How Women Can Get Great Tech Jobs, with Allison Esposito

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

Hi. This is Mac from Mac’s List. Before we start the show, I want to let you know about my new book, Land Your Dream Job Anywhere, available on Amazon on February 1st, 2017. I’ve been helping job seekers find meaningful, well-paying work since 2001, and now I put all my best advice into one easy-to-use guide. My book shows you how to make your resume stand out in a stack of applications, where you can find the hidden jobs that never get posted, and what you need to do to ace your next job interview. Get the first chapter now for free. Visit macslist.org/anywhere.

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-host, Ben Forstag, our Managing Director, and Jenna Forstrom, our Community Manager. This week we’re talking about how women can get great tech jobs. Our show is brought to you by Land Your Dream Job Anywhere, the new book from Mac’s List, available on February 1st. Land Your Dream Job Anywhere shows you how to find meaningful, well-paying work wherever you live. For more information, visit macslist.org/anywhere.

Technology is the fastest growing industry in the United States, but a major gender gap exists in the tech world. According to the National Center for Information and Technology, women account for only 25% of the computing workforce. Our guest expert this week is Allison Esposito, Founder of Tech Ladies. Later in the show, we’ll talk about the gender gap in technology and the steps women can take to overcome it.

Many tech employers offer remote work, and that appeals to women who are also raising a family. Ben Forstag has found a website that lists benefits, like remote work, that family-friendly employers provide. He’ll tell us more in a moment. How can you ask for a raise without seeming pushy? That’s our question of the week. It comes from Mindy Hoffman in Portland, Oregon. Jenna Forstrom shares her answer in a few minutes.

As always, let’s check in with the Mac’s List team. Our topic this week is how women can get great jobs in technology. As you both know, we recently sponsored an event with the Oregon Technology Association, and it attracted more than 200 people. What did you two, Ben, Jenna, hear from our panel of experts about this week’s topic and some of the ideas they had?

Ben Forstag:

I think that the biggest piece of advice – and this applies for both men and women – is to build a personal relationship with recruiters. A lot of employers, especially in the tech space, hire a recruiter, or teams of recruiters, whose job it is to go out and find the right talent for their organization. The recruiters who were at this event made very clear that the best way to land a job in these organizations is to start up a conversation and a relationship with the recruiters early on in the process. That might mean before you’re even actively looking for work, just putting out feelers and making sure you’re building up these relationships so that, when the time comes, you’re the go-to candidate for the positions the recruiter is looking for.

Mac Prichard:

What I remember about that advice … I think we had two HR managers on the panel who worked for technology companies … was how surprised many people were, many told me after the panel discussion, that recruiters would be open to that. They just assumed … some of the people I talked to … that calls would be ignored and emails would go unanswered, and it was, I think, surprising to hear that recruiters welcome those conversations.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, I was surprised, as well. I mean, I think this also comes with the caveat, one of the recruiters said, of, “Don’t be a jerk,” right? Don’t be overly pushy. Don’t be overly demanding. Don’t email them 10 times a day – but starting up that conversation and that dialogue early in the process really helps position you, not only as a person with the right skills, but also a person with the right temperament and personality to succeed in that office.

Mac Prichard:

Jenna, what were some of your recollections of that event and advice for women who want to work in technology?

Jenna Forstrom:

Not directly related to the Simple event that we put on with TAO [Technology Association of Oregon], more just in general for … I have a lot of female friends here in Portland that work in the tech industry … the struggles they talk about of becoming more professional and not falling under the role of being a secretary, or admin, or someone’s mother. I think it’s just being very professional, having clear, set boundaries, like “I am willing to do this, so the team succeeds, but I am unwilling to do that so that you can succeed personally, or professionally, or whatever,” and just being really direct and have set boundaries.

Then, also, just speaking up, so when you are interviewing, when you are talking with your manager, if you’re gainfully employed, talk about the opportunities to move up. Like, “Hey, there’s a panel, and it’s predominantly male, could I speak on it?” or, “What are we doing to include more women? I’d like to see myself more reflected in upper management or in the team,” and just being a voice for the problem, which gets men or leadership thinking more about inclusion. I think, in general, and especially in Portland, it’s something that’s a hot button topic, and the tech industry wants to see more females. It’s just they’re having a hard time finding them, or maybe not finding them, but figuring out the process to cast a wide enough net to attract women to come work for them.

