Get a job

Subject: Get a job
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- YAHOO -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 10:43:25 -0700

About three years ago I wrote a little booklet on how to get a job. Given the
recent inane thank you debate, I thought I would post some of that for your
amusement and education. I am rewriting this from memory - so this might be a
little rough.

There are 20 guidelines and one golden rule for getting a job:

1. Send a beautiful resume: concise, clean, perfect. For every experience
describe what you did and what you learned from that experience. Resumes should
NEVER be more than two pages. Nobody reads 9 page resumes. If you are a writer,
your resume should demonstrate some advanced layout and design elements. \

2. ALWAYS write a one page cover letter. No more than one page. This letter
should describe why you are perfect for the job. Respond to specific
technologies, tools and experiences. Avoid cliches, and keep it concise.

3. Show up on time to interviews. If you are going to be even 1/100 of a second
late - call. If you are late - expect to not get the job.

4. Always over-dress.

5. Be polite no matter how much of a jerk the interviewer is.

6. You are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.
Grill the interviewer on what the job is, what you will do, what they expect of
you. If you get a bad vibe, don't like what you see, or dislike the
interviewer - end the interview. It is like buying a car, if the deal is not
right for you you have to be willing to get up and walk away. There is ALWAYS
another job (or car) out there.

7. There is a fine line between being smug and being assertive. Smug will get
you zero. Assertive will get you killer jobs. I cannot tell you the
difference, just knowing that there is a line will help.

8. Answer open-ended questions with SPECIFIC examples of what you have done.
Describe what you learned from this in specific, detailed terms. Don't ever
answer an open-ended question with cliched stuff like "I'm a fast learner"
EVERYONE is a fast learner - quantify it!

INTERVIEWER: "So tell me about your Windows NT experience."

YOU: "I have used it a lot in my past three jobs. While working at XYZ Inc. I
was responsible for installing and managing all the WinNT boxes in the
department. I got very good at administering the domains and troubleshooting

9. Always have a question ready to ask the interviewer. Ask about their
marketing strategy, product line, etc. If you are quiet and meek you will be
exploited and bullied.

10. Know EXACTLY what the company does and what the group you are interviewing
for does. The night before an interview spend an hour reading everything on
the company web site. This will help you form questions.

11. For public companies, know the company's financial position. Have they
been losing money for 5 years? Then you probably don't want to work there.
Were they recently acquired? This can be extremely valuable information and it
makes you look very serious. If it is a private company, ask who is financing
the company. If they are privately financed - watch out. Private companies do
not have to worry about public reaction to their stock. Therefore, they can be
much meaner and much more demanding. You also cannot get stock options with a
private company (duh). If they are financed through VC or investors, that is
good. Management has to answer to some serious business people. Private
companies financed by one or two people (usually the president or CEO) are
often monarchies and the monarch is not always benevolent. How management
behaves has a lot to do with how the underlings behave.

Understanding how a company does business and makes money tells you a lot about
them. Companies that lose money go out of business and usually treat their
employees like crap. Profitable companies or companies that are up and coming,
will provide you with opportunities for advancement and good pay. A company
cannot lose money forever. They MUST have some stream of cash in the form of
investors, stock, or profit.

12. Ask point-blank what kind of person they want to hire? Are they looking to
groom someone or do they want a seasoned professional. Companies often
advertise for experienced people, but in reality they want someone they can
mold into their own personal slave. How the interviewer answers this question
tells you A LOT about the organization of the company/group/department.

13. Before you leave an interview, get the interviewer's card (or at least
their number and address). Also, ask when the interviewer expects to make a
decision or what the next step is. Pin the interviewer to a date.

15. Thank the person for interviewing you with an email, phone call, whatever.
ALWAYS follow-up after an interview. I don't care what some of you have been
told. For the 9 humans on the planet you may insult with a thank you - 5.99999
billion others would appreciate a thank you.

16. Don't expect the company to tell you why they did not hire you. If they
turn you down - move on. Busy people don't have time to hold your hand and baby
you. Be an adult, deal with it, and MOVE ON. Like it or lump it, most
employment decisions do come down to gut reactions and not objective analysis.
You can bitch about this and work at McDonalds or you can learn how to exploit
this failing of humans and get awesome jobs.

17. Don't leave portfolio items with the interviewer. Tell them you are
committed to protecting your previous employer's confidentiality. Those that
are angered by this - you don't want to work for them.

18. Don't hound interviewers. It is irritating and you may wind up becoming the
butt of a lot of a lot of jokes.

19. Never, ever, ever go negative. Never bitch about a former boss, never
complain about a former job, never dis a co-worker. It makes you look petty
and pathetic. If you have to dis people to look good, you're a lame-o.

20. If you get the job, ask for exactly what you want and more. Don't
undersell yourself. You will be perceived as weak and you will be exploited.
If you need help moving, ask for it. If you want stock options, ask for them.
The worst thing that can happen is they'll say no.

The Golden Rule: You want a job? Then you have to become a a salesperson. You
are selling a product - YOU! You need to sell yourself like you are the best
thing on the planet. Bad salespeople are quiet, meek, submissive, negative, and
desperate. Good sales people are positive, enthusiastic, assertive (not
aggressive), and honest. Good salespeople can put a positive spin on just about
anything. Good salespeople do not volunteer bad information. Good salespeople
get great jobs, big money, and consistent success.

That should do it. Follow those and you will get jobs. It has always worked
for me.

Andrew Plato
President / Principal Consultant
Anitian Consulting, Inc.

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