The Happy Engineer Podcast

060: The 2 Biggest Mistakes in Job Hunting and How to Land a Dream Job with Cassandra Thompson

Are you tired of job hunting and networking advice that isn’t even realistic?

“Go have coffee with someone every day for 40 days.”

Sure thing coach, and meanwhile you can do my job for me and come babysit my kids!

In this episode, you will meet Cassandra Thompson, a globally recognized speaker whose work casting contestants for Wheel of Fortune, strategizing on the recruitment team at Riot Games, and coaching ambitious professionals made her into a networking paragon.

She has helped over 100,000 subscribed job-seekers on YouTube, sharing her powerful insights and advice in free video coaching with MILLIONS of views.

Near the end of our chat, Cassandra shares two things you MUST NOT DO when preparing for a career move.

So press play and let’s chat… because your next role is right around the corner!

Then join The Happy Engineer Community online and get access to bonus content and coaching in our free group >>


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Previous Episode 059: Q&A #2 with Zach White – How to Ask for a Raise and How to Deal with Peer Pressure that Leads to Long Hours and Burnout




Cassandra and I had a really practical conversation about career transition and finding that next job. 

Let’s debrief that.

Don’t Wing-It in Job Interview

Just in the last two weeks, I have had six conversations with engineering leaders who are in interview processes, and who have not spent more than an hour preparing for those interviews.

Sometimes we just have the wrong paradigm, the wrong mindset about how to tackle these moments in our careers. 

One of the individuals in question had an interview the same day that we were planning to talk. And when we got on the phone together to do some coaching, the questions that came up about readiness for the interview were all zeros. 

  • Have you done your studying on any technical gaps in understanding the company itself?
  • What they do and the industry that they play in?
  • Have you done any research on the interviewer and what’s going to be coming from that person? 
  • Did you connect with them on LinkedIn? 
  • Have you spent some time prepping your best examples of your successes and classic behavioral interview questions?
  • Have you practiced saying these things out loud? 
  • Have you been timing yourself? 

None of those things had been done. 

Here’s what I want you to understand. You may look at interview prep as just one more thing to put on your plate when you’re already incredibly busy. 

And if I were to say to you, would you be willing to spend five hours preparing for an interview? Or seven? Ot even 14 hours? 

Consider this. Let’s say you make 140k as an engineer today. You’re hoping to gain a 20% raise by changing to a new company at the next level. 

That 20% raise that’s $28,000. If you were to prepare for 14 hours for that interview process, that’s like earning $2,000 an hour for your preparation if it gives you the edge to land that position. 

Because at the end of the day, while you are going to work hard and learn new things and level up in that role, the truth of the matter is you’re gonna be trading the same amount of time and energy in the new job that you have been in your current job. So you could easily argue that that first years of increase in salary is because of your preparation to outperform others in the interview. 

Now, of course, there’s more factors than simply your interview performance, your experiences, your resume, your connections. But your interview preparation time has a massively disproportionate value on the future of your wealth creation.

Go in with the Right Mindset

You need to prepare your mindset and your energy for an interview. 

For that, at OACO we use an exercise which we call visioning. The scope of visioning is much bigger than just job interviews. For now, I will give you a really brief, simplified version of the visioning process that you can apply specifically to interviews.

Here’s what you’ll do. 

I want you to take a blank piece of paper and you are going to make an entry, using a technique that I call the hot pin. The hot pin is the process of writing where you don’t stop writing no matter what, you’re not allowed to pause and think about what you’re going to write next. 

With that in mind, you will write about how the interview went. You’re going to imagine yourself after the interview has happened.

Let’s imagine you have an interview tomorrow at 2:00 PM, and it’s gonna be a two hour process. You’re meeting with two different managers, and you expect to be done by four or 5:00 PM in the evening. Here’s what your entry in the journal might look like. 

It’s 5:00 PM on Wednesday afternoon. And I just finished my interview with such and such company. The interview went exactly the way that I dreamed that it would go. 

Remember, you’re going to let whatever’s on your heart and mind flow to the page and write it as if it’s already happened.

The interview went exactly how I dreamed it would go. We made a great connection and had instant rapport together in this interview. I really felt great about the connection that I had with the hiring manager for this role, all of the questions I was so proud of my ability to articulate clear and concise answers. I felt that my experiences were directly related to what they’re looking for and I didn’t stumble over my words at all. I was able to bring great energy into this interview. And the whole time I could see the nodding and the response of that interview are really coming along with me and, and latching on to what I was saying. And it was awesome. It felt great. And what I learned about the company while I was in the interview through the questions I asked them, makes me even more excited about this opportunity. And I’m totally certain that this is a great fit for my career and my next step and so on and so forth. 

This primes your subconscious mind to expect a positive outcome from this interview and the simple act of visioning what that ideal future looks like is going to set you in motion to show up to that interview with that energy.

