Bessy Tam, Author at Life Into Tech by Bessy Tam | Page 2 of 3

All Posts by Bessy Tam

ONE Small Job Search Tweak That Landed Me Google (Against 50+ Candidates)

I know you've been applying to a lot of jobs. I know that you've opened hundreds of tabs in your browser throughout work just to research different companies and understand what they're looking for. 

Job descriptions, potential jobs.

Sharing My Journey Getting Into Tech


Hi everyone. I'm Bessy Tam, founder and the coach of www.InYour20s.com. I help smart driven creatives get into the tech companies so that they can get the lifestyle that they want and the career that they deserve.

So today I actually want to talk a little bit more about why I started this site. So for those of you who don't know, I'd been working at Google for quite some time, 4 or 5 years now. And I moved from Google Hong Kong here to Google Chicago.


I'm always super excited because there's just so much that I can do [in tech and Google] and I really want to talk a little bit more about my journey and struggles getting into tech from a marketing job of two years and what this job in tech provided me for my lifestyle and for my career towards my next steps.

"Things were very status quo... and people I worked with didn't have a lot of drive"

Before I got into Google, I was actually in marketing in Boston. I was helping a school  market themselves.

It was super small because it was a smaller business school and I was in their marketing office amongst maybe around 20 people.

 A lot of the people who were there would actually like leave very early. There's not a lot of drive. And to be honest, looking at who's working there now, it's still the same. So it's been a while, quite a while that they would just stay in the same job.

I see this a lot in my students as well [when I talk to them]. [Their companies are] just very status quo and the way that we approach things is very repetitive.

I didn't really have freedom to have, create new ideas, new campaigns or anything that a marketer would really want to strategize. And I think I found that as a clear struggle because I got back to Hong Kong to be closer to my family and I saw the situation amongst a lot of the different marketing companies that I saw.

As long as we tell you what to do, you don't really lead specific projects or really have a lot of opportunity to do what you want to drive, want to learn and to be super creative. 

"No one really teaches you how to get into the job search process.. within 10 months I applied to 100+  jobs"

It actually took me about 10 months to research and apply online.

No one really teaches you how to get into the job search process, right?

As usual, I would make my resume and then I would ask friends to take a look at it. Actually a huge challenge because  they weren't [working] in the industries I want to be in.

I think within 10 months I applied to 100+  jobs throughout these 10 months. Like it's just not the jobs I wanted.

And it was really frustrating because I know I have so much to offer and I just know that my potential is a lot bigger than [what the jobs offered]

"I just spent so much of my 24 hours waiting for responses... There wasn't even a no.. or rejections, it was just silence"

But thankfully my, I was staying with my parents (and that's pretty normal in Asia) [so that I didn't have to pay rent].

My parents didn't really rush me in, which I'm really thankful for. I was just rushing myself, being next to my phone all the time, seeing if I would get a call, checking my email like every day and having so much anxiety, so much.

I was, I was just miserable. And so that's why I started like working out and trying to find different ways to, to spend my time because I just spent so much of my 24 hours just waiting for responses, seeing my applications got any responses. 

There's not even a no... there wasn't even rejections. It was just silence. And it was super frustrating for me.

"I don't want people to go through the same thing...all of this could have been done way earlier if I had the right person to talk to and the right person to actually coach me through this."

And I finally figured out actually how to write cover letters and resumes that really speak to the audience because towards the end of the 10 months, around month nine, I got pretty much seven interviews within two weeks because of my approach.

The reason why I started the site is because I don't want people to go through the same thing. I don't want people to waste 10 months of their life like looking for a job because it's just so tough when in fact all of this could have been done way earlier if I had the right person to talk to and the right person to actually coach me through this.

More importantly, someone who was in the industry, specifically in tech.

"I didn't know that I wanted to be in the tech industry in the beginning because I never thought of myself as a technical person and never thought of myself to be smart enough to be in Google."

Actually I didn't know that I wanted to be in the tech industry in the beginning because I never thought of myself as a technical person and never thought of myself to be smart enough to be in Google.

Throughout 10 months, I actually applied online to Google twice!

But you know what? I applied to the wrong positions. Looking back into my email, I saw that it was like industry manager positions, which by the way takes like 10+ years experience.

I didn't know what to apply for [or what jobs are natural entry points for me into tech]. 

And then I met someone who actually used to work in Google and he coached me into: what they were looking for, what the culture is like and what exactly to say.

And that's when I realized you actually really need someone who's in the industry, who can actually guide you. So that's how I kind of, you know, teach my students to find someone who is in the company to talk to. 

So towards the end of the, the 10 months, like it became a way for me to restart.

"I would have been in a completely different space if I didn't have someone who knew me well, who knew my background, knew my experiences to be able to tell me these things. "

I only applied, I say "apply" but it was technically like a referral to two roles, and I got both of those just because I spent 10 months researching and tweaking and finally meeting these people to get me into these jobs.

But in the end that all of that could have been done within a month or two.

And that's what frustrates me the most. And that's why I started this site to help people have the tools and strategies. Most importantly, to find this specific job that really fits their profile, what they wanna do and is able to link that to a tech company.

And then I would have been in a completely different space if I didn't have someone who knew me well, who knew my background, knew my experiences to be able to tell me these things.

 That's like my story, my struggles.

"I know it's frustrating. I know that you're thinking about this every day, morning till night, dreading to wake up in the morning and in survival mode."

 If you really want to speed up your process,  I know you've been applying to a lot of jobs.

I know that you've opened hundreds of tabs in your browser throughout work just to research different companies and understand what they're looking for. Job descriptions, potential jobs.

I know it's frustrating. I know that you're thinking about this every day, morning til night, dreading to wake up in the morning and in survival mode. I know that and I, I've been through that in the beginning of my process.

[All I] want is to help you get to the job that you really deserve. 

Get Clarity on Your Strategy in 30 Minutes

If you're seriously ready about this, I would suggest you to book a call with me. You know, just to understand your situation, your challenges and plan it out.

 I can help you get some clarity. What are your next milestones? What should you be doing on a weekly, monthly basis in order to get to your goal.

So book a call!

I'll link the calendar below so that you can, you can look, check out some times. Honestly, it's going to be 30 minutes, an hour, however much time you want.

And of course if you like what we talk about, I'm always here to help coach you because I have a lot of students who get referrals and jobs from Lyft, Facebook, Google, Instacart, all these different places and get interviews as quickly as in 2 weeks.

And I've seen this happen without them even applying online because it's so strategic, such an awesome way to approach this and only applicable in the tech industry.

So make sure you check it out below. There is a specific link to do that. Even you can even email me at bessy@bessytam.com.

I'm here to help. 

Let me know if you have any questions and I'll see you in the next video!

2

30 Smarter Questions You Can Ask the Interviewer (and Why)

Interviewing is like playing a friendly game of tennis.

You get served the ball by your friendly opponent hoping that you can return it back well. 

What does it mean to hit a great response back?

  1. The Recruiter/HR Manager actually enjoys the game
  2. The Recruiter/HR Manager can actually play the ball back
  3. The question or answer you're hitting back is intriguing and has material he/she can react back to

Imagine if the hiring manager or recruiter is "carrying the weight" of the game, hitting a great ball to you, giving you a great entry point to answer, but you're only able to "receive it" and not respond back with substance. 

Wouldn't that be boring to the hiring manager? Wouldn't that create a disproportionate weight on you just "answering questions" vs making it more conversational?

Why People Fail At Tech Interviews and What to Do

That's why it's important for you to ask quality questions - to be able to actively play a friendly game of tennis. To show curiosity and hold a 50/50 relationship and a 50/50-weighted conversation. 

Previously, I talked about how curiosity is the #1 reason  people fail at tech interviews. I know this because I've interviewed dozens of candidates in my job at Google. And I also know this because I've truly tested my methodologies personally as well, which got me 100% interview to offer ratios for tech jobs.

You can show curiosity by:

  • Doing your homework - research about the role, the company, and the interviewer that you will meet with
  • Actively listening  - lean in during your interview on the edge of your seat and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Don't slump back on your chair, it just makes you look uninterested.
  • Taking notes - remember what the interviewer says and write down notes. Not only will it show the interviewer you're truly interested in what they're saying, you can also write down the 'keywords" that they say so that you connect your answers back to what they said.
  • Asking the right questions - you'll usually have time to ask questions at the end. You can also ask questions after you answer one of the interview questions if you see that there's an opportunity.

Don't Let This Small Thing Undermine Your Chances

The challenge is, if you don't do any of the above, especially  asking great questions, the interviewer might think you're not that interested or not prepared.

Questions like - "How are the benefits at Facebook?" just won't cut it.

That was actually the worst question I've ever gotten as an interviewer and I immediately decided I didn't want her.

It just shows you're not strategic in your ways of working. In my mind as an interviewer, I wonder - how does this translate to his/her work in the workplace? Are they just a data monkey and just does what they're told? Or are they proactive and curious?

