Main image of article Tech Job Hunting Tip: Have a Goal When Applying

When you apply for a new job, chances are good you’re not looking beyond the job description. You should; in fact, you should have your own private agenda before ever stepping foot in the building for your first job interview.

No, we’re not advocating for a "Mr. Robot"-esque plot to overthrow your entire company. You should have a personal agenda, though; one that keeps you engaged and pushing the envelope at work, even when there may be nothing specific to pursue.

In a video ominously titled, “Working at Big Tech Companies can be a Trap,” Michael Seibel, CEO and Partner at Y Combinator, compares and contrasts startups to working for large companies. Seibel points out that, at a large firm, you’re usually a small part of a larger operation, which can be limiting.

Though Seibel’s message is framed as a sort of best-practices primer for spinning your Facebook or Google job into your own startup, it has some excellent points. One of those points is how every tech professional should have a goal for their employment; even if you simply want to know how the loading screen animation works for an app you’ll be working on, have a goal – or several goals.

Your goals can be personal or professional. It doesn’t matter. Maybe you’re taking a soulless job to save money and pay off some bills. That’s fine; just stick to your plan. Don’t buy a Tesla, or eat out five nights a week.

Maybe the company employs several technologies you want to learn, but the pay isn’t great. Is this financial step back going to help propel you to much larger things later in your career?

If your goals are professional, make sure they align with industry trends. Studies show schooling isn’t teaching the skills that employers are looking for, so there’s no harm in taking a job just to get better in a particular language or skillset. That’s similar to why bootcamp grads feel more prepared than college graduates for jobs in tech.

Our own data shows many tech pros are eager to pick up new skills and move on, and Seibel’s message speaks to that, as well.

But you don’t have to think of your job as temporary. Doing some pre-interview homework can help you understand what the company is about, what they do, and whether or not the work is interesting. You’ll also have a better idea of what their final job offer will be with a bit of research, so you’ll know what the job can give you before ever stepping foot into an interview setting.