The 3 Things You Must Read to Break into Tech

Want to land a hot tech job? Better start spending hours reading dozens of tech blogs and following hundreds of tech Twitterati, right???

Wrong.

Because let’s be real: No tech company is going to hire you for being addicted to social media.

Instead, they’re going to hire you for knowing and being good at the handful of things that matter. So, as with every aspect of the job search, it’s critical that you apply the 80/20 rule and focus on just the three online resources that will actually get you closer to your dream job.

 

What Matters to Tech Companies?

The #1 rule of tech jobs is that companies in this space hire people who fit. After all, the tech industry was created by people who rebelled against the status quo – who didn’t just accept the world as it is, but who had a vision for creating something better. And so the companies they created are loath to hire people who don’t fit that vision.

Specifically, tech companies look for fit on three dimensions:

  1. Industry Fit
  2. Company Fit
  3. Role Fit

And their ideal candidate exists at the intersection of each of these dimensions:

 

How Do You Demonstrate Industry Fit?

Because fit matters so much to tech companies, a typical tech interview will often begin with a little small talk. But instead of chatting about the weather or last night’s game, you might get asked: “Hey, so what do you think about Facebook’s big acquisition last week?”

And while that might seem innocuous, what your interviewer is really getting at is: Do you fit our industry?

Now, if you’ve been working in tech forever, this question is a piece of cake. But what if you’re brand-new to the space? How do you demonstrate that you belong?

The answer is to immerse yourself in the industry’s obsessions, to turn yourself from an outsider into an insider. And while there are a million tech news sites and blogs out there, there’s only one that every single insider reads: Techmeme.

That’s because tech insiders don’t have time to read through all those random blogs to figure out what’s going on. Instead, they turn to Techmeme to aggregate the very best content from across all the major players – TechCrunch, The Verge, Recode, etc.

It’s the first site that my Apple colleagues turned me onto when I first broke into tech five years ago. And it’s the only site that I still read every day to stay current on this space.

Which means, if you want to become an insider like my colleagues, you need to, too!

 

How Do You Demonstrate Company Fit?

OK, so back to that interview. Once you’ve artfully dissected Facebook’s big acquisition with your superior industry knowledge, what do you think the next question you’ll get is? Nine times out of ten, it’s going to be something along the lines of: So, why do you want to work for our company?

Now, a total tech amateur is going to say: “Wow. I just love you guys so much. Your app is just so cool. And I hear that you have free sushi for lunch everyday!”

Which is exactly what you’d expect an outsider to say – i.e., the person you’re not going to hire for this job.

But if what the candidate answered this way: “So here’s the deal – I know you guys are struggling a little bit to compete with Google in the adtech space. But I think you’ve got three huge advantages that can help you win here and I’d love to be a part of making that happen.”

Bam. Total insider answer – i.e., the person who’ll be hiring their own candidates a year from now!

And I know what you’re thinking: “OK Jeremy, I get why that answer is better. But I AM an outsider for this company. So how do I start talking like an insider?”

The answer is superior research. Instead of getting stuck in a purely consumer mindset, playing around with a company’s app and reading about their amazing cafeteria, do what insiders do and dig into their details.

And the best way to do that is through their 10-K. Which, no, isn’t some kind of Fun Run that the company throws. But, instead, it’s a super detailed document that every public company is required to release to the world every single year. For example, you can check out Google’s most recent 10-K right here.

Inside, you’ll find their:

  • Future strategy
  • Biggest risks
  • Business trends
  • Financial performance
  • Most profitable/least profitable products

Which means you now have access to pretty much the same information that insiders do. All just by searching the company’s name and “10-K.” Thanks SEC! :)

 

How Do You Demonstrate Role Fit?

OK, no matter how clever an industry newshound or company detective you are, at some point you’re going to have to explain why you can actually do the job that’s being hired for. Which means you’re going to get a question that starts like this: “So, how would you solve this challenge…”

And whether it’s a coding problem, a marketing case, or a sales roleplay, it’s critical that you demonstrate your fit with the role by crushing that challenge with an awesome performance.

Now, while it’s beyond the scope of this article to explain how to master something as deep as data science or product management, I can recommend the very best resource to practice your mastery for interviews:

  • If you’re on the technical side, check out CareerCup. It’s got a ridiculously large database of actual programming questions, sortable by company, role, and type.
     
  • If you’re on the business side, check out The PM Interview. Even though it sounds like it’s just for Product Managers, it’s got an awesome variety of Behavioral, Case, and Estimation questions that could easily be asked to marketers, strategists, and business development folks.

 

You Control Your Fit

So hopefully these three resources help demonstrate that, as frustrating as it may feel to be an outsider peering into the insider world of tech, your level of fit is ultimately in your hands. Because insider/outsider status is ultimately judged by the way you present yourself, the way you shape your own narrative. And while you could waste hundreds of hours just staring into tech from the outside (i.e., reading random tweets and blogs), strategically investing your time in building and demonstrating industry, company, and role fit is the surest-fire way to actually get inside.

 

Want more tips for breaking into tech? Get free access to my step-by-step course to landing a tech job, based on my experience going from teaching kindergarten to jobs at Apple, LinkedIn, and startups.