Determining Your Path to Career Satisfaction

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

The best way to prepare for the Career Journey ahead will be to think through the type of company you want to work for, the roles that they have or that you would enjoy filling, and what you have done before (that you would like to keep doing).

What is a Career?

For the purposes of this journey, I’m defining career satisfaction as the series of jobs that lead you to achieve your ultimate goal. Two keys to this definition are:

  1. One job is not a career
  2. You must define your ultimate goal

A goal must be defined and measurable, and for a series of jobs to lead you there, you must have a theme or relationship that ties them together. A series of jobs can be in one industry such as:

If you’re a Career Changer (or Transitioner as some of you have referred to it) you might look at what you love about coding or data science and what you want to create, because your skills can be used in whole other industries such as:

The series of jobs that make up your career can also be framed as the problem you solve (example: creating applications that public school teachers will use to increase their effectiveness with students)the difference you wish to make(example: enabling micro contributions that have a macro impact in the non-profit and social justice space), or a topic you are passionate about(linguistics). While these are just a few examples, I have chosen them based on my conversations with more than 400 bootcamp graduates.

What is Career Satisfaction?

The key to picking a career that will lead to your satisfaction comes from identifying what you are looking to accomplish or the purpose you’re looking to fulfill. All of these things we will look at in this article, including what you can expect once you invest in a job hunt after graduating from a bootcamp, and how to determine which job or career path will help you accomplish your ultimate goal in a way that you will define as successful and will make you happy.

Factors that contribute to your satisfaction will be the company you work for and how much you love what you do because this is just the beginning! Immersive programs such as bootcamps tend to practice the 80/20 rule which means they focus their curriculum on the 20% you need to know to make things work so that you have a framework with which to build the rest of the 80% on your own through avenues like Meetup, hackathons, and jobs like temporary and contract work.

What Can I Expect Right Out of a Bootcamp?

About 75% of students are looking for a job in the tech industry. The key to fine-tuning your job hunt will be in knowing what you can expect. Usually what is daunting about a career change, transition, or investment is the unknown, so among the most common job titles, according to Course Report, for coding bootcamp grads are:

  • Software Engineer – develop, create, and modify computer applications or utilities/research design, develop operating systems-level software.
  • Software Developer – develop applications to accomplish tasks or underlying systems that run devices.
  • Web Developer – designs and creates websites.
  • Front-End Developer – in charge of the user interface and style of a website.
  • Junior Web Developer – designs, develops and implements software packages for websites, usually with less than three years of previous experience.

Data Science bootcamp grads, according to the 2016 Course Report Ultimate Guide, can expect job titles such as:

  • Data Analyst – draw actionable conclusions out of large datasets.
  • Data Scientist – identify opportunities to use data while finding appropriate sources and performing analysis through an entire problem/solution cycle that requires diverse coding skills.
  • Database Administrator – use software to store, organize, and secure data so that it is available for users.
  • Data Engineer – captures and analyzes data so that they can make recommendations based on their findings.

The way that the industry is right now, there is no standardization with job titles between companies so you will have to do your homework in order to know if the job title is what you expect for the job role. In fact, some cases Software Engineer seems to be used synonymously with Web Developer, and I have seen a Hiring Manager post that they need a Data Scientist when their job description was titled BI Engineer.

How Do You Solve Problems?

To give you a further idea of what roles will be available to you and how they (and you) fit into the industry depends on your approach to problems, according to Google Software Engineer Martin Puryear:

  • Hack or Hacker is not necessarily a great keyword to describe yourself in terms of your skills and abilities because it can imply a lack of expertise through patch work that’s not clean and a lack of understanding of why it may work.
  • On the other hand, a Web Developer would have clean code that actually solves problems.
  • Software Engineer solves long-term problems in any number of ways. They will often answer a question with ‘well, it depends,’ because they would choose a solution based on the situation and then measure the results for performance.
  • Junior roles, whether a Developer or Test Architect, has more to do with experience and maturity in terms of knowing what to do when something unusual happens.  This could even be a Software Engineering role depending on the company, so be sure to do your homework about yourself and the expectations of the Hiring Manager.

Not All About the Skill?

Not everyone who graduates from a bootcamp takes or wants to take on jobs that deal with coding or data every day all day. If you want to talk code or data but you don’t necessarily want to do it for work, here are some paths to consider:

  • Dev Ops or Development Operations can be another title for Customer Support but it can also mean full stack expertise in getting all things deployed and knowing what to revise in requirements change. The person in this role should have the mindset of a developer and not just be an operations person. An Ops or Operationsperson thrives on consistency and control in an ideal world where nothing ever changes. This person is about the entire network and getting power to the system. While not change averse, they may also automate as much as possible so as not to wake a Developer in the middle of the night. A Developer always wants to add a feature and will admittedly never get it right the first time so there will always be bug fixes which is where the learning comes in…
  • Junior or Senior Tester is someone who can test the front- or back-end, is usually more of a Back-End Developer with good technical sensibilities.  Usually, this person loves to work with puzzles and is always on the lookout for the trick that will be a breakthrough to the solution. Often times this prowess comes so easily for the person in this role that they often take it for granted to everyone can do it…
  • Business Development is about building a company, most likely to be bought by another company.
  • Tech Writer, Tech Evangelist, Data Journalist are all about getting other companies to be excited about some technology the company creates.
  • Program / Project / or Product Managers are connectors which means they connect all the pieces for the development lifecycle so that deadlines can be met.
  • Field and Sales Engineers work with larger companies in order to get them to buy software-as-a-service (SaaS) and then help them to integrate the software into their current workflow.

What Makes a Good Fit?

You are reading this article because you want to have and build a better future. With research that engineers, developers and other IT specialists are less happy than those who work in non-tech sectors, the key to your success is owning your own professional development so that:

  1. Your opportunities for growth are clear
  2. There are opportunities for growth

This goes for your professional growth and development within one company as well as within the tech industry. As a way to keep us focused on what impacts your career satisfaction, let’s look at Careerealism’s four essential P’s of your dream job:

  1. People
  2. Purpose
  3. Product
  4. Potential

People: Because “you are most productive with teammates you can relate to and rely on” who you work with and who you work for matters. How do you like to be managed? Mentored? Who do you do your best brainstorming with? The more you know upfront, the better you’ll be able to make a decision when opportunities start rolling in.

Purpose  Have a focus for your motivation so that those around you better understand who you are as a professional, and who you are striving to be. The key to your purpose is working for a company that aligns with your values so that you’re both happy to go to work as well as happy tell others where you work.

ProductEspecially if you are looking for work, you are selling a product (ex: websites) or a service/skill (ex: data science), so it’s important to have everything you put into your applications reflect what you’re ‘selling,’ just as the companies you are applying to need to be your ideal target ‘customer.’ Just as a company must align with your values, you must also believe in the product or service you are contributing to because that is key to your career satisfaction.

Potential: In order for you to have a “shot at something bigger,” you have to know where you want to be or what you want to be doing in the years ahead. Look at how to leverage what you’re doing right now so that you can see and be seen for future opportunities.

Where You Work Matters

It’s great to know what kind of work you could do after you graduate from an immersive training program, but how can you tell if a role will be a good fit for you?  The key to this is to know what you like (or don’t like). You can focus on a role but you can also set your sights on a specific company.

Where you work will impact what kinds of things you could be doing for your first job after graduation. A smaller company or startup will give you the chance to do all kinds of different things – utilizing your full-stack capabilities. Startups move so quickly with deadlines and opportunities that you will get the chance to take on work beyond the scope of your role so your potential for growth is great. I would say that one week with a startup can equate to one-month of work somewhere else, so you would need to move quickly according to the needs of the company. If this excites you, there are a couple of things to consider:

  • Size of the team. If you’re the only one, then everything relies on what you can do. If there are others, you can brainstorm or debug together, and if they have more experience, you could even be mentored.
  • Years in business. The first five years is a make or break time for a business to know if they will succeed. The more years they’ve been around the more likely they have figured out how to keep their employees paid. There are no guarantees, as large companies have failed, but it is important for you to realize that there is a risk.

Larger companies give you a chance to specialize. While your experience may not be broad on a large team or within a large company, it will be deep. The key to taking on this opportunity is to stay current regarding industry and technology trends so that you don’t find yourself in a niche that becomes outdated. Two things that can help is picking a company focused on innovation and picking one that values continuing education so that you are immersed in a culture that supports your need to keep evolving with the rest of the industry.

Determining What You Need

In determining which roles will be your career satisfaction mecca or mirage, consider your answers to the following questions:

Can you work remotely? If not, then you should steer clear of jobs where you will have to find and harvest self-motivation, independent work habits, and virtual team-building. What is also important to consider is that Hiring Managers such as Jeff Rodenburg from Valassis Digital sees remote work as requiring the ability to learn and listen. Because comradery can be important, companies like Amazon and Facebook are opening satellite locations in order to broaden their access to talent like you.

Are you willing to travel? If you are working remotely you will likely need to travel in order to meet with other members of your team. As an example, the Senior Director of Technology at A Place for Mom, Justin Saul’s role evolved, he had to travel more in order to connect with his team and handle deployment challenges.

What are your work/life balance requirements? If you have a family or are planning extensive travel that might open your eyes to remote opportunities. If you prefer stable, predictable schedules, a larger company might be more your speed. If you want to go for a startup but you’re not sure what they would require, and they’re not yet listed on Glassdoor, take the interview opportunity and ask questions. You don’t want to come right out and ask about work/life balance because that can appear as though you are unwilling or unable to do what they need you to do.  There are certain questions that you can ask in order to find this out including:

o  What does your sprint cycle look like?

o  How frequently do you push to production?

o  What does a day-in-the-life of someone in this role or this team look like?

o  I put in 70-90 hours a week during an immersive bootcamp, what would you say is the average work week expectations for this role?

