Before I tell you about my experience of job hunting in the IT Mecca that is California, I guess I should introduce myself. So here goes! My name is Mervyn. I am a 24 year old, Irish, Computer Science graduate from Dublin.
I majored in computer applications at Dublin City University (DCU). I arrived in San Francisco on a twelve-month J1-IWT VISA, which grants Irish graduates permission to work in the US for twelve months.
I traveled with my girlfriend Bronwyn, who is also an IT Graduate of DCU. Back in Dublin, I was employed with Google Ireland as a local data quality evaluator and mentor. Specifically, I worked on a Google Maps initiative on a contractual basis.
Google was everything I thought it would be: a company where I felt motivated to succeed, a friendly atmosphere and lots of little perks; overall it was an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Google offered to extend my contract on the project, but the lure of the Golden State and Silicon Valley were much more enticing!
In addition to my tenure with Google, I have attained a fairly rich and varied employment history to date, having worked in quality management, banking, customer service and retail roles.
Searching for the right job
Before I go any further I should also outline my goals and aspirations. I have already summarized the reason why I chose California as an ideal destination to broaden my work and life experience. So, which kind of position am I looking for? Ideally, I want to work in information technology and grow my skills as an IT graduate.
Although a very broad field, with the right skills, the right connections and a bit of luck, I guess IT can be very rewarding. I’d like to say there are a few avenues that I would be willing to walk my career down. Roles that would allow me to hone and build on skills I have already learned would be ideal. However, I am also interested in expanding my horizons.
Positions based around quality assurance, data analytics, total quality management and desktop support are especially appealing. The opportunity to work with Google again would be out of this world. Among my other dream tickets are the mobile apps technology field and social media. These are among the types of goals and aspirations I behold. Somewhere among these goals and ambitions is the reason why I chose San Francisco.
Ok, so how did I get commissioned to write this blog piece for Ongig? Well, networking kicked things off. The connection between me and the guys at Ongig was a tenuous one; my cousin, who is a San Franciscan, got me connected and they gave me the opportunity to detail my job-hunting experience as a new arrival in the US.
In particular Ongig wanted to know what it is like when a tech person submits their résumé to job sites such as Monster, Craigslist, CareerBuilder, Dice, etc. So here goes! I will outline the volume and type of e-mails, calls and general correspondence I have received since signing up to these websites. I will also detail the relevance of these contacts from recruiters and potential employers.
I have held an account with Monster.com for some time now and I found Monster.com very useful back in Ireland when applying for positions. As I had not actively updated my profile for well over a year, I decided that I had better do so once I arrived in SF.
I uploaded my up-to-date résumé, and began to receive some feedback almost immediately. However, I have only received four e-mails from recruiters and employers as result of my Monster.co profile. Of these, two were relevant to my online profile.
The first was from a recruitment company recommending a Software Developer/Engineer; however the position would require relocation to Madison, Wisconsin. The position sounded ideal for a person with my level of experience and ability, but heading off to the Midwest after just arriving in SF ruled it out.
The second email was from another recruitment company. This time the position was for a production designer with Yahoo based in Sunnyvale. The position sounded very interesting and I would be able to utilize my visual design skills. However, the contract duration was just two months and I declined to put myself forward for the position.
The other correspondence I received did not match my profile; one was a marketing e-mail selling me a chance to improve my chances of ‘landing the interview’ and the other offered me a position on sales and management program. So far, I have not yet received any phone calls from recruiters or employers as a result of my Monster.com online profile.
So what is my overall opinion of Monster as a job search site? Well it has fairly standard search functionality. One nice feature is that users can create saved searches and they then receive a daily email from Monster.com on a daily basis, informing them of any new positions that have opened in their field. However, my Monster.com account has not yet yielded the job that I am looking for.
CareerBuilder.com was a job search website that was recommended to me by numerous people I had met since my arrival here in California. The website is very similar to Monster.com.
I created a profile which took me at least thirty minutes. This has become one of the more frustrating and tedious aspects of job hunting. This is an issue which Ongig seems to negate as a user’s profile is connected with their LinkedIn profile thus making your subscription with Ongig efficient and pain free.
Since I created my CareerBuilder profile I have received some relevant and irrelevant correspondence from recruiters. Almost immediately I received emails from recruiters bringing Data Analysis jobs to my attention. Whilst this sudden interest appeared quite promising the job descriptions presented required a person with far more professional experience than I currently possess. About 5-10 years more in fact.
Upon subscribing to CareerBuilder I received the usual slew of irrelevant emails from recruiters in the sales arena. I also received mails from those who will endeavour to improve my chances of finding employment by offering me tips on résumé improvement.
I was not aware of the Dice.com recruitment website until Jason at Ongig recommended I try it. So far, I have found this website to be the most useful and rewarding website for job searching that I have used.
Dice is geared more toward tech people and tech jobs than the other sites. The day after I setup my profile with Dice I received two phone calls from recruiters suggesting positions that they thought were suited to my particular profile.
Feedback was instant and right on the mark and these guys don’t seem like time wasters. The first phone call was from a guy who worked with a specialist IT staffing company right here in Berkeley where I live. He had a position to offer that he thought I would be qualified for. This was the most promising bit of news I had heard in the past week and it gave me a more positive outlook on things.
He followed up by mailing me the job description. The specs read very well and right in my field. The company is looking for a person to develop advanced data analytics algorithms, which will mainly utilise GPS and location type data. From research and other projects I have worked on in the past, this is right up my street.
Also, with new satellite arrays, location and tracking is a growth area in IT, so it would be good to be in on the action. I was invited to meet this recruiter on an informal basis (over a beer) in downtown SF. He told me all about the company and we discussed the position, including the compensation package and other perks and benefits. He also mentioned previous candidates he had placed with the company; the alumni sounded impressive. As a result of this meeting, I have been invited to attend an interview with the company in the coming week.
On that very same day I received another phone call from a recruiter in San Francisco, inquiring as to my interest in another data analytics role. We discussed this via phone and e-mail, but it transpired that the employer required someone with a great deal more experience than I could offer.
So, here’s the story so far: I have one job interview set up, which will give me a chance to tell my story face to face with a potential employer. I have also made some really good connections and I have been impressed with the people with I am now connected.
I am beginning to see things happen for me, but I won’t count my chickens just yet! I have gained a lot of experience at profile building in the past month. I recommend Dice.com as a recruitment site that will give instant results that are in line with your profile.
Also the folks at Ongig have been really great; they have given me a lot of ideas and also the opportunity to blog about my experience of job hunting in a new country. Maybe this will open a few more doors!
Note: There was a Part II to this article here: An Irish Blog: Hunting For A Tech Job In Silicon Valley, Part II