A shiny resume can get you in the door, however, hiring managers at (great) Canadian companies know that there’s more than just a resume. Great Canadian companies have started to realize that just having a computer science degree, proof of academic excellence, or employment history with some known brands is not enough of a signal to build a world-class team. They are always looking for that extra oomph factor – even more now than ever, as the talent hunt goes global.
Most candidates correctly “solve” the coding exercises, yet get rejected. Meanwhile, many others who never do those tests still land full-time offers. Most people assume that to land a good job, all they need to do is practice solving 400+ leet-code problems and have a keyword-optimized resume, OR work with a recruiter to get references. That is not true!
It is easy to say ‘I’m a problem solver’ on a resume, but difficult to show what makes you one. Great Canadian companies don’t hire you because you know everything about something, they hire you for having an attitude of openness, adaptability, and no preconceptions about a subject. They look for that beginner’s mindset to fit in a new tribe.
Talking about your work shows that you’re a problem solver. For example, how you approached building a product, solving an algorithmic problem, coming up with an architectural solution, or reducing waste with some hack all these work specifics help them learn about your competitive advantage.
Developing the mindset of a beginner is crucial to being a good engineer. Beginners aren’t afraid to take risks and know that they don’t have all the answers. That balance of confidence with an open mind is what hiring managers look for.
For a software engineer, your previous work history is the only armor that will help you move forward in your career. Having a portfolio is a must as projects and code act as your proof of work and that is what companies want to see.
Don’t let a job “happen” to you. Be deliberate about your goals and make it happen. In order to get what we want, we first need to know what exactly it is that we want and then try to get it. That’s what I call intention.
It’s not about dreaming that one day at some point in the future you’ll be hired by the company you always wanted to work for – it’s about doing things every day in a way that brings you closer to your goals.
You can feel your career is happening each day. You are making it happen; it’s deliberate. That’s Intentional Career. This is what great Canadian companies look for – your intent – that will make you successful in a new job environment.
In my journey as an entrepreneur, I’m obsessed at highlighting signals with data to show the real potential of a person irrespective of their age, gender, colour, education, brand associations, etc.
At StackRaft, I work with a lot of companies and help them get introductions to engineers matched as per skills, personality, and career intent. Data signals like Stanford or worked with YC startup before, or published a paper at Harvard means nothing if there’s no intent to work in a given domain. I’d rather focus on what you built when in school, what you learned in your last job, and a link to your blog or published work. This is what so many people don’t understand. They over-prepare for the interviews as if it were a competitive programming contest, with no consideration for exemplifying their knowledge and work done.
PS. I intentionally overused the word “great” for companies, because 70% or more companies are not great. I’ll save the description for another blog!