Getting Hired

Udacity, Getting Hired

I got hired. Three magical words. It sounds so simple, but the process itself often feels like a fragile house of cards, capable of collapse after one wrong move. That said, understanding the hiring process as a process is definitely the right way to approach things. There are steps you need to take, and one success leads to the next, until finally, the BIG success. The three words. I got hired.

Visualize Your Destination

Like all important achievements, getting hired starts with preparation, and preparation starts with visualization. What do we mean by this? If you’re familiar with the phrase “the end justifies the means,” then think of this as a variation whereby the end defines the means; meaning, what you visualize as being the end of the process, will define the steps you need to take to get there. If you want to be a data scientist for example, knowing this will help you determine the steps you need to take to achieve your goal.

If you don’t yet know yet what you want to be, that’s ok too, it just means you’ve got an additional journey to undertake. But the process is the same. In this case, the “end” isn’t getting hired, the “end” is knowing the role and/or career you want to pursue. So, visualize yourself knowing what you want to be, and then figure out what it takes to get to that point. (Hint: the answer is research!)

Build Your Network

Once you’ve committed to undertaking your journey, you need to very quickly absorb, internalize, and act upon a core truism: relationships and people matter in your career. Which means there is no time like the present to start making connections. Getting out there and meeting people doesn’t guarantee that you’ll make a valuable connection, but not doing so certainly guarantees you won’t. And remember, this is networking—it’s ok to be clear about your intentions. You want to get hired.

Here is another important truism to absorb, one that nicely complements the importance of making connections: show, don’t tell. For example, it’s one thing to tell a hiring manager that you love to collaborate. It’s another thing to point to an actual project that you collaborated on. There are all kinds of ways to “show.” You can participate in a hackathon, or contribute to an open-source project. You can join—and become an active participant in—an online community. You can publish articles or blog posts. You can do internships or volunteer work. You can use your current skills to find freelance work. You can publish projects to your own blog, and build an online portfolio.

Build Your Personal Brand

Once you’ve done your research, identified your career goals, begun the work of networking, and started to build up a public footprint of your efforts, you need to think about how you’re going to represent yourself to the hiring managers and recruiters you’re eventually going to want to target and attract. We’re talking here about the “classic” ingredients of a job-focused personal brand: your resume, your LinkedIn and GitHub profiles, your portfolio, your social media properties, and so forth. You can work on these solo in a silo, or you can utilize additional resources. If you’ve done your due networking diligence, you may already have a circle of peers who can help you.

Deploy Your Assets

At this point in the process, you’ve got your assets in order. It’s time to deploy them. Doing so requires a target. Actual open roles. This probably sounds simple. Go to LinkedIn, type the job you’re looking for into the search field, and prepare to start emailing. Guess what? It’s not that simple. It turns out there are multiple ways to find and apply to jobs. Here are just a few ways to unearth great roles:

Tap into Your Network. If you’ve established and nurtured good connections with people in relevant communities, then there is often no better source for leads on available roles that are right for you.

Attend Events. MeetUps, job fairs, and conferences present countless opportunities to learn about great job openings. Go, listen, network, and most important of all, follow up afterwards!

Check Job Boards. After you’ve created a list of companies that interest you, go to their individual job boards and see what’s available.

Contact Recruiter & Matchmaking Sites. Headhunting recruiters can help you connect with positions that may not be widely accessed online (often a good option for more senior level positions). Matchmaking sites like:,, and can do the legwork of introducing you to companies that are hiring.

Be Ready (When Opportunity Knocks)

Once you’ve applied, you need to make sure you’re ready if you get the call. As Pablo Picasso once said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Working, in this context, means doing everything from researching the companies you’ve applied to, to engaging in mock interviews. You need to know the industry, the company, and the role. You need to know your own story, and why and how it connects to the company’s story. You need to be ready to do everything from describe how a failure led to a success, to negotiate a salary.