If you rehearse mentally with vivid detail, what you expect to create in the future, then when you get into that environment and into that key moment, your subconscious mind is gonna say, 

“Oh yeah, I’ve been here before. This is the part where I crush this.” 

This process is infinitely scalable. You can use it anywhere, and it’s great place to set yourself up for success in the interview by doing a visioning exercise first.

If you have an interview coming up, I would highly encourage you to take 10 minutes and do this visioning exercise beforehand. 

Wish you a ton of success. If you need support on this, please reach out to us.

And until next time, keep crushing comfort, create courage and let’s do this.



Cassandra Thompson is a globally recognized speaker whose work casting contestants for Wheel of Fortune, strategizing on the recruitment team at Riot Games, and coaching ambitious professionals made her into a networking paragon. 

Through her talks, Cassandra helps audience members reach their career goals by leveraging the power of networking. She not only has a wonderful way of demystifying the topic but she also makes it humorous and entertaining. Her insights have reached over 9 million people on YouTube and been featured on high-performing podcasts as well as ABC7, CNBC, and other major media outlets. Whether it’s through Cassandra’s keynotes, workshops, training, or coaching you always walk away motivated and equipped with actionable steps to implement immediately. 

Cassandra is on a mission to get people back to building authentic, real relationships.





Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.

[00:00:00] Zach White: Welcome back, Happy Engineers! And Cassandra, I am so glad you’re here. This is gonna be incredible. I love your content, your YouTube channel. There’s so many things that I want to ask you today. And I can’t thank you enough for being here and making time for me and the Happy Engineer out there, listening.

[00:00:20] Cassandra Thompson: Of course, happy to be here!

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:22] Zach White: So just to blow up the stats really quick. Okay. Cause Andrea, you, you have. 90,000 plus followers, subscribers on YouTube. And I think it’s nine or 10 million views of your amazing content around career transition, job hunting, the search, the everyone’s favorite thing to do to go out there and brave the wilderness of finding a job.

[00:00:46] I just wanted to ask, you know, in that entire. Period of time and building that content. Do you have any idea how many professionals you may have helped through all the work that you’ve done in finding and landing that next position? 

[00:01:02] Cassandra Thompson: I don’t have the actual number I should go through and look this year, I am tracking, but I know it’s over a thousand. 

[00:01:11] Zach White: That’s so amazing. Yeah. So amazing. Yeah. And, and in the coaching that you do one on one and engaging with people in, in a live coaching dynamic, how many people are you able to support in that work? 

[00:01:23] I do a lot of interview coaching, and so a lot of those are one offs or working together very quickly.

[00:01:29] Cassandra Thompson: which is nice, you know, you get the call that you have an interview and you’re like, I need help. let me get this on the calendar, you know, before Thursday or whatever. and then I do take a couple very selective, ongoing clients at a time. 

[00:01:44] I can’t say enough about how amazing your work is.

[00:01:48] Zach White: And so, before we were recording, I mentioned, you know, like you are an incredible specialist around just one of the things that is part of the OACO world of coaching, you know, career transition, doesn’t apply to all of our clients, but for those who it does, wow. It’s an all consuming. Stressor yeah.

[00:02:04] In our life when we’re in that process. And so would you tell us a little bit about how you ended up in this world and really becoming a true expert in how not just to execute a career transition, but how to help others go through that process? 

[00:02:20] I think first is the basis of career coaching as the starting point of that.

[00:02:26] Cassandra Thompson: And that came when I was trying to figure out my own career transition. I worked in television for 10 years. I probably spent two of those the last two of those debating. Do I leave this? Do I leave this industry? Do I put this behind? And in my trying to figure out my next career, move, read every career guide under the sun and at the time I thought they had unrealistic information.

[00:02:50] Now I think they actually had realistic information that wasn’t delivered in a real. Like it was delivered in an unrealistic way. like books that are telling you get coffee every day with somebody for 40 days. It’s like, do you not know I have a job? I can’t leave it to go get coffee every day. Like, it’s very hard.

[00:03:08] so in that process realized. What worked and what didn’t and how I would explain it to people. And also was just noticed, I was a lot more fascinated by resumes and interview skills than most of my friends, so thought, okay. Maybe I should go this career coach route. the career change being my focus, like a lot of things with coaches now, it comes from our own background.

[00:03:32] What we kind of niche down to. And I have changed careers three times now. So, it’s an area I know, and I’ve done it three different ways. So it’s an wow. It’s an area I know really well. 

[00:03:48] Zach White: you have such brilliant, checklists and all the content that you’ve already created on the basic things and anybody, you know, engineering leader out there listening, just go, you know, into the show notes and click in and grab Cassandra’s free content, cuz it’s brilliant.

[00:04:02] I wanna get curious about a few. things that are off the beaten path with you. Yeah. Maybe that you don’t talk about as often. the first thing I was curious about is like, when is the last time that you were asked a question that actually stopped you in your tracks? Like, oh, that’s a new one. I’ve never been asked that before.

