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Business Intelligence Careers

From #opentowork to getting multiple data analyst job offers

12 min readView all articles
By John Pauler
Jul 27, 2022

How does someone go from having the #opentowork tag for over a year to getting multiple data analyst job offers in the same week?

That's exactly what we're talking about today.

This story ends with me getting the absolute best note I can ever receive from one of our students...

Can we talk? I just got my first job offer. And I think I might get another one tomorrow.

I will start at the beginning, and tell this story from my perspective. We'll call the main character "Sarah" so that we can include more specific details about the interactions with her employer than we would if we were using her real name.

Let's get into it.

I first met Sarah on a Wednesday afternoon in late July. It was hot in my upstairs bedroom. I was working at a desk next to my bed (thanks COVID) and dialed into yet another Zoom call. Aaron was already on the call when I dialed in, and together we would interview Sarah for potential admission to our Data Analyst Bootcamp that fall.

Let's spare you the transcript of the interview, and instead focus on the things that stood out about Sarah on that call.

  • She had great energy. The moment she dialed in, you could feel her positivity. Getting to know Sarah and understand her goals was a very pleasant experience.
  • She knew exactly what she wanted. We talked about her career goals. Sarah was very specific. She wanted to secure a data analyst position, either remotely or in one of two cities near family members. Sarah also made it clear that working for a mission-driven company was very important to her. She felt she needed to be working toward a worthy cause.
  • She had already started learning. We were not Sarah's first stop in learning data. She had already been trying through a couple of other avenues for over a year. This made it clear that she was committed and that she was already "walking the walk". She just needed a little help getting where she wanted to go.
  • She had excellent communication skills. It was easy to picture her working well with others inside an organization. You could tell she would be able to explain and advocate for the insights she would find in the data in order to effectively drive business improvement.

In short, she did a great job of making us feel like she was someone who could be very successful in a data career, and also that she was someone who we would enjoy helping and spending time with. Because she presented herself so well and made us believe in her, we offered her a space in our upcoming bootcamp.

Her data analyst learning experience

Fast forward to the start of the bootcamp around a month later.

Sarah brought the exact positive energy that we expected her to. She was a great addition to the cohort, and she totally committed to her learning journey.

During the Excel module, Sarah thrived. She went beyond the core curriculum and completed a number of optional Excel electives to go deeper. She was a standout through the whole module, putting in "above and beyond effort", and clearly enjoying the work. We flagged her as someone who would be a great fit for an Excel-heavy Analyst role.

Her experience in the Tableau module was similar... she rocked it! One thing in particular that stood out here was her project presentation. She did a great job explaining the business problem, the work she did with the data, and the actions that should be taken based on her findings. Communication skills are huge for analytics pros, and she was over-indexing. The quality of Sarah's projects is an important part of her story, because her project portfolio became a core strategy in her job search, and would later help her differentiate herself from competing applicants.

Then, Sarah's experience was different in the Power BI and SQL modules. She wasn't thriving like she was during the Excel and Tableau sections. She was struggling a bit. She did get all the work done, but didn't seem to be having nearly as much fun. We talked with her about this, and she confirmed... she would be much happier working with Excel and Tableau, and probably did not want to make SQL a core part of her eventual job (Power BI would be okay, but not as exciting).

Hearing this part of the story, you might think Sarah's prospects became limited by excluding SQL and Power BI. You are probably used to hearing people talk about how important it is to learn all the tools. But I've got a very different perspective. I loved how open she was about her feelings. Because we knew exactly what Sarah wanted to work on and what she wanted to avoid, it made things very easy when it came time to look for opportunities. We were able to get very specific with her job search strategy, aiming at heavy Excel and Tableau roles, and filtering out jobs that required SQL.

Finding great analyst opportunities

During the bootcamp's career sessions, Sarah was just as motivated and determined to succeed as we had expected her to be during that initial interview. She updated her resume. She polished her LinkedIn profile. She started sharing her portfolio projects publicly to get some attention. From my perspective, in all of the career sessions (Resume Review, LinkedIn Profiles & Networking, Job Searching, Interview Prep) it seemed like Sarah was the most engaged of anyone in her cohort. As we'll see later, the hard work really paid off for her, and quickly!

When it came time to look for jobs, Sarah was well prepared. Her resume and LinkedIn profile both screamed "data analyst". She had put some great analytics projects on display so potential employers could check out her work. And she was ready to nail the data analyst interview.