Your Path To Getting Hired

What we’re talking about here, is your path to getting hired, and when you’re ready to start putting one foot in front of the other, your first step should land you right here, at Udacity’s Career Resource Center. Because virtually everything laid out in this post so far links to a resource in our Career Center, and just about everything you need to know to get hired can be found in our Career Center.

You may know Udacity is hosting our Intersect 2017 conference on March 8th. The theme of the conference is Learning for the Jobs of Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond. That’s exactly what Udacity is all about, and that’s exactly what we’re talking about here. Some of you are ready for a job today. Some of you will be ready for a job tomorrow. Some of you are looking further down the road. No matter where your Point B is, you’ve all got a Point A, and a path in between. Our goal is to support you as move towards those three beautiful words: I got hired.

Grit, Yes, But What About Curiosity?

Udacity, Curiosity

Grit. The word seems to be everywhere, and every hiring manager and recruiter seems to be on the lookout for candidates who possess it. But don’t be suspicious of it as a trend—grit is real, and it’s an important trait to nurture within yourself.

But is it everything?

The Biggest Skill You Need

We are in an age when all job-seekers must understand personal branding, and everyone must be a lifelong learner to succeed. What then, do we make of advice like this?

“The biggest skill you need to have these days is curiosity.”

Continue Reading

How To Use Storytelling To Build Your Personal Brand And Land That Dream Job

Personal Brand - Udacity

Marketers love to talk about “brand.” So do recruiters. Company brand, personal brand. In the weeks leading up to—and in the days following—the Super Bowl, everyone talks about brand. Which means, whether anyone realizes it or not, everyone is talking about storytelling. This year’s assortment of Super Bowl ads were heavy on story-as-brand. A recent Forbes article noted that:

  1. Some companies are using their ads to make a political statement (intentionally or not).
  2. There seem to be more ads focusing on the brand level instead of individual products.

For some, this was a successful approach. For others, not so much. One thing we can all agree on, is that story works, when it comes to provoking emotion. Whether you liked the Audi and Coke ads or not, chances are you discussed them. A very good friend of mine worked on the Airbnb ad, which was a textbook example of story-as-brand in action, and by almost all accounts, a very successful version thereof.

But what does this have to do with getting a job?

Personal Brand

If you’re a job-seeker, you’re probably familiar with the term “personal brand.” What this refers to essentially, is the “public” you. Your personal brand is a composite of all the things publicly available about you, that together comprise a representation of you, as seen through the eyes of recruiters and hiring managers.

There are countless articles out there about how to create, maintain, build, and enhance your personal brand:

How to Define Your Personal Brand in 5 Simple Steps

10 Crucial Questions For Defining Your Personal Brand

How to Build Your Personal Brand

These are just a few examples. Keep searching, and you’ll keep finding more. But don’t keep searching. Instead, put your writing cap on. Because at the end the of the day, it all comes down to telling your story.

Telling Your Story

I can already hear you say it: I’m not a writer!  That’s ok. The actual writing is for your eyes only. What the public sees will be the expressions and manifestations of what you wrote.

Here’s how it works. Start a document, and create two columns.

In Column A, try and write down demonstrable accomplishments and experiences that others pursuing similar career goals would likely be able to list as well. Degrees and credentials earned. Skills mastered. Roles previously held. Projects built. And so forth.

In Column B, try and write down demonstrable accomplishments and experiences that are more likely to be unique to you, but that still relate—at least tangentially—to your career goals. For example: Places you’ve traveled. People you’ve worked with. Articles you’ve written. Awards you’ve received. Internships you’ve held. Talents you possess. Obstacles you’ve overcome.

Now, forget about Column A completely. Your job is to write Column B. And remember, this is for your eyes only. It’s not the movie. It’s just the script. Don’t worry too much about grammar, tone, etc. Just keep it simple. Start with an introduction that summarizes what’s to come. Follow this with one brief paragraph for each accomplishment/experience that you listed (no more than 4-5). Then, write a conclusion that summarizes why what you’ve listed is relevant to your career goals.