[00:04:20] and the reason I’m curious is cuz as a coach, we hear the same kinds. Challenges and questions and answer a lot of things over and over again. And eventually you kind of almost can predict exactly what your client’s gonna say next. And once in a while, my clients will surprise me and ask me something like, wow, you know, that really is an interesting question.

[00:04:38] Zach White: So when is the last time for you that you can remember just saying, Hmm, that’s a new one. 

[00:04:45] Cassandra Thompson: I’m trying to think. I haven’t had any with coaching clients lately, but on YouTube. viewers are not afraid to ask questions in the comments or I’ll do live Q and A’s and questions will be asked and ones that do get me a lot are around international.

[00:05:04] Job searching techniques. So, I’m trying to think if there’s one in particular, but I do get a lot of feedback of some of the networking, techniques don’t always work the same way in that. Well, how do I do it in my situation? so I’m starting to look into that a little bit more, but I don’t know if there’s been.

[00:05:23] Cassandra Thompson: A particular question. That’s I can think of that. Stumped me. I will say one thing I have learned over the years is it’s totally fine to say. I don’t know. And I’ll get back to you. I think that’s something that great lesson and I feel like that’s something that applies to everybody, whether you’re a coach or not, is.

[00:05:43] I’m not gonna make up, especially when it’s about your livelihood. Right? I don’t wanna point you in the wrong direction if I don’t know I guess that’s one too, every now and then, I’ll get someone on a call that has a, background or role I’m not as familiar with mm-hmm . And when they ask about their personal situation and hiring for their role, having to say.

[00:06:06] I don’t know what’s being looked for in your role in particular, let me go research some things and come back to you. Sure. 

[00:06:13] Zach White: So do you think because, or if we look at that evidence, most of the questions being asked are all in the same vein and have been asked before, and it’s pretty rare that Cassandra gets stumped in a live Q and a, is that telling of the fact that.

[00:06:29] Transition career transition really is a bit simpler than we want to make it out to be. If we would just show up to the process and do the work, or am I misreading that evidence? 

[00:06:42] Cassandra Thompson: No, I think you’re right in the sense of, There’s always nuance and there’s always context. So I don’t wanna take that away from people because also, sometimes I get frustrated when people see my stuff and go, that’s not my situation.

[00:06:56] I’m here. Well, there’s always an outlier and there’s, and you should always take advice on the internet and see, does this work for me or not? Does this work for my situation? But I think at the end of the day, the main components of getting a new job. Are the same, the timing, the way they play out, like the order they go in.

[00:07:18] that’s going to change based off your life experience, based off when you met people based on, you know, all those sorts of things. Mm-hmm but the components are the same.

[00:07:27] Zach White: The components. The tactics, the strategies, the tools, yes. The methodology, these pieces. If I took that as one bucket and on the other bucket and not to say these are the only buckets, Cassandra, but I’m curious how you would look at this is mindset, confidence, the emotional aspects, the energetic piece of the individual.

[00:07:52] Yeah. Which one of those two, would you say leads. As a predictor of people’s outcomes and results is like, do you know what? It doesn’t matter what you think, as long as you just do the right things, you’re gonna get a new job, or would you say if you have the wrong, energy and mindset and there’s no confidence, it doesn’t matter what you do.

[00:08:14] It’s not gonna happen. Is there any correlation or how would you look at those two? 

[00:08:19] Cassandra Thompson: I think it’s a little bit the chicken and the egg, but I do think mindset does play into the type of job you get. I have made poor job choices when I was desperate to get out of a job when it was like, I will do anything to go do something else.

[00:08:35] And an opportunity came up and it was the first opportunity in a really long time. And there were a lot of. pretty subtle like subtle red flags that I just. Talked myself out of like, no, no, it’s fine. No, I can do it. No, I’ll be fine. And cuz I was just desperate and got it. That’s where, so that’s where I think mindset does change things, but I think sometimes.

[00:09:03] we have to take action to start gaining traction and get that mindset. And I did not mean that to rhyme. I actually don’t really enjoy that, but, sometimes you don’t have the confident, like let’s take networking for example, or meeting people in the industry. This’s just an easy one. you don’t have the confidence until you reach out to someone for coffee or zoom call and they say yes, and now you’re like, oh, okay. I feel a little better. And you do that call and you feel good about it. And then you can take that and build momentum.

[00:09:35] Cassandra Thompson: And keep going with that action, but feel better about like now that you’ve got one under your belt, it’s like, yes, well now I get what I’m doing and oh, that person pointed out some things I’m good at. And so then the confidence built. So that’s why I’m saying it’s a little bit chicken and egg, but I do think mindset matters for the type of job you get.

[00:09:55] Zach White: Is there a mindset that is crucial to have. In a job transition process that needs to be developed independent of the actual job transition steps. So it’s not gonna come out of changing your resume and updating LinkedIn and doing coffee. Like this is something you need to go build in your mindset on your own time, separate from searching for the role.

