I hate the common idea of luck.
Luck is not waiting for a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end. There is no such thing as leprechauns. Luck is a roll of the dice. Luck is playing the odds. The awesome thing about odds is that it is a statistic. So, how do you control the odds?
Well, if you show up to a casino, you definitely do not want to be caught counting cards. That is just going to get you tossed in a dark room where you start losing teeth.
No, no, no. Instead, I am talking about controlling the odds of your own life. Life is a numbers game. It is a series of statistics. There are certain games worth playing and some games that are a total waste of time. Are you the penny slots player or are you going to learn how to play Texas Hold ‘Em? What’s the difference between the two?
Well, penny slots in this case are clicking to quick-apply on Ziprecruiter, Monster, DICE, etc….this also includes mass applying to any and all roles available with no follow up plan. You are putting your odds in the hands of a machine. A machine that has no emotions. A machine that has no understanding of your skills, personality, and potential. You just get to put a penny of your time in, pull the lever, and pray to god you get something in return.
Playing Texas Hold ’Em is a completely different game. You have the dealer. You have players with emotions, tell signs, and a limited deck. You can bluff. You can build relationships. You can learn how to read the game to control your odds over time. This can eventually become a legitimate skill over time. This is similar to networking on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites to build relationships with professionals in the communities you want to join. Going to events is always an awesome way to build communities too, but that isn’t going to happen until the pandemic is over.
So, what type of luck do you want to have? Do you want the emotionless machine (Job Boards) to control your odds or do you want to learn how to network with people to learn how to play the job market game?
So, let’s put luck in your hands!
During these crazy times and future pandemics, we need an action plan. But, let’s put aside the fact that you’re struggling and looking for a job. This time last year, there was no pandemic. Yet, there were still people struggling to get employed. The difference between now and then is that the competition is fierce. There is more competition than ever. There are more applications happening now more than ever. Seriously, it’s turning into the episode of the bachelorette where a bazillion dudes are all trying to attract the same woman. Not everyone gets a rose at the end of the day.
Honestly, we are hiring at Nxt Level for entry level recruiters and entry level sales representatives and applications are flooding our inbox. I genuinely do not have enough time in the day to interview everyone. On paper, it is very difficult to determine who I should and should not reach out to right now. I am not even a large employer. Most people have no idea who Nxt Level is unless you are a Gaming Studio or SaaS company using us as a recruiting service. Amazon, Google, Asurion, and other major brands have it even worse than we do at Nxt Level. How do they determine who they should and should not call?
Every single day, I am genuinely anxious. I am anxious for the rare unicorns that reach out to me on LinkedIn or Facebook asking to learn more about Nxt Level. Candidates that are passionate about our mission, looked up our services, and are invested in building a genuine connection with me rather than spamming the job boards with their applications are like an angel dropping down from Heaven. Legit, the horns come out playing a song and get me really jazzed up.
I have interviewed too many candidates that know nothing about us. I will have a scheduled interview call and one of the first questions I ask, “What do you know about our company and what we do?” If you go to our website the first line tells you that we are a recruiting agency hiring for Gaming Studios and SaaS companies. I just need them to say that one sentence to feel comfortable with them. Maybe 10% of people can even say that. By the way, this is not a literal number, this is just the emotional stress and frustration coming out. Please, just take 30 seconds to google someone or look at the company website if you get an interview. It genuinely makes me sad.
So, there are really two things I want to isolate here:
One: Do your research:
- Find companies that you’re genuinely interested in and learn what their products or services are today. Look up their mission statement and company values.
- Are they a startup? Are they a large enterprise company?
- Did you read the job description? Do you meet the minimum requirements and if you do not, what do you have to offer that might be similar?
Two: Reach out to people that matter. Who matters?
Talking to leadership might seem scary, but it is important. Reach out to the hiring manager or folks that might manage the potential hiring manager. This could be a Manager, Director, VP, or go big and reach out to the C-Suite.
There are other folks worth speaking to outside of pure management. It is also important to reach out to people with the title you want. Ask to buy them coffee and send them a virtual Starbucks card. Ask to pick their brain to learn about the team, culture, job expectations. Get the insider scoop about the role so you have more than a generic job description to know if you fit on the team. If you built a genuine relationship with this person, they might even be cool enough to send you in as a referral. This could put you in the front of the line to earn an interview and give you leverage that others do not have.