It also infers that you don't care about solving the company or team's problems  (which is why a person is hired anyway).. You only care about getting a job.

When in the Interview Prep Process do you prep your questions?

Now that you know why it's important, when are you supposed to prep your questions?

When I prep my students for interviews these questions can be written down after we have a full 25 to 30-page prep doc done. 

This 30-page prep doc includes information about:

  • Who we're meeting
  • Interesting traits of those people for talking points
  • Information about the company, role, and culture that we need to keep in mind
  • 25+ interview questions and answers that can predict 99% of what the interviewer asks - I call this the "Plug and Play" approach
  • and lastly questions we want to ask for each interviewer.

If you want to learn more about the 5 Most Common Questions that Tech Interviews ask and How to Answer them, subscribe below. This is ONE section out of my 7-day FREE Email Course if you're interested.

ANSWER THE TOP TECH INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
ERROR-FREE AND WITH CONFIDENCE — EVERY TIME

7 Smarter Strategies to Make You Stand Out Against Competitors

The key is to think through your strategy:

  1. What are the most important 2-3 things you need to learn about this role in order for you to make an educated decision about this role? You usually only have 30 minutes with an interviewer. 
  2. How can you distribute the 1-2 things you need to learn among different people you'll be interviewing with? You'll typically have 3 to 4 interviews that are back-to-back for tech with different managers, people in that role, one HR/Recruiter, and maybe one person who sits outside of that hiring team but works closely with the role.
  3. Who is it that you're talking to and who can best answer that question? Eg. Don't ask questions about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role you're going for to the VP or senior manager of the team. 
  4. Make sure questions are open-ended like "How.." "Why.." "Can you tell me more about...". That's how you keep the tennis game going instead of a "yes or no" question.
  5. Say "Out of Curiosity.." or give a short reasoning before you ask a question if you feel the question is too abrupt or interrogating. The last thing you want is for the interviewer to not be able to answer a question or think you're too aggressive. Giving a reasoning can help soften your approach.
  6. Use follow-up questions - Don't go through a laundry list of quesitons for an interviewer. Those only provide surface level answers. Instead, ask follow-ups like :"You mentioned XYZ. Would you mind elaborating more about that?" or "Tell me more about.." or "Why do you say that?"
  7. Use follow-up answers - Don't just let the interviewer answer your question and let the ball drop (literally and figuratively!). Write down the key points that the interviewer said and match those back to your experiences. For example if you're asking them about traits of an ideal candidate for the role and they mentioned they wanted "someone with experiences influencing both A-level and C-Suite clients." After you've asked follow-up questions and gotten more depth (about 1 to 2 minutes), you can then respond back "that's interesting, because I've had experiences influencing both A-level and C-Suite clients too!" Then you proceed to tell your example or story by using the STAR Method.

In the end, you want to ask questions because it shows that you're curious and also because you want to make the best educated decision about a job. Job descriptions only tell you <5% of what a job entails. 

The last thing you want is to join a company in a job that isn't what you expected (very common), thus waste your own time as well as the company/team's time, and need to look for a job again.

What you want is a job or company that you can work in for 4 to 5 years, to be able to grow you career and learn.

The 30 Smarter Questions You Can Ask An Interviewer

  1. How does the success of this role ladder up to your role?
  2. Can you tell me what a typical day looks like in this role?
  3. What does an ideal candidate look like for you?
  4. If you were working with a [Title of Role], what's one advice you would tell him/her to succeed?
  5. What does success look like for a [Title of Role] ?
  6. How do [Title of Role] often fail in the company? 
  7. What's the #1 Challenge the team/business/company is facing?
  8. What's the biggest opportunity the team/business/company foresees in the next 2 to 3 years?
  9. How do you think the culture of this team or company is different from other tech companies?
  10. What do you like best about working for this company?
  11. Out of all the candidates you've interviewed or seen in the system, what's one thing that makes me stand out and one thing that I may lack or need improvement on?
  12. What are the next steps in the process and is there any information you would need from me to help you make a better decision?
  13. What are your goals for the next  half-year and how does this role contribute to those?
  14. Given what you know about me, is there anything missing in my portfolio or experiences that may hinder my opportunity to move forward as a candidate?
  15. Do you have any feedback for me?
  16. I know you've worked at XYZ company before, how has your experiences in this company differ and what prompted you to make the jump?
  17. I know you've worked as a XYZ role before, how has your experiences in this role differ and what prompted you to make the jump?
  18. I know you've worked in XYZ country before in the same company, how has your experiences here differ and what prompted you to make the jump?
  19. Tell me about a great  [Title of Role] you've worked with, what made working with him/her amazing?
  20. What is the structure of the team like and how do the different roles ladder up to the wider goal?
  21. What is the typical career path for someone in this role?
  22. What does the first 30-60-90 days look like in this role?
  23. Given how rapidly the industry is changing, what are one or two things you wish you knew or had skillsets for when you first started in your role?
  24. Out of curiosity, why did the previous person who filled this role leave?
  25. Since you've been in different teams in the same role, how is this team different from others?
  26. I know this team/company/role/office is new - what prompted this creation and what are the expectations for success for this team/company/role in the next few years?
  27. Who do you work with on a day to day basis and how does your role ladder to their successes?
  28. How do you foresee your role as well as this role change in the next few years?
  29. I read about XYZ news, how has this impacted your role, the business, and the wider company?
  30. How has this role changed in the past 5 years?


Tell me, which of the smarter questions did you ask in your tech interview and what was the result?

ANSWER THE TOP TECH INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
ERROR-FREE AND WITH CONFIDENCE — EVERY TIME

VIDEO: The Perfect Cover Letter

I get this question a lot - Do I need a cover letter? What does a great cover letter look like?

Intro

Today's topic is about cover letters. What is a cover letter? What is inside of the cover letter if you need to write one and the exact process exact on how to research and build the perfect cover letter.

And this video actually screenshares one of the coaching calls that I have with my student, Angela, to prepare for her a referral into Square. She got the opportunity to get a referral from one of the informational interviews that she had gotten through the strategies that I taught her.

So first off, if you want to learn about that, feel free to go back to my channel, to search for informational interview or the five questions you should ask for informational interview in order to understand that process.

Why Should You Listen to Me?

I've  helped a lot of students get referrals, interviews and job offers at companies like Lyft, Facebook, Google, L2, Uber, and you name it. This is something that  I'm super passionate about not only because I'm in tech right now, seeing first-hand how applicants and friends struggle to get a job in tech. But also because this is something I actually went through myself before, moving from marketing into tech.

So if you like the content today, please make sure to subscribe below and get the very special bonus I saved for you - the exact template I use to teach my student how to create a cover letter. and two real life cover letters I helped my students write that got them interviews (beyond recruiters phone screens) in those specific roles.

Subscribe to Get the Exact Template to Write the Perfect Cover Letter and Get 2 FREE BONUSES.. Real-Life Cover Letters That Got My Students Their Interviews:

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is basically the introduction that you send to the hiring manager or recruiter or anyone who is the actual the recipient to decide whether or not they should do a phone call interview or the initial screening with you.

This can also work whether it's after the first or second interviews just because they want to get to know you.

Essentially it's an introduction and an email for you to say, "Hello, I am Bessy, I'm an Account Manager at Google and I specialize in these, these, these areas in marketing or in finance, whatever field you are in. And then you can showcase different traits as to why you're a perfect candidate."

Do you Need a Cover Letter?

So one of the few misconceptions that my students or anyone that I talk to would have is whether or not you would need a cover letter. 

First off, you make an impression to somebody within 6 seconds. And this is a scientific fact, someone actually makes a judgment of you within 6 seconds. Most people actually don't do cover letters and I've seen that when I interview candidates both when I was in Google Hong Kong as well as here in Google Chicago. I see that and it gives me an impression that they weren't willing to go to the next step, right? They weren't willing to kind of customize their approach and tell us why they're a great fit. Maybe they're just blasting their resume, I don't know.

But when you do have a resume and a cover letter, it really leaves a great impression even though it's only a six second view of the candidate or six second view of you.

Secondly, that's why I always say that with my strategies. You actually don't need to apply to a hundred different companies and blast it, and basically wish that your interview will come in. That's really tiring, right?

With my strategies, it's always a very strategic approach where  my student Angela would basically get a referral opportunities and therefore craft a cover letter based off of those conversations. So if you haven't seen those videos, make sure you do that. it's on my channel to talk about why you should have informational interviews and different questions that you can ask during information interviews. So using that information that you've learned about the company and basically in the, in the next 15 minutes or so [in the video] you'll be seeing exactly how I walk through with Angela on how to research and use the information that she got from the information interview as well as information online to craft the best cover letter.

My Advice For You

In the end, it's very important to customize your story through cover letters because every company and every team are very different. So your cover letter has to be directed specifically to that role and specifically to that team. If you don't it, the recruiters can feel it and they can see that it's a, it's a one size fit all approach and they don't really have idea that you understand what they want or that you're really into the job by itself.

