Networking event: How to land a job at top tech companies

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In a market of ever changing dynamics, requirements and start-ups, how do established tech companies manage to find the right candidate to come work for them? As a candidate, are you doing anything different to catch the eye of the recruiters for these top tech companies?

I have been attending networking events in and around Melbourne since February 2015 to try to get a better understanding of the Melbourne tech market. Last month, I went to the ThoughtWorks Open Office event.

In March, I attended a networking event How to land a job at top tech companies and it was a very informative evening, hearing from talent seekers (be they CIOs, recruitment managers, HR or freelancers).
On a windy and cold Melbourne night, the General Assembly campus room made for an ideal casual setting. Around 100+ people with various skills and backgrounds attended the event.

Who was on the panel?

Chris Regan, Head of People Experience, Xero
Nigel Dalton, CIO, REA Group
James Law, HR Director, Envato
Shai Roitman, Talent Aquisition, Isobar
Ryan Blunden, Freelancer

What do tech companies look for in candidates?

You may think having tons of experience or knowing every skill there is will easily land you a job in a tech company. Sure, in some cases, that might just do the trick, but surprisingly, a large number of tech companies look for other things when it comes to recruiting good candidates.

The following 3 were discussed earnestly by the panel:

a. Constructed chaos – More often than not, a number of tech companies are looking for someone who can come in and make sense of the different things that happen in an organisation. Tech companies are looking for someone who can construct a meaningful picture out of chaos.
b. Cultural fit – Many candidates are increasingly getting rejected because they are not a cultural fit. It is important for a candidate to understand the team/organisation culture and to best demonstrate how they can fit within this.
c. Values – Another aspect that tech companies are interested in finding out what values the candidate brings to the organisation and in return, how closely these values are aligned with the company values?

So, do you have these skill-sets? Chances are, tech companies are looking for you more than ever before.

Skill-sets

Experience Design
Front end developers
Product Managers
Ruby developers
Data analysts
UX Designers
Developers iOs and Android

It’s a good thing to have the skills and knowledge of the market, but the million dollar question that was on everyone’s mind:

Where do tech companies look for talent/people?

Not surprisingly, LinkedIn is one of the most popular mechanism for recruiters to head-hunt for talent. Almost everyone on the panel agreed to having used LinkedIn when it came to looking for talent that matched their requirements. Even before some of the jobs were advertised anywhere. So, it pays to have a well constructed and effective LinkedIn profile.

Referrals also form a large part of recruitment, so it is important to know someone who knows someone you want to know. Tech companies are no different when it comes to offering rewards (some times up to $2000) for good referrals. The trick is to get to know people in companies where you’d like to work, which is where networking events come in very handy.
Along with this, popular sites such as Seek, MyCareer are frequently used for advertising opportunities and looking for suitable candidates.

Headhunting for candidates and using recruitment agencies form the fourth wheel of the recruitment wagon, so it is important to build effective networks where you can pick up information on upcoming opportunities.

Oh, and by the way, check out http://www.theloop.com.au if you want to build an online portfolio of your work and get some work coming your way in that manner.

Great, so, you’ve got a well-built LinkedIn profile and have an impressive Resume and a Cover letter, but are you doing anything different that will make you (and your skills) stand out from the rest of the competition.

Want to know a few handy tips on how to approach tech companies?

a. Do something different – Much as cliched this sounds, companies really notice when you approach them with something different than just the usual Resume and Cover Letter. Send a handwritten application maybe. Present your skills online. Create a short video and show how you could work in their environment.

b. Meetups – There are always people out there who want to socialise, talk and discuss common issues, fixes, tips and tricks. Join a meetup and attend one of the meetings to see what others in a similar role are doing differently (or not). Contribute by helping others solve their issues and get noticed by people who matter. Or better still, start a meetup.

c. Community networks – There are a large number of communities that thrive on sharing skills and knowledge. Even opportunities in some cases. See if you can get to know people and build a professional network of similarly skilled individuals.

That’s all good for people who want to get in to tech companies.

What would the panel say are traits that keep talented people there?

The panel members discussed the need to keep talented people in an organisation via various methods, be it be rewards or new challenges. As someone who wants to stay with a tech company, organisations crave for individuals who are hungry, passionate and want to keep learning. One panel member had a very interesting point to make about making time to read, even in the workspace. Far too often, as technical people, we tend to pick up bits of information to apply to a problem, but never go beyond that to understand the whole concept. The panel member advocates taking time out to read.

Soft skills and a good attitude are an absolute must to be able to keep performing in highly agile organisations. Plus, it is very important to keep having ongoing conversations about career with the organisation.

Where is the future going with tech companies?

A large number of panelists are organisations that have a strong online presence, either through their clients or via their products/services themselves. A lot of opportunities have sprung up in the mobile space, especially iOS and Android development.
Resultantly, this has created a lot of demand in design, product management and analysis areas.

And finally, 1 piece of advice from the panelists:

“Learn the fundamentals. Do what you love” – Ryan Blunden, Freelancer

“Get out there and meet people” – Chris Regan, Xero

“Have valuable conversations” – James Law, Envato

“Start a meetup” – Nigel Dalton, REA

“Don’t just work for money, do it for passion” – Shai Roitman, Isobar

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