What are your location requirements? Consider where you would work on a regular basis if you need to be onsite. You might have to take the cost of living, commuting, and parking into consideration. Another key component of this in the Greater Seattle Area is time, so consider the traffic patterns around stadiums, bridges, and tunnels.

All of these factors will and should influence your decision. Answer these questions before you begin your job hunt so that you know how much money you would need to make in order to be comfortable.

Money, Money, Money.

In order to know if a role is worth your investment, you should first find out how much it pays. If this isn’t your highest priority, I recommend you at least know the numbers before your first interview – especially with a recruiter – so that you both know the value of the position, what you offer, and whether or not the situation in front of you could even work for you. Besides asking your peers and mentors what you can expect to make as a Web Developer or Data Scientist, there are at least two places I recommend for finding out what the going rate is for a role: Salary.com and Glassdoor.com. While you can also look at PayScale.com and LinkedIn.com, I do recommend you pick sitesthat take more than self-reporting into account and you are consistent with the 1-2 you choose so you have a consistent context to work from.

Salary.com

Salary is great because you can both get a job description – so that you know you’re qualified – and a salary range – so that you know your value. For example, the national median for an entry-level Web Applications Developer is more than $58K. With full benefits – did you forget you may want those too? – that role is valued at $84K+. This is an increase of $3K from a year ago. For a Data Scientist, the national average is $122K as a base and $176K with benefits.

These numbers will vary according to location:

Glassdoor.com

When you look on Glassdoor you can get information on the culture of a workplace, interview questions, and salary information. For example, the national average for a Web Applications Developer is $77.3K, slightly down from the $77.5K that was reported a year ago.

Your Decision Is….

All of this is great, but when faced with multiple opportunities, how do you know what to choose? You can take the emotion out of the choice with a decision grid. I find this to be a useful to quantify my client’s priorities. Many times I don’t need the grid because I can tell which way someone is leaning by how they talk about a role and what they say. If you want to work this out on your own or with an accountability partner, here is what you need to do:

Pick your top 2-3 roles based on the work involved and technology used. Go through the list I offered you here, based on roles taken by other graduates, or you can go through job titles listed at sites like BLS.gov or SkillCrush.

Pick the top 5-7 criteria that will impact your satisfaction in that role, based on everything we have covered including:

  • Size of the company/team
  • Location
  • Work / Life Balance
  • Compensation
  • People
  • Product
  • Purpose
  • Potential for your growth

Any criteria you might get from an assessment such as:

  • VIA which assesses your key strengths and values
  • MBTI which is the Myers-Briggs personality assessment
  • CVI which assesses your core values

Create a grid where your ideal roles are listed along the left-hand side and the criteria are along the right:

Give each determining factor a value on a scale of 1-9 using only odd numbers for each job. You can use the same number twice.

Notice this graduate used even numbers. They had to justify it to me as to why those categories were neither a 9 nor a 7. This whole exercise also ended in a numerical tie. Without me having to point out the excitement in their voice for one job over another, they realized which job they wanted just by talking it through. I also had them decide, of all the criteria, which was the key one or the deal-breaker in terms of what they needed from their next job. The answer was potential to grow.

This exercise can be used for any decision. While I’m using it here to help you realize which path you would be happier pursuing, the example grid is actually from a decision between two job offers. Because potential to grow was the most important key factor for a next role, the graduate chose that job and is living…er…working happily ever after.

Test and Learn

If you still feel uncertain about which direction to go, handle it like you would any bug fix: test and learn. Go to events put on by your schoolCareers Team, or Meetups to talk to people who already work or are active in the industry and ask them questions. Research the role on the BLS website so you know more about what that role does, what the work environment is like, and the job outlook. These are all great ways to gather information, the next thing to do is act. Take a step in one direction and see what happens. Keep going in that direction until you know for sure that you can work happily ever after.

Then What?

Once you pick a role you should continue to learn about technology, trends, and innovations in that area. Your projects – whether they are bootcamp assignments or ones of passion – should reflect your interest. Publish at least two profession-relevant projects from your bootcamp experience, and then continue to produce portfolio pieces until, during, and even after you’ve gotten a job.

What We Learned

What we learned in this article is what that a career is a series of jobs leading you to your ultimate goal.  Satisfaction in that path has a lot to do with how you define success and what you are looking to create. While bootcamp graduates tend toward being a Web Developer, Software Engineer, or Data Scientist, there are also roles that you can take where you can talk the talk and not necessarily have to walk the walk.

To know if a role or career path is right for you, you must first determine what you need or want from your next role. If you can’t decide, you can test and learn but you must, above all else, act! Once you step out in the direction you believe is right for you, pursue it with all your mind, heart, and soul and do the work you’ve always imagined.

