Feature image

Context Link to this heading

With news around role eliminations and reduced staffing across the industry, I wanted to share some resources I’ve found helpful in the last few months as I coached my sister-in-law, an ex-coworker, and a few friends and ex-coworkers through the job hunting process.

I’m writing this from the point of view of helping out an ex-teammate, but the advice can hopefully help in any scenario.

Interviewer resources Link to this heading

As you work with your transitioned-out team member, bear in mind that being critical and giving effective feedback can be awkward in the moment, but it can help give them insight into habits they didn’t know were harming their performance, whether on their resume, technical interview skills, behavioral interviewing skills, or elsewhere.

Scheduling Link to this heading

Helping out your ex-teammate is a noble endeavor, but scheduling is often difficult. It can be awkward for them to ask for help on brushing up on these skills, so making it as approachable as possible is helpful.

Personally, I prefer to set up a Calendly (or other scheduling tool) link such that they can select a time that works for you.

  • These tools typically play nice with your personal calendar (if you wish to integrate it) such that they only leave bookable time slots open if they aren’t already taken by personal events.

  • They also integrate with Zoom/Teams/Google Meet such that you can have a link automatically set up for the meeting time they select.

  • Here’s mine for reference!

Once they book time with you, it is helpful to go over what they’re looking to get out of it and what timeline they imagine. You’ll have to reach consensus on what level of commitment you have to offer against what they’re looking for.

Resume Prep Link to this heading

A good resume highlights impact and results over effort. Whenever possible, share quantitative metrics over how things improved and how those metrics were gathered. When reviewing your ex-team member’s resume, use a discerning eye to highlight what’s impactful.

I find it helpful to share my own resume and go over why I included (or didn’t include) certain things I’ve worked on as a starting point/example. I find opening up emotionally myself encourages them to do the same, and it leads to a less defensive, more open and honest conversation from the get-go.

Here are some articles that highlight important facets of a good resume:

  1. How to Write an Effective Resume
  2. 10 Resume Writing Tips To Help You Land a Position
  3. Resume Vocabulary | Business English

Mock Interviewing Link to this heading

I recommend using a separate “persona” for doing mock interviews such that there’s a “line” between your conversations beforehand/afterwards and during the mock interview itself. My sister-in-law let me know that it was really helpful that I was able to “act” like a real interviewer and had a script ready (e.g. “Hi! Welcome to BigCompany’s tech screening! As a rough agenda for the next hour…”) to mimic the actual interview as closely as possible.

While mock interviewing my sister-in-law, I found myself in a unique position. Often, when interviewing candidates, we can only guide them a little during the interview itself. We aren’t often able to give truly meaningful and specific feedback, which can lead interviewees to operate in a vacuum where they can’t iterate and improve.

In the case of mock interviewing my sister-in-law, I was able to give much more detailed feedback. I coached her through how to talk through her thought process effectively, how to break down problems into smaller subproblems and approach things from either bottom-up or top-down more effectively, how to ask questions on requirements more effectively, etc.

When giving feedback to your mock interviewee, don’t forget to give both positive and constructive feedback. It’s easy to focus too much on what needs to be improved (if they have a lot of potential things to improve that you noticed) or to avoid talking about that (if you’re trying to avoid demoralizing them), but giving balanced feedback will give them the most realistic picture of how they’re perceived during interviews.

I want to reiterate my point from above here: without feedback, it’s difficult to improve, so try to pay close attention to both the good and the bad so you can give your ex-teammate the best odds possible in their interviews.

Personal Thoughts Link to this heading

Feedback Structures Link to this heading

I introduced horizontal feedback structures to my team, where ICs can give lateral feedback to their peers to help build each other up. Most of the topics are applicable to feedback in general and can help you give and receive feedback more effectively. I found a really helpful resource on this:

  • Employee Feedback Examples: 15 Actionable Techniques: this is one of my favorite blog posts I’ve ever read on the topic! It goes over what feedback is, why it’s important, what makes feedback good vs. bad, examples of good vs. bad feedback and why they’re good/bad. It also touches on how to effectively receive feedback and some guidelines for setting these structures up. I wish I had read this when I first started looking into this in the first place!

Please reach out if you have other questions/comments/concerns on how I set this up for my team. We just set up randomized pairings on a monthly cadence to foster horizontal feedback. The eventual goal was for people to feel comfortable giving feedback whenever, with these randomized pairings serving as a chance to sync up with someone they might normally not sync up with.