WTF happens now?

Well you finally did it. You landed that job. You got a new title, new crisp business card that would make Patrick Bateman from American Psycho jealous. You paid your dues, you are getting paid your worth, racking up those vacation days, reaping the company benefits, and making your presence known . You are getting invited to power lunches, sitting in on meetings with important clients, and possibly working on some exciting products that will be used by potentially hundreds of thousands of people. This was all you wanted!

Everything is going smoothly , you put in the time, collaborating with your colleagues, meeting deadlines, impressing your superiors, connecting with all the right people, crushing your Karaoke performance of “Last Christmas” at the company holiday party, successfully climbing the ladder, and were the obvious choice for that promotion. Life is good, organized, and almost all planned out…

This is where the dominos begin their inevitable downward swing.
You wake up one morning and, without any warning or preparation, you find yourself living in a new reality where your plan has been thrown in the trash and lit on fire. All that security, comfort and achievement comes to a screeching halt when your boss decides they need to cut back on staff to meet financial targets and obligations. Someone, somewhere in the company sent an email to you and 12,000 other people that their jobs are no longer needed. Or it was the CEO getting on a Zoom call and telling everyone that they’re effectively laid off before the holidays.

Maybe they lost a big client and a chunk of their revenue. They could not raise the funding needed to keep the company afloat. There are only months of runway left and the first order of business is to start trimming the fat. They call it a new “leaner” structure to the organization, and somehow after all your effort, achievements, and accolades, you find yourself part of the “fat” they decide to trim. Suddenly, that promotion goes to someone else who put in half the time and effort but was more “friendly” in the office. The familiar security and comfort that you felt begins to rapidly slip away. Your worst professional fear is now realized as you hold a box with keepsakes heading out the door.

After you get over the initial shock and accept the panic, sadness and feeling of loss, the question becomes what is next for you? Last time you checked, all you had to do was send your resume, land an in-person interview a week later, and receive an offer by the end of the month. That’s just not how it works anymore…

Nonetheless, you know you must get back out there. You must get a new role as soon as possible to earn income, remain in your chosen field, continue moving forward and get back some sense of normalcy.

But how? Where do you even begin?

Those ex-work colleagues are all fearing for their own employment safety. Those business cards you have deteriorating in your wallet from that networking event you went to a year ago are a complete shot in the dark. You can start with a Google search or scour LinkedIn and start applying, except you haven’t updated your resume – the last you logged into LinkedIn was when you made the account 5 years ago. Your profile is not optimized to rank for SEO, you have no real visibility or brand on the platform. You do not create or engage with organic content. You have a blurry profile picture and you have a total of 128 connections. One of those connections you are sure of is a fake profile. You hear that applying online with your resume does not get you anywhere, and everyone seems to be talking about something called an ATS “that you have to beat”. Another new phenomenon that is coming to your attention is that companies are “Ghosting” candidates and applicants like yourself.

On top of all that, you need to send cold emails, follow-ups, checking-in emails (aka the follow-up to the follow-up). Your behavioral interviewing skills haven’t been utilized in ages, and the questionnaire frameworks have changed. Your negotiation skills are outdated, and all the sudden where there was one way to do things, there are now 20 different ways and it just keeps evolving and changing, and you’ve got lackluster, low-quality recruiters who are spamming your inbox with shitty roles that are not worth of your attention or time. Stress and anxiety is piling on, and it looks like there’s no way out.

Here’s what to do next!

Understand that like you thousands and thousands of people are in the same boat, all without a paddle. But unlike everyone else, you’ve landed on this article and are now aware of Alza. In a world where getting a job has become “a numbers game”, the strategy to apply to 100+ jobs a week is not only impossible, but it is downright a waste of time.

STOP APPLYING. Read that again.

A CSM job that was posted 2 weeks ago has over 2,0000+ applications.
Yeah, you read that right..look at the screenshot below.

How on earth do you hope to stand out in that sea of applicants? You can’t, not effectively. So instead do something that these applicants aren’t really focusing on. At Alza, we are massive advocates of a phrase we constantly tell our clients. It’s something we call 3HHH (Triple H, not the wrestler).

3HHH stands for Humans Hire Humans. Nothing will ever move you forward faster than another person in a position to help you reach your goals faster. One of the key components of our platform is that connectivity and accessibility to the right people can make all the difference in your career.

Informational Interviewing has entered the chat

One of the most effective strategies when looking for a job or looking to change careers as a professional is leveraging informational interviewing or “unstructured” interviewing as it is commonly referred to. Everyone knows that they should be networking, but when they finally do get someone to agree to meet with them, they can never take full advantage of the conversation properly. The question then becomes:

  • What questions should you ask?
  • How do you figure out what to say?
  • How should you start, and how should you finish?

