What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Job Hunting

With the job hunting season well under way, I thought I would give a list of tips, tricks, and guiding principles I’ve learned from hunting both this season and seasons past. Most of this advice centers around finding a Product or SWE job, but I’m sure some of it applies to other industries as well.

Have a separate gmail account for applying to jobs. One of the most annoying things about being on the job hunt is the constant emails from companies. When you can be applying for up to 200+ jobs with tech companies, do yourself a favor and set up a separate account which you only check a few times a week. Seeing rejection email after rejection email come into the account you normally check can really put a strain on your mental health. Also, only have this account signed in on your computer, not your phone.

You’re going to get rejected 95% of the time; apply to as many jobs as possible. I remember when I was searching for my first real internship; I applied to about 20 jobs in the first week and got rejected by all of them. During the college process, I applied to about 20 colleges as well and got into about half of them. At first, I felt incredibly hopeless after not getting moving on with a single company. After reading more about the process, however, I realized that this rejection rate was normal so I kept my head down and ended up getting an internship with a company really liked. Related to this note, I remember getting advice from the Career Center to really focus on just a few roles. Ignore that: apply to as many jobs as possible.

Take a break from job boards every couple of weeks. It’s tempting to go with the strategy of “I’m going to apply to 5, 10, X amount of jobs every day” to boost your numbers. This can work for a period of time, but jobs boards really only refresh about once a month. What ends up happening (at least what happened with me) is I started applying to companies I really didn’t fit at just to hit my daily goal which led to me feeling burnt out. If you start seeing the early signs of burnout in yourself, I’d encourage you to take two or three weeks off and just don’t think about the job search.

Keep an excel spreadsheet of jobs you have applied for. I can’t stress this one enough: keep a simple google sheet or excel spreadsheet of the companies you applied for and your current application status with them. It can help you visualize how your search is going and also makes sure you don’t apply to the same job as well. Additionally, say you find a company you really like when you’re searching for an internship. You can check out the one I made for my summer 2020 internship search here.

Download Clipboard History Pro to have all of your links handy. Most jobs apps require various links: a link to your Linkedin, Github, Portfolio, Twitter, and/or personal website. I used to just keep all these tabs open in my browser while I applied to jobs until I heard about clipboard extensions which remember the last 100 things you’ve copied and pasted. I use Clipboard History Pro (no relation)

Only do cover letters for jobs you really want. Take this tip with a grain of salt. I usually tell people to never do cover letters and have refused to do them myself in the past. Now, I can see why they might be useful at smaller companies where there are less applicants as there is a greater chance they actually get read. I would say only write a cover letter for companies with less than 200 employees.

Written on September 22, 2020