 

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How to be a Successful Job Seeker

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

You may notice, on occasion, I have gone from saying “Job Search” to “Job Hunt.”  The reason for this is to ensure that the person I’m speaking with realizes that this is an active rather than passive process.  I find that by reframing the Search as a Hunt, expectations, and actions change, and the person in the process begins to realize that they have more control over their results.  To help you take charge of the hunt ahead, here are some answers to your key questions:

How Can I Be a Successful Job Seeker?

While in my mind I hear the phrase “seek and ye shall find,” the initial search for a job is a lot like a company’s search for a diverse candidate:  you can’t expect to keep doing the same things and get different results.  That’s why I think it’s important o know that successful Job Seekers search smarter so that the hunt, although a lot of work, is not always a full-time endeavor.  They did this by:

  • Conducting targeted job searches by matching their qualifications to job requirements and not just applying for every open position in a ‘spray and pray’ approach.
  • Creating customized application materials by using keywords and skills from the job description in addition to what could be found through research and informational interviews.
  • Organizing records with detailed notes and weekly goals using tools like Airtable, which can cut your job search activities down by 1/3.

Just to be clear, I would classify a Job Hunt as an active process of looking for work that requires an investment on average of 30-40 hours a week.  Less than that would be a passive Job Search because you’re likely focused on other things (work, family, continuing your studies) and the tendency is to ‘fit it in’ when there is time and energy.  The other thing I noticed about the Passive Searcher versus the Active Hunter is that since the Passive Searcher usually has something else going on, whatever opportunity comes their way needs to be good enough to be worth changing their routine which is why Recruiters have a different approach for Active Candidates and Passive Candidates.

For example, if your less-than-ideal job brings in $50-60K a year, you are more likely to negotiate or only go for roles that will provide you more value such as more pay, better benefits, or a better work environment.  If you’re unemployed and looking for work or and suddenly you need a job yesterday, you are more likely to accept the first offer that promises to pay you.

What Can I Expect? 

You can expect that the Job Hunt will take longer than you plan; as many as 3.5-4 months in some cases.  When I asked some of those who accepted roles shortly after graduating from a training program what their secret was, the simple answer was that they didn’t wait to graduate before they got started on the hunt.  What I also noticed is that they networked whether it was online or in-person.  On average I’ve seen an entire class, from minimal previous education to Masters in Computer Science, get jobs within four months even when they weren’t living in an ideal location because of the effort they put into the Job Hunt.

There are many factors as to why a Job Hunt can take a long time.  In some cases, it’s the time of year.  Little gets done, including hiring, between mid-November and mid-January.  The number of people who seek career advice or hire those who are seeking also drops off in the Summer – what I call a Summer Slowdown – because of family vacations and a general desire to rest or be more social after a Winter hibernation.  By the same token, there are spikes of activity in the Spring with the sense of new beginning and hope, and in the Fall when many students go back to school and the weather sends us back indoors.

Other factors in the length of a Job Hunt include the process itself.  Glassdoor has reported a longer interview process, which of course vary by location.  Seattle and San Francisco average 23-25 days, and the larger the company the longer the process.

Sacred Time Career Coaching - Job Interview Process Length

Based on some of my conversations with bootcamp grads, the average process moves from an application which can be anything from submitting a resume and cover letter to filling out an online form, into a second stage that includes either a 20-30 minute behavioral phone screen or even video upload of recorded answers.  The technical interview has included whiteboarding, live coding, side-by-side debugging, and timed tests, challenges, or assignments.  The final stage usually includes an onsite interview where, if you haven’t already, you get to meet your potential boss and the rest of the team.  The onsite interview can last anywhere from a few hours to half the day and can include job offer.

Using a sampling of job titles from students who have graduated from programs such as bootcamps, the average time-to-hire for these roles are:

What Should I be Doing?

For the most effective Job Hunt I recommend a balance of online and in-person activities.  In order to make this happen, you must create an online presence by establishing yourself on profession-related social networking sites like LinkedIn, as well as using a professional filter with regard to what you share on other social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter because they are or can be made public.  Here is an abbreviated list of sites where I recommend you create a presence and post your resume:

After you’ve set up your profiles and launched your accounts, this is the time to start creating the templates that will streamline your Job Hunt workflow.   Here is your to-do checklist:

Next, create a plan for your job search activities.  Only you will know how much structure you need so plan accordingly even if you must schedule how much time you are applying for work, networking, and practicing your skillset.  Here is an example:

The key aspect of this sample schedule is that you make a plan, practice what you need to in order to stay sharp, and notice what is working for you and what isn’t so that you can adjust your activities next week.  In fact, if you are not moving along in the hiring process in a month, then it’s time to debug your job search.  Here is a diagram of where to begin:

If you are not getting as many interviews (or even responses) as you think you should, this would be an indication that something in your resume and cover letter is not effective.   Not making it beyond the phone screen?  Then how you frame your experience and what you understand about the work that you would be doing may need some fine-tuning.  If you’re stumped at the technical interview, chances are you’re either not connecting with the team – who would be your co-workers – or you’re not clear in sharing your thought process so they know you understand what is going on even if you don’t know the correct answer – assuming there is one.

