Are you looking for a job change ?
Once you have decided that you want a job change, do this -
Prepare your resume → This takes time, it takes a lot of time to prepare a resume that hits on the spot. Highlight the most important stuff, that you have worked on, highlight the success. As an engineer, highlight that you worked on the critical projects for the company. Highlight the business impact, engineering skills. Read, read, and re-write your resume. Make sure it fits on 1 page, at the most on 2 pages. (I plan to put something up on resume-writing.) Tip: Sometimes, you need to word your resume based on the job descriptions.
Reach out to every other connection on LinkedIn or any other network → Do this early, people take time to respond, and it is OK. Do your part!! Reach out to the recruiters, send connect requests, drop them a message. Send emails to your past recruiters, head-hunters. They are there to help you out. I personally, reached out to the engineering leaders in the companies that I wanted to try. I did this for 1–2 weeks, and honestly at one point I was overwhelmed with the number of interview calls I was getting. I started filtering companies out. This is a good problem to have :).
Change your linkedIn profile to say #openToWork, use hashtags, they work.
Find Referrals → Single most important tip, use referrals. Never apply directly, the ATS is not as smart as it should be. I thrice had situation, where my application was rejected by the ATS, but the next day the recruiter reached out to me. Always ask your referrals to help you score the job interview. Most of the companies give referral bonus, so there is an incentive :). If you do not have referrals in a company, reach out to social friends and ask them to introduce referrals, or make new connections on LinkedIn.
Prep Time → As an engineer, EM or even product manager, you need dedicated time to prepare. You are lucky if you are unmarried and don’t have kids. How you do this, is up to you though? In todays time of virtual interviews, you will benefit from practicing on tools and environments that are used in interviews. Example: It pays to practice coding on HackerRank environment, rather than on an IDE. Why ? because its easy to debug on IDE, while it gets a bit painful to write print statements on hackerRank. For SystemDesign, use tools like draw.io OR lucidchart.
Practice Interviews → Interviewing is a skill. Some people are fluent in it, because they keep up the practice, others are not. Tip: Not all interviews are for scoring the job, some are to sharpen your skills, and to practice your answers. Ask your friends for mock interviews. Its OK to be shamed in front of them than fail an actual interview.
Behavioural Interviews → As easy as they sound, these are make or break deals (especially at senior level). You need to pour some thought on answering various behavioral interview questions. Examples: What are you looking for in the next role? to What makes a good software? How do you make sure that your software is good? You can either make a list of these questions, and think through how you would answer them, OR just go through lot of practice interviews to perfect your answers for the dream company. Tip: you can google these up, ping me for some examples.
Ask Questions → Very important to research the company, and ask relevant questions about the job, role, and the company. You need to show why you need that specific job that you are applying for. Prepare a list of relevant questions before your interview to ask the engineering director, manager, senior engineers. This shows them your interest. I once had a candidate (would relocate on job offer) who asked me everything about the city, weather, schools, but nothing about the team, work or the company. It wasn’t a red flag, but definitely not a green one.
Finally, there is a thing called luck and timing. If both of them are right, and you did your part, you secure the job.
On the other hand, things can go wrong, remember talk to the recruiter, ask them for feedback, ask them if there is a possibility to re-interview. There are ton of good recruiters out there who are happy to help. Check with your referrals, if they can get you some feedback.