The job search was another area where Sarah really impressed me. The biggest issue we tend to see at this stage is students being worried they "aren't ready". They hesitate, thinking they will feel more confident later. But they end up waiting and waiting, and that lack of confidence usually doesn't go away. They miss out on opportunities that would have been perfect for them. Sarah wasn't entirely different. She wasn't sure she was ready either. The thing that was different about her is she committed to putting herself out there. She didn't let her fear stop her. We talked through some posted opportunities, and she began applying right away. Our team also helped with a couple of introductions to our network. The job Sarah ended up getting was an opening she found posted by the company on LinkedIn, and that she applied to on her own.

Now, don't be mistaken and think she just fired off one application and landed her dream role. This takes work. Sarah spent a good amount of effort searching for roles that matched exactly what she wanted. Like any job search, there were applications for perfect roles that Sarah didn't even hear back about. That stinks. It's unfortunately part of the process. But Sarah didn't let that discourage her. She just kept on going. And her effort paid off.

The lesson I hope you'll take away from this part of the story is that you shouldn't wait until you feel "ready". You may never feel ready. If you want to make a meaningful change in your life and launch the career of your dreams, you have to put yourself out there. Expect that it won't work out on the first try, but know that you'll be learning from each step of the journey. This is the number one mistake we see people making that prevents them from getting where they want to be, and I hope hearing this story will help you be more like Sarah. I hope it will encourage you to get over the fear that you aren't ready. Remember that you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. You're more ready than you think you are. Some employer is going to be absolutely thrilled to have you join their team. You just need to start putting yourself out there.

The magic moment of the job offer

Now, we're pretty much caught back up to that note I received from Sarah...

Can we talk? I just got my first job offer. And I think I might get another one tomorrow.

When I see this note, I'm smiling from ear to ear.

To me, this moment is what it's all about. It's the reason I love what I do.

Teaching is great. You get to see the lightbulb go off in a student's eyes when they grasp a new SQL concept or take action based on a career coaching session is always special.

But those "lightbulb" events, as wonderful as they are, pale in comparison to the moment someone realizes their hard work is about to change their life forever. A new career begins in that moment.

It doesn't matter how many people we help. This is something that never gets old for me. It feels just as powerful every time.

I think that's because I remember being in Sarah's shoes myself. I remember having no money, living at my Mom's house, being unsure of myself, and not knowing where my career was headed. And then, I remember getting the call from a Recruiter telling me that I had my first ever data analyst job offer. At the time I almost couldn't believe it was actually happening. Like so many of you, I didn't know if I was "ready". But I was so happy to get that call. It changed my life. That moment kicked off a career that I've loved and that would give me so much.

So when I get a chance to help someone else jumpstart a career of their own, I'm always grateful. When I get a note like the one I got from Sarah, it's the absolute best.

I know we got off topic a bit. Thanks for sticking with me. Let's get back to how Sarah juggled these offers and got exactly what she really wanted.

Handling multiple job offers

So she's got one offer in hand, and she thinks another might be coming in the next day from a second company who she is already interviewed with.

We get on a Zoom call to talk things through.

Here are the key details...

The offer already in hand from Company B

  • The position was a Remote Data Analyst role (good, she wanted that)
  • Sarah thought the company and people were okay, but not awesome
  • She expected the salary offered by this company to be higher than the other offer, if she ended up getting it

The second, potential offer from Company A

  • This one was also a Remote Data Analyst role
  • Sarah LOVED the people she met, and really wanted to work with them
  • The company was more mission-driven than the other company, and this was important to Sarah
  • She expected the salary offered to be a bit lower than at the other company

Take a pause for a minute and game this one out. If you were in Sarah's shoes, how would you play this situation?

Seriously, stop reading for a second. Think it through. It's a good exercise.

Okay, here's how we decided to play it...

We set the explicit goal of landing Sarah at Company A, and getting the salary up to be competitive with Company B. We would use her offer in hand as leverage in her salary negotiation, and at the same time delay her decision on the existing offer to keep it as a backup plan in case things somehow fell through with Company A.

Sound complicated?

It's really not that bad. You just need to break it down to the individual components.

Here's how we handled each part of the plan...

