Optomi VP Tammy Hawkins Shares Insights With LF Students

Optomi VP Tammy Hawkins Shares Insights With LF Students

Last Thursday we had another great presentation from Account Executive Imran Sheikh and Tammy Hawkins, VP at Optomi, an IT staffing company that’s experiencing tremendous growth in several major cities across the US.  They provide services to a range of tech companies from large corporate clients to smaller/medium startups. After a round of introductions, Tammy got straight to the heart of finding a job in development or tech by posing a simple question:

“What is it that you really want to do?”

The most important thing that will determine your success in finding a place that is right for you is to “have a goal in mind,” and the more specifics you have written down – what you know about yourself , what is it that you would like to be doing, and the type of company you wish to work for – the better!

This is really an industry where “you can write your own ticket,” she explained, “but it can be very difficult for all involved when you have a candidate that just doesn’t know what they want.”

Of course, we have all been there at one point or another. With things changing so quickly in the tech world, what we want to do may evolve and change in a completely new direction, and that’s certainly not a bad thing at all. However, you must also adapt the way you approach your job hunt to fit the needs of the position and the market.

“Take ownership of your job search,” Tammy continued, “and the way you do that is through preparation.”

Otherwise you are relinquishing control of the process, the situation, and potentially even your career path and success.

Let’s take a look at the stages of the job search, but before we do, be aware that a staggering “36% of employees will be looking for a new job in the next year.” And while company managers specified that their number 1 concern is to find “good talent”, and good people, “your application may just get lost in the shuffle of one particular person or hiring manager” if you don’t to take steps to overcome the odds of that happening.

OK, but there’s really good news for all you job seekers in technology: since 2013 it has really become a “candidate driven market,” Tammy explained. Meaning that there’s more jobs than there are candidates, and “if you can be that candidate with the interpersonal skills as well as the coding chops, companies will gravitate towards you.”

There are a few stages of the job search you should consider:

  1. Strategic Planning
  2. Branding and “Marketing”
  3. Hone your Interviewing

Strategic Planning:

Consider this statistic: Over 55% of employees were hired through networking; only 17% were hired through job boards.  Over half were hired through networking!

If your job search only consist of applying to posted jobs, “then you really need to diversify how you are looking for jobs.”

Identify your strengths, weakness, and polish your resume and goals to be consistent with what you are looking for and who you are, which leads to our next stage in the process:

Branding & Marketing:

Understand that the development world is very unique in the sense that it is a community with many opportunities to engage through social/digital media to leave your mark. As a developer you need to make sure you increase your visibility within this system because that’s one of the FIRST places recruiters go to look for candidates like you. To build or maintain your brand “you must control your own data” Tammy said, and you must do so actively and genuinely with an eye toward the image you are working to project.

Go and clean up your Facebook, Twitter, and take full advantage of the power of LinkedIn as it is often a managers “go-to” tool of choice.

Create a profile that is “searchable”: if you are looking for a job as a JavaScript, Ruby, or PHP Developer make sure it’s listed with all the right keywords that will directly identify you as the right candidate for that specific position.

“Grow your network every day through Meetups and other forums whether online or live.”  Really take the time to participate in communities around which you are interested, whether personal or professional. Do so for your personal development as well as for creating visibility in the tech community. “Participate in forums, blogs, and become a center of influence as you hone your skills.” Tammy shared that places like StackOverflow, Meetups, hackathons, GitHub, and other visible forums are “a huge way recruiters source for a pool of candidates.”

Don’t go spam every place that let’s you create a free account, but rather look to post strategically to increase your own breadth of knowledge while starting to participate in the commununity as well as helping others.  Be genuine and utilize your time wisely as you increase your visibility.

Hone Your Interviewing:

In preparation for an interview, go over your resume in detail (you know, like you would when you test your code) and “don’t keep anything on your resume that you cannot explain or provide a specific example.” A hiring manager doesn’t know the details of your past roles and what your responsibilities really entailed and will want to get the best sense of your experience by asking specific questions – ambiguity in your responses can kill. If the decision falls between 2 candidates the one that has left the most clear impression of their background, skills, and abilities in the manager’s mind will get the good news on Monday (provided it’s a fit for all of course).

Thoroughly research the companies and organizations you are targeting and obviously those in which you have secured an interview. Study the role and build up questions in your mind to ask around areas of uncertainty.  Demonstrating due diligence is important and leaves the right impression in the interview. In addition, you are also interviewing the company as well as the company interviewing you. Upon booking the interview, try and get an insight into the interview process, techniques, attire, etc. – since every company will be different you will want to be well prepared for what to expect (as much as possible).  The more prepared you are the more confident you will be!

You have scheduled your interview, and the big moment is here! “Give yourself time,” meaning, get to the parking lot early or do a practice drive if you are really unfamiliar with the area so you can be as relaxed as possible before entering the interview. Also, keep in mind this mantra on your interview day: “Everyone you interact with will be interviewing you.” The second you get close to the building, or even the vicinity, be aware that the guy you inadvertently cut off entering the parking lot could just well be the hiring manager!  Everyone you meet entering the interview from the receptionist to that random person in the elevator may just have influence on the final decision based on their interaction and experience with you.  It’s game face from the get go!

When you finally get there, really try and be yourself. “Most interviewers are on your side.” Tammy explained that hiring managers actually “want you to succeed, and they are really looking for a cultural fit.” So as a final note, when you are there in the interview try to relax by reminding yourself that there’s more opportunities out there and you can only learn and be better if you don’t get this one.

Great stuff! We really thank Tammy and Imran for taking the time and sharing their expertise with our students.

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