The onsite interview is a test for culture fit in addition to a behavioral and technical interview.  Your prospective team needs to know they can work with you, not just whether you can do the job.  For example, no one willingly wants to work with a know-it-all, someone who doesn’t work well under pressure, and no hiring manager is looking for an employee who is going to make their life more difficult.

In the end, the job offer comes down to your ability to do the work as well as your ability to work well with the rest of the team.  Stumble on any part of this and not adjust or connect with the person on the other side, and you could have a longer Job Hunt.

If you are someone who needs measurable goals to hold yourself accountable, here is an example of what your Job Hunt workflow could look like:

Looking for work is sales.  Just like a sales person generates leads with a flurry of activity, you must generate opportunities.  I recommend 15-20 touches – points of contact – a day which can include any mix of applications, networking or interviewing events, reach outs, and follow-ups.

As an example, you could find out about a job through an advertisement and apply (touch 1), then find the recruiter or hiring manager on LinkedIn and reach out to thSacred Time Career Coaching - How to be a Successful Job Seekerem to introduce yourself and see if you can get more information through an informational interview (touch 2), then reach out to someone from that team to get a better sense of the workload (touch 3), followed by reaching out to your network to determine the best way to prepare for this company’s interview process (touch 4), in addition to searching Facebook, Meetup, or Eventbrite and then attending any relevant community events the company is hosting or sponsoring (touch 5).

To be a Successful Job Seeker, you must work smarter and not necessarily harder because there are a lot of factors that determine whether the hunt is over in four months or four weeks, and you can’t reasonably engagement in a job search a couple of weeks and think, like magic, it’s going to work.  Just like you invested at least three months in leveling up your skillset, you must be prepared to invest at least the same amount of time to reach your next goal:  career satisfaction.

 

 

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Hiring Lifecycle: What a Job Seeker Needs to Know

by Tiffany A. Dedeaux

I’m aware of my assumption that hiring slows down in the summer and during the holiday season. It makes sense, right? Everyone – or at least key personnel – goes on summer vacations. In my mind, everyone does it as a road trip, because that’s how I grew up: long windy weeks on a highway in middle America with little to no access to technology. Then there are the end-of-year holidays where the social calendar is so demanding that the weight of everything else just rolls off it’s back.

Why does this matter?  If you’re looking for work it is important to know how much of the void — no responses, callbacks or signs of life – are actually because of your application versus circumstances beyond your control. In a targeted search of the internet, for my own benefit of knowledge, I found and pulled together what I would call a Hiring Lifecycle where Job Seekers can see dips in hiring and can plan for them.  Here is what I found out and what I recommend you do about it:

Notice that I labeled the stages Q1 – Q4. Hiring does, in fact, pick up starting in mid-January and again in September. Based on this, I recommend that during the Summer Slowdown you focus more on networking and leveling up or adding to your skillset. For the end-of-year holiday season, my recommendation is that you spend your spare moments thinking about your Career Resolutions and create templates and update your resume to fit in with your new career goals.

From my own experience as a Career Coach, I have seen a stronger surge of clients in the Fall when, coincidentally, summer is over and school is back in session. Depending on your audience – list of target companies – the hiring lifecycle may not be this simple, which is why mastering your market through research and the ever-important informational interview will help you set both the tone and expectations for the job search ahead.

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The Power of Invisibility in Your Career

by Tiffany A. Dedeaux

I was the kid who wanted so bad to be invisible. This was long before Harry Potter and well after the Invisible Man. I did know that I wouldn’t look people in the eye or would sit by myself and it never dawned on me that people could still see me. Thank you to those who still said hi.

This is a super power but I wasn’t using it right. I can make people and jobs and opportunities disappear. Sometimes I know when I do it.  Is it still self-sabotage if you don’t always know when you’re doing it? Like anything that’s good in life, love, and work, there must be moderation. So, when is the Power of Invisibility good in your career and when does it work to your detriment?

When it Hurts Your Career

Based on the talk given by Kore Koubourlis for Leading Women in Technology, the Power of Invisibility, also known as a ‘hiding strategy,’ can hurt when you’re spending so much time and energy trying to keep people from seeing what you don’t want them to see such as your perceived inadequacies. What does this look like?