[00:10:25] Cassandra Thompson: I don’t know if I’d say separate, but more far reaching than the role would be being open to what presents itself. So sometimes we can get really set in a box of, this is where our job is. This is the place I’m gonna get a job. This is the only role for me. And you’re not looking around to see, but there’s an opportunity to your left and your right and everywhere.

[00:10:49] Right. And so kind of being open for opportu. To come. And then with that, something I’ve really been thinking about the last week is how much we default to know or to the negative, at least I do. and a friend was telling me that this is true of other people. I guess this is one of the things Mel Robbins talks about.

[00:11:08] I know who she is. I didn’t know this was her thing. Um, but how we default to note. So when an opportunity does come, we talk ourselves out of it before we even tried. and this happens a lot with job searching. We see a job online that we want and we don’t even apply because we read through it and go, oh, I’m not qualified enough.

[00:11:30] They’d never hire me. It’s like, why don’t you give them the chance to decide? They’ll never hire you. Like, why don’t you just see, or someone says, oh, you should talk to my friend. They’d be a great contact. You get the number you go. I don’t know. They don’t know what I need. They’re not gonna, how do you know, they don’t know a contact for, or another option and that’s the job searching examples.

[00:11:51] But if you start. Those two things go together. being open and, instead of defaulting to no defaulting to, yes. If you start doing that all over in life, it’s going to have, you’re creating a bigger life and a, probably a better job fit is I would assume going to come with that. 

[00:12:11] Zach White: I love that being more open to what presents itself.

[00:12:14] So for me, the, the next thing I get curious about when you say be more open. I really believe in the process of visioning it’s something we do in our programs at OACO, getting very clear, not in. One sentence platitude type of way of a here’s the vision for the company. And it’s, something that’s big and aspirational and unachievable, impossible to achieve kind of thing.

[00:12:40] Right. Visioning in the sense of like, here’s exactly what I want my future to look like and feel like, and sound like, and here’s who I’m with, and this is what kind of impact I’m making. And, you know, I really love doing that. And I get curious then about in the job search process. Where would you say is the right level of specificity about what I’m looking for versus saying, I’ll take any job.

[00:13:07] You know, I just want a new job. Give me like anything in my field. I’ll take it. it’s so open in, in terms of the search versus specificity. Like I wanna be at this company and this town at this level, like every single detail’s locked and loaded. where is the right place to be? And how does it relate to that openness mindset you’re talking about?

[00:13:26] what I’m about to say is gonna sound counterintuitive. I think the more specific you can be about what you want the better, but when people come to you with solutions to that, you’re gonna take any solution. so what I mean is the example I always give is, Don’t just say, oh, I want a job as an engineer.

[00:13:49] Cassandra Thompson: Right. Or I’ll put it in engineering terms. So I normally use marketing, but let’s just say, oh, I want a job as an engineer. Great. What kind of engineer? Where, what are we doing? Right. So instead you should be as specific as saying, Hey, I’m really looking for a new position. I would love to do, software engineering at Google in, the department that does whatever, or like, let’s say Amazon at Amazon, I can say on the Kindle team.

[00:14:16] Okay. That’s pretty darn specific. Oh. And I would love to work out of the, main office in Seattle. Great. So you’re that specific, but here’s the thing is once you, people need to put you in a box to take you out of it. So you’re always gonna talk in specifics, but once I have you in that box, now I can go, okay.

[00:14:36] I don’t know anyone on the Kindle team, but my friend. used to be a recruiter at Google. I’m not sure what on team, but, and Amazon, I’m not sure what team, but would you want me to put you in contact? This is where you’re gonna be open and not go. No, it’s not on the Kindle team. I don’t want it. You’re gonna no, of course.

[00:14:54] Yes. I’d love to talk. And then you talk to that recruiter and she says, oh, I don’t re I don’t recruit for Kindle, but we actually have a software engineering opening, weirdly at Amazon studios down in LA. Are you interested? yes. You’re interested. Take the call, right? Like you can decide as you go along this now is too far outside.

[00:15:15] What I want, or this is within what I want. So you be specific, but be open to other people’s outside ideas. this is a classic example from a book. This is not my example. But where this concept comes from is a book called luck is no accident. It’s called the planned happenstance theory.

[00:15:33] It’s a career theory. This is where like people start going to sleep. Sorry. But if you’ve ever heard the, definition of luck is, preparation meets opportunity. That’s actually a career theory out of Stanford called the planned happenstance theory. It says, you’ll get a job you love when preparation meets opportunity.

[00:15:50] So going with this idea of openness, The example they give in the book is a guy is out of work and he really wants a job in an advertising agency, some sort of creative job in an advertising agency. Okay. And as he’s looking for work, he’s going to the same local gym every day. Cause he is got time.

