What's the best way to find a cloud job?

Den W. Den W. 06 November
What's the best way to find a cloud job?

In this article we answer your pressing questions about your cloud career and our question today is, what is the best way for me to find a cloud job. And I'm going to start by answering the question of what's the worst way to find a cloud job. 

Worst way to get a cloud job: Resume Roulette

I've been hiring people for a number of years across my decade plus in technology. And I've also helped a lot of other people get placed in their first tech job through the cloud guru challenge and what I've seen a lot of people doing is playing a game that I call resume roulette. Here's the rules for resume roulette.

  1. You wait for random companies to post public job listings.
  2. You spam out a bunch of applications to all those companies.
  3. You sit and wait and you hope that some random stranger is going to give you a job interview.
  4. If you don't strike it lucky which you probably won't. Well you just go back to step 1. And you start all over again until either you get hired or you burn out.

Do people get hired by playing resumes roulette. Sure it happens every day. In fact, you can go on LinkedIn. And you can see the inspiring stories of people who send out 190 job applications and they got three interviews. And one job offer. And when I see those stories. I don't think, wow, that's great perseverance although don't get me wrong. It definitely is. And I'm not trying to I say that it's not what I mainly think is we are celebrating a broken process.

How hiring typically works

Why is it a broken process will let me tell you how hiring typically works. When a company lists a public job posting, There's two things that happen: Number one, you have 150 random people who submit their resumes through that portal. Some of those resumes are pretty good. Some of them are probably not. You'd have to look closely to make sure.

Number two there's three employees inside that company who know someone that would be a great fit for the role and they refer them internally to the hiring manager or the recruiter with a note saying, Oh, used to work with her at company X she was great. She would kill in this role.

If you are a recruiter or especially a time strapped hiring manager, Which of those resumes are you going to move to the top of the pile? In fact, that's why a lot of companies actually offer bonuses referral bonuses to their existing employees. A lot of times the person who's best suited for this new job is someone that you're existing employees already know and trust. And it turns out, it's a lot more efficient to vet those people than looking at those 150 random resumes and doing phone screens with all those strangers.

I know there are some companies out there the Googles of the world who can efficiently process thousands and thousands of unsolicited resumes. But remember the competition level is up there as well. So you may just be waiting six months to get a formal rejection instead of waiting six months to be formally or informally ignored.

I'm not saying all of this to discourage you, because the fact of the matter is there is massive demand out there for qualified cloud professionals. You should not be stuck on the outside looking in if you are qualified to hold a cloud engineering job. Companies should basically be coming to you asking you to work for them. Why is that not happening? Well because you may not be playing the right game.

Instead of playing resume roulette, I'm going to suggest that you play a different game that I call network bets.

Network bets

This is a game with a lot of ways to win. Your success compounds over time. And there's only two rules.

  1. Own your credibility.
  2. Make good connections.

When it comes to owning your credibility. I talked a lot about the foundational skills you need to be qualified for a cloud engineering role In my previous post about how many certifications you should get.

Foundational skills you need for an engineering role recap

I won't reiterate all of that here. But just remember, you need to have some basic familiarity with code and a backend language like Python. You need to be pretty good at Linux and pretty good at networking to understand how those things fit into the cloud. Then you need to have a foundational cloud certification or two along with some hands on projects that demonstrate your expertise in those areas.

If you don't have that, you're just going to be demoralized coming out of these job interviews and I don't want you to be demoralized. I want you to skip ahead to the head, the line.

So go ahead and take the time to get good at those foundational skills you can sign up for a free membership at acloudguru.com and will help you with all of those things. Go ahead and get your feet under you here before you move on any farther. That's called owning your credibility and you're not going to be able to be successful without it.

Making Connections

This is the part where we talk about networking and no, I'm not talking about getting your CCNA I'm talking about meeting the right people to work with. I've noticed that a lot of engineers kind of tend to bristle at this idea that they might have to go out and meet people. And make connections in order to get the job that they want in the career direction that they want. I think a lot of us tend to think you know my skills should speak for themselves. I should be able to go and get a job just by passing a coding test demonstrating that I can do the job. I shouldn't have to go and meet people and make connections I shouldn't have to glad hand or whatever.

And that's not what I'm saying. I think what a lot of people miss is that connections go two ways. You are not whatever you may think just some sort of interchangeable the YAML generation unit right. You're a person, you have unique quirks likes, dislikes, personality things. And you may find that not every job is the right fit for you.

Some jobs that are out there are going to be just bad for you. They're going to be toxic for your happiness and your personal productivity. And there's plenty more, even though they're not actively toxic that are just going to be dead ends they're not going to set you up for success in your career. You're not going to be working on interesting things you're going to get three months down the road, you're going to say, well, I'm really sorry that I took this job. This is a dead end.

Those outcomes are way more likely to happen. Those bad outcomes. If you're just flinging your resume into random companies that you don't know anything about. So this is another way you can lose by playing resume roulette even if you think you've hit the lottery. You know when what a job inside of one of these companies you may soon discover that, in fact, the job itself is not all it was cracked up to be because you don't have the insight to figure that out.

Networking is a superpower because it lets you vet these companies at the same time, they're vetting you. It gives you awareness of who the good people to work with are what the good teams that are doing interesting things and you've set yourself up much more probably for a long term career success.