By doing the research (like I do in the video)  you will be able to save yourself a lot of time and also be able to ensure that you have a very, very high chance of getting the interview, even passing the interviews because you know exactly what they want and what the company is about.

So without further ado, you've learned about what it is. Why is it important, why it's important to do research. Watch the video to see exactly how I walked Angela through the research process. Again, make sure you su you do to stick around to the end so that you can get the exact template that I provide my students on making the perfect cover letters.

Subscribe to Get the Exact Template to Write the Perfect Cover Letter and Get 2 FREE BONUSES.. Real-Life Cover Letters That Got My Students Their Interviews:

VIDEO: 6 Questions To Ask In An Informational Interview

Informational Interviews are important is because you want to use this opportunity to not only get a foot in the door to understand more about what the company culture is like, what products they are using, what kind of candidate that they want, but also for them to get to know you a little bit more.

Informational Interviews will also save you months, even years of agony working in a company and role you didn't actually want. It was also save you hours of useless research online by allowing you to learn exactly what the company and team is looking for.

Transcript:

Hi, this is Bessy Tam from InYour20s.com, a career platform and coaching service to help you get into tech. So today I will talk a bit more about the 5 or 6 questions that you can ask in an informational interview.

So What is an Informational Interview?

It's not an official interview that you have with the company, but a conversation that you can have with someone who's on the team or even the hiring manager of the desired position that you're going to go for in this company.

Now, the objective of this chat or sometimes I would say coffee chat is for you to learn a little bit more about what they mean, but also for them to get to know you a little bit more as a friend or acquaintance in a casual setting before you even go into the formal process.

The reason why this is really important is because you want to use this opportunity to not only get a foot in the door to understand more about what the company culture is like, what products they are using, what kind of candidate that they want, but also for them to get to know you a little bit more.

We all know that a tech company really values referrals and there's always a finite amount of, of referrals that a friend of yours, let's say in Facebook or in Google can refer you, right?

So informational chats will allow you to get into the process or get in front of the teammates without really wasting your referral or application. And then once you know it's a good fit and understand what the team wants, then you can maybe get a higher chance to get into the team or the company through the formal process.

The Reason Why this is Really Important

The reason why this is really important is because you want to use this opportunity to not only get a foot in the door to understand more about what the company culture is like, what products they are using, what kind of candidate that they want, but also for them to get to know you a little bit more.

We all know that a tech company really values referrals and there's always a finite amount of, of referrals that a friend of yours, let's say in Facebook or in Google can refer you, right?

So informational chats will allow you to get into the process or get in front of the teammates without really wasting your referral or application. And then once you know it's a good fit and understand what the team wants, then you can maybe get a higher chance to get into the team or the company through the formal process.

So I have a little story to tell you before I jump into the questions to ask in the informational interview itself.

Informational interviews are actually the way that I got all of my jobs after my very first job.

And from what I know out in the market, the best career navigators and the most successful people actually don't really apply. They don't apply after the first job that they have in the market because no matter what it is, it's all about the networking and the people that you know.

So, instead of going through the route that everyone else goes through, search online, to find the right jobs, to find the right company and just apply and be amongst a thousand people, they would actually talk to find a way to talk to the right teammates, right people to understand more and then cut the line. And that's what informational interviews are here to help you for.

So that happened to me, especially when I was interviewing for a digital marketing position that was managing  the Asia Pacific region, which is a huge deal. That's 7 different countries I would have managed! Also when I actually moved to Google Chicago for this role that I'm doing right now.

And, just a disclaimer, you know, everything was video is based off of my own opinion, not of my companies, but I, I'm really passionate about helping people because I know how much informational interviews actually helped me.

"And for both of those jobs that I got offers for, I was fighting against candidates that were both internal and external of about 50 to 100 of them!"

So before I got into Google Chicago, or before I got the offer for the first job, I actually did informational interviews with probably 4 or 5 people on the team to understand more about what they want. And for both of those jobs that I got offers for, I was fighting against candidates that were both internal and external of about 50 to 100 of them!

If you think about it, I moved from Hong Kong to Chicago. There were other US candidates that were here for this job, ready to start! Instead, I got it and my manager had to wait 4 months for me to arrive to the US just because I have the exact skillsets and I built the rapport to showcase what I can do for them and for their business.

The 5 Different Questions that you can ask during informational interviews

So without further ado, I'm going to teach you 5 or 6 different questions that you can ask during the informational interview to really understand the wider landscape and questions of the team. 

Introduce Yourself

So first of all, you're going to introduce yourself. This is super important and you have to approach it the same way that you would approach an interview. My general rule is each introduction should only be 30 seconds to a minute. I've interviewed people before myself and I've seen some very terrible, introductions. Some even went over 40 minutes, which is crazy.

So what you want to do is say, Hey, I'm Bessy Tam. I'm currently an account manager at Google Chicago. I specialize in x, Y, z. So I would say, um, measurement as well as brand marketing for large companies in the hotel and retail space. 

And then you can break down exactly what you do. Um, I currently work on such such such projects. Then you talk about, what you're looking for. So I, I'm looking to take my skill sets on a wider level, um, and focus on a large client and help grow the business. Um, I truly think that Google has a great fit and I'd be able to apply my sales, marketing as well as measurements, product experiences to the team. 

So essentially by the end of it, you want to focus on the role and what you're going for so that you can showcase how you can help them instead of just focusing on yourself.

Question 1: "What is Your Ideal Candidate Like For This Role?"

So the first question you could ask is, um, what is, what is your ideal candidate like for this role? So assuming that you have a role in mind that you're going to talk about for this informational interview, this is a question that you guys can to the different teammates in the company, in that specific team for that role. 

Don't ask someone else who is outside of that role, just so you can understand more about the specific qualities that they're looking for or skillsets. The reason why this is important is because they'll probably list out three or four qualities that they want. 

For example, when I went for the previous role that I got an offer for that regional, they were saying that they needed someone with a very broad digital background, they needed someone who had ecommerce experience and then they also talked about, someone who, who can collaborate really well and influence others both on the c level as well as on a day to day level.

So during the informational interview, if they say that, then you marked down those three qualities and then you can explain to them, "oh, that's great. I'm glad you're looking for someone who has global experience. And also e-commerce. I actually happened to have those experiences. For example, my previous client was x, Y, Z and I helped them grow the ecommerce websites, revenue from this number to this number through search marketing, Facebook marketing as well as video advertisement overall." 

It's like a game of tennis, you want to be able to hit the ball back to their court after they tell you what they wanted so that you can kind of keep it a conversation and instead of them just talking the whole time. 

Question 2: "What is the Team Dynamic Like Within the Team? What Other Teams Do You Work With?

Second question you can ask is, what is the team dynamics like within the team and what other teams do you work with?

So the reason why you want to ask this is because you can follow up with specific questions later on. What is the working styles of the teams? How does your role different from others in various countries? What is the different working models between different groups and then most importantly, the last question you should follow up on is how does this specific role ladder up to your success and various teams' successes.

The reason why is you want to be able to pinpoint how this role fits into the larger picture of the different team dynamics and understand in a social ladder or influential setting, how important and how, how this role can solve their business challenges and collaborate well with others.

"So this is a very important question I asked when I talked to both of the offers that I got and is exactly the reason why I didn't take the first offer"

So this is a very important question I asked when I talked to both of the offers that I got and is exactly the reason why I didn't take the first offer was because I understood that the digital, the regional role didn't have as much power as or as much, um, decision making power the as I wanted to have in order to make the projects I had in mind happen for the countries.

So these are little things that you can ask to understand more about their dynamics and how you can influence in this role.

Question 3: "What Is Your Current Business Challenge?"

Then of course, the third question you can ask is what is your current business challenge? 

The reason why you want to understand this is you want to showcase that you're here to think about the business as a whole. You're here to understand them holistically and not only just go for the role by itself. 

For example, if the business challenge is something that is very specific and you feel like you cannot make an impact or is very hard to change, then it might not be the right thing. So, for example, if you're going for a company that is clearly dying like a Blockbuster or something and you understand that their business challenge is the industry is changing, then your follow-up questions would be, are there new products that are, you are trying to launch for or how are you solving these issues?

On the other hand, if you think that the business challenge is actually very interesting and something you can solve for you can talk about your experiences doing the same thing. 

For example, you can say that I have a similar experiences solving your business challenge of growing an e-commerce platform. And then you can talk about your experiences, um, and match it back to them the same way you did in the previous question. 

Question 4: "What Do You Think Are the biggest opportunities for the business?"

Next question. The fourth question would be, what do you think are the biggest opportunities for the business?

The fun thing about this question is they'll probably identify 2 or 3 biggest opportunities, and you can kind of understand how your position or your experiences can help accelerate those opportunities.

You can even ask follow up questions that would include how are different teams contributing to these opportunities. "Are there specific roles or a specialization within the team that helps ladder up to these opportunities?"