If you don’t have the money to buy them coffee, do not stress. That isn’t what you should focus on here. Pay them with your passion. Pay them with your curiosity. Pay them with your potential.
Seriously, this matters. Relationships matter. Be Human.
In my personal opinion, I try to connect with people I want to learn from in life. I am open to connecting with leaders in my industry and hoping to find nuggets from them. My goal isn’t to request a job. My goal isn’t to request a referral. My goal is to build a connection that can lead me to future opportunities. I imagine every opportunity is like standing in front of Morpheus with a red pill and a blue pill saying, “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth — nothing more.”
Personally, I’m not going to offer a job to someone I don’t know. Second, I’m not going to refer to someone that I have not met. It really does not matter if you have the best resume on the planet. I might pass along your resume, but that comes with the caveat that I don’t know the individual on a personal or professional level. Therefore, the only value is that your resume got in the hands of someone else (Hopefully the right person).
My goal is to learn from them…seriously, genuinely learn. Do not fake it. Do not pretend. Sharks smell blood. Chickens kill the weak. There’s a pecking order for a reason. Don’t be selfish and make the conversion about you. That’s a big fail. Too many people request for something prematurely. This is like talking to a complete stranger on the street and asking them to marry you. They are legit just going to laugh in your face and continue walking. Then they are going to share this funny story with their friends with no idea who you were, what your name is, or what you are good at in life. That is the last thing we want. We need and want folks to know our name. Advocate for us. Be a champion for our future if we fit the bill.
First, give before you receive.
So, you’re probably asking yourself, “How do I give something to a Director, VP, or CEO of a company when I am just a desperate job seeker?”
Well, that’s a valid question. What you have to offer might be fairly limited. So, offer genuine curiosity, passion, and unique potential.
Leaders feel inspired by individuals with motivation to progress in life. What is an example of an initial message that can make a leader feel like there’s genuine interest?
“Hey John, we don’t know each other and I am hoping to change that. First, I want to admit that I felt inspired by your career progression. One day, I want to be a Director of Software Development at a company with a great reputation like Facebook. I would love to pick your brain and learn how you get there. Would you be open to starting a conversation?”
“Hey Niti, we don’t know each other and I am really hoping to change that. I was doing some research on Nxt Level and wanted to pick your brain. I noticed you’ve been there for 3 years and would love your insight on the company culture and what makes employees successful there.”
What does this message do?
1. Acknowledging this is a cold email.
2. Inserting a form of admiration.
3. Stating my goals for the future.
4. Asking for advice from a potential mentor.
5. Asking a question that isn’t intrusive.
The goal of this message is to inspire a response. You don’t need to add your credentials. Ideally, you have a LinkedIn profile that has all of that information readily available. If you need more insight, click here. You want your initial message to be unique and engaging. At the same time, you don’t want the reader feeling like they’re reviewing your dissertation.
So, what exactly are you “giving?” You’re giving someone the opportunity to share their experience. Their story. Honestly, to the right people, it’s fulfilling. On the off chance the individual is willing to meet, buy this person coffee or lunch. Show the person you value their time and advice.
Be genuine when you are Networking.
If you get the chance to meet or speak to someone, use your time wisely. Understand that networking is an opportunity to learn and exchange value. For a new grad, value is recognized by future potential outcome. Therefore, the Manager or Director will want to provide advice and transfer wisdom. If you receive advice, actually listen. Absorb everything.
Depending on how the conversation goes, advice might include homework. It might be to study a topic and a follow up meeting to review content. If this happens, you 100% need to follow through. This allows you to earn a seal of approval and could get you the recommendation you want. Best case scenario, a leader gives you an assignment and some minor form of assessment. To be clear, you want this to happen naturally. You might have to try and meet someone multiple times before you get to this point. It’s better to be offered an opportunity to interview than to ask.
Sometimes you get uber lucky and after your first meeting they just tell you about an immediate opening, give you a referral to the hiring manager, and speed up the process of a legitimate interview.
On the off chance that the role isn’t a good fit, also feel grateful. Thank them for their time and walk away knowing you met a new person that can be a potential advocate when the timing is right.