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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:

Inforgraphic detailing what to examine during each stage of the job search.

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: Workflow depicting the 5 stages of the typical tech hiring process

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?

Woman in business suit walking outside corporate offices

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 skillset or your application 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 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.

Photo by Oxana Melis on Unsplash

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