Career Tips from an [Ex] Tech Recruiter: How To Land Your First Role In Tech
A top tips helpful guide for women to understand what to look out for when looking for tech jobs and getting hired, understanding their worth and salaries, as well as building confidence and finding ways to grow in their careers.
Meet Parul Singh! An ex tech recruiter who has put her hand up to unlock all the insights into what recruiters look for when finding candidates for great tech job roles. We’re all about supporting our fellow women coders out here and we want to see you thrive, soo we are excited to share Parul Singh’s helpful tips on how to find tech job opportunities, understanding job descriptions and salaries, as well building confidence on finding ways to grow your career! We hope these tips inspire you to take charge of your tech career today.
Hey Parul! Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions 😃 we’d really love to get to know you first. Please could you give us a brief introduction as to who you are, your career history to date and what is your relationship with CFG?
I’m currently a Recruitment Marketing Partner and Neurodiversity Advocate at xDesign. The first part of my role isn’t a common one, effectively I focus on improving our candidate attraction through our job adverts, careers site, content and community engagement.
The latter part of my role is a new role I got xDesign to create last year. I work with Karrell, Senior People Partner on initiatives, policies and processes to support our neurodivergent employees as I was only diagnosed with ADHD myself about two years ago at aged 25 so I’m passionate about breaking down barriers ND people face in the recruitment process and the workplace.
I got involved with CFG after Alice Pinch, the Marketing Manager got in touch with me about being an instructor for a MOOC last year. I absolutely loved it so I’m going to do it again later this year but this time I’m also creating the content. CFG aligns with my personal values and I’m fully on board with their mission!
What do you do in your spare time?
I love community building too so I’m an Organising Board Member at Manchester Tech Festival, I run my own meetup group called TechRise MCR and I speak at a lot of events and podcasts as well.
Aside from that I offer free informal mentorship for people in tech or looking to break into tech and naturally I’ve often attracted people from marginalised backgrounds as I’m very vocal about equity in the workplace on LinkedIn!
I genuinely love every aspect of what I do as I get to bring together all of my different passions!
Looking for your first role in tech? Here’s how to get started.
Where can women look for tech jobs outside of LinkedIn? What resources could they refer to? 🔍
A few good platforms I can suggest are:
- WellFound (previously Angel.co)
- Total Jobs
- And of course LinkedIn
Important!!! You can set up job alerts for the majority of these platforms so save yourself some manual work 😊
What are some ‘green flags’ 💚 to look out for when reading job descriptions? Especially if you’re looking for your first role in tech!
There’s definitely a few things you can do during the research stage to help you narrow down the right job and roles that suit the direction you wish to head towards. But here’s six things to look out for:
- Career Development: Any information about the progression and personal development in the role, especially if they talk about broadening your skills and internal mobility. Do they offer any training or internal development programs to help you upskill in your role or eventually climb the career ladder?
- Transparency: Do you get a clear idea of the company culture, their vision, what problems there are to solve and what kind of impact you can make instead of a very generic advert? In terms of the interview process, have they outlined what this may be? Do you know what to expect? And lastly, is there any information or indication about their Corporate Social Responsibilty (CSR)?There could be some projects you might be interested in getting involved with such a charities or internal programs.
- Company Culture: Look out for how the company makes an effort to sell the role to you? How enthusiastic are they with encouraging you to be excited to join and the company? It’s great to understand how other employees view the company and looking for company culture indicators that might be important to you (like embracing flexible working, for example).
- Benefits: Have they got good benefits on top of the standard things like holidays and pension? This may not be at the top of your list, but depending on your circumstances, items like good maternity or paternity leave policies, mental health and wellbeing access, investment in learning and development are indicators of a company’s willingness to invest in their employees.
- Role & team expectations: They don’t expect a whole tech department in one role… ie they want frontend, backend, database, UX and DevOps skills all in one. Make sure they are able to clearly explain role expectations with you. They tell you how you fit into the company, who will you work with on a regular basis, do you have a dotted line to other departments?
- Work environment: Have they explained what hybrid, remote or flexible working looks like in this company? Just saying its hybrid is not enough, explain if they have set days in the office, how many days per week, what are the core hours etc
So you found some job listings! How to choose what tech companies to apply for and what to bear in mind before you start your application.
Onto the next step which is starting your applications! But to which companies? Here are a few ideas of what you can do!