Informational interviews are essential to helping you peel back the veil in any role, company, and industry that you yourself do not have direct experience in. You may read and research online to get a general idea, but nothing will give you a greater edge than someone who is already where you want to potentially be.

Just as importantly, setting up informational interviews gives you an additional layer of visibility to company professionals. If a role isn’t available right now, one will most likely become available in the future, and the relationship you build now will undoubtedly serve you later. Most job seekers will first interact with a company when they are applying to a specific role, but those who set up informational interviews strategically will ideally have multiple touch-points with company stakeholders before they even sit in front of a hiring manager.

Here’s a quick sample of what you can say when you’re reaching out:

Hi [Name],

My name is [Your Name] and came across your profile while I was looking for people who made the jump into INDUSTRY from INDUSTRY or (mention their previous role). Your experience transitioning from COMPANY to COMPANY really stood out to me.

If you’re open to it, I’d love to hear more about your journey, and ask you a few questions around your successful transition.

Feel free to book any 20-minutes that can work for us to chat.

[Google, Zoom, Meets, link here]

P.S I know the inbox can get pretty heavy with messages, so I’ll see if I can send you an email to follow up as well.

Looking forward to speaking with you!

[Your Name]

Now that’s just a basic structure. You can have some real fun using Chat GPT-3 to give you some varied templates to try out!

One of the best things about informational interviews is that they allow you to pre-sell yourself before you have to re-sell yourself. We go into executing this strategy in depth effectively in our membership content.

No matter what your goals are, whether you’re actively trying to change roles or just exploring your first tech career opportunity, here are some steps to approaching an informational interview.

Establish a baseline
Make sure you take the time to research the company and person you will be connecting with in your meeting.

Create a connection
Use the first 1-3 minutes to work in natural conversation, build rapport, and allow the other person to see that you value connecting with them.

Be transparent
Share with your interviewee, what your goals are, and the agenda you’d like to set for the meeting. Let them know that you’re also looking to speak with other professionals within the space as well. This is important in letting them know that you’re seeking other sources of information, which can soften the eventual ask later in the relationship for them to introduce you to anyone else that would make sense for you to connect with.

Keep the 80% focus on them
After a quick (rehearsed) introduction of yourself and cut to the chase and turn the entire focus on them. This is an opportunity to get the inside track on the company without the performance of an actual interview.

Go after the tough questions
Nothing will signal preparation like having a set number of questions ready to be asked. But unlike other job seekers, you go after the tough questions. These are the negative situational questions you want to probe further on. Everyone can tell you how great it can be to work somewhere, but very few will tell you what’s not so great about
a company. Find this out early before you pursue a company or position!

Test your initial thinking
Your job is to essentially test your initial thinking or hypothesis you have about the company, so keep that in mind as you begin to gather information during the meeting. The purpose is to leverage the new information with the one you already researched and see what matches and what does not.

Play the long game
Informational interviews can be a goldmine of new and useful relationships, if leveraged properly. One of the biggest mistakes job seekers can make is treat new relationships in informational interviews as one stop-shops for personal pitches and info dispensaries. Don’t use people for some short quick info, that’s what Google and Quora forums are for. Instead focus on how you can present yourself to be someone of value and maintaining a relationship with you can benefit them. You never know where either of you will be in 1,5,10 years from this initial conversation, so use the situation to create allies that will think of you first when an opportunity arises.

Sample Informational Questions

  1. I understand you came in from COMPANY X and was head of product there. How did you wind up working in COMPANY Y in this role?
  2. What do you like most about working in this role?
  3. What’s the most challenging part of your job?
  4. What kind of problems do you face on a day-to-day basis?
  5. How would you describe the culture in COMPANY?
  6. What was one key thing that stood out to you when you began working here?
  7. When you’re getting ready to hire, in what position do people usually enter?
  8. What does the general hiring process like?
  9. Based on what I’ve shared with you about my background, what would you recommend doing as an actionable next step?
  10. Who else would you recommend I talk to around this?

Again, feel free to use these questions as a skeleton and add your own language and verbiage around them. You always want to present the most authentic version of yourself.

Conclusion

Whether you’re just getting started in your tech career, or looking to jump into a better role, leverage the power of coaching, community, and content, as much as possible. A platform like Alza, makes it easy for anyone, anywhere in the world to build a targeted network, a career board of advisors, and instantly set up informational interviews to get to that next step in their tech career.

Join the Waitlist