  • Avoidance
  • Apologizing
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Not accepting compliments

While this is not an exhaustive list by any stretch, I think it’s important to say that if you add to or say anything other than “thank you,” you are not fully accepting the compliment. Yes, even if you think that you’re giving other people the credit they deserve – and maybe you are – but the truth is you are also diluting that compliment before you ingest it. I am not saying always and never, I am saying have balance and recognize when you’re avoiding accepting credit for your hard work because that contributes to impostor syndrome.

If you struggle with being invisible and it’s not serving you, here is what you can do:

  • Participate
  • Take a risk

That’s a short list with large consequences.  The great thing is “sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage.”

When Used for Career Good

That’s all well and good, but when is the Power of Invisibility a good thing? When it’s not about you, and when you have other things to do rather than be a Ring Leader for a Circus of Attention. An important revelation in the age of Wonder Woman, is that there are times when you may be called on to be the superhero and other times when you are called to be the vehicle for heroic deeds (i.e. invisible jet).

What can you do? Set boundaries around what you do and what you leave to others. Let them take the responsibility and the credit because that will help them grow. It might also help you grow, especially if you tend to take on the problems of others like it’s your job to fix the world. The thing about time, trust, and career is that your time will come, and with it all the appropriate accolades and responsibilities.

Kore was right, it’s about how you want to show up, and I will add it’s also about knowing when to show up. If it takes a village to raise a family it sure as heck takes a village to build a program or a company. If you’re lucky – and I am – you’re part of a crew that doesn’t let you run with scissors but does let you run as far as your dreams will take you because you’ve got stuff to get done.

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Making the Most of Your Bootcamp Projects

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

So you’ve decided to take a huge step toward the career of your dreams and join a Data Science Bootcamp. Now is the time to start differentiating yourself for future employers. How can you do that? By focusing your upcoming data science projects on the one reason you enrolled in this program in the first place (getting a data science job!).

Here are three ways how:

1. TARGET COMPANIES

If you’re using the bootcamp to pivot your career, you already have a sense of your skill set and what you want to be doing. Create a list of 3-7 companies that not only would hire you, they’re actually places you want to work. Start by coming up with criteria of what matters most to you. For example, you might use these criteria to identify your dream company/job as having:

  • People who provide the support, mentoring, or autonomy you crave
  • Purpose that aligns with your values so you can be a part of a cause or mission bigger than yourself
  • Products or services that you believe in or use so you would proudly tell others where you work
  • Potential for growth that aligns with the way you want to grow your career

Once you have a list of companies to target, go through their current or related job advertisements or team member profiles to identify which skills you need to add or improve and which you can excel at so that you can demonstrate your ability to learn and have an impact to the Hiring Manager through your project.

2. PARTNER WITH COMPANIES

If your ultimate goal is to work with a startup, be customer-facing – or if you happen to multitask like I do – you can help your entrepreneurial friends. Start by creating a plan or proposal for how you could help them and their business through one or more of your projects. Then it’s time to execute, execute, execute.

You can also connect with 3-4 local businesses or organizations, research their pain points, design a way to use your project to create a solution, and then do a “cold outreach” campaign to get their attention. These same skills will help you with job searching and networking later on.

3. TARGET AN INDUSTRY

Similarly, if you’re looking to build your career in a particular industry, you can use your projects as a way to further master your niche by identifying industry pain points and devising ways to showcase your particular skill set. With each project, your knowledge would deepen as you become more clear on how you can and would want to contribute to the solution.

By taking the time to plan out and focus your projects ahead of time you’ll be a step ahead in your job search because you’ve already begun to think about how to sell yourself to key companies who want your skills, created a portfolio targeted at the job or company you want and begun to build your market mastery so that the next step is to live your dream.

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How to Debug Your Job Search

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

Frustrated by your job search?

It’s no wonder! You likely needed a job yesterday and if you’re engaged in the ‘spray and pray approach,’ you’re applying to every single job you can think of with little to no feedback or positive results!

The average job search is about 15 weeks, which is 3-4 months. That means this is a marathon and not a sprint so it’s important to pace yourself.  You don’t have to wait for the race to be over before you identify and fix what may be wrong. The key to debugging your job search is to know what to check so you can identify the potential issue and fix it.  Here is an idea of what to look for and when:

The Hiring Process

The bottom line is hiring is a process and everything you do, from the application to the interview, is meant to move you forward. In tech, that process generally looks like this:

Your application is meant to get you a phone interview, which consists primarily of behavioral questions to gauge your true experience, see how you communicate, and if you would fit in the culture of the company. If you do well, you will move on to the technical interview which is meant to dig deeper into your ability to learn, handle difficult situations, and gauge the depth of your technical prowess.

Should that go well, you get to meet the team!  Whether you do a ½ day succession of in-person onsite interviews, one long panel interview with multiple people or you’re sent to lunch with the team, the entire engagement is a way to get to know you and be sure you’re worth the emotional and financial investment the company is preparing to make.  It is not unusual for there to be an offer given during the onsite interview or shortly after, depending on the size of the company and their motivation to fill the role.

