On July 25, we attended a meetup organised by Women Techmakers Berlin (special thanks to Anna Morgiel), within their July Fireside Chats series.
Lily, our Technology Recruiter, was a member of the panel. Together with Alexander Kley of Eurostaff, Debora Lasoen of Honeypot, Ivo Betke of talent.io, and Eva-Marie Pickert of Talentwunder, she talked about gaining confidence when applying for a job, and more. Natalie Pistunovich of WTM Berlin was moderating the discussion.
We’ve gathered the main takeaways from the event. You’ll find them below in the Q&A format.
Q: SHOULD I APPLY IF THE JOB DESCRIPTION DOESN’T MATCH ME 100%?
The short answer is YES!
Job descriptions are not carved in stone. They are more like wish lists.
A job ad doesn’t cover everything a company is looking for. While meeting just some of its requirements, you might also possess something much more valuable than a set of skills from the description, such as industry knowledge, soft skills, or personality.
When applying for a job, you are offering our potential, not just your past experience.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO KNOW IF THE JOB DESCRIPTION FITS ME?
First of all, try to see beyond the technology stack mentioned. Look at the bigger picture: what the company does, what problems is it trying to solve. Is it something you would like to work with?
What’s also important, ask questions. Connect with people who work there, ask them about what their job is like. Message the hiring manager. Talk to your recruiter. The hiring process doesn’t need to be formal and strictly regulated.
Q: WHAT SHOULD BE IN A CV?
The short answer: Anything that’s relevant to a specific position you are applying for.
List projects you worked on describing what the problem was, how you solved it and what solution you came up with. At the same time, always ask yourself questions like “Why am I including this?” “How will it help me to get noticed?”
We’ve covered it all here (template included!)
Q: HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO DO RESEARCH BEFORE THE INTERVIEW?
In fact, it’s crucial.
People often fail to research the company or the position they are applying for. They come to an interview unprepared, which makes a poor impression on hiring managers. Doing your homework will gain you a serious advantage.
Having the questions prepared in advance makes your interview a conversation, not an interrogation :)
Q: HOW DO I BUILD UP CONFIDENCE BEFORE THE INTERVIEWS?
You can go to interviews every now and then, even when you are not looking for a job. It helps you both test your skills and gain courage. Besides, it’s a good way to stay aware of the market and to feel comfortable in it.
That’s also a good mindset to have when you are actually looking for a job :)
Q: TECHNICAL TASKS CAN BE VERY COMPLEX OR TAKE TOO MUCH TIME. WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
If your take-home challenges are very time-consuming (especially when you have a few of them), you can always ask for alternatives. For example, maybe you can do one coding challenge instead of 5 different assignments?
Try to understand what is expected of you. What outcome is the company looking for? Are they looking into your tech skills, your ability to provide a creative solution or to solve the problem in time? Sometimes it’s not about whether you do it right but rather how you do it.
Q: HOW TO ANSWER THE QUESTION “WHAT’S YOUR SALARY EXPECTATION?”
You can research the salaries range in your technology online or talk to your friends about salaries. Or you can talk to your recruiter — we’ll help you estimate and negotiate the salary based on your hard & soft skills and your willingness to learn.
Q: SHOULD I MENTION SENSITIVE PERSONAL INFORMATION TO MY INTERVIEWER (E.G., SEXUAL ORIENTATION, DISABILITIES, ETHNIC BACKGROUND)?
It depends on how comfortable you are with sharing this information. In case of most Berlin-based companies, this shouldn’t be an issue at all.
But, for example, in case of a physical disability, the earlier you mention it, the sooner you can see how the company can support you.
Q: HOW DO I MAKE A CAREER CHANGE WITHOUT DEVALUING MY PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE?
Before you decide to hard-reset your career, try to identify about transferable skills. They might become your important “selling point”.
For example, if you come from Marketing and are looking for a Developer position, you might consider joining a company whose product is a marketing tool. Your experience in the field can be priceless for a company like this.
Q: HOW TO DEAL WITH COMPANIES THAT ARE HIRING ME AS THEIR “FIRST WOMAN DEVELOPER” (A “TOKEN PERSON”)?
In Berlin, the tech scene is too young for some serious inclusivity initiatives to be in place. While we are slowly coming there, you can make an impact too by asking spot-on questions. “What can you do to include me into your working environment?” “What are the measures you are about to take to make me feel as a part of the team?” — These might push companies to take inclusivity more seriously.