Searching for a data job during COVID-19? Here's advice from two hiring managers - Philly

Professional Development

Jun. 23, 2020 1:39 pm

Searching for a data job during COVID-19? Here’s advice from two hiring managers

Vanguard's Brian Uff and Seer Interactive's Emily Meekins talk networking, skills building and messaging recruiters during a recent Women in Data — Philadelphia virtual event.
In the job search.

In the job search.

(Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels)

This is a guest post by Rajvi Mehta, Philadelphia chapter co-lead and regional sponsorship lead of Women in Data.

The last few months have been challenging for all of us. We are dealing with an individual, social and larger global crisis. We are all connected in uncertainty, anxiety and fear — but I pray that we are connected through hope and faith as well. The injustice toward our fellow brothers and sisters cannot be quantified. It is our duty as a community to come together and work towards a common goal: uplifting every person who considers Philadelphia as their home.

With the ongoing pandemic and the social unrest, Women in Data — Philadelphia is hoping to provide some sort of safe space for all those who are in the middle of a job search.

Women in Data — Philadelphia acknowledges the inequality and we want to provide community resources that can be used to educate and uplift yourself. On May 30, we hosted a webinar to talk about unemployment and job search during this pandemic. This article provides a quick recap of the topics discussed and lessons learned during the webinar. If you would like to be a part of this community, join our Slack channel.

The speakers and hiring pros, Vanguard Data Science and Analytics Recruiter Brian Uff and Seer Interactive People Operations Lead Emily Meekins, shared some tricks and tips on finding a job during a downturn. Moderated by Lucia Wang, a senior data analyst at Vanguard, you can watch this video on our YouTube channel, or below:


Read to the end to learn about more job search resources, including a list of podcasts if you would like to learn about recruiting in data. Please use this guide while you focus on getting your next successful job.


What are the different approaches that you might recommend for someone who has recently laid off?

Brian Uff: The biggest thing is staying positive and knowing that you are not alone in this space. Really trying to prioritize basic human needs.

Have a sense of direction of where you would like to go after this. It is easy to target multiple jobs at the same time. Focus on four to five jobs that really hold higher value to you and your future, rather than applying for multiple jobs at the same time.

For students, this is a great time to spruce up your resume and showcase that you have skills that hold value. Focus on networking — your network is the key to your future successful self. Build relationships with companies and the targets. Set up Google Alerts for the companies that you are looking at — jobs, companies, news for those specific companies. A lot of companies are not hiring right now because they are trying to adapt to a virtual environment. It is more like business-as-possible rather than business-as-usual.

Brian Uff. (Photo via LinkedIn)

Emily Meekins: It is tough to apply for places and not hear back. Try to have two meaningful conversations each day. This is a really great way to build a network. People are willing to help. Keep an eye out on LinkedIn. Book time with a team on the career council of different organizations. Getting another point of view and showing up to things like this gives a fresher image.

What is a good way to set yourself apart from the competition? What are the different platforms for job search?

Meekins: Have a conversation. Be more personalized in your approach — cover letter and resume. It starts with understanding the company. Know what the company will be looking for, what the brand voice is, and tailor your approach to that.

Uff: Connect with your network first in the target companies or post blogs. Keep working your network.

How should you think about messaging recruiters?

Uff: Being thoughtful in all your conversations with the recruiter. Be specific — “I saw a particular job.” Spruce up your resume and look at those job descriptions. Figuring out that you are not strongest right now in a specific field, sign up your skills using multiple free [services].

Meekins: It is not hard to figure out the email IDs of recruiters. Reference things from their LinkedIn profile to build a relationship.

Emily Meekins. (Photo via LinkedIn)

What types of training would you recommend? How are bootcamps viewed by recruiters?

Uff: If you are just getting into the D&A space, bootcamps are great. If you show that you are doing the extra work. Software changes every day. It is easy to teach yourself different software and tools. Brushing up on your own background, figure out how to highlight them.

Meekins: It is about the story that you tell. There are tones of resources to self-educate. It depends on the amount of discipline that you have. What do you have to share and how do you tell the story. Soft skills are so valuable. Being able to talk to people and articulate your value is extremely important.

Is it an expectation that you should learn skills right now?

Meekins: No. Everyone is experiencing their morphed version of their world right now. If you do not come out of this with 10 different certifications, it’s OK. Do not put that much pressure on yourself.

Uff: If you shine a little light into what you are able to do and NOT able to do, the employers love that.

Lucia Wang. (Photo via LinkedIn)

What percentage of required experience do you need?

Uff: If you’re coming out of school and you have experience in data, entry-level. The space is new. There isn’t a specific tech stack that a data analyst should know. It depends on the job description. Do not think about the number of bullet points that need to match. Think about the content in the job description.

Meekins: Keep a job description in one window and another window for your resume and match those windows. If you see that there are gaps in the job description and your resume, you will know the next steps to take.


Further resources:

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