Extending the window for Company B's offer Company B had initially given Sarah 48 hours to accept the offer, so I told her to send a quick note confirming she had received the offer, and letting them know she would follow up the next day. I told her to come up with a list of clarifying questions about the compensation, which we used as a stall tactic. She had some unanswered questions in mind already, so this was easy. Sarah waited until the acceptance deadline, just before the close of business the next day, to buy as much time as possible. She then sent an email saying she was very interested, but wanted some clarification on the benefits. She includee a number of questions about the healthcare options. She asked about things like how much the employer would cover, and which health insurance providers were available through the company plan in her home state. These are totally reasonable questions to ask, and they are things that recruiters don't always have on hand. They may need to do a little digging to figure it out. They are busy with competing priorities, and so are the people they may need help from, so you can bank on this usually buying you at least a few days, maybe more. In our case, it worked like a charm. They took a while to get back with answers.

Speeding up her Company A offer Unfortunately, Company A was slower than we would have liked, and the offer did not come in the next day. It felt like we were waiting forever to receive their offer. The tricky thing is, this could have meant they were just busy, or they might have been trying to close another candidate. It's hard to tell. And we needed things to resolve Company A quickly because if it didn't work out with them, Sarah would be taking the backup offer from Company B. We held tight for a couple of days, and then hopped on another call to talk through the next email she was going to need to send the Company A recruiter in order to speed things along. This was when she let them know that she had was another offer in hand, but that she was much more excited about Company A and hoped that they were still interested in offering her the position. After she sent this email, Company A's urgency changed completely. They replied immediately, and told Sarah she would have a formal offer letter in hand by the end of the day. I told Sarah not to respond when she got the offer letter, but instead to reach out to me right away. I heard from her around 4:30pm that day when she got it. As expected, the salary was a little lower than the offer from Company B.

Increasing the salary at Company A This part makes a lot of people nervous. When we started talking about it, Sarah told me she didn't even want to negotiate. She said she liked Company A so much, that she would just take the lower salary. She didn't want to risk losing the offer by pushing back on the salary. I promised her that she didn't need to worry about that. She was awesome. The company had seen that already, and they wanted her. As long as we went about it the right way, the worst case scenario was they would tell her they didn't have any room to budge. Most likely, they would give her a little more. She put together a kind email talking about how much she loved the company, their mission, and the people she would be working with, but that the difference in salary was her only hesitation. She sent that email before the start of business the next morning. Before lunchtime she had a reply from the recruiter saying they couldn't get to the exact number, but that they could get very close. Being willing to send one email netted her thousands of dollars per year. Sarah was thrilled, and of course, she accepted the offer from Company A. She was over the moon.

Lessons from Sarah's data analyst journey

1. Knowing exactly what you want is important. In Sarah's initial interview, she talked specifically about her ideal role at a mission-driven company, either working remotely or in one of two cities. Then during the bootcamp, she made it clear she favored Excel and Tableau and wanted to avoid SQL. Being explicit about her goals allowed Sarah to focus her effort wisely, and made it much easier for folks helping her to lend some support.

2. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. Like many of us, Sarah felt uncomfortable posting her projects on LinkedIn. Then she got over it. She wasn't sure if she was "ready" to apply for jobs, but she went ahead and did it any way. If you let your fear stop you, you'll never make progress. This is easier said than done of course, but it's so important.

3. Work ethic and positive energy can go a long way. If you are someone who is willing to put in the work to help yourself, and have a great attitude, it's a huge asset to you directly, and a signal that will make others want to help you on your journey. From Sarah's initial interview, Aaron and I both knew we wanted to work with her and believed we could help her get where she wanted to go.

4. Being able to negotiate well is extremely valuable. Most people are uncomfortable talking about money and asking for an increasde from a potential employer. As you saw in this case, just being willing to ask (especially when you have a backup offer) can put a lot of extra money in your pocket.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I hope this story and these lessons can help you on your own journey.

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John Pauler

John brings over 15 years of business intelligence experience to the Maven team, having worked with companies ranging from Fortune 500 to early stage startups. As a MySQL expert, he has played leadership roles across analytics, marketing, SaaS and product teams.

John brings over 15 years of business intelligence experience to the Maven team, having worked with companies ranging from Fortune 500 to early stage startups. As a MySQL expert, he has played leadership roles across analytics, marketing, SaaS and product teams.

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