A Career Coach’s Job Search Tips for Women in Tech

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Liz Eggleston

Edited By Liz Eggleston

Last updated on January 3, 2024

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Women in tech have been historically underrepresented and undervalued — According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women only make up 27% of the STEM workforce. TripleTen is on a mission to change that through self-paced curricula that allows women to wear their many hats and 1:1 career coaching that empowers women to get what they want in life. In fact, TripleTen’s Outcomes Report from 2022 shows that each program consists of 42% women! TripleTen Career Coach Sharahn McClung shares her insights on how women career changers can launch tech careers — from how to network to negotiating with confidence.

Meet Our Expert: Sharahn McClung

  • Sharahn began coaching others as a teenager on her high school debate team that she helped coach to become national champions! This kickstarted a lifetime career in coaching, supporting people to have their “aha moments," whether by themselves or in front of a group, and identify actions to get closer to their goals.
  • At TripleTen, Sharahn supports students as a career coach and loves seeing the surge of people pivoting into tech. She’s seeing a shift in not just skills and actions, but in language – helping them communicate better with themselves and find clarity in their goals, with their future employers, and build their community so that they can get where they want to go!

Women have historically been the minority in the tech industry. How is TripleTen changing that through the bootcamps and career coaching?

TripleTen supports women in our bootcamps and coaching in three ways:

  1. A self-paced curriculum that offers flexibility and allows women who traditionally wear lots of hats to be able to fit the bootcamp into their existing responsibilities. Everybody has a lot going on, but some of the hats that women wear are silent and unacknowledged as caregivers, whether it's children, family, or community. This is crucial compared to many other bootcamps that leave no room for other responsibilities. 
  2. In career acceleration, our program is built on the values that everybody has a unique and authentic voice. We use proven tactics and strategies to help women showcase their authentic selves through customized résumés, LinkedIn profiles, interviews, and more. We want to ensure that their individual qualities are clearly demonstrated to future employers. Each of our students can show up uniquely and specifically as the culmination of their skills and professional experiences.
  3. The career curriculum is incorporated with the tech curriculum — Our career coaching doesn't all come at the end of the bootcamp. There are steps students can take from the beginning to put their best foot forward on the job search. This includes practical tips on putting together a portfolio, events, curriculum, and multiple other passive supports.

In your experience, have you found that women need different kinds of career coaching than their male counterparts in a cohort?

Stanford offers a course called Designing Your Life, and its creators Bill Burnett and Dave Evans pondered what would happen if we looked at life in the same way a product is engineered. In the commercial version of their program, their team noticed that women participated differently when their male counterparts were present, so they made a whole new version just for women. That stood out to me. 

I have noticed that women need a safe space to acknowledge their needs (how they might be different, what their barriers and struggles have been, and what their goals are) and that can look different for each of us. Sometimes small or large groups of other women are effective in meeting these needs, other times it’s through a 1:1 meeting or conversation. I’m accessible and there are no stupid questions. If you think you're alone, you're not. Once you open up, you’ll find out how other people have been tackling the same issue, or what other information and data is out there to help, so you can get to where you're going. 

Choosing the Right Company

How can a woman vet if a company is a good fit for her? Are there ways to determine if a company truly has a diverse tech workforce that supports inclusivity?

When we tell students to “go with your gut,” we mean your gut, not someone else's gut. What rings true in a situation for you

I tell my students to do your homework when researching companies. You get that information by being curious and following that curiosity:

  • What do people look like on their LinkedIn page, compared to their website or their social media? 
  • Don’t just rely on the website or just LinkedIn when researching a company. Go to the events and have conversations with the people who work there and have worked there. 
  • Ask yourself questions like: What's the environment like at this company? What are my goals, and where do we align? 

Find out the same things that someone needs to know about finding a companion and ask questions to get answers, not to fit a part or check off a list. 

When it comes to the elevator pitch, is there a best practice for bootcampers on how to explain any career pauses due to caregiving and/or maternity?

When you take that break or pause, you're not paused. In fact, in order to take care of another human being, you have had to learn a whole bunch of new transferable skills! You transferred yourself from the traditional workforce during that time, but you're still working. Look at what you were doing and what you were drawn to in that time period that fits with your overall narrative and accentuate that. Don’t explain it, own it! It's not like you disappeared. You made a choice, now share how it fits in your career path. 