For example, when I did the informational interviews for this role in Chicago, I understood that they wanted different teammates to have products specializations and what they were lacking with someone who had measurement experience. And therefore I could say, "Oh, that's great!  I've actually done something that's similar to that opportunity. Would you want me to share more about it?" Actually, don't even ask them. Just tell them I've accomplished something like that before in x, Y, z experience in the past. And in the end, the result was this. It was awesome."

That's one way you can hit the tennis ball back to their side

Or there's a 2nd way to do so saying, "Hey, actually I have some ideas about those opportunities! Here are a few things that I was thinking about when I was looking at and doing some research on your business and the company."

So by pitching your ideas you can be more proactive and showcase sort of a plan that you're thinking about to make sure that they understand that you're really forward looking and you're trying to here to help solve their business problems. 

In the end, an employee is there to help solve business problems. Just the same way as the company is, is solving the individual's problems by giving them a job, right? And giving them something to really interesting to work on in these tech companies. 

Question 5: "Based On What You Know About My Experiences, Is there anything you think is missing where I can fill the gaps?"

And then five, I think this is super important question to ask. A lot of people are hesitant to ask this in other companies. For traditional companies I would say aren't necessarily as open to this specific question.

But then in tech companies, I would say completely go for this because tech companies want to know that you are very willing to learn. 

So the question would be, based on what you know about my experiences, is there anything you think is missing where I can fill the gaps? So this showcases that you are very aware of what you have and that there's always improvements for you to grow and that you're essentially open to feedback because tech companies love it when their employees are in a great team environment that can ask for feedback and continue to grow. 

So if they identify with those specific traits, then you can hit the ball back to them and say, that's great to know. Thank you for the feedback. I actually thought of the same thing before and I've signed up for this certification to get that product knowledge or I've actually done this, this, this, and these projects and plan to grow those skillsets in the company if I were a teammate of yours or if I were to go through all the interview processes to grow in this, these three steps. 

So it shows that you're very proactive but also willing to grow. And it just shows that you're laid back and not necessarily defensive or frantic about your position in the job market

So it shows that you're very proactive but also willing to grow. And it just shows that you're laid back and not necessarily defensive or frantic about your position in the job market, that you're a very secure person and it's always nice to talk to someone in that way in an informational interview especially to give a good perception or understanding. 

Question 6: "Are there Other people within the team or within the company who have similar roles that I can talk to?"

And lastly, what you want to get out of the informational chat is to get more chats. So by the end of it, once the 20 or 30 minutes is done and you have good notes, you can say, you know, is there anything more that we're missing or we should chat about? Then you can also say, most importantly is there, are there other people within the team or within the company who have similar roles that I can talk to, to understand more about the specific role that I'm looking for or that we're talking about here?

The reason why is because you want to be able to get a holistic understanding. Informational interviews are only one-sided as long as you only have one person. So ideally you would have three to four people that you chat with on that team or in a similar role to understand.

So one of the things that I made a decision on with the other offer that I got for the regional role was I asked actually for someone who had a similar title for me to chat with. And that particular person who was managing the European market. I talked to her and understood what she was doing on a day-to-day basis. What was her role like? How does her role ladder up to the wider team business challenges as well as opportunities? And therefore, I can visualize exactly whether I want it to be in her, his or her shoes, you know, for this specific role that I was applying for.

And I eventually understood that I did not want that. And it gives you a clearer picture instead of jumping into the company and deciding that, "Oh my gosh, this is like not exactly what I wanted. I need to find a job again." And that's just very, very stressful for you. 

Conclusion

So I hope this was really helpful!

Please comment below what specific questions you have asked in in informational interviews or any questions that you have for me. I always read the comments. 

Otherwise, feel free to jump to inyour20s.com to subscribe and get my free 7-day email course. Then I can walk you through more tips and tricks such as: Resume Revamp worksheets, interview questions that are mostly asked in tech interviews, as well as a career exploration worksheet that you can understand more about whether tech is right for you, so make sure you go to InYour20s.com or comment below.

I always look forward to seeing you guys in the following video!

VIDEO: Why you didn’t get the job & what to do about it

It hurts. You didn’t get your dream job and you’re wondering why?!

You KNOW you have the right credentials.

You KNOW you will do 3X better than anyone this company hires for this position.

You KNOW you’re made for this position - blending in with the company culture, acing the work itself, matching the team dynamics, or fitting in with what the industry needs.

And that’s why it’s so frustrating when you didn’t get the position.

I’ve been there before… and I remember like it was yesterday, as if I got punched hard in my stomach.

I basically got a manager/operations role at a PR firm when I got back to Hong Kong, after I’ve done 2 years of PR/SEO/Marketing in Boston. I got the role and was even going to manage people. However after a week of bliss and celebrations, the job got revoked without any reasoning at all. And I was once again “jobless.”

I was devastated.

"I felt ashamed."

And I definitely felt a mix of emotions:

  • I felt ashamed - not only because I might’ve announced my job to everyone that I knew, but also because I really thought I had it. I was going to kill it at this new position.
  • I felt like I didn’t get a good shot at it - it’s like.. I didn’t even get a chance to show them all the amazing things that I could do for them!
  • Most importantly, I thought I was doomed - because I couldn’t get this position, I felt like there was no chance I’d get any job better than this.

Luckily, I always trusted that things happened for a reason and listened to my dad’s advice (who was a business founder and CXO).

He said, “If a company rejects you, it’s not a reflection of how qualified you are. In fact, it’s opposite, it’s a reflection of what they’re looking for at that very moment. This has nothing to do with you at all.”

[translated from Cantonese.. And probably not an exact translation but you get what i mean haha]

“If a company rejects you, it’s not a reflection of how qualified you are. In fact, it’s opposite, it’s a reflection of what they’re looking for at that very moment. This has nothing to do with you at all.”

I really took it to heart because I respect him so much. And this really paid off within a day or two I got back up on my feet as if nothing happened. This perspective and these crazy experiences only led me to something better.

Within a hard 5+ month journey looking for more jobs, I learned that tech was a great fit for me and eventually landed my job at Google.

I’ve interviewed dozens of people since I’ve started working at Google and have built this platform InYour20s.com to help people get into tech.

Most importantly, I wanted to share behind-the-scenes why people don’t get the jobs they want - both from my personal experiences applying for jobs as well as my professional experiences interviewing candidates in tech.

2 Reasons Why You Didn’t Get the Job and What You Can Do About It:

#1 There’s a specific set of skillsets that the team needs that unfortunately you wouldn’t be able to offer.

Let’s say you’re going for an Account Manager role in Facebook and there happened to be one open role that served retail/e-commerce clients.

Looking at the job description, it may seem like a “normal Account Manager role” servicing clients. While tech companies love people who are well-rounded and showcase different skillsets, the team might be looking for something specific to balance out their team dynamics/specializations.

For example, the team might be looking for..:

  • Someone who has extensive retail/e-commerce experiences externally.
  • Someone who has extensive Facebook advertisement optimization experiences from an agency.
  • Someone who has a particular skillsets or specialization in performance marketing
  • Someone who has experiences in brand marketing
  • Someone who has a background in TV advertisement
  • And the list goes on...

The key takeaway here is that you JUST WON’T KNOW what they’re specifically looking for unless you talk to them! There’s a slim chance you can “guess” your way into a job. And you can only do that if you have all-the-above checked and be able to wiggle your way into it.

But that only happens if you’re already in the industry or already in tech.

Before I went through interviews for Google Hong Kong, I had informational interviews with the vendor company (I was hired as a temp/contract worker) to understand what the company was looking for. This was scrappiness, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a huge willingness to sell.

He was able to lay their needs out for me before I went through 4 rounds of interviews.

Before I went through interviews for Google Chicago (yes, you have to interview formally even when transferring internally), I chat informally with 3-4 people on the team to understand what they needed. This was a specific marketing measurement knowledge and experiences selling/influencing large customers.

They were all able to lay their needs/challenges out for me before I went through 4 rounds of interviews.

That’s why I always tell my students you HAVE TO talk to the people on the team and get information interviews!

Learn more about how to Ace your (tech) interview

#2 Your timing is off.

Jobs are increasing in the tech market. 67% of tech and engineering hiring decision makers said they want to increase headcount in 2019 (Modis).

While this is the case, getting the right candidates is harder than ever. Tech companies have to ensure they’re still rigorous and specific in their interviewing process in order to hire the right fit and maintain retention, but also be able to fill the open role ASAP.

The key to this is to be ready when openings come up. It’s almost too late when you see your dream tech job opening online.

Why?

1) A pipeline is already being built before the job was posted externally - Tech companies usually open roles to the “internal system” first. This way, they can see if there are enough people looking and interviewing for the job before they get a huge wave of candidates with scattered skillsets. 

When I finally went through the formal interview process for Google Chicago, I was one of 50 internal candidates applying for the job.

2) They might have a particular person in mind - The people who succeed in getting into tech would have talked to dozens and dozens of people in various tech companies before roles are open.

It’s not about what you know, but who you know.

