Applying for jobs is a daunting process, for the inexperienced and veterans alike. Here in California, the unemployment rate is 9 percent, a bit higher than the national average of 7.5 percent (data from April). While this is the lowest unemployment rate the state has seen in five years, there are still plenty of capable, smart people on the hunt for a workplace to call home.
As a job seeker, you have personal priorities during your search, and the more flexible you are with those factors, the larger your pool of options will be. And a pool of good options is a must-have in a job search.
Some people know exactly what they want to do, others are uncertain. If you know what you want to do, great! Go find a company with a culture you can buy into, because that’s the lifeblood of an organization, and the reason you’ll stay for the long haul. If you don’t know what you want to do, eat or drink something with vitamin B12 (seriously) and consider your options.
What happens when you find a company that shares your passion and values, and casts a vision you embrace? First, dig deeper to find evidence that validates your initial instincts. If it still feels like a potential fit, then it’s time to throw your hat in the ring. Referrals are the VIP line of applications. If you have someone on the inside, ask them to put in a good word for you. If not, write a thoughtful and concise cover letter, and be persistent (but tactful) until you get a response.
The waiting game during an interview process is maddening if you’re uncertain about the future. That’s why you should ask questions, and reasonably set your expectations. If you have an understanding of an employer’s timeframe to fill a role, you’ll be less likely to react like Michael Corleone did when he seethed, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”
We have business side openings at DreamHost every so often, but this company was built by software developers, and continues to thrive because of our technical talent. That said, you could have a background that touches all of our needs from a technical perspective, and still not fit based on a values mismatch. Some people are driven by compensation, others by location. Others are motivated by the thrill or security they derive from their day-to-day, or by the company itself. That last factor unifies all of our employees –which is a big reason why we hired them in the first place!
If you’re seeking a new job, keep a positive outlook. Finding a job can be just as (ok, maybe more) taxing than working one, but with zero percent of the fulfillment – until you get an offer. If you let negative emotions creep in,, you could compromise your candidacy for a role you might be a tremendous fit for. I’m not saying looking at cat videos will make it all better…but it might.
Let’s recap. Unemployment is down to it’s lowest mark since 2008, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier to get a job today. It’s a candidate-driven market, particularly in IT, so it’s your goal to stand out from the crowd. Referrals are great, but creative and well-crafted cover letters are also important. Make sure you’re informed about the company so you don’t waste your time – or the employer’s. And timing is everything…you might be the exact employee a company deserves, just not the one it needs. Most important, make sure any potential employers are committed to upholding the ethos that drew you to them, and to sustaining an ecosystem that enables you to accomplish your goals.
This is a high level overview, so if you have specific questions, feel free to ask in the comments. And if you’d like to work for DreamHost, I hope to talk to you soon!
Chris Mueller – DreamHost Technical Recruiting Manager