This article is the second installment in the sh*t I wish I knew series reflecting on my time in college and later career journey. These are all lessons I learned and I hope to pass on some wisdom to others. Please like/share/leave feedback. Thanks!
#1. “I’m not good enough for Google, Apple, or the whatever I really want”
- Not with that attitude.
- Think about every (most) decision(s) you will make for the rest of your life in the framework below and you will always win (or be no worse off than you currently are).
The worst possible outcome to asking for help, applying for a specific job, or most anything else is “no”, and the best outcome is a “yes”
- You are no worse off than your current situation if you get a “no.” Those that never try, never win. Apply early and often. What’s the worst that can happen?
- If you want to work at one of the best companies in the world, you need to stand out (see my first article).
#2. Our greatest strengths are learned from our mistakes and failures
- Whether it's asking your crush out to a movie, applying to your dream job, school, or credit card, rejection sucks, but if you don’t pick your sh*t up, no one else will.
- It’s healthy to be upset, but it’s even healthier to reflect on the rejection and realize what changes you need to make so you can do a better job next time.
- Think of someone in your life that is really good at something. The best soccer player, ladies man, sales person, or professional alligator wrestler has failed at that activity in more embarrassing ways than 99.999% percent of the world’s population, but they didn’t give up, learning and improving from their mistakes.
- I got rejected from most of my top choice universities and many of my early job applications. Only when I sat down and decided to internalize, reflect, and iterate on my mistakes did I improve.
#3. Your internships/previous jobs matter (more specifically what you do/did in them)
- Take pride in your previous experiences and speak to your strengths in your resume. It is important to specifically mention what activities you took part in that improved the company you worked at beyond the way it was when you initially got there. If you did not improve a process then speak to how you excelled at your role.
- Companies want to hire people that exhibit leadership traits and avoid those that do not. Most people can do a job, but top companies want to see that you can create and improve with the potential of becoming a superstar in your role.
- Include industry verbiage and specific statistics wherever possible. Examples from my resume:
- "Generated B2B partnership pipeline via inbound marketing and research yielding 3:1 conversion rate”
- "Implemented large (2,500+ unit) partnerships with UMass CS, Honors College, Marching Band and Athletics”
- "Promoted and sold snacks and confections to more than 350 convenience stores and gas marts in territory”
#4. Where do I find the best jobs?
- Company Job Site: Top companies have their own job boards. I believe this is the single best way to apply to any role. Some sites even allow you to set up email alerts when roles with specific criteria become available.
- Glassdoor: This site is one of the best resources. In addition to being a great place for finding available jobs, people post reviews for specific roles and companies. These reviews are typically very accurate. Glassdoor also has anonymous reviews of companies interview processes and often you can develop a pretty good picture of the questions you should be able to answer during an interview.
- Indeed: It has easy to set up job notifications that get emailed directly to you on a basis you choose.
- The Muse: My favorite career site visually. Has a bunch of great jobs from top companies (some awesome ones I hadn’t heard of). I like how they include pictures and well-written descriptions for all companies and roles.
- LinkedIn: Has a vast array of job postings. I did not have a ton of luck with hearing back from jobs I applied to on LinkedIn.
- Monster.com: Wow! I can post my resume online and companies will reach out to me? Wrong! (well not entirely). Monster will flood your inbox with automated emails and you will instantly regret your decision to post your resume. Monster is like the Somali Pirate in Captain Phillips and you are Tom Hanks.
- Dice: Has a bunch of tech specific careers with easy to setup alerts.
- Underdog.io: I’ve never personally used this site, but have heard great things. They partner with top companies to put your resume/application in front of top companies. Definitely a cool idea.
- College Job Board: Where I found my current role. This was one of my favorite places to look for jobs because the companies that post here are specifically looking for interns, or recent grads.
- AngelList: No better place to look for a job with a startup.
- CareerBuilder: Haven’t personally used it, but have heard good things from friends
- People you know: “Hey Mom, Professor Glorbatroff, Grandma Betsy, Farmer Dan, I’m interested in working in XYZ field do you know anyone who I could speak with?”
#5. The importance of your online presence
- Besides having a well organized and concise resume, it is important to have a fully completed LinkedIn profile. There is an obvious difference between someone that takes pride and cares about setting up a good looking profile versus someone who rushes it. LinkedIn is one of the first places recruiters will go after they see your resume.
- While there are differing opinions when it comes to Facebook profiles, my opinion is to always have your profile public, or partially visible. If you can’t be found on Facebook, or if your profile is completely blocked, it makes some recruiters I have talked to feel like you have something to hide. If you have pictures of you getting a little groovy then do your best to keep them off the internet, or make view-able by close friends only.
#6. It’s all about who you know
- Personal relationships are key (insert DJ Khaled major key emoji)
- Over 65% of the interviews I had at top companies came through personal referrals. Top companies recognize that smart people know smart people. They leverage the networks of their employees to make efficient and successful hires through referrals. Moral of the story: Go meet some smart people.
- “How do I meet smart people, all my friends are dumb???” Dumb people are great and often the most fun, but don’t predominantly surround yourself with them. Put yourself out there and meet some new people who do what you want to do, the way you want to do it. This is easily accomplished in college, but if you’ve already graduated attend local industry events, go to Meetups, join Facebook groups, and utilize LinkedIn.
- People want to help other people with potential. If they don’t, they’re either extremely busy inventing the cure for something, lazy, or a dick (don’t waste your time with dicks). If someone mentions they have a friend that works, or does XYZ thing that you want to do, or have, ask for an intro. If all else fails put on your stalker boots and message them on Facebook, or LinkedIn. I’ve done my fair share of this and can tell you that 60% of the time, it works every time (it actually works really well). If someone doesn’t email, or message you back the first time, wait approximately 2 weeks, and follow up in a polite manner.
- My initial resume and cover letter had a lot of room for improvement. I reached out to a an alumni who is now a friend and mentor (Matt Dornfeld). He went out of his way to help me bring each to the next level. I now try to do the same for anyone in my network.
- LinkedIn is great because you can type a company into the search bar and see who you know that works there. If you don’t know 1st connections its likely that you’ll have a 2nd connection that you can get an intro to. If all else fails you can send a short message when you opt to connect with someone. When they accept your request you can then send them a message. People are more likely to accept requests that have a personal message.
#7. (most) Recruiters are people too
- Recruiters make money when they source and bring good talent into their/or another company. Larger companies have their own recruiters and some companies hire outside recruiters. For the most part recruiters will never respond if you reach out to them.
- The recruiter is your #1 advocate within the company. Don’t just talk about the job with them, ask about their lives and understand what motivates them. Having a recruiter that likes you is sometimes the difference between you, or another candidate, getting another interview/the job.
- If you do not hear from a recruiter for two weeks, or in the time-frame they specify that they will get back to you, don’t be afraid to reach out. They have a lot on their plate and your initiative will be noted.