You need to be top of mind and have made a lasting impression for them to consider you among the 100+ “pieces of paper” aka resumes they receive.

I met my Google Chicago manager through having a coffee 6 months before I formally went through the interviews. The same way I had my informational interview before joining Google Hong Kong.

3) The role has just been open for too long - I helped someone go through a tech interview process recently but another candidate was just too far down the interview process.

If someone is a 75% fit that is in the last round of interviews vs another person who is a 99% fit just applying, there’s a high chance the company or team cannot wait for 2+ months before getting someone on board.

Hiring is the #2 most difficult thing tech companies face (Forbes). We faced the same thing when we had to fill 50% of our 9-person Google Chicago team. It took us 5 months. And I was doing 2-3 people’s jobs while recruiters and our managers were scrambling to find the right fit with complementary skillsets.

Every team goes through a 3-4 year cycle of teammates leaving, this is normal. But when the time comes, we just have to make a decision.

If timing is your issue the case, what should you do about it?

Start your “referral process” early! If you have people you’ve chat with through reaching out on LinkedIn, friends of friends, or the alumni network, you’ll be able to find out exactly what the teams’ need and when they’re hiring.

I knew about the 2 Google Chicago roles opening 6 MONTHS before the roles even EXISTED.

Headcount in a tech company is almost like a value that is gifted from the managerial “gods,” especially in large tech firms. You get headcount like you get gold stars in middle school - you know when they are given, and why - whether it’s because of a client need (aka your parent talked to your teacher during the parent-teacher conference) or whether it’s because you did well.

This way, you can get the inside scoop instead of getting the generic external messages after you’ve applied like this one:

You’re like WUHHHH??

Instead of not knowing what exactly they’re looking for, why you got the message, and who the team even IS.

You can get someone inside to talk to the manager/team directly and find out what exactly the team is looking for quickly. See example below for someone I was looking to refer:

You find out exactly what they need and might be able to hop on the phone with them too.

Only the team will be able to tell you what they need. Only the team will be able to convey their current business challenges and how this role would help them. And only the team will be able to communicate whether your background is exactly what they’re looking for. If not, they’d at least have you in mind or refer you to another team that might be a better fit.

I know it’s easier to just apply and go to the interview hoping you’d get it. But I can promise you, the hours of preparation and chatting with people months before the interview is worth it.

This way, you can match your experiences and answers to exactly what they need during the interview, instead of shooting in different directions within the 15-30 minutes of time you have with the interview and hope for the best.

I can almost guarantee you, you can even get the job without applying with this method.

Tell me, if you’ve ever had an experience getting rejected. Why do you think YOU didn’t get the job? Comment below.

Love,

Bessy

PS Did you know you could get direct help from me  instead of reading dozens and dozens of articles, not knowing where to START your job search process? Schedule a free assessment here with me so that we can get you the dream tech job you deserve ASAP!

From Non-Profit to Tech – Siobhan’s Story

Bessy's help has been tremendous. I couldn't be happier with what my resume looks like right now and I can't wait to share some bits of it with you all. Thank you so much Bessy! I really appreciate that you took the time to hear me out and actually guide me through the whole process. I really feel that, you know life, in my twenties as in so scary anymore.

In Siobhan's Own Words:

I spent countless hours googling how I could fix my resume on the Internet, but it turned out all I needed was Bessy. Bessy was super helpful and was able to take out a lot of the guesswork and really have concrete things to say about my resume and we could figure out how to reword  things together.

Bear in mind that the Resume Revamp package is not having Bessy do your resume for you. It's a collaborative open process where you can bounce ideas off of each other and figure out what you like in your current job and how you can advance in your career.

I'm really excited that she gave me tips on how to communicate with my coworkers and my supervisor and it's made my life and worked much easier. After reading through the blog posts on InYour20s.com I was super interested and I knew I just had to talk to Bessy.

I sent her an email and we scheduled a time to chat over Google Hangouts.

We spent around an hour, an hour and a half, talking about my career goals, our backgrounds and  how tech companies operate. I work in a nonprofit currently and I love it, but I'm always curious to know what it's like working for a tech company, especially since I live in Seattle.

It was super great and we got to connect and  think about whether I would like to pursue a different type of career in the next couple of years and how I could  work on my resume currently and build up skills.

In the future if I do decide to move to tech that I can have a better chance of getting in.

The process again by sending Bessy a couple of versions of my recipe. I went deep deep into my Google drive and found versions of my resume 2014 before I had graduated from college, 2016 after I graduated from college, and a current draft that I was working on.

We went deep into my career history. We talked about each job and internship that I've ever had - what I liked about it, what I didn't like about it, and the projects that I've done.

It was really useful to dive deep into my skills and figure out how I can present myself as a great candidate.

Apart from actually working on a new resume, I was very interested in learning more about Bessy's experiences working in tech and also how I could make myself a better candidate for future job applications and grow in my career. Bessy has really great work life balance - something that I would really love to emulate.

I met Bessy through Instagram's Crazy Rich Asians Hashtag. I was browsing through the hashtag after I had done an interview with Henry Golding and John M. Chu and I wanted to see what other types of interviews that they've done and I found Bessy's picture with them.  It was super cool!

So I found out that Bessy works at Google, she loves to travel, she loves to eat, and she's from Hong Kong. So I was interested in her life and actually clicked the link in her bio and found her website InYour20s.com.

It came at a great time because I was  thinking about seeking out help from a career coach and thinking about what I wanted in the next couple of years in my life!

Working with Bessy was worth every penny - you don't meet people who are in your corner and eager to share everything they know with you very often. She's effortlessly friendly,  has a great sense of humor, AND is intimidating in the best way possible - she truly knows what she's doing, and will call you out when needed, with a whole lot of love.

I lovingly refer to her as my career coach, but most of the time, I think of her as my career whisperer (how cheesy). I'd 100% recommend working with Bessy, you won't regret it.

 If you're ready to take it to the next level like Siobhan did... 

 Schedule a FREE 1-hour call now! We'll walk through your current status, resume, goals, and any questions you may have to speed up your career transition into tech!

5 Unconventional Ways I Achieved Work-Life Flexibility in Tech

Work-life balance, the concept of splitting time and energy between work and other aspects of life, is a challenge that many face. Yet, it is achievable and also incredibly important to prioritize. . So much so that more than 50% of employees said they would switch to a job that allows flextime (NBC News). As busy women, we deserve the right to a balanced life of work, family friends, personal growth, and fun!

The problem is, we’re not going to just ask hiring managers to give us flexible hours during a job interview, or assume that the job will allow for the balance that we all need (and deserve!). So how do we achieve it without facing shame at the workplace?

Before I moved back to Hong Kong from Boston, I promised myself I wouldn’t work 12+ hour days like my friends did in the Asian workforce. I didn’t want to get sucked into a life of running on a hamster wheel with nothing but stories from work to share with friends on weekends.

I wanted to maximize the 8 hours I had free for myself every day towards a lifestyle of learning, fun, relationships, health, and travel beyond my job.

So, before I started my career, I put together a criteria list of ways I could unconventionally achieve work life balance without explicitly asking my manager. I’ve used this “formula” ever since I landed my first job in Boston and never looked back.

I managed to live the lifestyle I wanted - travelling to 25+ countries, starting a business on the side, maintaining my fitness, health, and relationships, while learning new skills like scuba diving and Spanish.

Ultimately, flexibility to leave early or work remotely is something that is earned: you may not have these "benefits" right away at a new job. However, after a few months of putting in the time and effort to earn the trust of your manager, and with my 5 tips below, you can achieve a work-life balance in your next job as well.

Here are my 5 tips to achieve work-life balance:

The #1 Industry for Work Life Balance

According to Huffington Post’s 10 Best and Worst Jobs for Work Life Balance, 5 of the 10 best jobs for work life balance are jobs in tech.

Why?

People who work in tech jobs mainly need a laptop and wifi to do their jobs. Occasionally they will meet with clients to align on projects but beyond that, most of the work can be done remotely.

I learned about the tech lifestyle through networking before I started my first job. That’s why I made sure to build some digital marketing skills in order to transition into tech.

Since I started working at Google, I’ve worked from 15 different cities around the world. I attended client or internal calls as needed during each stay. Otherwise, I’d be working on projects remotely or communicating with my team through email or Google Hangouts.

There’s always a way to transition into tech from your current position if you wanted to, I have a free email course to get you started! But if you want to stay in your current industry, you could negotiate work-from-home time when you have less busy or non-client-facing days during the week such as Friday.

Leaders Who DO, Not Just “Say”

They say, “employees leave managers, not companies.”

You can have a great company, especially a company in tech. But if your manager doesn’t value work-life balance, you won’t stand a chance to “leave work early” or work from home.

How do you find out if your hiring manager values work life balance?

During interviews, I always ask the hiring manager, “What is important to you when it comes to the team’s success?” Managers who valued work-life balance would talk about the well-being of their team - whether it was making sure their employees got fairly compensated, were happy, had flexibility, or had a sense of purpose or growth.