Networking & Interviewing Advice

How can career changers who are women accentuate their soft skills in a technical job interview?

Use them and demonstrate them in real time. For example: If you say you're a good listener, then act like a good listener in your interview! Actually show the process of hearing what they said and putting that information into practice. Don’t just say your skills, show them. Bring your whole self to work and use it as an asset. Demonstrate with examples how you’ve shown up to do exemplary work. 

Networking is a key piece of the job search process. What are your recommendations for women who may be afraid of “bothering” someone when looking to expand their professional network?

  1. Know that anyone that you're talking to was in your shoes at some point, so there's shared experience. Look for the shared experience and lead with what you’re curious about.
  2. Look for opportunities to build community in what you’re interested in. This can be through meetups or events, or reaching out to volunteer your newly acquired skills. 
  3. Networking doesn’t have to be just you reaching out — you can create a community where you show up and other people can be curious about you, too, which can relieve some of that social burden. 
  4. You can initiate networking with asking or action. Ask if you can talk to someone about their career, product, mission, or company, or show what you’ve been doing and see how you can work with them that way. 
  5. For the online space, know you’ve already got connections! Your secondary contacts are connected to someone you’re connected to. Take the weight off by asking your first connections to make an introduction. You can say something like: “I see that so-and-so works at Nike and I'm interested in speaking to them about the front end. Can you make an introduction?” 
  6. Lead with curiosity. If you're connecting with people based on wanting to know more about something you see as valuable, who’s going to say no to sharing their opinion? 
  7. Understand that you also have value to offer. It's a two-way street. When you're connecting with someone, you're expanding their community, too. Who knows what you have that's of value to them? You won't know unless you have a conversation or make a connection. 
  8. Shift your mindset. The purpose of networking is to build community and relationships. If you’re just asking for what someone can give you, they’re likely to look away. I wholeheartedly agree with Designing Your Life’s analogy that networking is like asking for directions. What happens when you stop and ask someone for directions? They usually want to help. People may have no idea where something is and will tell you that, but they will still keep talking to you. The need to build community and have connection with other human beings supersedes everything. If you lead with what you want to know about and which human beings you want to talk to, that other stuff falls away in the practicing of it.

Negotiating Your Offer

Negotiating a job offer can be stressful, especially for those landing their first tech role after bootcamp! Do the TripleTen career coaches typically support students with this part of the job hunt?

Absolutely we do! It’s important to share an offer with your career coach so they can work with you on your questions and strategize a negotiation if that’s what needs to happen. 

Remember that every time you open your mouth, you’re negotiating. When you lead with the belief in your value and when you recognize the value in other people, you are valuable! So, when you get to the part about compensation, your value is clear. You don't feel nervous saying, “I see your offer. I feel as though all of me has not been taken into consideration. Let me tell you why,” or, “We agreed through this entire process of who I am and what I have to offer and what you're looking for, so explain to me how this matches or let's talk about how we can shape it differently so that it does.”

Negotiations aren’t only about money — they can be about paid time off, insurance, title, the review cycle, promotion, signing bonus, and more. If you start with the mindset of “I’ll take anything,” then that’s what you’ll get. 

You're continuously negotiating and you have control over that. You have control over the future moment in the present. When you're in the present, make sure that you're being clear with yourself and communicating what you're bringing. That means research, but it also means getting behind the fact that you’re worth standing up for. 

What is your advice to women considering a career change into tech in their 20s, 30s, 40, and 50s+? Is it ever too late for a woman to make a career change into tech?

Every time I hear this topic come up, I think of Alberta Hunter, who took a 20-year break as a nurse and became a jazz singer and started her rise to fame in her 80s! She was able to do that because she was clear about where she was, what she wanted, and identifying the steps of how she was going to get there. 

What I love about how TripleTen works with students is that we focus on those two questions: Where are you and where do you want to be? I love helping people strategize the best steps to get people from one point to the other!

When people are making a career change, they may think that they’re starting their career now. But that’s not true! You have your whole life of experience to draw from. If you're in your twenties, it’ll be a shorter time of experience, but if you're in your fifties, look at the wealth of experience that you have to offer in your tech career! 

Find out more and read TripleTen reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with TripleTen.

About The Author

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps. With a background in writing, teaching, and social media management, Jess plays a pivotal role in helping Course Report readers make informed decisions about their educational journey.

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