the company. They may ask you why you’re interested in working for them so take a few minutes to look at their website, their values, their culture… those will often showcase the unique traits that make a company more desirable to work for. Also, do take a close look at the job description. If you can sell your desire to work for the company as well as your interest/passion for the position you will be all the better off for it!
  8. Look inwards. You should eventually be invited to interview for a position, and you will have some more wonderful preparation to do. Take 20 – 30 minutes to research commonly asked interview questions (achievement you’re most proud of, strenghts & weaknesses, what you could improve on…) and come up with thoughtful and honest, but also flattering, answers.
  9. Try, try again. Very few people get hired for the very first position they apply for, so set aside 15+ minutes to apply to 1 or more positions each day. As your applications add up, you should start receiving more and more phone calls and going in for interviews. Don’t despair if you don’t hear back from the first few though, keep applying! Sometimes it takes a little while for recruiters to go through all of the candidates who applied in (especially considering most work on 10+ reqs at a time!) and you may simply not be the best fit for every position you apply for.

In short, be ready to sell yourself as soon as you are called in response to an application, and don’t despair or take it personally if you don’t hear back.

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

How to Ace a Phone Screen (or Interview!)


Got a request from a good friend of mine, so I thought I’d go over some tips to blast through the phone screen and get yourself invited for an interview. (These tricks are also great for the interview itself!)

Quick announcement first though: I’ve started helping friends & contacts out with resumes, cover letters… everything related to applying for a job really! If you’d like some help, feel free to leave me a message here, Tweet or Facebook me.¬†

Now, for phone screens!

You can learn to speak “good” like me! Credit: whitepaintedwoman.wordpress.com

What is the purpose of a phone screen?

  • To make sure you have the experience a recruiter/hiring manager is looking for. Did you lie on your resume? Are your position titles misleading? Did you work on a specific task on a daily basis or do a few hours each month… These are the kinds of things that will be checked during a phone screen.¬†
  • To check your communication skills. Are you awkward or uncomfortable to speak with? Will you be able to communicate with customers, colleagues and managers in a professional manner? Those things are important! If you thought your English and Comm. professors were full of it… you’re going to regret it now!

Here’s how to shine:

  • Don’t lie on your resume. Sounds obvious, but a lot of people do it anyway. The truth will come out at some point, and you won’t end up getting the position. Instead, you will waste your time going through process and end up on agency DO NOT CALL lists. PS: if you do get the position, you could get fired for lying, so just don’t do it. Seriously.
  • Determine what the most important things you did are. First, identity the key tasks and skills mentioned in the job description. What have you done that is similar or helped you develop those skills? Those are the things you want to focus on to convince your interviewer that you have what they’re looking for.
  • Practice talking about the things you did at your different positions. Tell your friends, your family, your dog, your cat… hell, tell your neighbor! The more you talk about it, the more comfortable you will be telling your interviewer about it despite being nervous. This means you won’t stumble as much, or mumble…. or fill the conversation with as many “ums.”
  • Relaaaaax. Stress can make you sound less capable than you really are, so take a deep breath, do some stress-relief exercises, and make sure you’ve done everything you can to prepare beforehand so you’re as comfortable as possible =]
  • Research. Doing a little research on the company is one of those important things you can do to prepare so you’re as comfortable as possible during your screen (mentioned under “Relaaaax.”) I doubt most places expect you to know everything about their company for a preliminary phone screen, but it’s still good to have some kind of understanding of what they do and be able to explain why you want to work for them.
  • Join ToastMasters.¬†So what if you really just don’t feel comfortable communicating / feel really awkward? Check these guys out: http://www.toastmasters.org/ ¬†They’ll help you practice giving speeches in an accepting environment (yes, it WILL help you!), give you practical tips, and, most importantly, force you to practice!

Let me know if this was helpful!

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

How To Get A Job: 7 Tips


Picture from the job fair where I met Contract Live’s founders (Le Camping, the organization that put it together) used it to publicize their next job forum!

This seemed like an appropriate post to write since so many people are currently complaining that they can’t find work. Furthermore, I know this is going to make me sound like an ass, but I feel like I did a pretty good job finding my job. When I first started looking in Paris, I went to a job fair where a Master’s and internship program’s advertisement was that ~80% of their graduates found work withing 9 months of graduating.

Gah! I saw this and thought I was screwed! People with masters’ degrees and internship experience were still having that much difficulty finding work?!

