Articles postés par Celine R

Career transition: 8 tips & tricks to land that first tech job in a start-up

After transitioning from marketing manager to software engineer at Libeo, the leading B2B payments platform in Europe, here’s what I recall was the most helpful in my job search.

Hello dear career transitioner fellow,
So you’ve gone as far as:

  • moving out of your comfort zone to leave a career you didn’t like anymore
  • figuring out what you wanted to do for the next professional chapter
  • training as hard as you could on a totally new set of technical skills

Take time to reflect and feel proud. It’s already huge.
It just takes one successful opportunity to finally set foot in this new exciting world… but it can be hard to get.
Let’s go together through some tips to make this career change a reality.

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplas

First, let’s get real: if career transitioning is a roller coaster in itself, finding your first job will be a marathon on top of it. There is fierce competition to land a junior position, but market needs are huge, and exciting opportunities are waiting for you. With courage, consistency and hard work, be confident you will find it!

And the wonderful thing is that, when you’ve done it once, you know you can do it again 😉

But for now, starting with the obvious.

1) Keep improving your technical skills

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

If you’ve trained at an intensive bootcamp or short term training, chances are you learned a lot in very little time. Don’t let it go away, you should code everyday to remain at your current level.

Make sure your Github page sparkles. Why not code your own one-page website with your resume to have a live project and gain visibility. Train for technical tests or complete challenges on specialized platforms. I personally worked as a teacher assistant in a coding bootcamp to make sure my technical skills were still on point.

2) However, your priority should be to apply for jobs

What’s the point of knowing how to code beautiful and efficient apps if no one knows about it?

It does not mean you should forget point 1). But your top priority should be to get the message out to anyone you can in the industry.

Also, don’t spend your days coding until you’re “feeling strong enough” to apply. Go for it! The best way to learn more and progress is to actually find a job.

3) Fake it until you make it

Transitioning often comes with a nice little package: imposter syndrome. But you need to convince yourself you have enough skills and knowledge for a junior position, because it is very often the case, provided you keep working and progressing steadily.

Women especially tend to judge themselves harshly, aim for “perfect or nothing” (due to the way we were raised, and a lack of female figures in sciences). Relax, it’s ok to “just” be another junior software engineer.

It can also be difficult to keep trusting yourself when companies only seem to be looking for a Masters in Engineering or Computer Science. From working with such profiles today, they are not as scary as you think! First, people with general engineering degrees may have completely self taught themselves how to code. Others, with a specialized degree, may have been highly trained at school, but not on the particular stack of the company they’re applying to.

Finally, if you have a previous career, you may have many soft skills that do not come with the typical science major degree:

  • client & product knowledge
  • project management / “get things done”
  • marketing & communication skills
  • work in a team / team management / coaching team members
  • popularize difficult concepts
  • problem solving skills

These skills are valuable and will help any CTO build a diverse and complementary team.

4) Now that you have built your trust and self worth, let’s see how to present yourself.

It’s crucial you take the time to build your storytelling. Career transitioners are a mystery to many recruiters and CTOs — in a good way. Take advantage of it!

In your toolbox you should have :

  • an “elevator pitch”, both written (3 lines) and oral (2 minutes): who you are, why you are applying, what you love about tech/code, how your profile is of interest. This speech should be positive and teasing to get people interested.
  • an updated resume: time to let go of your beautiful but no longer relevant work experiences. From now on you should highlight, first and foremost, technical projects, experience and training. Then, whatever’s relevant to the company you’re applying to : for example, when I applied to Libeo, I highlighted my years as a small business CEO’s right arm, with focus on administrative tasks that proved I knew the pain Libeo is solving. Finally, past projects and positions can be presented in a “soft skills” part where you will detail all the valuable experiences you’ll be bringing to your new company as well as your personal soft skills such as curiosity, rigor, empathy…

5) Look for jobs at the right places

Some channels are more successful than others for career transitioning profiles.

If you’re a woman, you should definitely look into the numerous initiatives looking to promote women in tech (in France, I can recommend 50intech, WomenHack speed-recruiting, support & networking groups like Duchess France…).

In the “open job market”, most job ads will require either a Masters in Engineering or 2+ years of experience, which you and I know you do not have.

What I found most effective in my job search was to reach out to people in the industry for a chat, questions, advice, referral and grow a full network overtime. If this seems too scary, start small (a friend of a friend, a former student from your school…) and grow bigger as you gain confidence: headhunters, tech recruiters, agents, tech leads, CTOs, CPOs, CEOs…

It’s the best way to:

  • test your storytelling
  • get to know the industry and its needs
  • get names of companies or people currently hiring junior software developers

The idea is to get out of these calls/meetings with advice and 2–3 actionable contacts to help you in your job search.

Along this way, I’ve found most people are really happy to meet someone new, talk about their jobs, and be helpful. Of course, some will never reply, but kindness is real. Get these people involved in your job search, keep in touch, and your network will effectively grow to reach more opportunities from the “hidden job market”.

6) Surround yourself with resource people

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

Your resource people:

  • know the tech industry and its recruitment processes
  • have a network that you can benefit from
  • know it’s hard and will support and comfort you when feeling low

I was lucky enough to have 3 of these people by my side during the months of job search and they were instrumental in me landing a job.

Don’t feel bad asking for help. Once you’re in a position to help too, you will give back. 🙂

7) Don’t freak out about technical tests

technical tests, really ?

Sure, they’re stressful, but:

  • the more you do, the less scary they are. And sometimes you can have the same test in 2 different companies, so pay attention and learn 🙂
  • the type of test is a strong indication of the company culture. A timed algorithm test that no one is supposed to complete on time may mean a company looking for highly competitive math brains. On the opposite, a hands-on take home test may mean that companies are more open to diverse profiles and focused on the actual mission software engineers will have to perform in their day-to-day job.
  • they’re a great opportunity to learn. Chances are you will debrief tests with a senior engineer or tech lead. It’s precious to have a senior profile look at your code and discuss it with you. Always ask for feedback, even when you fail at a test: it will help you get better.
  • the goal of these tests is also to know if you have the potential to learn and progress, the right mindset and are fun to work with.

8) You won’t be able to apply everywhere, and it’s ok

Your profile may open doors, but not all of them. Don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine. You need to find a company that will understand and value your path and differences, and a team that will help you grow and progress.

Happy Libeons

At Libeo, our tech community is made out of various profiles in genders, origins, experiences, life and work paths… From our founders, who used to own and manage restaurants before launching a fintech to change the life of SMBs entrepreneurs, to our team, we value diversity and like hands-on people who aren’t afraid to take on new challenges. We believe in learning by doing, being impactful every day, and moving forward together in a joyful spirit. Wanna join us?

Un grand MERCI a Celine R qui a proposé aux Duchess de republier sont post sur le site, le post original se trouve sur medium

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