[00:16:08] So he is working out and as he goes to that gym, he gets to know the gym owner. The gym owner knows that he’s looking for work and says, oh, well, do you, you wanna work creative at an ad agency? Do you do graphic design? And he says, yeah. And the gym owner says, well, I actually, I really wanna market the gym more.

[00:16:26] I’m actually looking to hire a full-time graphic designer for the gym. And this guy goes, no, I’m sorry. I’m looking for a job at an ad agency. And it’s like, oh, you weren’t open. if that job fits the criteria, be O because I hope your criteria is more than just, I have to do these skills and get this pay.

[00:16:50] Like, if it’s giving you the time to be with family and the time to work on your passion project or whatever, and it still pays you well, yes. I have a feeling for engineers in general. Like there can be a lot tied to the name of where you work. don’t get so focused on that name that you lose out on the part that actually creates a life you want, 

[00:17:13] Zach White: Cassandra, I love this and I have experienced it.

[00:17:16] And I agree with you that when we. Really clear and focused around the vision and in this case, the next role that I would love to have in my career path, that concentration of power that comes from focus is what creates movement, and the action and the catalyst to go get after it. And then opportunities that flow in from the unexpected places just seem to show up.

[00:17:43] Right. And I think for me, The only thing I have found is that there is, a, a difference in our way we show up to the process with either blinders on yes, you, I’m only willing to see that thing versus I have a very clear target, but I’m still letting my peripheral vision. Notice things. Right. And anytime something enters my view, I’m getting curious.

[00:18:11] So just saying, is that something that I want, oh, like it is, let’s go take one more step or it’s so far away from my target. It’s not worth spending time on it. And the principle I talk about is contrast creates. You know, on our computer screens and our televisions, we have these, high contrast, pixel counts and it’s the fact that we can actually distinguish between two things through contrast that makes it a clear picture.

[00:18:39] And without the focus we don’t have contrast. And without the contrast, we have no clarity. So I, I think that’s a brilliant lens to, to put it through. I’m curious for you then, where do you see people? Misstep on this particular process. do people come in way too open? No target. Are people coming in with blinders on?

[00:19:02] What are you noticing in terms of trends? These. 

[00:19:06] Cassandra Thompson: I think people are coming in no target because they’re afraid of missing something by having a target. I used to do this back in the day, too. When I worked in television, I worked in casting and I really thought I wanted to work in development. that’s the people who like decide, whoa, this is a show we should make a pilot and a series about and things I thought, oh, that’d be fun.

[00:19:28] I wanna work in but really baseline. What I wanted was a new job, if I could have my wishlist, it would be development. And so when I’d meet people, I knew the advice was you have to be specific. Tell them what you want. but my fear was, well, if I say development, what if they know about a casting job or a production job or an office job?

[00:19:50] They’re not gonna tell me about those, even though I would totally take those, but I ruled them out because I said development. So everyone stays generic because they think it’s making more possibilities. But that again is where. Be specific and get yourself in a box so that someone can take you out of it.

[00:20:05] Because if I had just gone in and said, oh, I’ve been working in casting. but I have some curiosity about working in development. That’s something I’m looking at. N nobody was gonna erase the casting job. If they had that opportunity, they would’ve said, oh, I don’t know development, but I do know three people looking for new casting agents are, would you be interested?

[00:20:23] Like you have to be willing to be specific so that they can take you out. But I think we’re all scared. It’s ironic. Right? We’re all scared that we’re missing an opportunity if we’re specific, but we’re missing the opportunities by being generic. Yeah. Wow. 

[00:20:40] Zach White: What else are job seekers afraid of these days?

[00:20:46] Cassandra Thompson: I don’t know if it’s afraid, but the fastest way to. To a new job is networking. but applying online gives a false feeling of productivity. so I think a lot of people who even know that they should network, it’s like, oh, but I don’t know the outcome. I don’t know where that’ll lead. Whereas if I send in my.

[00:21:11] Resume and apply for this job. I know it’s leading to this position. That’s actually false too, because they could look at you and think you’re good for something else, but it feels linear. And a lot of us, and I know engineers. Yeah. Like linear paths, whereas. When I say, just go talk to people at companies that you’re really interested in that feels so murky and so ambiguous.

[00:21:36] It’s like, what do you mean that’s gonna lead to a job. It’s like, you have to trust the process. That that actually is the faster way to a position you would enjoy. 

[00:21:47] Zach White: So I appreciate the nuance, you know, maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s not. But what I hear you saying is the, the fact that there’s. A bit of ambiguity to that path, and there’s gonna be more resistance for any human extrovert, introvert engineer, marketing person, like, oh yeah.

[00:22:04] A quick task online versus the effort to go meet someone new set up an opportunity to inter engage and interact approach, anxiety, all these things. there’s a measurable difference in difficulty between the two tasks. So I get that. Yes. On that networking front, then I know the engineering leader out there listening would be upset if I didn’t at least get something from you on, well, how do we create a bit of structure out of this nebulous nuanced thing?

