Editor's Note: The X-Factor is a blog series featuring data rockstars and their everyday challenges and solutions.
This blog features fearless job hunter and data enthusiast Lien Dang, San Diego, CA, an Alteryx Newbie.
They say “it’s all about who you know” when you’re on the job hunt. While there is some truth to that, we’d argue that it’s more about what you know, especially when it comes to data and analytics.
Here, Lien Dang shares her story of job searching in hopes of inspiring others … and provides a special tip for success. (Spoiler alert: It’s mentioning your skills with Alteryx in interviews.)
For some background, following a year abroad, Dang has been applying to accounting and audit jobs that are either in San Diego or remote.
Her Alteryx story began when she was introduced to an internal audit role at a huge San Diego-based company in the early stages of integrating Alteryx and data analytics.
“To prove my interest, I found the Advancing Data & Analytics Potential Together (ADAPT) Program and started training toward the Core certification. After interviews, management proposed me for the position, but hiring is now on hold due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, I completed the certification and I've been listing the Alteryx Designer certification on my resume and LinkedIn,” Dang explains.
“One of the benefits of being in the job search is having time to upskill and learn new disciplines,” says Dang.
Flash forward to four interviews over two days where she mentioned Alteryx in each one. These are the reactions she received:
INTERVIEW 1: This start-up is transitioning away from a third-party accounting team into building their own internal team, processes, and systems. After I got my core certification, I sent a follow-up email to the Controller updating her on my recent certification in Alteryx, attached some Alteryx e-books, and offered to talk her through it. In the second interview, she brought up my email and I gave some more examples. I could tell she was intrigued. In my follow-up thank you note, I answered some of the questions she brought up about Alteryx that I couldn't address in the interview. While it was a risk that I would seem presumptuous to prematurely suggest ideas, I demonstrated that I could be an ally/resource for her in meeting the goals of her own position.
INTERVIEW 2: This internal audit team at a large healthcare company mentioned "data analytics" in their job description. In the interview, I asked in what ways the company and this position are using data analytics and mentioned my certification in Alteryx Designer. The interviewer was happy to tell me that they aimed to complete the transition to Alteryx this year, and they currently have only one part-time Alteryx go-to person. By name-dropping Alteryx specifically, I made myself immediately more useful and qualified and possibly ahead of his other candidates.
INTERVIEW 3: This is another start-up looking to build their accounting team and automate processes with systems implementation. The position had no mention of data analytics, but I saw the VP (the interviewer) had "business analytics" in his profile. So, I took the risk of asking about it and mentioned my recent Alteryx training and the Udacity predictive analytics program. We discussed the potential here and how it could elevate the work quality and reduce his workload. Again, I demonstrated that I could do more than accounting work, that I was already in-the-know about innovative solutions used by advanced accounting and finance teams.
INTERVIEW 4: This accounting position at a huge San Diego-based company had no mention at all of data analytics. But the interviewer mentioned that recently, company management has been trying to introduce new initiatives. I asked for an example, and he mentioned brainstorming new ways to use "analytic process automation." You guessed it: I mentioned my Core certification in Alteryx, and he said, "Oh yeah! That's the program. They are leading training for us about it next week." And I said, "Oh well that's awesome; I'm already certified, and I love it. I knew that a company as sophisticated as this company would be pursuing something like this."
These are her stories, each with a different way to bring up her skills with Alteryx and data analytics in the interview. Here’s what she’s learned:
1. The job description is only part of the picture. With some digging and just plain taking the risk of asking, you can find potential areas of contribution that even the interviewer didn't know they needed help with.
2. Companies (and accounting and finance teams, in my examples) are looking toward data analytics and Alteryx. Even if they may seem too traditional or too small, my experience is that everyone is trying to up their game. As often with anything new, they may struggle to invest the time and learning into a new idea. How great for you (and them) that Alteryx is something you can help them with!
3. You don't have to be an Alteryx pro. I'm a super-newb with Alteryx Designer, but that doesn't stop me from bringing it up. And people want to hear about it.
4. Ask yourself: How important is it to you whether, or how, the company is using data analytics? We must assess the company/role as much as they assess us. If it's important to you, or an indicator of other factors that are important to you, then that may be all the reason you need to bring it up in the interview.
“The potential of cross-functional growth drives me to keep learning. I have loved investing in a diverse toolbelt of skills because you never know when each will come in handy,” says Dang.
Lien Dang’s X-Factor
“I always look to add value from the perspective of building engaging relationships. I pride myself on building community and opportunity through genuine, supportive, productive connections,” says Dang. “I love to find ways to support people, to share what I know, and to collaborate as part of problem-solving.”
So, how does her story end? Dang recently accepted a position at a mission-driven product studio in the early stages of implementing the Alteryx APA Platform.
"There aren't many in the company who are trained in the program yet, so the fact that I am certified was a big factor that they liked. We spent a good part of each interview talking about 'the future of accounting and finance' and Alteryx, so the investment worked out well for me!"
See how you can sharpen your analytics and data science skills with the ADAPT Program.
Get even more job search advice from a pro.
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