Practical Tips for Finding The Way In: Anna’s Job Search Story

October 20, 2017

Shortly after starting law school, Anna realized it wasn’t for her. “I just wasn’t very fulfilled,” said Anna. “And I didn’t know what I could do next.” We’ve all been there. Sometimes we feel stuck.

But it’s what Anna did to get unstuck that makes her story so inspiring, actionable and insightful for anyone considering a career shift. Specifically, Anna did three things to kickstart her new career as a software engineer:

#1 Talk to the people you know.

Anna leaned on her personal relationships and connections to help her explore a variety of career options. In time, she realized that a lot of the same logic-based skills she was developing to become a lawyer were transferrable to software engineering too.

Whether it’s grabbing coffee with a friend or lunch with a former coworker, talking to people who know you about your career search can open up possibilities and give you some helpful perspective. Don’t worry if you can’t do this in person. Sometimes, sending a quick LinkedIn message to catch up or ask a few questions can be just as effective. In fact, we know that nearly one-third of professionals on LinkedIn have surfaced new opportunities through casual conversations they started with a LinkedIn message.

Bottom line: it’s hard to predict who your connections know or all the ways they can conceivably offer help. Talk to them. Give them a chance to help and you may be surprised.

#2 Learn a new skill (hint: it’s not as hard as you might think).

The thing to remember about skills is that they’re like kitchen knives, over time they dull. It’s estimated that the average shelf-life of a skill is about 5 years. Anna knew she needed to learn new skills to successfully switch and chase a different type of career. Whether you need to do the same, or just want to sharpen your existing skills to stay ahead — there are a variety of ways to bulk up your professional know-how.

While Anna chose to enroll in a multi-week coding bootcamp, learning a new skill doesn’t always require this same level of time and commitment. In fact, part of the appeal of online learning services like LinkedIn Learning is that you can do everything online and pick up skills at your own pace, one lesson at a time.

So whether you’re like Anna and learning new skills in order to jumpstart a career, or you simply want to be more competitive in the job market, the more comfortable you can get with the notion of lifelong learning in your career, the better off you’ll be.

#3 Seek and connect with alumni, they’ve been in your shoes.

After Anna graduated from her coding bootcamp, she used LinkedIn to help turbo-charge her job search efforts.

She started by searching for companies that had a history of hiring people from coding bootcamps. Anna did this partly to get a better feel for the types of employers she might want to explore, and partly to start building a list of people who had been in her shoes and completed similar bootcamp programs. There are a few different ways to do this type of lookup on LinkedIn:

  1. Do a simple LinkedIn people search and then sort the results by school (or program); or
  2. Use the LinkedIn Alumni tool to find people who graduated from a particular school and sort the results by company.

Using these features, Anna was able to quickly build a list of companies with different bootcamp graduates, and then she began to reach out to each person to introduce herself and gauge their willingness to talk more about their career.  

One of the graduates that responded quickly was Paulette. She was willing to provide some practical and timely advice, all of which eventually helped Anna land her first job and start a new career as a software engineer.

There’s a lot we can learn from Anna’s story.

She made a big decision and took the initiative to redirect her career, but it was the relationships she had and the new ones she formed that ultimately helped her find her way in to opportunity.

If you’re interested in learning more about the role of relationships in the job seeking process, check out Rahul and Claire’s stories, and other posts from our The Way In series. We’d also love to hear your story. How have your connections helped you find a job? Take a moment today to thank them and use the hashtag #TheWayIn.