Five rules to follow to land your first tech role (2023)

Published on April 20, 2023

  • Management

Five rules to follow to land your first tech role (1)

Bernstein Roberts

Machine learning engineer

The art of finding startup tech jobs

Landing your first role in the tech industry can be a long and difficult challenge. Whether you're a fresh graduate or transitioning to technology from another industry, the challenge is sure to pay off. Before I dive into my five rules to help you navigate this transition, let me introduce myself. My name is Amber, and I've helped hundreds of Machine Learning Engineers (MLEs) in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York land their first tech role. Although my role is now the ML Development Lead at Arize AI and my job is no longer to help people transition to their next roles, I'm proud to offer this guide with distilled lessons.

Let's start with the main rules you should follow to make your role-hunting efforts as fruitful and effective as possible.

Rule #1: It's a numbers game.

I won't pretend there isn't a strong sense of irony when recent graduates don't get a numerical advantage when applying for engineering jobs. If the probability of getting a cold job interview (applying to a company you have no connection with) is ~1%, that means you're aiming for 100 jobs a week or 20 jobs a day (Mon-Fri). - Five) you must sign up to Get an interview on the calendar. The irony is not lost on would-be machine learning engineers (MLEs) whose resumes are filtered by an ML algorithm. We know the general rules and templates for onetechnical resume(1 page and ONLY 1), but how do we circulate this resume and send it through the algorithm at tech companies? projects. Key word. Tie.

Here are some simple rules I follow for applying for unadvertised jobs:

  • One more page – I'm serious.
  • let him read the cover letter. I'm 99% sure if it's a big company. Even if your cover letter is read by a human, you won't mind getting an interview. If necessary, write a general cover letter with some specific details.
  • Don't prepare for the interview before you get the interview. Meanwhile, do you need to prepare for general technical and phone interviews? Yes, but you don't need to know the company's mission by heart.
  • Fulfill at least 50% of the job requirements.
  • Make sure important parts of the job requirements that you have experience with are included in your resume. It can even be word by word, the algorithm will love it! If necessary, you can complete a Kaggle competition.
  • Do not over decorate. The technique is small, be authentic and don't exaggerate your skills - but be sure of the transferable skills you have (more on this in rule #5).
  • Login to LinkedIn with one-click login filtering by date added (most recent to least recent). Not enough emphasis is placed on quantity with recent graduates, which will help you increase your applications with current and relevant job postings.

Of course, all this is secondary when you are associated with the company (warm introduction). If you know someone who is willing to forward your resume to their internal team, your chances of getting past the first round of interviews increase by an order of magnitude. Now, how do we present your resume?

Rule #2: Network. The network. The network.

People are always surprised when I tell them that my network has given me more opportunities than my master's degree. The truth is that a strong, resilient network can open doors that your education cannot. Let's compare Advanced Diploma and Advanced Network.

(Video) How to land your first tech job


  • Both take you out of your comfort zone
  • Both are hard to come by
  • Both expand your options


  • The network has existed for three years
  • Networking gives you insights outside your domain
  • Networking gives you as much as you put in

Building a network is a marathon, not a sprint. Even if you are now in school or in another position, there are many ways to start building your network on LinkedIn. My favorites are: free virtual events (workshops, conferences, panels and lectures), live technical meetings or simply connecting with research authors and media after enjoying them.

Here are some examples of how to reach the people you want to connect with on LinkedIn:

Option 1: Build your network of like-minded people

Bok Bernstein,

I saw that you are a speaker for the Arize:Observe LLMOps Learning Event and would like to connect. I'm a graduate student at Hogwarts doing a Masters in Muggle Machine Learning. Thank you for your connection.

Option 2: Targeted search from events

Bok Bernstein,

(Video) How to land your first JOB in TECH

I saw your presentation at the Arize:Observe LLMOPS Learning event and would like to contact you. I'm a grad student at Hogwarts finishing my Masters in Muggle Machine Learning and saw that Arize had an MLE role open. Can I ask you a few questions about your role and your experience with Arize? Thank you very much!

Option 3: Targeted search from job ads

Bok Bernstein,

I'm also Amber, a grad student at Hogwarts completing a Masters in Muggle Machine Learning, and I saw that Arize has an MLE role open [LINK TO THE ROLE if you can]. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your role (ONLY IF IT'S THE SAME ROLE) and (OR) your experience with Arize? BTW, I read your recent blog post on Algorithms and Potions (DO YOU RESEARCH) and found it very informative. Thank you very much!

Note that these are just a few examples that sound like me. You should add your own personality to this if you can. If you are from the same place, went to the same school, worked in the same company or have mutual connections, mention it in the note to make a better connection. Now, I know this pushes you out of your comfort zone for a lot of people, but you need to take more risks to increase your chances of landing a job. Remember, it's still a numbers game. What's the worst that can happen? They could not answer or say "no", but I know from experience that these are not the thoughts that go through their heads when they are not burned out.

What do I think when I get caught liking it?

  • 10 minutes of calls? Of course I'm happy for the conversation, I was in the same situation.
  • Tips for machine learning? I have actually learned a lot and had experiences in the last 5 years that I wish I had known at the beginning of my journey.
  • If I like them and can see them as colleagues, it would be less work for me if they hired them (plus a referral bonus, depending on your employer)…
  • No harm, no mistake. If those 10 minutes aren't that useful for either of us, at least I reconnected and expanded my network.

Rule #3: If it's never the right time, it's always the right time.

TheArize-Community-SlackThe channel is full of new candidates looking for their first tech role. After speaking with many of these people, I hear a phrase that is repeated very often: "It's not the right time, companies aren't hiring." While it's important to keep in mind that job market conditions can vary significantly depending on location and industry, I can say that every year since graduation I've heard graduates say "it's not the right time." I rarely hear this statement from people who have changed careers, probably because they have had a few difficult periods of employment due to financial circumstances.