[00:22:31] So, okay. Networking is the path, break it down for us a little bit more. What do we need to be doing to accelerate that transit? . 

[00:22:39] I get annoyed when people are like, oh, you think you don’t have a network, everyone, you know, is your network. It’s like, technically true, but not helpful. Uh, if you want a new engineering job, you’re not starting with your grandma.

[00:22:52] so I would say right down again, remember the irony is you get specific to be open. What are your top companies? What are your top 10 companies you wanna work at? if you only have five, that’s fine. Who are their competitors, Or who start meeting with people to find out who else you should be looking at?

[00:23:16] Cassandra Thompson: Cause also. We know all the name brands that we as consumers use. We don’t know all the B to BS mm-hmm that work within like my dad worked with the company that makes. he’s sales. he works with the company that makes Uber’s software that all their drivers use. And we as a consumer go, no that’s oh, doesn’t Uber make theirs.

[00:23:42] No, they hire some company you’ve never heard of that makes the software. Right. And so like, there’s those jobs that we don’t, you don’t even, or those companies you don’t even know about because we only know the name brand. We don’t know who they’re hiring to make the pieces. Of their thing. so start with who, you know, and then that list is gonna grow as you start meeting with people and they tell you about other companies or other opportunities, but the first steps are what are the companies and then who do you know, within that company or how many degrees of separation away.

[00:24:17] you might have a friend that already transferred to a role in that company. Great. That’s a super direct connection, but you also might go, oh, I don’t know anyone. Let’s just stay with engineering. I don’t know anyone who does any sort of engineering at Amazon, but my friends’ brother works in accounting.

[00:24:36] Cassandra Thompson: Great. Go talk to him. Talk to him about company culture, cuz the people in accounting only stay with people in accounting. No, they could be on a softball league to, with the people in engineer, like you never know. Yeah. So just start with whatever connection you have to get as close to that next.

[00:24:55] Area as you can. And then you’re constantly just meeting more people to talk about the next thing, or the next step. But in each of these, it’s never asking for a position it’s just asking to talk to more people, but hopefully no one is a narcissistic monster that never asks what you’re looking for.

[00:25:13] So you should always have the opportunity to go I realize I’m ready for my next move and I’d really love to, um, Let me use this as an example. I know a lot of engineers they hit a certain point and they wanna be the manager over the engineer, right? Like over departments.

[00:25:32] Mm-hmm , which then flips the skillset you need. Right. Or maybe it doesn’t flip it, but there’s an additional skill set being added there. Right. And so 

[00:25:41] Zach White: there’s gaps there. No question. 

[00:25:42] Cassandra Thompson: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And so let’s say it’s, you know, I’ve been working as an engineer for this many years. but now I’d really like to move to the next level in leadership and be more of a manager level role or director level role.

[00:25:57] And so I’m just looking to talk to people in those roles. To learn about what skills I need. Great. You didn’t ask for a job, but they know what you’re looking for and you’re gaining information at the same time. Yes. And so you’re gonna get information of what your next step should be. And then hopefully they’re going to say, oh, you should talk to my friend.

[00:26:17] So, and so and they’ll give you the name of. Somebody else and you’ll just keep 

[00:26:22] Zach White: going. I love that Cassandra. I encourage all my clients when they have these networking conversations to end that conversation by. thanking and asking who else, so, yep. You know, Hey Billy, can’t thank you enough for your generosity and your time to share this with me, blah, blah, blah, blah.

[00:26:41] before I go, I just wanted to ask, is there anybody else in your organization or people that you know who may have other insights around this same topic that would be open to a quick conversation like this and give Billy a chance to connect for sure. Me right. Then, do you agree with. I do 

[00:26:56] Cassandra Thompson: this, I do the exact same thing.

[00:26:57] Some people are just great at connecting the dots immediately and they’ll do it for you for you. But if not, I was gonna say, if not, you always ask based off our conversation. Is there anyone else you think I should be speaking with? Of course. Keep love that. Keep it going. 

[00:27:14] Zach White: So we know the pathway that is at the front and center.

[00:27:19] Don’t neglect, networking, go do it. And I know for engineers, if we’re painting with a broad brush, there’s a lot of nails on chalkboards kind of emotions. Yep. Hearing that, but it’s the truth. So go do it. Let me flip the script then What are the big, no-nos the things that like, please don’t do this.

[00:27:38] It’s gonna break Cassandra’s heart. If you do this, because you are gonna derail any effort that you’ve made, what are the watch outs or the no-nos in career transition? 

[00:27:48] so when it does come to applying, your resume needs to be showing results of what you’ve done. I have been in companies that will let engineers get away with typos, just because they don’t care that much.

[00:28:00] Cassandra Thompson: They care about your skillset more, but still the more impressive you are, in making sure every document is clear and concise and free of error, the more that reflects to somebody that you really are taking this seriously and want this role. So, no, just like blanket sending out resumes without.

