How To Get A Job – Chapter 1

This is going to be chapter one of my mini book on how to get a job.  I’m posting it here because I want to make the information freely available plus it’s fun for me to publish each chapter as I write it.

This book won’t get you a job. Only you can do that. Any author, book or blog that tells you otherwise is lying. What this book will do is help you get noticed. It will help you that interview or that meeting that may lead to a job. It will help you not get ruled out before you even get a chance to show them how good you are. The rest is up to you.

I’m writing this book because I’ve been where you are. I’ve spent weeks and months looking for a job and seen first hand how frustrating it is to be ignored. I would try to invest time in my resumes, I would customize and tailor them to every job opening I saw. I spent hours creating just the right resume for that position and then…. nothing happened! They never got back to me, they never even acknowledged I was alive.

So I’d get angry and then I’d decide that I was wasting my time tailoring resumes and I should just go for quantity over quality.  I would send hundreds of resumes every week to every possible job I could find and then… still nothing happened! At which point I’d read some article about how I should be crafting individual resumes per job opening and the cycle would begin all over again. It was ugly, it was frustrating and it was extremely unproductive.

That was 13 years ago. Luckily, I did get a job, although it was no thanks to my job seeking skills. Since then I’ve switched job three times, I’ve led teams of dozens and I’m now a VP at a large tech company. Even more importantly, I’ve hired numerous people to positions similar to the one I was searching for way back then. Which brings us to the reason I’m here in my kitchen, trying to type quietly so as not to wake up my 1 year old daughter and telling you how to get an interview.

I’ve been hiring lately, a lot. Five highly paid positions in just the last 2 months. I’ve also seen a lot of really crappy resumes and approaches. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve written a few public rants about the quality of the candidates I was getting and how annoyed I was with the whole hiring process, but this time as the hiring manager, the person on the other side. That’s when I realized that these people who were sending me resumes were making the same mistakes I did 13 years ago. They weren’t making them because they were bad people or even bad applicants, they were making them simply because they didn’t know better, just like I didn’t back then.

So, since I need good people and you need a job, I thought I’d write down some thoughts on how to land that first interview and how to get me, the hiring manager, interested in you rather than just dumping your application in my deleted items folder.

Note 1 – I’ve vetted these ideas with multiple other hiring managers. So not they’re just my ideas. These are tactics and methods that every single hiring manager would recommend.

Note 2 – My background is in the high tech industry and specifically in start ups and small companies. These ideas are mostly applicable to other industries but not all. Government positions for example are completely different and will require skills that I can’t teach you.

Never Leave Them Hanging

I’ve hired many people and I’ve also fired a few and the worst thing you can ever do in either case is to leave things ambiguous.

If you’re going to hire someone, tell them that. If you’re not going to hire someone, tell them that too. If you’re still trying to make a decision, be open with them and tell them what’s going on. Remember, these are people you might end up working with or for. Don’t you want them to like the experience of working with your company from the very first step?

If you’re firing someone, don’t give them bullshit reasons as to why because you’re trying to make them feel better. You’re firing them, the reasons aren’t going to make them feel better. Just be honest, say what went wrong and move on. I assume you’ve already cleared this with HR so why are you now trying to fill the void with platitudes? Don’t give them a reason to try and ask you for their job back. You’re firing them, this is final so make it obvious and clear. Anything else is cruel and unusual punishment.

No one likes uncertainty, especially not when it comes to employment.

P.S. the same applies to people trying to sell you something and folks asking you out on a date.

RIP Zynga

ZyngaI read two articles recently about how Zynga is going to succeed now that they have a new CEO in place. Sounded cool, and for the sake of my friends who work at Zynga I really want him to succeed. Except that I don’t see how he’s going to. Zynga is a large company in a small company market and that’s pretty much a death spiral in the making.

I’ve worked at small companies (I was employee #6 at my first startup) and I’ve worked at big companies (IBM for example). While I very much prefer small companies, I will admit that large companies have their advantages. [Read more…]