Mac Prichard:

If there’s one thing that you could recommend, Jenna, or perhaps you’ve heard from your colleagues and friends in the technology industry that would help solve that problem and increase the number of women working in the tech sector, what would you recommend?

Jenna Forstrom:

I would say: be forthright. Say, like, “I’m really interested in working with your company, and I’m really interested in bringing more female leadership, in whatever your skill set is professionally, to this field. I think that company XYZ is the place to do it. Would you be willing to work with me to make that happen?” I think that would be really eye-opening for a hiring manager. Then, as Ben said, start a relationship early. You’re going to be graduating soon with a technology degree, or you’re moving to Portland with a technology degree, or you’re just interested in making a transition to the technology industry, go out, pursue those recruiters. Find those companies that are inclusive for women, and then show an interest and introduce yourself.

Mac Prichard:

Great. Good advice from you both, and I know we’ll talk more with Allison about these and other ideas. In the meantime, let’s turn to Ben, who’s out there every week searching the nooks and crannies of the internet. He’s looking for websites, books, tools, anything that you can use in your job search and in your career. Ben, what have you uncovered for our listeners this week?

Ben Forstag:

This week I want to talk about a blog post I found on the website gig.com. This is called, ‘The Top Eight Signs an Employer is Family-Friendly.’ This is a question I get a lot from job seekers, particularly women, but also some men, as well, who want to know how they can specifically identify companies before they even apply, that are family-friendly. I thought it might be interesting to explore what exactly family-friendly means.

Mac Prichard:

Do you have a shorthand definition for us?

Ben Forstag:

I guess my shorthand definition is, “Can I get home in time to see my kids before they go to sleep?” Right? That’s [what it is] for me. It was certainly an important thing for me when I was looking for a job. One of the things I really value about my job here at Mac’s List is that we’ve got flexible schedules so that I can get home before my children go to bed at 6:00 p.m. This blog post actually just outlines a couple different characteristics of family-friendly organizations.

I’m just going to read through them here. It’s schedule flexibility like I just mentioned; telecommuting, that’s another thing we have here at Mac’s List, which basically means the ability to work from home if you need to; child care programs; maternity and paternity leave policies; wellness programs and work-life programs. That last one is a little vague. I think that mostly means programs that respect the idea that employees have a life outside of the office, as well.

Jenna Forstrom:

Take your child to work day, maybe.

Ben Forstag:

That’s more blending the work.

Mac Prichard:

Yes, there are a lot of benefits to that. When we think about the definition, however, you might define family-friendly, I can imagine our listeners are wondering, “Well, that sounds right, but how do I find out if, indeed, an employer practices one or more of these things?”

Ben Forstag:

Absolutely, because there’s always this challenge of you don’t want to walk into the interview and immediately start demanding like, “Tell me how you’re going to respect my life outside the office?” or “Tell me all about the childcare programs that you offer,” because, as we advise everyone when you go into the interview, you want to talk about the employer’s problems, and you want to be a problem-solver, and that puts people in a bind, right, because if you absolutely must be able to get home on Friday at 2:00 p.m. to pick up your son at school, it’s tough to even find a job … Is it worthwhile applying to a job if they’re not going to let you do that?

This blog post has some tips for how you could find these employers ahead of time. Some of the suggestions are pretty obvious, and others are a bit more nuanced. They suggest asking other parents who they work for. You probably have a mommy’s group or a dad’s group that you’re a member of; ask those parents what their organizations are like. You can look for reports from third-party organizations like SHRM, which is the Society for Human Resource Management. They keep good lists of organizations that have the benefits like we listed earlier.

Scrutinize the workplace once you’ve landed the interview. If you can, talk to other employees. This isn’t always possible, but, sometimes if you’re in for a second or third interview, you have a chance to talk with other staff people. Pinpoint companies where women fill the top, executive positions. This is an interesting one. I think the assumption here is that women are more open to work-life balance, in general. If the organization have top, female executives in it, they’re going to implement it and force the kind of family-friendly polices that we’re talking about. I don’t think this is a hard and fast rule, but I think it’s probably a pretty strong indicator there.