[00:28:21] tailoring to the position because even though I think you should be networking, what will happen is 90% of the time their HR is still going to make you go through the major channels. So, Hey, we’d love to bring you in for an interview, but first we need you to apply. They’re still gonna make you send the application, right?

[00:28:38] Yeah. So that still happens. Um, so that’s a big one. And then the other one is please don’t think you can wing the, I. That’s the one that breaks my heart. this is what so much of my content is around, or don’t think that you can start preparing the night before. you really do need to practice people like to think the amount of clients I have had that say, oh no, I can talk about what I do.

[00:29:02] It’s easy. Mm-hmm because they’ll say I do it all the time. No, You might talk about what you do, but you don’t talk about how you do it, or you don’t realize you’re talking about the plan you’ve made, but you’ve never had to process before. How did we come to this plan? What were the steps we took?

[00:29:21] interview communication is a completely different skill set. And so it’s worth taking the time to practice that, Your audience might already know this, but a good refresher, if you haven’t had to interview in a while is especially for technical roles. A lot of times when they ask even the, tech questions, the ones that I would never be able to answer for you, they don’t wanna a perfect answer, but they wanna hear your thought process.

[00:29:47] Cassandra Thompson: Sure. But how often do we verbalize our thought process? practicing that is. The most important. 

[00:29:57] Zach White: I love this. And because I could just think about how many conversations I’ve had with our clients at a Waco around no, it’s not just walk in the door and talk about.

[00:30:08] Tasks that you’ve completed. And even if you focus on results, but it’s just rambling and random, like, please don’t do that. The other thing I find with engineering leaders is there’s a two camps. Of course not everybody falls in these I’m painting with a bit of a broad brush, but right. There’s the engineering leaders who generally just don’t like to talk about what they do at all.

[00:30:29] And any sense of bragging or talking about their own results they struggle with and their people of few words. Yep. And then there’s the engineering leaders who. As soon as you ask them about their most proud accomplishment, they will talk to you for 20 minutes straight and not, that’s funny, take a breath about all the details that nobody needs to know they’re geeking out about how exciting this technology is that they developed in their last job, but they’re not giving the interviewer anything that they actually need to be giving. And, because. They’re rambling so fast. The interviewer, in many cases, if it’s an engineering manager interviewing them, that person may not be super skilled either in the interviewing skills and they’ll let you ramble.

[00:31:12] And then you go for 10 minutes, 20 minutes. And the interviewer doesn’t get what they want and they feel like they just got run over and all of it right. Goes, goes sideways. So I don’t, do you have any tips for people in those two camps? if you’re really, really quiet, how do you come outta that shell and learn how to talk about yourself?

[00:31:29] I know one of your specialties is communicating your story and if somebody’s just a rambler, how to reign it in and really get to that sweet spot, how do we tell our story in a way that’s authentic, not arrogant and. The right amount of information, like unpack that for us. 

[00:31:45] it’s going to be super practical time yourself.

[00:31:50] Cassandra Thompson: so if you are a person of few words, you’re gonna know really quickly, my big thing that I tell everyone is never let the first time you say these words out loud, be in the room. and that is separate than the idea of practicing because a lot of people will write down their. I actually don’t think you should write it in, full sentences because we end up memorizing a script and saying it like this, I like bullet pointing, but people will bullet point their answers and then review them in their head.

[00:32:23] And in our heads, we sound so eloquent. Oh my God, we’re so good. but if you try and say it out loud, It’s not good. Cause people will say, oh, I’ve practiced. And they mean, I wrote it down. I came up with some stories, but that’s not the same as saying it out loud. So never let the first time be in the room.

[00:32:40] And when you say it out loud, get the awkward version out of the way, where you stumble, where you go. Oh crap. I’m stumbling over those words that on paper looked so lovely and wonderful. And then time yourself and you’re gonna see. Oh, I answered. Tell me about yourself in 15 seconds. Probably needs to be a little longer or, oh, I just talked about my greatest accomplishment for 15 minutes.

[00:33:08] We gotta pair back. it’s just a really nice, tangible indicator of where you’re at. And then from there you can start figuring out the sweet spot. do you 

[00:33:19] Zach White: have a recommendation for people on what a good interview answer duration ought to be? 

[00:33:25] Cassandra Thompson: yes. I think around three minutes seems to be kind of the max.

[00:33:32] I will admit you can go watch old videos of mine where I might say five to seven. I’ve now made updated versions where that information has changed. and always researched the company because I do know certain companies really like a two minute answer. But I think if you’re compelling, you can go three.

[00:33:49] Some people want you to answer something in 30 seconds, because then they’re gonna ask you a bunch of questions to dive deeper. And that’s when you share more and more. But I think if you can get the facts out in three, that’s going to be helpful. And then in terms of how much detail, et cetera, you do wanna be specific.

