by PDX Code Guild - Jan. 27, 2016
Top 5 Takeaways from Career Talk by Melinda Majors

Melinda Majors, Director of Recruiting for Cinder Staffing, http://www.cinderstaffing.com/ visited Code Guild to talk to students and alums about our upcoming career transition. Her experience spans both in-house HR positions and agency recruiting positions in technology and manufacturing. Cinder is a staffing firm that was formed as a resource for talent on demanding technical projects so staffing technical roles is a particular area of expertise for Cinder. In my day job, I teach resume and cover letter writing as well as interview and job hunting skills. Not knowing much about Melinda or Cinder Staffing before she arrived, I wasn’t sure if I was going to learn much from attending a talk on job hunt skills. I learned a ton. It was so valuable to get advice specifically tailored to the particular career transition Code Guild students are navigating and this moment in the hiring market.

 

Here are my top takeaways:

Recruiters can be really valuable to work with as a job hunter.

Recruiters are actively trying to fill jobs. It is their job to know what the company is looking for and recommend a number of qualified applicants. Resumes should highlight your technical experience but can include your former career. This gives employers a sense both that you can do the technical work and also a sense of who you are. In an employment market that increasingly interested in cultural fit, who you are matters. As I interpreted that advice, I envision filling the top half of my resume with technical projects but also including the basics of the work that I have done leading up to the career shift.

Objectives or a short cover letter can help contextualize a career change.

Melinda called out that including an objective could be perceived as a little “old school”. From her perspective, it also provides context for why someone with a perfectly good career in higher ed might up and decide to become a back end web developer. . . for example. The more relevant technical skills you can highlight the better. The skills can come from previous work, your capstone, a startup weekend, an internship, volunteering, or anything else that allows you to demonstrate passion for and experience with programming. Every little bit helps. It is worth highlighting the little experiences until you have bigger ones to highlight.

Every recruiter and HR person is human and different.

I really appreciated Melinda’s transparency in general. In particular, she affirmed that different people give different career advice which can feel conflicting. She provided the context that different hiring professionals give different advice because they have different preferences and priorities. She recommended we select the advice that best represents your brand and try to work with professionals whose style and values align to yours.