How Do You Know You’re Stuck?

If you are not getting to the first interview, especially within a month of applying to the role, either the job you are applying to is not a match for your skill set or your applications materials aren’t making it clear that you’re an ideal candidate. If you’re not making it to the technical round, then prepare and practice your answers to behavioral interview questions. Not getting past the technical questions? Then there is something you’re not showing your interviewer, whether it’s your work or your thought process. If you’re getting to the onsite interview but not receiving an offer, then there is a something to evaluate in that exchange as well.

How to Get Unstuck

Now, to try and reproduce the problem, I recommend picking three trusted others to review your work including putting you through a mock interview.  I say three because any more than that and all the feedback you get can be overwhelming and muddy your motivation.  This also challenges you to pick only those you trust, are qualified, and will tell you what you need to hear and not just what you want to hear.  This team of three should be able to look at your cover letter and resume and determine if it’s worthy for the roles you are applying to, ask you relevant interview questions and provide constructive feedback as to how you deliver your answers and the content you provide.

While sometimes the delay in responses to your application or interview falls at the feet of the hiring team, by taking this approach to debugging your job search you empower yourself to keep the momentum rather than constantly refreshing your email hoping someone will write you back.

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3 Qualities of a Great Boss

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

The key for any professional seeking employment, promotion, or career satisfaction is to be surrounded by the right kind of people.  This is why career coaches, such as myself, suggest you get to know your prospective manager during the interview process.

Whether you are just starting to do this or you have actively been interviewing bosses and not just looking for opportunities, here are 3 qualities you will want in your ideal boss and why:

1.      Integrity

A boss with integrity behaves in private as if the whole world is watching.  They do what they’re supposed to do even when there is no threat of being found out or being held accountable. I have a friend I will call Love.  He talks with admiration about his boss.  He works in an industry that requires certifications, but not all of them can or are enforced.  What he loves about his boss is that she made sure to meet new state qualification requirements even when there was no governing body forcing her to do so.  If you don’t think that matters to you, consider what you see your boss do in private and how that impacts the way that you view them.

2.    Milestone-Minded

Milestones are the times in our lives that determine the course of how we live.  They include births and birthdays, deaths and marriages, and even severe illnesses.  It is a cycle of growth referred to as Life/Death/Life to correspond with the life, death, and rebirth that happens when these milestones take place.  Love, my friend, painted a picture for me of a village where one family experiences a death and the entire community descends upon them with casserole upon casserole.  The community cares for all the family’s earthly needs so that, for a time, they could simply grieve.  What does your boss do to rally the tribe so that you feel supported during such milestones?  How do you show up when your boss calls upon you to pitch in?

3.     Invested

The third sign of a great boss is someone who is invested in their people and, according to my friend Love, “sees them as a resource in the best possible way.”  This does not mean that they merely spend money on the people in their professional care, but that they acknowledge, recognize, and celebrate the HUMAN part of HUMAN RESOURCES.

Great bosses believe in their people both in theory and demonstratively, so that those same people are clear that they matter and together you are all working to achieve something great.

While it can be easy to say that anything we don’t like or approve of makes for a bad boss, it is just as important to consider the fact that great leaders may not be born, but made.  What do you do to not just identify, but to contribute to the making of a great boss?

Whether you are actively searching for your next boss, or are investing in your current one, it is important for you to know what makes for a great boss so that together you can aspire to extraordinary things.

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Job Search Strategy Trends Timeline [INFOGRAPH]

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

The challenge with looking for work is that it’s a full-time job that requires strategy and persistence.  If you’re a mid-career professional and you have been with the same company for a while, it can be overwhelming how the job market has changed and all the different opinions there are in how you should write your resume or look for work.  If you’re new to the job search, the incremental changes of how the strategy has changed might be interesting, but the thing to notice is that the items in bold will be the same key elements of your job search strategy in the years to come:

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2 Skills to Keep on Your Resume


Skills for Resume - Sacred Time Career Coaching

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

To include everything or not to include everything; that is the question I usually get when it comes to writing resumes.  My general answer, especially for Career Changers who have more than 10 years of professional work experience, is to tailor your resume to the job and industry and use your LinkedIn profile to tell the whole story of your journey.  What you include on your resume is important because it is the single most important factor to determining whether you will get the interview.

For example, while I see my underlying career purpose as empowering others to make informed decisions, the first part of my career focused on video editing, while the later part of my career has focused on coaching.  Rather than putting everything I have ever done one my resume (which means it will be longer than two pages), I have a resume focused on coaching so that I can emphasize those skills and spur a conversation with a potential client or employer.

While I have more than one resume in order to focus on my different skillsets, there are two skills that pique interest in Hiring Leaders:  the ability to code and the ability to edit video.