[00:34:09] Cassandra Thompson: So the number one piece of feedback I give literally every interview client is I need more detail. So. Don’t be afraid to say I was in this role on this team of five. Like I need something to hold onto and picture. Yes. So giving little details like that helps. And then we were tasked with and gimme the task.

[00:34:31] but specific doesn’t have to mean long. The really silly example I came up with of this is I can say I went on a boat this weekend. That’s really generic. Right. but I could say I gave you, a noun of a boat and I gave you a time this weekend. or I could say I went on a carnival cruise to Baja, Mexico last weekend.

[00:34:56] Did the picture change for you of what I did big time. And can you see where I am? Like, it’s a huge difference. but it took three more words. it’s that sort of idea that you wanna look at and nobody is gonna get there in their first draft. I don’t get there in my first draft, but once you say it, then you can go back and go, okay, wait, let me do this again.

[00:35:20] where do I need? To add some detail to help. the person on the other end, wants to go on the journey with you. Have you given them enough to picture and go on the journey with you? 

[00:35:31] Zach White: Beautiful. I love the, paint, a picture, impetus. It’s like, if, if your words don’t create a picture in that interviewer’s mind, then you’re.

[00:35:40] You’re not giving them something to hold onto. Right. And now they’re already thinking about their next question instead of hearing what you have to say. I agree with that a hundred percent. Yeah. And Cassandra, I’m really relieved. I’ve been coaching my clients for, the last couple of years, that two minutes is the sweet spot.

[00:35:54] And so I’m so glad that your answer is, two to three minutes a lot of times the objection to that is, Zach, how could I possibly tell you about this role that I held for five years and did all these amazing things in just two minutes. And what I remind them is, those first two minutes are where you’re gonna, paint the picture, provide some really important detail and hit the most important highlights of your results and stop shut up so that the interview.

[00:36:21] Can take that two minutes and decide where they need to go next. Yeah. to understand if you’re the right fit. If you go for 10 minutes and you cover nine minutes of the wrong material, and they would’ve wanted to hear nine different minutes, you blew it, two minutes and stop, and now they can probe and redirect or go where they need to go.

[00:36:41] So that you’re giving them. Exactly what they need to hear. so Cassandra brilliant. And I’m, I’m like, so, so relieved. I have them follow. 

[00:36:50] Cassandra Thompson: No, just so you know, like I, I see other career people, put stuff on LinkedIn or whatever, being like the secret three tips you need to know for this, or the must have thing.

[00:37:01] And even I sit there and go. Wait, what is it? Do I not know? Do I not know this thing? And then I watch it and I go, oh, okay. Yeah. I tell them that too. Okay. That’s okay. I say the same thing. That’s so 

[00:37:12] Zach White: good. Oh my goodness. Well, Cassandra, I know everybody is gonna wish that we had another hour to go through all of the tips, but I will emphasize again that you have so much incredible content.

[00:37:24] On your channel. And I just want everybody to go out and follow you and watch, and listen, if you’re in a, a job transition and need help, then reach out to Cassandra directly for coaching and support, but to finish today, I shared with you before and, and it’s where we always end our conversations that, questions lead in great engineering and great coaching.

[00:37:46] And the answers follow. So asking great questions really matters in our lives if we wanna get great answers. So for that engineering leader, who’s been listening to this who really wants to maximize a transition and find fulfillment in their career and get to that, that next step. What’s the best question you would lead them with today.

[00:38:08] Cassandra Thompson: I’m gonna give a really targeted question. I would say, ask yourself, who’s someone I can reach out to this week to have a conversation with

[00:38:18] just start there. 

[00:38:20] Zach White: Who is someone specifically who I could reach out to this week and have a convers. . I love it. Cassandra, where can people go? I mentioned it already, but how can we find you and get more support from Cassandra Thompson? 

[00:38:35] connect with me on LinkedIn. Cassandra Thompson, pretty easy to find.

[00:38:40] and then on YouTube it’s Cass Thompson career advice and come join me. And I do give away a lot of free content over there. 

[00:38:50] Zach White: it’s tremendous. I absolutely love what you do. And Cassandra can’t say enough about how much value you’re creating. And you know, at the beginning I asked you how many people have you helped?

[00:39:00] And we guessed a thousand, I would guess it’s way, way more than that, because your content is truly tremendous. And I know there’s people who have probably changed their lives through your free content and just never told you about it, cuz it feels weird to go back and say that. Yeah I love it.

[00:39:15] So I do really encourage everybody to go. And check that out and you know where to find us in, in terms of the show notes, all of those links Cassandra’s LinkedIn or her YouTube channel, her website will be in the show notes. So go check that out. The happy engineer, and Cassandra. Thanks again for your generosity and the value you gave us today.

[00:39:30] This was awesome. 

[00:39:31] Cassandra Thompson: Thank you. Thanks for having me. This is fun.