How to find your first job as a woman in tech
There are many ambitious graduates keen to enter the world of digital. But even in times uncomplicated by a global pandemic, job hunting for a technology role is daunting. Now, it’s riddled with a whole new set of challenges. Navigating job opportunities entirely remotely makes it difficult to understand the tangible tasks and responsibilities behind the job description. And it can be difficult to assess whether the culture of a company is the right fit when you can’t meet colleagues face to face.
These challenges are particularly difficult for female graduates. We know that men and women apply for jobs differently, as research has revealed that men typically apply for a job when they are relatively uncertain of their suitability, meeting only 60 per cent of the required qualifications, while women tend to apply for a job only when they meet all the requirements. Combined with remote job-hunting making it harder to see the real-world nature of jobs, there’s a real risk this tendency towards self-doubt will put off too many female graduates.
As you look for your first tech job, confidence will be crucial. Having navigated this quite recently, there are a few tips I’d like to share.
Don’t be a rabbit in headlights
It’s easy to feel you need to be absolutely sure of your direction, and to have an intricate knowledge of the entire field, to make an informed decision about the role you want. Don’t worry. Do enough research to feel prepared for each application and get started. You’ll find applications get easier with practice and momentum, and you can refine your ideal job criteria as you go. As the old saying goes: the first step is always the hardest.
I’d also recommend you treat the application process as a way to learn more about your career priorities. What’s your definition of success – work-life balance, being on the fast track to promotion or working alongside people whose company you enjoy? Note what you prioritise and focus on the applications that contain questions that excite or intrigue you to find an initial direction and take the first step.
Online careers events are also a great way to make a start. The PA Women in Tech team recently attended the Women in STEM recruitment fair and I strongly recommend signing up to as many of these events as possible. Be ready to strike up informal conversations with both recruiters and those who work in the positions you’re applying for, as this will help you understand the people, mindsets and culture behind the application form.
Don’t feel disheartened
Rejection is, unfortunately, part of the application process, and it’s natural to feel disappointed when things don’t go to plan. The challenge is to not let that disappointment slip into a feeling of inadequacy, and instead channel it into positive motivation to drive you forward. Remember, employers value your potential for growth, eagerness to learn and ability to overcome setbacks above all else. Rejection is an opportunity to demonstrate all these things.
It’s also important not to give up on adjacent opportunities. In this remote job marketplace, it can be easy to dismiss a role because of a feeling that you don’t quite fit the bill, or it’s not quite what you were after. Try to keep an open mind open about criteria – being flexible will let you uncover a world of possible jobs that you might enjoy. Jobs are never a lifelong commitment, and many will offer you the opportunity to navigate to your dream role once you’re through the door.
Once you’ve made it to interview, don’t panic
Interviews are intimidating, especially virtual ones. To shine at interview, preparation is key. So, take some time to memorise a few persuasive points to respond to questions your interviewer is bound to ask. You can think of the key questions by looking at the core requirements in the job description – you’re almost always going to be asked to talk about a time you’ve demonstrated them.
And why not take advantage of the new remote format? Curate some emergency notes to keep by your laptop in case your mind goes blank and take some time to rehearse in front of a camera to see how you come across on screen.
Once you’ve done your prep, try not to panic. Be yourself and capitalise on the differentiating factors that make you, you. I found that a reassuring thing to bear in mind is that this experience is as much for you to judge whether the company fits your criteria as vice versa – feel empowered that you are also the assessor.
You can find your first job as a woman in tech
By taking a considered first step to build momentum, using rejection as an opportunity to learn and thoroughly preparing for interview, you can make the dreaded job hunt much more manageable. Don’t fall victim to self-doubt – have faith that you can demonstrate the skills to be successful in the exciting world of tech.
And why not take your first step by exploring our current digital and tech opportunities.