Networking making connections may sound more time intensive than firing off 190 blind applications. But it can actually be faster in the long run. So long as you know what you're doing.

3 Cheat codes for jumpstarting your cloud career: find a new niche

So here are my three cheat codes to network your way to a cloud job that's actually going to be good for you personally and of course, for your long term career success.

1. Find a new niche

If you're brand new to cloud, you obviously stand a disadvantage coming into the job market in the area of experience. You're not going to be able to compete with people who've already been doing something for five or 10 years. In fact, a lot of the entry level credentials that are available to you are not that impressive to hiring managers just because so many people go out and get those you have an A plus cert great. So to 100 million other people right. That's not going to help you stand out.

What is going to help you stand out is if you get pretty good at something that not a lot of other people are good at yet. And it turns out the cloud is a great place to do this because a lot of the technologies are so new anyway nobody can reasonably ask for five years of experience in a technology that's only existed for 18 months and yet. That's where a lot of interest is in the cloud world. And people want people who have those skills and you can be that person.

Here's a really quick list of five different types of services that are very hot in the cloud market right now that you can get good at with a relatively small investment of time: managed graph. Q well a gateways like a to B as apps absolute and its associated amplify library.

You're going to be looking at potentially CI/CD tools like the ADL US code star suite that's code build code deploy code commit you're going to be looking at Manage Kubernetes services like AKS EKS GKE all those are really valuable places for you to spend your time.

You're going to potentially be looking at serverless workflow services like AWS step functions or Azure logic apps, and you can always check out popular infrastructure as code tools like Terraform like the AWS CDK any one of those five things I just listed is extremely hot. And if you can get good at that you're going to find that you're going to meet interesting people and you're going to raise your profile in the cloud community.

2. Plug into the community

As long as you also do The second thing, which is plugging into that community.  All right by plugging into the community, I'm not talking about going out to some meet up and handing out a bunch of business cards and sort of trying to schmooze your way into a job. That's why a lot of people get frustrated by the idea of networking. That's far from what I'm suggesting.

It turns out that a great way to get plugged in to the tech community and cloud or really any other arena is to find these cloud services that you're good at. And then let's say AWS app sync releases a new feature that you're excited about. Go ahead and blog about it. Go ahead and write something up about the feature why you're excited include some code snippets show a little something that you built this doesn't really take that long to do, then go ahead and publish that on a popular blogging platform.

I like hash node I like too. These are existing developer blogging platforms with some pretty established network effects. And then once you've written that, go ahead and tag the creators, the people who actually built the feature the people who work at AWS the developer advocates they're going to be overjoyed that someone is excited and is helping them share the good news of this thing that they've built and they're going to give you some of that love back by raising your profile a little bit by sharing your post you do this. And over an incredibly short period of time, you're going to find that you're getting connected with other people in that community.

I suggest getting involved on Twitter. It's been very helpful in my career. And if you can stand it. I think it'll be good for you as well. You'll follow hashtags accounts lists of people that are interested in these same things. Figure out who the influencers are in this space and turn on notifications when they tweet something. So you can go engage in reply with them.

If you do this sincerely and you're there to learn and you're there to give back to the community. Well people remember people who are helpful and who engage in that way. And then when a job opportunity does open up in that community, which will happen. Remember we're talking about the cloud. It's hot everybody's growing everybody's looking for people who are good at this stuff. 

3. Ask for referrals

Now you're ready to pull in number three in my list of cheat codes, which is go ahead and just ask for referrals. OK, this sounds counterintuitive, but be shocked at how easy it is. If you've built some credibility in this space already again, let's say it's managed graft gateways or whatever. And a job pops up. Reach out to that person. Send them a direct message send them an email. The person who's associated with that company and say, hey, do you think you could refer me for this job you know. Or maybe even if they don't have a public job posting is there something. I don't know about that you could refer me for.

Remember these folks are incentivized to refer you at this point, they're probably getting a bonus if they can find someone from the community who takes this job, and they're going to be much more likely to refer you and to get that bonus if they can trust you because of what they've seen come out of you publicly with your writing and your engagement with the community over time. So it all kind of works together.

What I'm really trying to say here in all this is that you can have agency in your job search process. It's not about just sitting back being passive and waiting for some job to come up that you will magically fit into a little LEGO brick and a wall of LEGO bricks. That's not how people work. That's not how humans work.

In fact, the perfect job for you may not exist until you go out and through your work with the community and through the profile, you create for yourself. You kind of create opportunities for yourself. It's amazing to see it happen. That's not going to happen if you continue to play this game of resume roulette.

Remember a the odds are pretty low that you're going to get hired by doing that. And you run the risk of really discouraging yourself and burning out on the cloud career that you don't even have yet. Number two even if you do get hired the odds are pretty good that you're going to get hired into a situation that's less than optimal for you because you don't know the people you don't understand what the team is working on. You don't have a lot of control or autonomy over the situation that you're stepping into.

But if you played the game of network bets you're going to find that not only is it much more collaborative rather than competitive right. Nobody's competing with you for a job when you're the only person who can do the exact set of things that you do and everybody knows it. But also, you're going to find that it's a long term game and these effects compound over time as you meet more people as you get more involved in the community.

You're going to find that you have a whole path of opportunities opening up for you that you never would have seen coming if you just sat back passively and tried to apply blind.

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