You could look for the percentage of women in the company’s workforce. This is a really good one because the data shows that organizations that don’t have family-friendly policies tend to push women out, either actively or passively.

Again, women take the brunt of the childcare services in our society, so if the organization is not family-friendly, women tend to leave and go someplace else.

The last suggestion they had was to target the finance, insurance or real estate industries, which, I guess the data shows are more family-friendly than other institutions. I’m a little surprised by that finance one because when I think finance, I think of those bankers who are at Wall Street working 16 hours a day.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, that does surprise me. Do you think that the people who recommended that are thinking of credit unions or smaller organizations?

Ben Forstag: 

I don’t know. I think part of it might be that there’s a lot of competition for talent in that industry, so employers are offering a lot of extras on top of it. It might be they’re not letting you get home by 6:00 p.m. to be with your kids, but they’re offering daycare programs so that you stay at the office as long as possible. This is similar to what Facebook does, where they want their employees there pretty much all the time, and, in return, they’re offering huge benefits like daycare, or “We will freeze your eggs.” These are things employers do. You can decide, yourself, whether you think freezing your eggs is family-friendly or not, but that’s an option some employees have.

Mac Prichard:

That’s a new one for me. Thank you, Ben. I know you’ll include links to this blog post and these lists in our show notes. If you have a suggestion for Ben, please write him, and we may share your idea on the show. Ben’s email address is easy to remember. It’s Ben@macslist.org. Let’s turn to you, our listeners. Jenna Forstrom joins us every week to answer one of your questions. What do you have for us this week in the Mac’s List mailbag, Jenna?

Jenna Forstrom:

This week’s question came from Mindy Hoffman, who was at our last Mac’s List event, Career Opportunities for Change Communications. She asked …

Mindy Hoffman:

Hi, my name is Mindy, and I’m from Portland, Oregon. My question is, how do I go about asking for a raise without being too pushy, but also being assertive?

Jenna Forstrom:

This is a great question. We get it a lot because people want to be paid what they’re worth. Especially for females, we’re told, statistically, that we don’t negotiate as much up front and that we’re not as aggressive when it comes to salaries, or we’re not part of the boys’ room where salaries are more commonly discussed.

I thought this was a great question, and it’s very related to what we’re talking about today. A couple of resources that I’ve used personally … I’ve talked about this on a previous podcast … Ramit Sethi has an Ultimate Guide for Asking for a Raise or Salary Negotiations. We’ll include links to this in the show notes. The second one is, we’ve had Jeff Weiss on our podcast, who has a Harvard Business Review article on salary negotiations that’s very practical.

Ben says this all the time … always document your accomplishments so that when you’re going into a quarterly review, or if you’re about to get a promotion, like you’re getting a title raise, and you want ask for a financial raise to go with that, you have a Google doc or a notebook where you just, “In the last year, or in the last 90 days, or in the five years I’ve been at the company, here are all the things I’ve accomplished, and I think it’s worth X number of dollars. Hey, boss, what do you think of that?” Just have something that you can go back to, and you’re not thinking about it 20 minutes before going into that meeting. It’s something you’re just constantly updating. Mac and Ben, do you guys have any other tips?

Ben Forstag: 

I would just go back to one of the points Jeff Weiss made, which was, “Take it out of the realm of opinion and emotion and ground everything in fact.” The more you have facts to back up your value, whether that’s absolute value in terms of things you’ve actually done and value you’ve created for the organization or relative value in terms or what other people in similar positions in your town are getting paid. I think the more hard facts and the more data you bring to the table, the stronger argument you have.

Mac Prichard:

I would also add that, when you’re approaching a supervisor for a raise, it’s basically a business deal, and like any business decision, you’ve got to do your homework, and you’ve got to think about the needs of your supervisor and what resources they have available and what matters to them. You’ve got to prepare and rehearse before you walk into that meeting. “Salary negotiation” and “wing it” are two phrases that should never be linked together. I say this with kindness: it is not pushy to ask for a raise. It’s a business deal. You’re there helping the employer, so the question is, how do you do it effectively so you get the outcome you’d like to see happen.