Another question I always ask is, “Did you do anything fun with the family over the weekend/during the break?” I’d usually ask this in the beginning or end of the interview during small talk. This allows me to find out more about their family life, their personal approach to work-life balance, and how they manage their free time beyond the job.

In the next interview with your hiring manager, make sure to ask about their, and their direct reports’ lifestyles to get their point of view on work-life balance.

Tip #1 On How to Avoid Guilt: Ask The Team!

Even if I have a manager and company that values work life balance but a team that stays late, I feel compelled to stay as late as the team would.

Before I started my first job, I knew that the workplace was not only a place to earn money and grow professionally but it was also a place to build a wider community. I knew that if my team consistently stayed later than I did, I would feel ashamed for “ditching” them.

So during interviews or informational coffee chats, I always ask, “What’s your day to day like?” and “What are you up to later today?” These questions allow me to understand what their daily lifestyle was like both during and outside of work,and how stressful the work environment might be.

If I managed to meet up with a peer of mine in the company who I felt comfortable asking more direct questions to, I would ask,“Are you able to work remotely?” “What is the work-life balance like?” “How is this team compared to other teams you’ve worked with in the past?” This way, I would understand more about the dynamics of the team and the culture of the company.

Tip #2 On How to Avoid Guilt: Communicate!

To be honest, sometimes I would feel compelled to stay at work or not “be remote” if I felt my team didn’t have the “right idea” of what I was working on.

This came with shame and occasionally not feeling “good enough”.

This feeling likely derives from a deeper layer of responsibility that I needed to take ownership for: it was on me to stay in touch with my team.

Since I want my teammates to respect me, I find that keeping them in the loop about when I’m going to be remote, and when I am, what I’m working on helps ease my mind and avoid the worry of “are they judging me?”  

I learned this technique from my first marketing internship that I have applied in every job since.

I would have weekly check-ins, emails or conversations with my manager to cover what I was working on, and what they were prioritizing, so that we were both on the same page.

Often, I also sent a daily recap of my work to my team.  This way, they knew the exact tasks I had at hand, especially when I was working remotely, so that we could align on priorities and remain in communication.

While I was working from home, I would also send a fun note, ping, or gif to my team periodically during the day to provide a sense of “presence” without being physically there. This probably goes without saying, but you also should be quick to respond to any incoming emails/communications so that nobody has to wonder “are they online?”

In the end, I allowed myself to have work-life balance when I set myself up for success and sought out strong lines of communication. All I needed was a green light and comfort knowing that I had trust and understanding from my team.

“Practice” Makes Perfect

To achieve the flexible lifestyle I sought, I needed my team to be comfortable getting in touch with me when I wasn’t “around”.

In the tiny 10 person office back in Boston, I would work from the pantry on a coffee table nearby.

In Hong Kong, I would work from the cafeteria or a small booth merely 20 steps away from my desk.

I sat in these spots 2-3 times a week to allow my team to communicate with me through instant messaging. Sometimes I would have video calls with teammates in case we needed to talk through certain projects. For full transparency, I let them know in advance that I'd be sitting elsewhere and that I was reachable

With time, I built up trust and ways of working that allowed me to travel and work remotely. I proved I was able to do my job, do it well, and do it well remotely, which allowed me the benefits of flexibility!

I hope my 5 unconventional ways of achieving work-life balance were helpful, and that you could achieve your ideal balance as you test these 5 strategies out throughout your career. Whether it’s transitioning into tech, finding the right manager or team, communicating your priorities on a daily/weekly basis, or working from different areas in your office - let me know what worked well!

Do you have unconventional ways of achieving work life balance at your current job? Try these 5 unconventional tactics and let us know how things change?

 

How to Ace Your Interview at a Tech Company in 5 Steps

Interviews for tech companies can go 1 of 2 ways: 

  • It can feel like a nice catch up with a long lost friend 
  • or an awkward date that you can’t wait to be over.

The problem is, you don’t want to be in the 2nd situation halfway through the interview. Wouldn’t that just be a waste of time for the both of you?

So you need to do the “dance.”

Before you go on a “blind date,” we could probably agree that it’s a good idea to learn more about the person first.

Before you travel to a new country, you might need to learn more about the culture, attractions, and possible dangerous situations to watch out for.

Similarly, before you walk into an interview you should learn more about the company and hiring team.

This way, you can get enough information to match the right solutions to their problems and ask the right questions during the interview.

I spent years interviewing candidates in my tech job.

Prior to the tech job, I also spent 10+ months applying to 100+ companies before I finally cracked the code on how to ace my interviews.

I remember what it felt like in the beginning of my job search process when young Bessy didn’t know anything about optimizing the interview approach.

Half-way through interviews, I would get blank faces and awkward silences that left me more nervous and incoherent than I already was.

After months of researching and testing various approaches to interviews, I got to a point where I could get offers for every official interview I got my hands on. Even ones beyond tech.

Now I teach these methods in my private coaching programs as well.

If you want the top questions asked in a tech interview and how to answer them, I’d love to share it with you. Just enter your information below and I’ll send it over. Then, after you crank out exactly how you’ll answer these questions word for word, you’ll be able to ace any other questions tech interviewers throw at you.

At the end of the day, it’s not the interview itself that you should focus on, but it’s the prep work behind it.

By the time you finish reading today, you’ll understand the 5 C’s of acing your interview:

  • 1
    The #1 way tech interviewees fail
  • 2
    A system to know exactly what the hiring team needs
  • 3
    The 3 C’s that set you apart

PRINCIPLE #1: The #1 way tech interviewees fail - Curiosity

I could tell you everything about tactics that all the other publications you’ve read online would say:

  • “10 questions you have to ask your interviewer!”
  • “Stay Positive"
  • “Read tech interview books!”
  • “Memorize all the questions!”
  • “Sell yourself!”

Sure, these tactics can help but in the end, the #1 way tech interviewees fail is a lack of curiosity.

The best people I’ve interviewed are the ones who are curious - curious to succeed, curious to understand the business, curious about what the hiring team needs, and curious about how to help.

This means reaching out to people who are on in the company as well as the hiring team prior to the interview.

This means reading and watching videos about the company to learn about their mission statement, products, vision, plans for success, and business challenges.

This also means doing whatever you can to find out about the topics that matter and how the team plans to solve big problems.

We live in a day and age where information is readily available online or through your connections. So it’s not about not knowing anymore, it’s about being curious enough to find the answers.

Find out how Laurie used this system to do her pre-interview homework and got a job in a profitable tech startup

Curiosity also shows during the interview when you ask great questions.

The worst questions I’ve received during an interview were:

  • Is it true there’s slide at Google?
  • Are there any learning opportunities coming into Google?
  • Do you work within your team or do you work with other departments too?
  • What clients did you work on in Hong Kong?
  • Are there any similar goals in managing a campaign as what I do now in campaign management?
  • What is XYZ like as a manager?

It gives the interviewer a feeling that #1 the interviewee didn’t really care and #2 they just wanted A job… any job.

A better way to ask some of the questions are:

  • How has your experiences in Google Hong Kong differ from your experiences here in Chicago and how did that impact your approach to work?
  • How does your team approach the agency, client, and Google relationship? What are the similarities in roles and how does it differ?
  • What are some of the challenges your team faces both internally and externally that keeps you up at night?
  • How would you describe this team in 3 words?

In the end, only 2% of applicants actually get an interview (WebWire). This already shows you have the basic qualifications if you got the interview.

Why not make the most out of this opportunity by doing more prep work that shows you curiosity and proactiveness beforehand?

Principle #2: A system to know exactly what the hiring team needs - the Checklist

This is the 2nd C, understanding the exact checklist of an ideal candidate. This means, you’re anticipating what the hiring team will evaluate you on.

You’re probably thinking, “What! Where do I find this information? Tech already seems exclusive in some ways.”

You might think about looking for “information” online - especially to get information about the “most common interview questions” through LinkedIn, Glassdoor. It’s definitely a great start, but the prepping process shouldn’t end with you facing a computer screen.

What sets a successful interviewee apart is being able to get information that no one else has access to. This requires a system to reach beyond common sites you find online.

A system to research and find the information you need to build a checklist of what the business, role, and company needs and wants.

How do you build your checklist?

First Step - Understanding the roles, businesses, products, and overall “searchable” information.

First and foremost you need to understand the company, departments, and specific products that you’re going for. This is high level information that can allow you to make an educated guess for the scope of work that this role is required to do and the overall business challenges that the team or company may face.

This easiest search to do are includes “X Company” +  “Business model”, or other combinations including + “mission statement”, + “products,” + “annual report,” + “founders letters,” + “annual meeting,” etc.

This way you can learn exactly how the businesses make money, what products they have, the message they want to convey, and the teams they hire.

Second Step  - Be Specific

Then, you can verify both the business challenges and role challenges by being more specific about what you’re looking for.