Your Script For Success

This document is what you’re going to use to optimize your personal brand. It will be your sanity check, and your source of truth. It’s your script for success. Here’s a use case to show you what we mean:

Do you have a Twitter account? Yes? Good. Go look at it. Look at EVERY aspect of your Twitter account, and ask yourself, is it in line with your script? Does your photo LOOK like the person you talk about in your script? What about the header image? How about the short bio? Does your bio sound like your script? Now, go look at your own tweets. Does every single one support your script? If yes, good. If not, don’t do those anymore. If you need to send tweets that aren’t in line with your script, create another Twitter account, and use that account for your “non-script” tweeting. And name that account something VERY different from your “personal brand” name. Same approach for curated (i.e. retweeted) content. Share what fits your script. Don’t share the other stuff. Or, share it from your other account.

Once your Twitter is optimized, do the same with your LinkedIn. Your Quora. Your Facebook. Your blog. Your website. Anything and everything. You, the person, are now a story. Stick to that story.

Express Yourself

Let’s go back to Airbnb for a moment. Here’s the statement at the core of their 30-second Super Bowl ad:

“We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”

What does this have to do with Airbnb as a business? Think about it in terms of Columns A and B. Obviously this is Column B territory. What does Airbnb do that’s different? They believe in travel as an experience. They believe in lodging as a connection to place. They believe in the world as a global platform for cross-cultural engagement and interaction. If this ad succeeds, it does so as an expression of their Column B script.

When ads like this DON’T work, it’s because people perceive there to be a disconnect between the expression of the story, and the reality of the story. Read some of the criticisms of Coke’s Super Bowl ad, and you’ll see what I mean.

Your Personal Brand, On Brand

Here is what you want to do when it comes to storytelling and your personal brand. You want to understand, and be able to enunciate to yourself, what the reality of your story is. Then, you need to create and maintain the public-facing expressions and manifestations of this story, such that it’s always all in perfect alignment.

Marketers love to talk about being “on brand.” Oddly enough, recruiters don’t. But it’s how they choose who they choose all the same.

Is There Really Such A Thing As A “Tech Company” Anymore?

Tech Company

Some might say we’re currently experiencing the triumph of technology companies. Others might say this is actually the end of them. A recent Medium post by Rob Thomas (Vice President, Products, IBM Analytics) is in fact entitled exactly that—The End of Tech Companies. In it Thomas writes:

The era of “tech companies” is over; there are only ‘companies’, steeped in technology, that will survive.

Continue Reading

Soft Skills Make Firm Foundations: Building Your Candidate Brand

Udacity, Students, Job Seekers, Candidate Brand

Data-driven hiring models are increasingly able to include and assess soft skills, so it’s critical that students and job-seekers understand how this impacts and informs the process of building a successful candidate brand.

Hard skills are generally defined as those teachable skills that can be measured and quantified. Soft skills, on the other hand, are understood to be more subjective—these are the qualities and attributes we tend to think of as comprising “people skills.” Traditionally, soft skills are considered much harder to quantify.

So can soft skills really be assessed using data? The answer is: Yes.

Continue Reading

Returning To The Workforce

Udacity supports students from a variety of backgrounds, including many who are returning to the workforce. Today we highlight the career story of Kate Rotondo, an iOS Nanodegree Course Manager here at Udacity. After taking 5 years off to raise a family, Kate successfully overcame the challenges of re-entering the job market. In our interview below, Kate details her journey, and offers her advice on how to maintain your skills, grow your network, and ace the interview cycle.

Continue Reading

Six Skills for a Six-Figure Salary

Software Developer, Six-Figure Salary

If you’re certain you want a top-notch career, and you have your eyes set on a six-figure salary, but you aren’t sure which career is right for you, what’s the best way to move forward? Is it folly to shoot for salary when you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up? Not necessarily. The key is to pursue skills, not roles.

Continue Reading