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Stop Relying on Job Boards - Do This Instead to 10x Your Chances of Landing an ML Job

Simple strategies for increasing your chances of landing your first data science role.
Reza Fazeli

Machine Learning Engineer, IBM, Ex-SoundHound

Are you applying for data science and machine learning roles and not hearing back from companies?

In fact, 95% of your applications to job boards will go unnoticed.

On top of that, you have no control over the response time. It could take months before you start hearing back from employers.

Transitioning into data science is already difficult

You have to learn new concepts, work on personal projects, and practice coding problems. 

Your evenings and weekends are devoted to learning and practicing. You push yourself to stay focused even when you feel unmotivated. You craft a strong resume. You fill out multiple application forms, providing detailed answers to all questions. You hit Submit.

Then nothing!

Weeks go by and you don't hear anything back. You start to question your abilities. Maybe your projects were not good enough.

No, there's nothing wrong with your abilities. You've just taken the wrong approach. 

Sending out online applications is like shooting in the dark. It's a process that you have no control over. Focus on creative ways to approach employers and get them to talk to you rather than hoping that they will one day notice your application.

Here is how you can gain more control over your job search and avoid shooting in the dark.

Send out cold emails and messages.

There is no downside to sending cold messages but there is a huge upside.

It can increase your response rate to 30%. When you compare this to the 5% response rate from job boards, sending out cold messages becomes a no-brainer.

This might seem stressful, awkward, or embarrassing at first. But think about the worse thing that could happen if you send that cold message.

Your message could be ignored.

That's not too bad! I'd rather have my messages be ignored than have little control over my job application process.

Send an email or a LinkedIn message to someone who is in a role you’re interested in and ask for a quick chat with them. Prepare to ask questions that help you learn more about the role as well as the person's experience in the role and at the company.

Find the right person in the company

If you're targeting a smaller company, it's usually possible to find the hiring manager. 

Find them on LinkedIn, send a connection request, and add a short note describing your experience and interest in the role. Let them know that you've already applied online. Ask them if they would be open to a quick chat to answer a few questions about the role. You can also find their email using available online tools and send them a quick email.

For larger companies, it can be difficult to find the hiring manager for the role you're interested in. You can reach out to someone in a similar role or a company recruiter.

Create your role even if it doesn’t exist yet.

If you're targetting smaller companies and startups, you can also reach out to them even if there is no relevant opening at the company.

You can message the CEO or the CTO in small companies (< 10 employees) and describe how you can help them leverage data to improve their product, processes, etc.

Read about the company and their product to understand what data they might be collecting and think about how you can add value to the company using this data. Come up with a few ideas and discuss them in your conversation with this person.

Chances are that they have been looking for someone with your capabilities but didn't have the time or resources to look for the right candidate.

And now you've reached out!

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