In addition to the resources you mentioned, Jenna, which were terrific, I would also encourage people to listen to our podcast interview with Josh Doody, who talked about … in a very step-by-step way … how you can approach a salary negotiation. Like job hunting, negotiating for or asking for, and getting, a raise, it’s a skill. It takes practice, but you can master it, and, above all, it requires clear goals and preparation. If you invest the time, I think you’ll be pleased with the results you get.

Jenna Forstrom: 

Awesome. Thanks, Mindy. Thanks, Mac and Ben, for your tips.

Mac Prichard:

Thank you, Mindy and Jenna.

If you have a question for Jenna, please email her. Her address is also easy to remember. It’s Jenna@macslist.org or call our listener line. That number is area code 716-562-8225. That’s 716-JOBTALK. If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere or a Mac’s List coffee mug. It’s your choice. These segments by Ben and Jenna are brought to you by Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. It’s the new book from Mac’s List, and it’s coming on February 1st. For 15 years at Mac’s List, we’ve helped people in Portland, Oregon find meaningful, well-paying, and rewarding jobs that they love.

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Let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Allison Esposito.

Allison Esposito is the founder of Tech Ladies, a community that connects women with the best jobs in technology and companies with the best women techmakers. Allison is also a branding and marketing expert who has worked for Google, Foursquare, and other technology firms. She joins us today from New York City. Allison, thanks for being on the show.

Allison Esposito:  

Hi. Thanks so much for having me.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s a pleasure to have you here. Our topic this week is how women can get great jobs in tech. Let’s start by talking about the gender gap in the tech world. How big is it, Allison, and why does it exist?

Allison Esposito: 

Sure. The gap is quite large. You can see it if you’re at anything from a smaller startup, where people tend to hire their friends or from their immediate networks, all the way to big, huge companies that are actually starting to do diversity reports about the gender gap at their companies. A lot of these larger companies are starting to do these reports to figure out, as a step one, how to fix it. So the first step for them is to really take stock of how many women are at these companies, why the numbers are so low and look for ways to tackle that.

Mac Prichard:

When you’ve seen those reports come out, what reasons do the report authors find for the gap?

Allison Esposito:

I think there are a lot of different reasons for it. A lot of people have talked about the so-called “pipeline problem,” saying that these women just aren’t out there or their skill level is not up to par with the men that they’re hiring. We’re finding, actually, since starting Tech Ladies, that there’s a huge amount of women; tech makers, we call them.

In our group, we have everything from engineers to women who work in marketing, or BD. It’s not just engineers, but the gap is biggest in the engineering pool. I personally don’t believe that there’s much of a pipeline problem. I think it’s just a matter of really finding these women where they are and connecting them to the companies that are open and willing to hire them. That’s what we do with Hire Tech Ladies.

Mac Prichard:

Let’s talk about that. When women want to move into technology jobs, obviously, your organization is out there helping to make that happen. What can women do, either individually or in their own communities, with other groups like Tech Ladies to get work in this sector?

Allison Esposito: 

Sure. I think the first thing is just really getting your skills up. For that, or for a lot of women who don’t come from a traditional computer science background or maybe they didn’t major in it in college, a lot of it is going back and doing online courses or joining boot camps just to get the skills up. If you’re a talented engineer, or you have some experience coming from something else and want to transition into tech, there’s so many pathways into doing that. But networking is really important and one of the biggest. I think the best thing you can do is try to join Meetups in your city and get connected to people there. It can be a little bit of a hard world to break into, but I think that meeting people in person is one of the best things you can do.

Mac Prichard:

Let’s talk about that for a moment, Allison. Why can tech be a hard world to break into? What barriers are there? What do you see in your work?

Allison Esposito:

Sure. At bigger companies – getting a job at one of the big tech companies is, you know, known for being extremely competitive. It’s very hard to stick out because they have so many applications, so you really have to be at the top of your game. It’s also helpful if somebody who currently works there can get you in or help promote your application once it’s in the system for the larger tech companies.

