Tips for Landing an Edtech Gig—From the EdSurge Jobs Team

Tips for Landing an Edtech Gig—From the EdSurge Jobs Team

Looking for a job can be daunting, particularly if you are pivoting to a new role or switching industries, like those folks coming into the edtech space. That initial obstacle of breaking into the community and getting the inside scoop can be a big barrier. From there, the struggle becomes marketing yourself in an applicable way to hiring managers—the job search process requires you to promote your strengths and improve or reposition our weaknesses.

Over the years of running the EdSurge edtech jobs board, we’ve collected some helpful tips and resources for finding your dream edtech job. As such, we want to help you get over some of those aforementioned hurdles with a number of best practices from those who’ve come before you.

Tips for... Building Up Your Skills

Building new skills is especially important when you are pivoting away from your current role, and we see them bucketed into three categories: career planning, hard skills, and talking the talk (or knowing the latest news and lingo).

Career Planning: When you are thinking about what role would best suit you, write down 3 to 5 of your top strengths. Look at 10 job descriptions for a couple roles that you think you might like. Do they match up? This can be a good (and sometimes painful) reality check, but it can also produce a list of skills that you would like to build.

There are a handful of websites that put out a lot of great content about career planning including: The Muse, Career Builder, Monster, and more. You can also check out the Career Planning section of the EdSurge Index.

Building Hard Skills: There are so many courses nowadays (online, especially—thanks edtech!) that allow adults to pursue lifelong learning. You can find these courses in all shapes and sizes, from an intensive all-day program or coding bootcamp to an hour-long course you can fit into your schedule.

Being unemployed can be stressful, and it’s hard not to feel like you need to funnel all your time into the job search, but it can also be the perfect opportunity to dive deep on building new skills. Make sure to carve out time to invest in learning new things in a more focused way than you would be able to do while working hard at your day job.

Building hard skills can be particularly important for moving into a technical role or switching technical expertises, but there are courses that cover just about every topic that you might want to learn about. Check out our growing list of MOOCs and Courses on the EdSurge Index.

Talk the Talk: Even if you’ve never worked in education and edtech, it’s important to form a point of view by reading about what’s going on in the space. Being able to discuss hot topics and know who’s who is helpful in figuring out what you’re passionate about and ultimately where you want to work. It is especially helpful when networking or in interviews. In addition to reading EdSurge, following funding rounds on AngelList and CrunchBase, checking out TED Talks on Education, and exploring news sites like EdWeek and ChalkBeat are solid ways to prep.

Tips for… Building your Digital Brand

Particularly when applying for a job in anything tech-related, your digital brand is extremely important. When applying for jobs, make sure to update your LinkedIn and any other professional profiles (AngelList, F6S, BuiltIn, etc.) to align them with the role(s) you are applying for. Pro tip: If you’re still in a job and are looking to make a change, check that your LinkedIn settings aren’t publicly publishing updates.

As for your social profiles such as Facebook and Instagram, previous wisdom used to to be to hide any trace that a hiring manager could find. Now, instead of changing your name or hiding everything on your social media pages, you should use these pages to show the “human” side of you. Hiring managers are human, after all, so this can be a great way to appeal to the more personal side of them. Build a brand that represents you in a positive light by posting Instagram pictures that show you as the person you want your employer to see. Post articles and media on Facebook, Twitter, etc that is useful and interesting to your followers.

Finally, creating a 60-second narrative elevator pitch (who you are, what you’ve been doing, and what you want to be doing in your next job) is useful, because you can use this online in your resume, LinkedIn, blogs, etc.

Tips for… Killing the Networking Game

Networking can be the single most important thing you do in your job search, and can often be the most nebulous. While it’s important to get yourself out there, engaging in only a few networking interactions that are more intentional and meaningful can sometimes be better than a firehose approach.

First, create a target list of 10-50 companies, as well as employees that work in roles you are interested in at those companies. Figure out where they live on and offline. What are they reading, tweeting, and watching? What meetups and conferences do they go to? Furthermore, a coffee or drink chat can be a great opportunity for informational interviews and future networking opportunities.

The most important tip for these coffee or drink meetings is to do your homework. Research the person ahead—look at their professional profiles, things they have published, and their networks. And if they are a networking mavin, ask them for three contacts to reach out to. (Or, if they are an expert in an area you are interested in, ask them for three resources you can start reading.)

And what about group in-person networking events? There are edtech and education meetups all around the country, from EdSurge’s own meetup in SF (SF Edtech Meetup) to our partner Meetup in NYC (NY EdTech Meetup). You can also check out the EdSurge Events Board and our calendars for K-12 events and Higher Ed events.

Tips for… Interviewing like a Pro

You’re in the door—now is your time to shine.

First things first: make sure to do thorough research on the company before you interview. Come up with a list of questions that you want to ask them. They are evaluating you, but you are also evaluating them so make sure the company and role have what you’re looking for. Asking questions also shows that you’re thoughtful and have done your homework.

If the interviewer will be your future manager, try to get a sense for their management style and their strengths and weaknesses; ask about the company culture, the organizational structure, and overall management style. Pro tip: try to identify what the company’s business model is and how they make money. This is especially relevant in edtech. If the answer is unclear or centered on projected revenue, make sure you are comfortable with the level of growth in that particular market and see a future in their monetization strategy.

When you are discussing your experiences, give unique and personal anecdotes and responses. Make sure to highlight your personal strengths and how they make you a good fit for the role. It’s important that a hiring manager doesn’t feel like you are just going through the motions and telling them what they want to hear. HR Pro Tip: don’t share your current or previous compensation. They’re not supposed to ask you for that information!

Now That You’re an Expert...

Now that you’re armed with knowledge and resources for getting a job in edtech, you are off to the races. And of course, don’t hesitate to reach out with feedback, tips, or questions at jobs@edsurge.com. We’re here to help!

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