Luckily… I did find work. And it didn’t take me that long (just 1 month). So maybe I’ll be able to help a few people out O=]

So here are my 7 Tips for Finding A Job

  1. Know what you have to offer. What experience do you have? Volunteer work? Languages you speak? Even stuff like waitressing counts–you learn how to deal with people, work under pressure, etc. So make a list of all your experience and skills. Now start thinking about the kinds of businesses/jobs that would find these skills useful.
  2. Know what you want.What are you interested in? What do you like about your hobbies (important detail since you’re most likely not going to get paid to do your hobby, but knowing what you like about it will help you figure out the type of work you’d enjoy)? Are you passionate about an industry or vocation? (You’re really into computers or love to write.) I really enjoy writing, socializing, and learning new things so Comm/Social Media was a natural fit for me.
  3. Market yourself. Ever heard of soft skills?¬†(article in NY Times) The vast majority of employers put these at the top of their list of attributes they want in employees. Unfortunately, they also complain that young people today are lacking in them. (And of course I don’t remember where I read this ><‘ promise I didn’t just pull it out of my ass though.) Soft skills are the things you don’t usually learn in school. Things like communication and teamwork (forced group projects didn’t always turn out that well, right?). In order to develop these, you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things, especially activities that force you to communicate, such as sales. A great way to do this is to volunteer for students organizations. They often need more people to help so you’ll be given more responsibility and opportunities to do things and learn than at a regular job (my personal opinion.) Quick tip (1.):¬†AIESEC is an amazing organization. They run an international internship program as well as conferences. It’s where I developed skills such as leadership, sales, writing newsletters, PR, fundraising, giving training seminars, etc. I highly recommend¬†AIESEC! Quick tip (2.): soft skills will also help you give stellar interviews.
  4. Send amazing resumes and cover letters. Make sure you know how to create a good-looking and effective resume and cover letter. These are the first things recruiters see from you. Want a sure-fire way to make sure you’ll never even get so much as an interview? Send in a lousy resume and cover letter. If you’re not sure how to go about it, here are a few links that will help you get started:¬†About.com: Job Search,¬†The Rockport Institute’s Award-Winning Guide, and Wikihow.com’s guide to writing cover letters.¬†Universities and even city libraries also often offer workshops and consultants to help you in your job search. Besides these sites though, there is one big thing you need to keep in mind: keep what the recruiter wants in mind!¬†Use keywords from the job ad in your resume and cover letter. And don’t just send everyone the same resume and cover letter. Take the time to write one for each job you apply for.
  5. Be open-minded. Apply for jobs that aren’t exactly what you want or that don’t pay quite as much as you would like. Why? Jobs aren’t always what they seem. The job description doesn’t always explain what you will actually be doing very well, and a lot of companies will customize your tasks depending on your strengths and experience. Furthermore, a company that doesn’t sound as cool and hip as Google or Apple might still have a great job to offer. Case Study: Sophie. I went to a job fair where we did a speed-dating type exercise so that everyone would at least have the opportunity to meet all the other participants. The result? I met tons of interesting people, and kind of forgot about the ones that didn’t sound quite as interesting. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to go when I was called back for an interview at Contract Live. Boy am I glad I went though! At the interview, I discovered that this start-up has a great young team that is very fun to work with, that they’re already pretty successful so they would be able to pay me a living wage, and (Tada!) their philosophy is very young and open so I would have a lot of opportunities to try things an older, more conservative company would never dream of letting their PR people do. So I found the job of my dreams (no joke, I didn’t think I would find it) because I went to the interview that didn’t sound that interesting. Don’t judge a book by its cover!
  6. Don’t say no to interviews.¬†(Oh, and make sure you dress professionally too! See pic for example.) Sounds obvious, right? Well… what about the jobs you’re not that interested in? You might start to get a little tired from writing resumes and cover letters, and going to interviews. Think about this though: you’ll get great interview practice. You’ll feel less pressure since it’s not a job you really really want! And… wouldn’t you rather practice and mess up BEFORE you interview for an amazing job? And finally…
  7. Take every opportunity you can. Are your resumes and cover letters up on Monster, LinkedIn, Craigslist and Careerbuilder? No? Why the hell not? ¬†Have you been looking into job fairs happening nearby? What about volunteering for a company you really like? Some companies hire volunteers who show a lot of potential. And networking? Chances are someone knows of a job you’d be interested in!

Wow, I feel like all my job hunting and researching over the years have really paid off. I never realized I learned so much =] Hope you find this helpful! Feel free to leave comments, questions, and anything I forgot ‚̧

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***