For things like smaller startups, I often suggest people who want to work in tech, start at a startup that’s small and maybe more open-minded, and that’s a good way to build up your resume and your experience in the tech world. I think that’s a lot easier to break into than trying to go to a big tech company first if you haven’t worked in tech before.

Mac Prichard:

If you’re interested in opportunities at a big company, see if you have personal relationships there or people who you can network with, and there are more opportunities with smaller firms. You mentioned earlier, Allison, Meetups. If somebody’s thinking about going to a Meetup in the tech world, how should they prepare for that? What kind of expectations should they have? What do they do when they show up?

Allison Esposito: 

I think one things that’s interesting about the tech world is that it can be a lot more casual than other sectors, so not being intimidated if you don’t fit the mold of who’s going to be there – largely white, male, and young. Sometimes you have to push yourself to go to that Meetup anyway. Part of the reason we started Tech Ladies is so, if you’re a woman, you don’t have to feel that pressure of not fitting in the room. It’s why we have Meetups all over the country, as well, to help try to close that networking gap for women.

I think one tip is just to go in with an open mind. You don’t have to be a big extrovert to get something out of a Meetup that you go to. I think, even if you meet just one person or walk away with one business card, and you can follow-up with them and make a good connection, it was worth getting yourself out of the house and going to do that. Sometimes it can feel a little bit like exercise to get yourself to go to some type of professional networking event. We try to make them fun, but I know, for a lot of people, they can be a little intimidating.

Mac Prichard:

Do you have one networking secret you’d like to share for somebody who might be going to a Meetup for the first time?

Allison Esposito: 

Sure. As an introverted person myself, I know one of the things we hear a lot and have talked about in our group is how to network as an introvert when you would rather do anything but go out and be in a big group of people at a potentially large happy hour, that kind of thing. I think that’s one thing to do, is just keep your expectations small. You’re probably not going to go in and walk away with a job offer that day.

If you go in, and you just keep your expectations low and just say, “I’m going to go in and talk to five people, walk away with one new contact, and follow-up with them the next day,” eventually you can work your way up to being some kind of super networker where you’re going to more and more of these things and really getting as much as you can out of them. If even going is hard, or you feel really shy, I think even just going and talking to a few people should be considered a success.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I agree. I think networking is a long game. Your life is not going to change by going to one event, but as you build relationships and make connections, one person at a time, the people we work with say they see benefits. I’m hearing you say the same.

Allison Esposito:

Sure.

Mac Prichard:

When people think about technology, I think the popular image is the jobs are in coding or programming or being the head of startup. But it’s a big sector, isn’t it?

Allison Esposito:

Definitely. There are a lot of different types of jobs. If you want to learn to code, you should try that. I think a lot of people think they want to get into tech because they hear it’s a great thing to be in: high paying jobs, that kind of thing. They’ve heard the good stories about it. I think that you can take anything that you’re already really good at and figure out what the job description is for tech.

I was a writer and a marketer, working for colleges, nonprofits; I was a journalism major in school. The first half of my career was that before I got into tech. I figured out where would my skills be useful at tech companies. I did some research and found that I could work as a copywriter and work on UX copy, which is writing copy for apps and products, as well as writing marketing copy for brands and startups, too.

Figuring out what you’re already good at and where it would be useful in tech, I think is a great thing to do. You don’t necessarily need to completely reinvent yourself or completely learn a new skill to work in tech. You can look at what you’re already doing and see where it fits. If you’re a really good project manager, you might eventually work your way up to be a product manager in tech. If you work in business or sales, those jobs definitely exist in tech. Pretty much anything you do translates to a tech job.

Mac Prichard:

What’s your best advice, Allison, for people who want to make that change? Say they have a background in marketing, or sales, or financial management, and they want to move out of, say, the transportation or manufacturing sector into technology, how do you see people make that switch? What steps do they take?

Allison Esposito:

I think the first thing, and a thing you can do on day one is start to use the products you think you would want to work for. Maybe you already do, but make sure you’re really using them and thinking about how they could be better, and even just jotting down in a notebook what you would do differently if you worked at that company. Then I think the second thing is joining Twitter or other online groups and following people who have jobs that you would love to have some day.

