How to leap past 90% of applicants

One reader of the Functional Programming Career Guide, by the name of Michael, emailed me answers to those questions I asked in the first email. We started a discussion. He had been applying to jobs, got interviews, but never got an offer.

I got in touch with Josh Doody, someone who specializes in helping people get the jobs they want and making sure they maximize their salary. He's the author of the book Fearless Salary Negotiation and he coaches people through the job application process, all the way through accepting the best offer you can get.

I was asking Josh a bunch of questions. And he had a bunch of questions for Michael. I got tired of being the middleman so I asked Michael if we could do a critique of his résumé, record it, and share it with everyone. He agreed, and so Josh and I went through the résumé, discussing changes we'd make to it, and we also went into how to prepare for the interview and a bit into negotiating the salary. We focused mostly on the résumé.

I was blown away by how much tactical information Josh was able to fit into one hour of talking. He did most of the talking and really nailed the most important factors for résumés, interviews, and salary talks.

Here's the recording:

Here is the research questionnaire that Michael filled out before the recording. Answering these questions will set you in the top 10% of applicants.

  • Company name
  • Company size
  • Company website and jobs page (a link to the specific job listing would be great, plus a link to their generic jobs page)
  • Mission statement
  • A summary of what he knows about the company from blog posts, news, experience with their products, etc.
  • Other relevant information that comes to mind
  • What questions would you ask if you had the chance?

We talk about a lot of stuff. There are many notes in the video. Here are a few nuggets from Josh:

The résumé

  • Position yourself as a valuable asset to the company.
  • The hiring manager's first view of you résumé will be during the interview while they are talking to you.
  • The hiring manager won't read big blocks of text. They may skim if you are lucky.
  • Long text should go in the cover letter.
  • The hiring manager is trying to figure out "Who am I talking to and what do they bring to the table?".
  • The hiring manager is looking for something to talk about in the résumé.
  • Use 3-4 bullet points per job. Each point should name an activity (e.g., improve an API) and a business result (e.g., saving money).
  • The résumé can signal what kind of job you are looking for.

The interview

  • Learn about the company and use you-focused language. ** When they ask "Why should we hire you?", answer, for example, "You are looking to expand into XYZ market and my 15 years of experience is in XYZ." You can't do that without research.
  • Never tell them how much you make or what you would like to make, even if they ask. Here's how.
  • The goal is to have them not ask "what is the minimum this person will accept?" but instead ask "what do we need to offer this person to get them on board?".

Salary negotiation

  • Figure out how much you are willing to accept before you hear the offer. Here's how.
  • Josh's book goes into this process in depth.

Like I said, there's a lot more valuable information.

When you send it your resume and you get your interview, you'll want to have some functional skills in order. Sign up for a membership to and get those skills!

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