A little soft snooping: With a little help from social media – why not look up current (or even past) employees on LinkedIn. Reference checking can go both ways, remember… 😉?
Thorough research across all social media platforms, LinkedIn is the obvious one but don’t forget to look at Twitter and YouTube as well.
Even if the company doesn’t have a podcast, you can search the company name on a podcast platform like Spotify to see if there is any content that employees have done.
What does Google say? Search for any recent press releases by searching the company name on Google News (you can also setup an alert).
Some companies have public GitHub profiles, some will house some open-source projects and some even have their handbook like Made Tech.
Another platform to consider is Glassdoor – but take this with a pinch of salt. Employees are more likely to write a negative review that a positive one but it’s worth checking it out for any recurring themes.
Seems a bit pessimistic but check if they’ve made any redundancies recently. I think this is important to make an educated decision on if you want to apply or not!
As a tech recruiter, what are some of the must-haves and nice-to-haves on CVs and applications that you always look out for? ✅
Show some personality! We want to get to know you just as much as what you can also bring to the company.
Bring your CV to life ✨ A SOLID personal summary at the top. I find a lot of people miss an opportunity to tell their story here and hook their reader. However sometimes people throw in too many generic phrases like “I’m a hard worker and a team player” which kinda bores me. Don’t be afraid to bring your CV to life in this section.
Who are you outside of work? This is a polarising opinion but a hobbies and interests section is a nice-to-have, I quite like learning about what candidates like doing other than work and it helps me start the conversation in the first interview which I found almost always helps put them at ease and sets them up for success for the rest of the interview.
Don’t forget the essentials. For entry level folks, selling your transferable skills is absolutely essential. The majority of people in your position will have the same education and tech skills so you have to capitalise on this to stand out!
Tip: Bring it into your personal summary and also highlight in a few bullet points under each role
Know your impact. When you write a section under each role, please try to focus on achievements and impact instead of listing your day-to-day responsibilities. If you worked on something great and it had a business impact, make sure you showcase this. It makes it sound so much more tangible and as recruiters we love to see that your skills listed have resulted in actual results – the proof is in the pudding!
Show us your work! Projects with links to GitHub repos are a must if applicable for the role! Make sure they have a good readme and the hyperlinks work.
A massive bonus is if you can incorporate some form of numbers, stats or figures here, even for non-technical roles. For example, if I was cross-skilling into tech I’d put something like “I helped reduced the companies spend on recruitment agencies by £x per month” or “I reduced the time to hire from x days to y days” or “I directed initiatives that helped us increased the % of women in the recruitment pipeline from x% to y%”
Clear sections with headings are a must. Generally, the order should go like the below (this depends on your experience and which role you’re applying for):
- Name, City, Contact Details
- Personal summary
- Technical skills
- Technical projects
- Education (if you’ve done a bootcamp etc)
- Work experience
- Hobbies and interests.
⚠️ For safety reasons please avoid putting your full address, we only need to know the city you live in. 🧷
What advice would you give someone who has just started applying for their first roles in tech but are getting a lot of rejections? Are you able to suggest some next steps for them?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting results. Sending tonnes of applications into the void is understandably draining and though you should never abandon this approach you have to think outside the box, firstly to save your sanity but also to widen the opportunities you can get.
Last year I mentored someone who was entirely self taught and only had experience in the charity sector. I taught them how to network the right way and they ended up getting a junior role at a company, which wasn’t an advertised role. They passed his probation a few months ago!
This was some of the advice I mentioned to him:
- Map out all of the tech meetups in your area and sign up to the ones you go to.
- Network! During or after the event, start adding the speakers and organisers on LinkedIn and make sure to also include a personal note.
- Create a LinkedIn post before the event and also after the event to share your thoughts and learnings. Tag the people you’ve met there and follow up with them through a message.
This isn’t a fail-proof method but it’s doing something a bit different and you really never know who you might meet! Always ask for feedback but don’t be surprised if they can’t give you personalised feedback at application stage but I encourage everyone to ask anyway. And action anything you get back.
Lastly, find a mentor! This isn’t the same as paid career coaching but when you’re feeling down about getting a lot of rejections a mentor can really help you keep on track and be inspired – this is something I do with my mentees I’m just really their cheerleader!
If you’ve reached the end of this article then you have most of the tools you need to slay those job applications! Good luck – we believe in you 💝!
Once you’ve received an offer or ready to prep for an interview, click the button below to read more of Parul’s tips on how to prepare!