I definitely did that for three years before I even got into tech. I was just reading tech blogs, following and interacting with people on Twitter, going to tech Meetups before I was really even in tech myself, and absorbing as much as [I could]. I think in tech, more than other industries, everything is out there. If you want to learn a skill, and you go on Medium and search for it, you will find so many great pieces written by people who’ve written extensively about these things at different companies. I think a lot of the learning is really out there for the taking in tech more than other sectors.

Mac Prichard:

Many women want to work from home. They want to work remotely. What kind of tech jobs allow them to do that?

Allison Esposito:

Luckily, there’s a lot of remote work in tech. I’m personally really excited about it. I think it’s the future and a really good option, especially for women. We also see a lot of moms or at-home-moms who want to work remotely, as well. It’s just everybody seeing the benefits of being able to balance their life better, whether they have children or not. I think there’s a lot of tech jobs for this.

There are a lot of companies who’ve committed to being completely remote; some of them we have on our site. I think the best thing to do is just learn about what the remote companies are. I think my advice for remote work is that it’s great if you can join a remote company that’s fully remote, rather than just looking for one remote role because it can be a struggle when there’s an office that you’re not a part of. A lot of companies now are switching over to being fully remote, which puts you on the same level playing field with everybody else.

Mac Prichard:

Allison, I know one of the reasons you started Tech Ladies is because men dominate the sector; it can be hard for women to find other women to network with. What difference can career advice from other women make in your world?

Allison Esposito:

That’s a great question. I think it’s really a huge difference of why women helping women is the basis of Tech Ladies is because there’s just so many things that happen at work, not just in the tech world but in every career path that you could take, that, really, only other women will have experienced. One of the things we do in our community is we have anonymous advice, where people can, on our online community, send an anonymous email to be posted, and then other members of the community can chime in about what they should do.

The reason it’s important to be anonymous in these scenarios is that they can’t say what company they work for – they could potentially get in trouble for saying they’re going through something tricky at work. We see things all the time, like sexual harassment, or not being paid equally. Women are trying to navigate these really complex issues, and there’s really no space to do that unless you’re just sitting at a Meetup or an event with other women and being honest, and open, and vulnerable with them, or supplying it anonymously through us. That advice is just so valuable.

Mac Prichard:

Like Mac’s List, Tech Ladies also runs a job board. We’ll include links to your site in the show notes. Tell us how else women can find and apply for tech jobs, besides looking at job boards.

Allison Esposito:

Sure. One of my favorite job hunting tips, in general, for finding your next job is to really make a list of the companies that you love and would want to work for and are following very closely. Then figure out if there’s a place for you there. This list can be running for a long time. I think it’s really smart to focus on the companies in particular, trying to build up your networks within those companies. That way, when you apply, you’re not just a resume sitting in a pile, but maybe you’ve already made a connection there, or you’ve got a leg up when you’re going to apply to companies.

Even if you don’t know anybody there or haven’t networked your way into meeting someone there, at least when you get called back for an interview, it’s clear that you’ve been reading industry news on this company and that you’re really up on them. I think it’s the smart way to also narrow down your search because it can get so overwhelming if you’re applying to every product manager job that you see pop up. It may be smarter to actually say, “These are the 10 companies that I’m trying to get a product management job at.”

Mac Prichard:

Great. Thank you, Allison. I think that’s great advice. Tell us what’s next for you?

Allison Esposito:  

Sure. I recently left my full-time job to run Tech Ladies full-time, so I’ve been focused on that. Right now, there’s just me. We are bootstrapped with two part-time people who are helping us out, so it is still very small. We are just gearing up for 2017, have a little bit of a product format that we’re working on, so make the job search better, make it so people can apply to get alerts when we post new jobs. We’re planning a lot of big events for 2017, as well.

Mac Prichard:

I know, from looking at your website, that you organize events, not just in New York City but in cities across the country on both Coasts and the Midwest, as well. We’ll include the link to your website in the show notes so that people can find those events as well as your job board and the other resources you offer.

Allison Esposito: 

Great. Thank you so much.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. To learn more about Allison and Tech Ladies, go to www.hiretechladies.com. Allison, thanks for being on the show.