In fact, the US job market has fluctuated over the past 15 years in ways that have affected the tech industry as well as the job market for recent college graduates. Here are some years that were considered difficult for graduates to find work:


  • 2008-2009: The Great Recession began in late 2007 and lasted until mid-2009, causing widespread job losses and hiring freezes in many industries.
  • 2010-2011: As the economy recovered from the recession, unemployment remained high and job growth sluggish. This made it difficult for new graduates to find entry-level positions.
  • 2016-2017: The labor market recovered from the Great Recession, but growth was slow and some industries still had trouble hiring new workers.
  • 2019: Although the overall labor market was relatively strong, some sectors saw employment decline, such as retail and manufacturing.
  • 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread labor market disruptions, leading to high unemployment and hiring freezes in many industries.

We see that the ideal year to hire is like a coin toss, but the data scientist roleit grewover 650% since 2012. Every year, more technical faculty graduates are employed, from senior to entry-level positions. So, as the number of roles in the tech industry grows and the advancements and opportunities in technology accelerate, don't be afraid to get started.

Rule #4: If it can change, it will.

In technology, the only consistent skill is the ability to learn new skills quickly. The technology environment and toolchain landscapes are constantly evolving in line with the skills needed and desiredDieIaskedThe roles are also changing. As some job titles become obsolete, new titles are created. For example, we had our firstFast techniqueRolls set for this year only! Although the titles are not consistent,EVENTin the field of technology, it only accelerates year by year.

Five rules to follow to land your first tech role (2)

Although companies are experiencing a hiring slowdown, there are still certain roles that need to be filled and new roles that need to be added. During the last 12 months,Turing reportsOver 900,000 software developer/engineer job postings in technical roles, and it takes a hiring manager an average of 43 days to fill each position.

Five rules to follow to land your first tech role (3)

While hiring for the data scientist role may be on the decline, it's not going away anytime soon. Insiders in the tech space are looking for specific technical skills that don't necessarily fall under the term "data science." Basically, there is a need for companies to have talented people who know how to build robust systems and actually make data science work in production. This means hiring engineers with applied skills who can run models at scale, rather than just running training data in a Jupyter laptop. Well, these roles (Big Data Engineer, Data Engineer, Backend Engineer, DevOps Engineer, etc.) have always been in-demand technical positions and in-demand roles, but today's organizations have more data than ever and there are more big ML models in production than ever before . Much like when companies started hiring their first cloud engineers, there is a correction in the market based on the current needs of companies.

Rule #5: Everything is an interview—but not in the way you think.

We've talked about putting the interview on your calendar — numbers and networking — but what do you do to prepare for it? Again, there are a number of rules that you must follow when you begin the interview process.

(Video) The Resume Secret to Land Your First Tech Job - LIVE with John Sickels Jr. and Sebastian Cuadros

  1. Ask the person coordinating the interview if they can provide you with material for the interview process. In most cases, the teams will tell you the exact format of the interview process and the content of the interview. You can ask as many reasonable questions as you like until they tell you "that's all the information we can offer." You can ask if the coding talk is a pair coding problem, if it's a problem solving challenge, what software is being used, and how long it will take. Again, the worst I can say is "no, we can't offer that".
  2. What does the examiner expect from the candidate before the start of the interview? Without a doubt, it is an opportunity to get hired without having to go through an interview for the position. Remember that the interviewer is 99% on your side (the other 1% is a red flag and you don't want to work there anyway).
  3. Technical screen. This is a conversation, try to get the interlocutor to speak as much as possible. Don't forget that they are on your side and will give you as much detail as possible so that together you can come up with the right answer. Include them in your thought process and reasoning. Even if you end up getting the question wrong or don't get the answer, it doesn't mean you failed if the examiner sees you as a teammate.
  4. Place.
    • The on-site appointment can be up to two weeks after your last interview, but don't put it off any longer except in an emergency, as you don't want to miss the opportunity.
    • Get to know everyone, ask questions, remember to interview them too. Ask questions about their career, the company, their managers, their goals and their work-life balance.
  5. After the interview.
    • After every interview, every step of the way, send each interviewer a message via email or LinkedIn - I prefer LinkedIn because it builds those connections - thanking them for their time.
    • Pro tip: If you don't have enough time to solve a problem in a technical interview, write down how you would solve the problem and send it to them. In my opinion, it never hurt the candidate's chances, in fact, it improved them.
  6. Did you get an offer?
    • Okay, now it's time to negotiate! Remember that this is the time when you will have the most influence in seeking what you want and what you think you deserve. Negotiating can be a whole other blog post, but remember you can negotiate: your base salary, signing bonus, equity or stock, working from home, relocation bonus, vacation, even who you prefer to your manager and what you expect the edge .
  7. Offer not received?
    • I know it hurts, but use this as an opportunity to improve. Ask interviewers for feedback so you can improve your interviewing skills for your next role. Also, let the interviewers you contact know that you hope to work with them at some point in the future. Chances are they'll remember you.


I've seen these five rules work incredibly well for freshmen and professionals looking to switch careers in tech. Realize that the first role is by far the hardest to land; After a few years of experience, it is easier to get future roles. This is because of the confidence you gain from working in the field, the network you've built, and because the algorithm likes to see that experience on your resume.

Since we've talked a lot about networking and numbers, the last thing I want to tell you is to know your worth. You should try different roles, learn new skills and find out what makes you a unique candidate. As new roles are added to the industry and old ones become obsolete, you need to develop the confidence that you can adapt by knowing your worth and owning your skills. Changes in life are inevitable and technological changes were already happening as you read this article. Good luck; You can do it!

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