I know it’s easy to just search for someone you know in an ideal company and just ask for a 30 minute coffee to  “learn about the company and role.”

In reality, this is not beneficial for either you or the person you’re reaching out to.

I can’t tell you how many times someone reached out to me on LinkedIn or Facebook with a vague request like that chat about my experiences in a tech company.

As much as I want to just chat with the person  or even aim to refer him/her into the company, I simply don’t have the time.

The reason is because I get at least 1 of these requests each week. I could spend 30 mins just talking about my experiences knowing that it won’t actually help them or I could get a better understanding from additional context about the specific challenge they want me to solve or roles they want me to advise on.

Sometimes the person who reached out to me is completely searching the wrong types of jobs in comparison to his/her background. Sometimes, they ramble a 500 word paragraph that’s not going anywhere. Sometimes, they’re just not prepared.

For example, don’t just say you want to get a “product manager” role. Dig deeper. What does it mean? What do they do? What’s the minimum requirements? Do your homework before-hand to learn how your experience and wants tie into the role.

Then you’ll need to build your resume to tailor specifically to those business and role challenges you’ve prepared for. I can’t emphasize this enough.

Third Step  - Leverage Your Network

Once you’ve done your research, you can leverage your network both from social media, friends of friends, random people you’ve met at a barbecue, to learn more and possibly get a referral into jobs.

You don’t have to decide that the role you specified will be the exact role you plan to get into. However, you need to be specific in order to get enough information to make an educated decision.

By researching online, you barely have 10% of the information right now to make a solid decision whether you’re fit for the tech job or not. So the goal here is to focus on learning more and expanding your research process through your network instead of getting a referral.

I’ll walk through how to (a) find the right people and (b) how to reach out

How to find the right people on LinkedIn:

You can click “Jobs” on LinkedIn to see specific people who work at certain companies with various titles. Note: I have 2500+ connections on LinkedIn so it’s easier for me to search, if you don’t it might be good to connect with past alumni/high school friends first on LinkedIn to build the base.

After you search, you could then reach out to them saying something similar to the below:

“Hi XYZ name!

It’s been a while since we’ve chat. I’ve been following your journey in [Insert very specific occasion and a very specific reason why you admire/like/or connected with it].

I wanted to reach out for a quick 15 minute favor if that’s alright. I’ve been researching a few roles and companies among [name 3 companies + roles] because of my background in [insert specific experiences]. I really feel that I can add [XYZ value to the company and team because of XYZ].

However, after some intensive research, I still have some questions in mind and I thought that it may be best to reach out to you since you’re an expert in this field. I’ve done [XYZ to solve them previously].

If it’s okay, can I have a short call with you for 15 minutes? I had the below questions I wanted to specifically chat about if that helps:
[Insert questions 1, 2, & 3, and possibly a short explanation of how you tried to solve it]

I’ve also attached my resume in case to provide more context. If a call won’t do, I’m also happy to chat here in text or email if that works too! Feel free to say no. Either way, I appreciate your time for reading this and connecting briefly.

[Insert Calendly link]

Thank you so much
Name”

This example script shows that:

  • 1
    You care about them as a person
  • 2
    You’ve done your homework
  • 3
    You’re mindful of their time by providing them choices and only asking for 15 minutes of their time
  • 4
    You’re providing additional information

TIP: If they don’t respond on LinkedIn, you can follow up on the same platform in 2 days, and then follow up with a short note on another social media or by text message where you both are connected as well.

How to find the right people on Facebook:

I’ve also seen a friend blast “Does anyone know anyone in Hootsuite?” on their feed.

Then, friends would message her directly or link them up in a group chat.

The great part about this approach is that you could rely on the 3rd party validation, where your friend introduces you instead of you trying to earn a relationship with a complete stranger.

These are only a few approaches, there are always more.

By the end of the chats you need to expand your research by getting referring contacts.

For example:

“Thank you for your time today, I really appreciate it! [I have XYZ action items] to do and I can update you once they’re done. In addition, are there 2-3 other people you can think of who’s either in XYZ role in your company or a similar role in another team? I want to learn more about their challenges and business goals to see if I’m a right fit. If there aren’t hiring teams, other folks who are in similar roles would be helpful!”

If they say they do, you can ask them to introduce you both in the same email.

By the end of these chats you should have been able to:

  • 1
    Understand the different roles in the hiring team
  • 2
    Learn about all the challenges that the hiring team faces
  • 3
    Match your experiences to what they look for
  • 4
    Get a sense on the culture and vision of the hiring team

These are topics that would add up to the team’s “ideal candidate checklist.”  And you probably would’ve have chat with at least 3-5 quality people within the team to get this information.

It takes time, but remember - you can only get information that’s valuable from people who are in the company but most importantly, in the same team.

Fourth Step  - Referral

Then, once you’ve casually found a right fit, you will naturally get referred.

People who are in tech companies are passionate about referring friends or aquaintances into the company. The main reason is because people who refer usually gets a high bonus ~US$3K to $5K.

Referrals also have a 9.5X of a success rate vs applied candidates (see chart below).

(Source: Lever)

By getting referred after you’ve done these chats, you also have a higher chance of acing the interview since you’ve already had enough “inside information” from the 3-5 informational chats.

Principle #3: During the Interview - Be Clear

Once you get the information you need (Principle #1 - Curiosity) and have the specific requirements the team needs beyond the job description (Principle #1 - The Checklist), no you need to focus on the interview.

The 2nd biggest challenge I’ve faced as an interviewer after the lack of curiosity, is the lack of clarity when interviewees answer the questions.

This is actually the biggest issue among my students in my personal coaching program as well. They always say they don’t have the right experience but I would actually say the reverse. They have great experiences but don’t know how to apply these clear and concise stories to interview questions in order to match up the hiring team’s “ideal candidate checklist.”

If you want the top questions asked in a tech interview and how to answer them, I’d love to share it with you. Just enter your information below and I’ll send it over.

A few tips for you would be:

  • Use the STAR method at all times - for Situation, Task, Action, Result
  • Get the top questions asked in a tech interview through my free email course
  • Write down your answers in a running document to reference to and practice with. This will help you get your example stories or situations straight and simply be able to “Plug and play” for any interview
  • Nail the basics first before you tackled harder “behavioral questions”. Simple questions such as “Why XYZ company?” “Why do you want this role?” “Tell me about yourself”
  • Ensure your answers are about 30 seconds long. It’s like peeling an onion, you can let the interview choose what they want to learn more about with their follow-up questions
  • Practice answering in front of the mirror… vocally.

After you’ve done the tips, you’ll be way less nervous and much more clear in your answers.

Principle #4: During the Interview - Culture

Everyone talks about what your technical skills are but no one talks about how you fit into the culture.

There’s a reason why Google coined a term called “Googley.”

.. Why Amazon is known to be relentless for growth

… How Salesforce prides itself in their “Ohana” culture

Culture is a huge piece of the pie where everyone has to unite and interviewers look for but no one coaches you on. When interviewers ask certain behavioral questions, they’re also looking for these specific traits to see how you fit in.

It may or may not be something you can control, but definitely something you can convey by showing the best of who you are.

That’s why I always tell my students - if you have specific interests or quirky traits that make you stand out, always express it! You’re already “nervous’ in the interview, but if you don’t show your natural side, interviewers wouldn’t be able to feel how you’ll fit into the culture.

I’m not talking about interests such as TV shows you like to watch or places you like to shop. I’m talking about passions, interests, hobbies, or experiences that are completely unique. Eg. You’ve traveled to 25 countries, play soccer professionally before, built an art gallery, or wrote for 200 blogs.

I used to think I needed to be really serious in the interview. But as I progressed and learned more, I found that my natural smile and interest in people made me a great candidate. Trust that your quirks will too.

Principle #5: The Bottom Line - Care

The bottom line is - interviewers know whether you actually care about the cause that the team is striving for.

I’ve interviewed candidates who “memorized” a script like a robot before.

I’ve also interviewed candidates who specifically told me they just wanted to switch jobs.

In the end, if you don’t do the prep work or actually care, interviewers know that the job is “just another job” for you.

So don’t lean on the “I-Don’t-Know Syndrome” where you lie to yourself saying “I don’t know how to learn more about the company and roles.”

Just try and be relentless in the process of learning.

As long as you care, people you have chats with along the way and interviewers can feel the passion and drive you have.

Conclusion

We talked about the 5 C’s today:

  • Curiosity
  • Checklist
  • Clear
  • Culture
  • Care

It’s these 5 C’s that can drive you all the way through the multiple rounds of initial research, insider information chats, referral, multiple rounds of interviews, and eventually the offer.

Get started now and get the top questions asked in a tech interview straight in your inbox. I’ll show you exactly how to answer these questions!

Just enter your information below and I’ll send it over. 