Allison Esposito:

Thanks so much for having me.

Mac Prichard:

It’s been our pleasure. Take care.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with Jenna and Ben. What were some of the key ideas that you got from my conversation with Allison, Jenna?

Jenna Forstrom:

I really liked her point on going into a networking event and having kind of low expectations because then you won’t get disappointed. I liked her point of don’t go into every networking event thinking you’re going to get a job offer because, as someone on the other side of the field, it’s not like we’re walking around with jobs in our back pockets; it’s just there to network and get a sense for the industry, the field you’re working at, the city’s vibe for employment.

Then, from there, making really great potential contacts to follow-up with the next day, when you get home and have processed the entire night and done some research on the website and what might be available, and then start the conversation there. If you have lower expectations, you won’t go home with a sense of disappointment because … aside from when we had Angela Copeland who got a jot at a networking event … I’ve never heard of anyone going and getting a job offer day one. I thought that was a really good point that she had made. How about you, Ben, any thoughts?

Mac Prichard:

I will say about Angela, too, remember that she’s a career coach.

Jenna Forstrom: 

Yeah. That’s true.

Mac Prichard:

That is the only time I’ve heard of somebody actually getting a job at a networking event.

Jenna Forstrom:

Right. Yeah.

Ben Forstag:

I liked her point that, in the tech space, there’s a need for folks beyond coders and programmers. I think that’s something that gets forgotten a lot. When you talk to people about technology, their first response is like, “Well, I don’t know how to program.” That’s true, but the tech space also needs marketers and communication people and HR managers and all these other different things. I would encourage folks, if they’ve got an interest in technology, don’t think that you need to be tech-head to enter that space.

Mac Prichard:

That’s a good point because most of us will change sectors once, twice, maybe three times, and it might mean moving from the corporate world to the nonprofit world. It could mean moving from a private company that is a manufacturer to maybe an insurance business, but you’ll be able to make those changes when you’re clear about the skills you offer and how they’re transferable because no job lasts forever these days, so we all have to be prepared for making those changes. I thought Allison’s advice was applicable to not only the technology world, but so many other sectors.

Ben Forstag:   

Absolutely. The other thing that just popped in my head, here, is one of the things you hear a lot about in the tech space is the idea of user experience. Basically, when you boil that down, all it means is how you take these very complicated, technological things and translate them down to a user who’s not very technologically savvy. I think people who can do that, like a good writer, is invaluable to the organization, right because they can actually help the organization sell their product to the consumer.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. Agreed. Thank you both. Thank you, Allison, for joining us this week, and a big thanks to you, our listeners, for tuning into this episode of Find Your Dream Job. If you like what you hear, please sign up for our free weekly newsletter. In every issue, we give you the key points of that week’s show. We also include links to all the resources mentioned, and you get a transcript of the full episode.

If you subscribe to the newsletter now, we’ll send you our job-seeker checklist. In one easy-to-use file, we show you all the steps you need to take to find a great job. Get your free newsletter and checklist today. Go to macslist.org/podcast. Join us next Wednesday, when our special guest will be Amanda Augustine. She’ll explain what questions you need to ask yourself before you apply for a job. Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

Tech jobs are some of the best paying gigs out there. They are also some of the most difficult jobs to land. This is particularly true for women, who face significant challenges breaking into the male-dominated world of tech.

The gender gap in the tech world is quite large. It can be seen in small startups, all the way up to big companies. Some firms report a “pipeline problem”–they don’t believe women are out in the job market, or that their skill level is not up to par with the men applying for the same positions.

This week’s guest, Allison Esposito, argues that there isn’t a pipeline problem. She thinks women face a more fundamental “culture problem” when it comes to tech jobs. To overcome this barrier, women need to network and build personal connections–with each other and with men–within the tech industry. She shares her tips on the best way to build these networks.

The Week’s Guest

Allison Esposito is the founder of Tech Ladies, a community that connects women with the best jobs in technology, and companies with the best women tech makers. Allison is also a branding and marketing expert, who has worked for Google, Foursquare, and other tech firms.

In 2017, Allison will be gearing up her product roadmap and event calendar for the ever-evolving Tech Ladies Community.

Resources from this Episode