Women In Tech: Getting Hired in Technology Roles
As a woman in a technology leadership position, I often struggle with understanding exactly what afforded me so much success.
Not only how did I become successful, but also how can I mentor, teach and help other women to grow into successful, strong, driven technology leaders. To this end, I am sponsoring a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiative at Data Ideology (DI). Myself and other members of the DI team have started working on several projects including a series of articles focusing on DEI in technology.
Considering the main goals of DEI, I have decided to start by focusing on the application and hiring process for technology positions, drawing from my experiences as an interviewee as well as an interviewer. Applying for jobs can be challenging in any situation, but the task can be especially stressful for women in IT considering their underrepresentation in technology fields. Some technology fields, like cloud computing, saw as low as 14% female representation of the US workforce in 20211. So, how do you get hired in the technology field as a female?
Did you know that women are 16% less likely to apply for jobs that they view on LinkedIn or that they feel like they need to be 100% qualified to apply while men will apply if they meet only 60% of the listed qualifications2? As an employer, DI is actively trying to combat this by reducing the number of requirements on job postings, but it’s a two-way street. Women need to apply to more jobs. Apply to your dream job. Apply to the job that is slightly outside of your skillset. Hell, apply to the job that is a total 180-degree change from what you are currently doing, but is something you are educated in, passionate about, or just seems like the perfect fit. Apply. Apply. Apply. Once you have decided to apply for every and any job that you think is interesting, here are a few more tips for your application:
Reach out, but don’t be a pest. As the Director of a consulting firm, I am bombarded with contact requests and resumes from prospective candidates on a daily basis. I try my best to reach out to each person who contacts me and direct them to the proper application channels (see our careers page for current listings), and I do make sure to review all of the resumes that are submitted by applicants who have contacted me. However, I do not give preferential treatment to people who email/text/call me multiple times. Connect once, promote yourself, and apply through the proper channels.
Make sure your resume is great. I comb through hundreds of resumes in some weeks, and there are a few things that always stand out to me:
- Make it easy to understand. Have all the relevant information at the top of your resume (name, address, phone, email). Be concise with your wording and try not to exceed 2-3 pages. Include specific examples of work from projects instead of just focusing on “I did” and “I can” type bulleted statements.
- Include your LinkedIn profile and any other public examples of your work. This is an easy way to show off your skills and accomplishments.
- Include a skills section that highlights the applications and technologies that you are familiar with, soft skills can be included here as well. I love looking at a skills section in a resume, because it distills down all other information into something quick and easy to understand.
Network and provide references. References are something that almost no company asks for anymore, especially in tech. Tech companies would rather do their own research and reach out to people they already know who might also know you. So, make it easy for them, comb through your contact on LinkedIn and see if you have any connections in common. If you do, ask that person to approach the employer on your behalf. Women in technology can sometimes struggle with imposter syndrome but having someone who knows your work reach out for you can reinforce both your application and your belief in yourself.
At DI, we use a platform that automates digital screenings. There are many different digital screening platforms out there, and they are becoming more common especially during the pandemic. Our digital screening is a series of written and verbal questions, sometimes including a skills quiz. The verbal questions are asked on screen, and then your video and audio response are recorded. It is safe to assume for any digital screening or interview, a video recording will be a component, so be prepared for that. Some more tips for digital screenings:
Dress and act professionally. I know almost everyone has switched to remote work during the pandemic, but this is an interview that is going to be seen by a potential employer. Dress like you would for an in-person interview. Not only that, but make sure that you are in an environment that projects that you are a professional who is prepared to take their work seriously whether working in an office or at home. Studies have shown that women are judged on more than just their competence during interviews, while men are not3. Even though it’s not fair, we need to keep this in mind and put our best foot forward.
Drink water. Digital screenings can be unnerving. Questions are asked by a computer. There is no interpersonal feedback loop. There is nothing but you, your face projected back at you, and your answers. It can be a highly stressful situation, which can lead many people to lose confidence. The link between dehydration and stress is well documented, your brain and body release extra cortisol when they are dehydrated. Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone and increased cortisol can kick up the body’s “Fight or Flight” response. Once the Fight or Flight response kicks in, you start to breathe quickly, your heartrate spikes, you might start sweating, all things you probably associate with being nervous at an interview. So, make sure you are properly hydrated to combat these effects, but what to do if you still experience Fight or Flight symptoms? Trick yourself, take small sips of water when you start to feel extra nervous. Drinking water can trick your Fight or Flight response into thinking everything is ok, because you probably wouldn’t be stopping to take a drink if you were in a life-or-death experience, right?
Talk slowly and think about your answer before speaking. Many digital interview platforms restrict answers to a set timeframe around 2 minutes. Because of this, many candidates rush their answers and end up with extra time wasted. My best advice here is to take 10-20 seconds to formulate your thoughts before responding. Then, make sure to speak slowly and be clear about your intentions.
When you make it to the in person (or video) interview, I still suggest that you follow the guidelines from above. It is also a good idea to bring enough copies of your resume for the interviewers that you know about and a few extra just in case. In addition, I would suggest the following:
Take notes. Interviews can be a highly stressful situation, just like digital screenings. It is easy to lose your train of thought. I find the best way to get past this is to take notes, about the questions you are asked, the answers you want to give, or even follow-up questions.
Be honest and provide clarifications. If you don’t have a specific skill or don’t know the answer to a question, be honest. If you can, try to provide hypothetical answers of clarifications about your skills and elaborate on the question, but if you really don’t know something just say so. Never, ever lie on your resume or during the interview process. In many cases, this will get you kicked out of the candidate pool if you are found out.
Have follow-up questions prepared and ask about next steps. Before your interview, it is always a good idea to do some research into the company and the people that will be interviewing you. After your interview is over, there is usually some time left to ask questions. This is when you can use your research to show the interviewer that you are passionate about the position and maybe even make a personal connection with them. At the very least, you should make sure to ask about things like benefits and next steps. This will also help you determine the best time to follow-up with an interviewer after the interview.
All these suggestions come from my personal experience and include my personal opinions and assumptions. I hope that this list can help other women in technology apply for jobs and advance their careers. If you have additional suggestions or comments, please connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know (LinkedIn - Rebecca Gazda).