Love,
Bessy

From Travel to Sortable then SalesForce – Laurie’s Story

Laurie knew she needed to make a change when she wasn’t looking forward to going to work anymore.  She approached Bessy knowing that tech companies had the exact criteria she needed in jobs that would suit Laurie, and they worked together to revamp Laurie’s resume and figure out which companies to talk to. Laurie applied to a select few jobs, only ended up accepting interviews with Hootsuite and Sortable, and eventually accepted the role at Sortable as an Account Executive.

After 1 year, she leveraged Bessy's strategies to land her dream role in SalesForce

Background: Associate Marketing Manager at Expedia, Toronto

How She Got a Job in Tech Through Bessy’s Programs: She decided to leverage Bessy’s tech specific knowledge and proactive approach to revamp her resume and make sure she’s top of mind for employers among all candidates.

Results: Laurie leveraged Bessy’s help to selectively and and strategically apply to jobs. Within 3 months, Laurie secured a job with an ad tech SaaS company that matched all of her criteria for an ideal role and company.

“It was just a cycle of wane and wax, wane and wax. It was when I was down more than I was up that I knew I got to make a change.”

Laurie wasn’t growing or learning at her job anymore. She was frustrated and stuck in her comfort zone.

She was a veteran at her previous company and knew the job inside and out.

Gradually, it became more and more difficult for Laurie to get up in the mornings and be excited to go to work. This was when she knew she needed to make a change.

For a while, Laurie tried to do it on her own

Laurie passively fired off her resume to maybe a hundred roles and just wasn’t hearing anything back.

“Without [Bessy], I would've tried multiple times now and become increasingly dejected because I felt like I wasn't the candidate any of these companies was looking for.”

It made her feel like maybe she didn’t have the qualifications needed to land a job. Laurie didn’t know how else to approach the job process since she’s only done it once before, over 4 years ago, and was at a loss about what else she could do.   

It was at this point that Laurie reached out to Bessy. By changing her approach to a proactive one under Bessy’s guidance, this made all the difference.

First Step: Building Her “Criteria List”

Bessy guided Laurie to start by coming up with a list of things that Laurie wanted in her next position. These were things that were important to her in a company.

Throughout the job search process, Laurie found this really helpful. Bessy would encourage Laurie to remember that at the same time companies were vetting Laurie as a candidate, she should be doing her part to ensure that the company is the right fit to her as well.

Armed with this criteria list, they were able to narrow down a list of ideal companies. Bessy and Laurie then worked together to tailor her resume by putting an emphasis on Laurie’s experiences and skill sets that made her a good candidate for these specific roles.

Second Step: The Resume Revamp

“Everyone knows that your resume should be very results-oriented but I didn't necessarily how to structure or phrase it in the best way possible.”

Bessy helped Laurie transform her resume in merely 2-3 hours by  adding elements of what exactly tech companies were looking for and how to make her resume more directed.

Laurie immediately got responses from the tech job market and proceeded to initiate strategic conversations that helped her learn more about the roles, team morale, vision, business challenges, and working style in the various companies.

Third Step: Pre-Interview Homework

“One thing that was really helpful was your encouragement to not wait for the right opportunity to come up necessarily but to start having those conversations with companies early”

With Bessy’s help, Laurie crafted the right questions to ask and identified the right people to target for conversations both online and among her network.

These conversations paid off big time.

Fourth Step: Getting Cross-Industry Offers

Laurie did not have prior experience in advertising technology nor Software as a Service (SaaS). By doing her due diligence on the companies to align her experiences and skill sets with the respective roles, Laurie demonstrated that she was a go-getter and convinced the companies that she was the right candidate for the job.

Laurie later found out that she was the only candidate who had proactively reached out to current employees to vet the companies during the job process. She learned to ask the right questions and was given actual company decks from the employees, which assisted in her interviews and presentations.

“When I started at my new jobs, I was approached by execs who had heard about and were impressed by my interview approach.”

Bessy’s Value

Bessy guided Laurie through the job process from start to finish, including help with the job search, interview process, contract negotiation and eventually acceptance.  Bessy continued to provide value by sharing tips and tricks on how to be successful in the role.

“If I stayed with my initial approach, I would 100% still be at my old job because I would still just be in the same cycle of passively trying and then thinking, “This isn’t working. No one wants to hire me! But with your help, I was able to land my ideal job on my first try!”

Meet Amy

Amy* went from receiving no responses throughout several months of applying to getting 4 tech interviews from Lyft, Google, Mckinsey in as fast as 2 weeks. She then got an offer at a digital market research and consulting firm and managed to take a 25-day break before her new job in tech started in December.

Background: Californian working in New York at a premium cable network for Digital Marketing

How She Got a Job in Tech Through Bessy’s Programs: Amy decided to join Bessy’s programs to get the insider knowledge and emotional support she needed to get into tech.

Results: Amy got interviews with Lyft within 2 weeks, Google within 3 months, and Mckinsey within 1 months of submitting her applications. She transformed her approach to her  interview preparation and was not afraid to ask for what she wanted from her career. Amy got an offer at market research and consulting firm.

“I’ve always been motivated. Always wanted to do more and I want to learn more. “

Amy is originally from California but she moved to New York City after college to gain more work experience. She knew she wanted to get into tech for over a year because of its culture, pace, and most importantly people’s ambitions of continuously growing and challenging the status quo.

She realized that her learning had slowed down in the past 2 years while working in marketing and witnessed her own health deteriorate over the past three years due to her overall stress and dissatisfaction from current and past jobs.

“If I’m not learning then I might as well go back home and live with my family where everything is calmer,” she said.

However, she needed a trigger to really make the move.

The moment she knew she needed to leave

A new AVP started at Amy’s company and Amy quickly realized that she won’t get the support she needed to get promoted in the company.

“When you see the VP of your team just not care about your job and not care about your personal growth, then what’s the point?”

On top of that, Amy had other issues that accumulated over the past few years that made her feel frustrated. She...:

  • Didn’t learn a lot in the past two years
  • Worked on weekends covering for coworkers
  • Witnessed a work culture where being ambitious was almost seen as a threat

That night, job hunting became her #1 priority.

Applying for jobs in tech but just getting crickets

Amy started  applying for jobs in tech but got  no responses. The only responses she got from companies in the retail sector due to her past experience.

She knew she wasn’t doing anything wrong, as she had extensive experience in being interviewed for her previous companies in cosmetics/e-commerce, and entertainment.

The challenge she faced was that she didn’t know that  tech is a completely different industry and that there are certain things that recruiters are  looking for that she didn’t demonstrate in her resume. And yet, Bessy saw potential and knew she had those skill sets based on her past experiences.

Adjusting a resume that got here an interview with Lyft

Bessy and Amy spent 3 hours across 2 weekends revamping her resume. They walked through her background from start to finish and added data points that would resonate with tech companies and recruiters.

After the revamp, Amy immediately got an interview request from Lyft within 2 weeks, whereas normally it took her 6 months to get one tech interview.

“Finding a job I wanted was really hard”

Amy continued hunting for new job opportunities with Bessy’s guidance. However like a lot of job seekers, Amy responded to a lot of the recruiters reaching out asking her to get on a recruitment call.

She turned frantic and busy and wondered why there wasn’t a job that she wanted in the market.

But instead of giving into the frustration, she listened to Bessy and became proactive. Instead of responding to LinkedIn messages, she started looking for companies that had everything she wanted.

Bessy would always say "don't just take the job just to take the job" and I'm like but I want to a job! I just want to get out you know. um, You kept reminding me this is what we're looking for, this is what we talked about in the beginning, and that was really helpful.

Not only did Bessy guide Amy to look beyond her company, she guided her to understand more about the possibilities of internal transfers since Amy’s longer term goal was to move internationally.

Acing the interviews

As Amy went  through interview preps with Lyft, Google, Amazon, airline companies, Mckinsey, and more, Bessy guided her to be more reflective on her past achievements and really understand what the companies are looking for in the specific role.

Bessy and Amy worked together on a project basis for those interviews which really helped Amy be less nervous during interviews. Bessy had specific knowledge to the tech industry and helped frame the types of questions that could be asked.

“I already had it in the Google doc and pulled out all this information. It helped me become much more prepared with the process”

She had the answers they prepped for saved and could always reference it back when another interview came up.

“It was all in one place for me to look at versus like instead of me doing it, you know, a couple of days before the interview or starting from scratch.“

Getting what she wanted in the end

Amy had a lot of practice before a recruiter from a market research and consulting firm reached out to her. Instead of stopping there, she asked for what she wanted.

She asked to speak to more contacts to understand the role in more depth instead of just settling with the contacts she  got to speak to in the interviews.

“I used to not ask because I felt intrusive”

But Bessy guided Amy to always ask - because you never know what the answer may be. In the end, nobody is going to understand what you want unless you ask for it because the companies can’t read your mind. The companies want you to be happy in the role as much as you can fill their headcount to solve their business problem.

In the very last interview with the hiring manager, Amy really addressed what she wanted and asked for 1. an international transfer to London for her mid-term goals and 2. a month-long break before her new job started.

In the end, she got both and managed to travel around Europe before she started the job in December!


*Amy is an alias

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