Cracking the Code

Skills for Resume - Sacred Time Career Coaching

As an undergraduate I studied Broadcast Journalism.  My University of Nevada, Reno professor, Travis Linn, was a visionary.  I don’t know that I could say that at the time, but I definitely can say that now.  It was the late ‘90s and he insisted on teaching us HTML so that we could design and create a website that we then burned onto a CD-ROM. Because I’m an entrepreneur I have had websites and profiles to promote myself throughout my career.  At a certain point, until I became a Career Advisor at a Seattle-area coding bootcamp, I forgot that I even knew HTML because I use it so often.

Learning to code was considered the single most important business skill last year because it offered both an insight into different facets of a business and the ability to understand and communicate with those who do the work.  It is a skill that spans industries and will afford you a sense of self-reliance and empowerment in the years to come.

Digital Storytelling

Skills for Resume - Sacred Time Career Coaching

That same professor, Travis Linn, was a Journalist.  He covered the Kennedy Assassination for WFAA and had enough foresight that he taught us offline video editing using Adobe Premiere.  Once I entered the workforce I realized we learned and practiced skills at school that were ahead of their time for local TV stations.  For example, at the time KOLO was still tape-to-tape, and the production crew was using reel-to-reel.  KUSA was using SVHS before upgrading to Beta.  While this may sound like alphabet soup to some, it is clear that my professor knew how the industry would change.

I will say that whether I am talking to a Hiring Leader for a startup or enterprise-level company, an educational organization or a commercial one, everyone points out ways that they can make use of my ability to edit video.  This should come as no surprise to anyone following technology trends because we have been talking about a Content Revolution for years and you can see it with the way that sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest have embraced it.

As you go through and rethink your resume for the career you want to have, or the job you want to have next, don’t forget to include the skills that can be universally applied to any industry and you will increase your chances of getting an interview.

 

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Career Fit: What You Need to Know

career-fit

Companies look for ‘Culture Fit,’ while job seekers look for ‘Career Fit.’ Whether you’re looking for your next role or you’re coaching someone who is, it’s important to note that Career Fit is both created and discovered.

How is Career Fit formed? By defining what you want, identifying what you need, and preparing yourself to do what it takes to get you from ‘here’ to ‘there.’

Defining What You Want

It isn’t success (or even your dream job) if you hate what you do. Do you know what you want? If you’re not even sure where to begin, I recommend something as simple as defining the essential must haves for your  dream job which I summarize as:

1.      People who you want to work with. While the #1 reason why people leave a job is because of their boss, you know other team members can rank high on a list of reasons people leave. You can get a sense for if you’ll be valued as a person and as a contributor by looking at the benefits package, gauging how a company represents their culture, and listening to how the Hiring Manager refers to your potential co-workers.

2.      Products or Services you build or contribute to must align with your values or interests in order to keep you engaged and motivated when times get tough.

3.      Purpose of the company and how it operates must also resonate with you otherwise you won’t see the point in investing your best effort for the short or long term.

4.      Potential for growth that lines up with how you envision yourself evolving. If it costs $4,000 for employers to onboard a new hire, employers will be looking at whether you can do the job. Consider how much it costs you in time and energy to apply, interview, and take on a new role as you evaluate how you will be supported and encouraged to develop professionally. Does what they offer suit your long term goals?

Another way I recommend figuring out what you want, is by completing a more in-depth assessment test that will provide you with a deeper understanding of strengths or the way that you’d like to work so you can evaluate your opportunities according to the results.

Identifying What You Need

What you need is likely different then what you want in your career. What you need may be recognition, money, or even challenge or structure. These are the things that keep you from being frustrated or bored on the job or that can help keep you focused. What you want may be to have your core values aligned with the company, or a base salary while you build your book of business. What you need may be to get the experience you working with a team or leading a team so that you can qualify for higher job titles.

Knowing what you need to accomplish in a new role, it makes it easier to stick with a company because you know the experience is helping to progress your career. Take a moment and list everything you can think of that you will need, and then go back and consider the career moves you’ve already made. Rank each item you’ve listed on a scale of 1 (not an issue) to 10 (deal-breaker) and you will soon see trends in what tops your list of Must-Have Career Criteria.

Preparing Yourself

Preparing yourself is the last step in creating Career Fit. Once you know what you want and what you need, you can set (or reset) your expectations. For example, if you find you need a four-year degree in order to earn an interview with your target company, you have a choice to make: get the degree or change your target. If you need experience, then create it by taking on related roles or by volunteering and freelancing for projects that will both showcase the hard core skills employers want to see, and the soft skills that will demonstrate you can be a contributing member of a team or a consultant that helps clients reach the solutions they need to achieve.

Be Open

Discovering your Career Fit begins with you being open to the possibility and ends with you surrounding yourself with insightful, helpful people. Being open to the possibility means noticing what you’re good at, what you enjoy doing and/or why, and then taking on tasks that involve those elements. In some cases, it includes being open to take risks like relocating or working for a startup.

Read the final tip here.

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