Resume writing

Your resume does not get you a job. It gets you an interview. Therefore it should be written to succinctly describe your quantifiable accomplishments and create interest with the hiring manager.

When a manager receives your resume, they are going to read every line and take their time to delve into the details of your career……….. not.

Usually a manager will have a stack of resumes and quickly pass over them all. What stands out for managers is where you work or have worked, quantifiable accomplishments such as what products you have shipped or how much you have exceeded quota. What they do not look at is a summary or objective. At this point they are trying to fill their needs not yours.

As much as some people dislike the idea, buzzword compliance is necessary. Mainly to make it through the recruiters screen. But do not just throw a skill on without the experience. This will quickly kill an opportunity when a manager finds you don’t have the skills you said you did.

Beyond accomplishments, personal details can potentially create interest with a hiring manager. Certainly a blog is a good idea.

Here is a perspective on resumes from a managers point of view.


Mark Andreessen Knows what he is talking about

In a post on Career Development, Mark Andreessen hits the nail on the head.

Take Away Points

Grow your value in the market

Be aware and available for opportunity

Manage risk and reward


“I hate my job” Career Site Advertising


Scene- ……..Panning view of chaotic office filled with chimps as viewed by a fellow worker through a glass conference room window. Papers flying, bubble wrap snapping, a lot of screaming and throwing of office supplies….
Voice over- ……”Do you work with a bunch of monkeys?”

Cut to- …….Focus shifts from the office scene to the fellow workers reflection in the conference rooms glass. Slowly the face of the viewer emerges from the blur, big hairy ears, buck teeth,…. it is the face of a donkey.

This is our take on the standard “I hate my job” ads run by the big job boards. You might be an “ass” if you work with a bunch of monkeys. Our point is, if you manage your career successfully, you will be at a good job and looking for a better one. Sure, sometimes mistakes are made or the job isn’t what was presented in the interviews, but the general point is , if you know what to look for and focus on the right type of opportunities, you won’t be working with a bunch of monkeys. They don’t make good references in any case.


Offer Negotiation: the Chips are Down

Now its time to negotiate an offer, the sweat starts to pour, butterflies twitter in the stomach, and that’s just the hiring manager.

Once an offer is on the table, the pressure is at the max due to a time limit and the ramifications of a life effecting decision.

If you have a plan and process in place, the offer stage can be a painless and positive experience. Without them, not so much…..

First point, make sure you do not pre-negotiate your offer during the interview stage. If the company asks you how much you are looking for, whatever amount you answer will be your offer, no matter how badly they want to hire you. If you give them a number too high, it may preclude you from the process, even though you would want to enter into a reasonable negotiation once you realize that you like the opportunity. Too low and you are leaving money on the table. The best answer is my current salary is X and ” I hope you will make me your best offer”. Do not give a target number at this early stage.

Keep in mind that how you handle the offer stage and negotiation is the first decision you will make as an employee of the company. If you are indecisive, and difficult it may color the new managers opinion and change your first assignment from a potential team lead to a member of the team.

As I mentioned here to begin a negotiation, you must first know where you want to work. You will also need a stake in the ground, which is the reasonable amount of compensation at which you would accept the job. Not wow wouldn’t it be great if I got an FU offer. If the stake in the ground is $100k and the maximum offer is $99K, are you willing to walk away from the opportunity that you want with no second thoughts. Saying “the salary is not high enough” is not negotiating. A stake in the ground will give you a point to negotiate from and allow you to negotiate up from that point if possible.

Before you begin, you must be certain that you want the position at the company. Entering into a negotiation with offers and counter offers implies that you will accept the terms once both parties agree. It is bad form and un-professional to negotiate an acceptable package and then not accept the position. To be clear, this method will maximize the outcome with respect to compensation, while minimizing stress and pressure, but you must want the job and be ready to accept negotiated offer.

Let’s begin. First of all some basic negotiation tactics that will serve you well. Silence is your friend. The first person to speak after a term has been presented will usually be the one to compromise.

Say no at least three times and be silent after each.

Don’t be the one to start the negotiation. Let the company start with their offer. Then you will know if they are above or below your stake in the ground and can negotiate accordingly.

Once a company has decided you would be a valuable employee and are the number one choice for their position, the other value you have in the negotiation is your acceptance of the offer. This is the negotiation point that will maximize the offer and get the extra “gravy” to top off getting the position you want at a great company. Your acceptance is what you possess, to offer to negotiate up to the final number. For example; if your stake in the ground is $100K and the offer is $102K, say ” if you can hit $105K, I will accept your verbal offer pending receipt of an acceptable written offer. My start date will be xx/xx/xx.” If the manager needs approval of the VP, they can take it to them with confidence knowing they will get an acceptance, rather than hoping it will be enough, in which case they may just chose to wait and see if you take $102K.

That is the process that has proved to be effective in my experience. Not as easy to execute as to understand, but knowing how you are going to approach the offer negotiation will certainly make it less painful.

Remember, if both parties want the deal to go down and both sides are reasonable, the offer stage will proceed smoothly.


Decision Time: Moving to Offer Stage

So you have made it through the interview process and companies are checking your references. Now is the time to decide which opportunity is the best for you.

Keeping in mind that logical decisions are preferable to emotional ones, having a structure to evaluate opportunities will minimize the emotional impact. Once you have an offer in hand, there is usually a time frame attached and now the pressure is building.

First of all, you can only take one job, so collecting offers only burns bridges and potentially limits your options in the long run. Every offer you reject will leave the hiring manager with a negative last impression. You will go from the great candidate that professionally took themselves out of the running, to the candidate that turned me down. Remember, it is an emotional event for the hiring manager as well. This will become important when you are interviewing at another start up in two years and there is the same manager you previously turned down.

A common problem is thinking that some factor will make the decision for you, such as “an offer I can’t refuse”. This is a lame approach and is leaving the management of your career in someone else’s hands. It is great for the company that can buy you, but will not produce optimal return for you in the long run.

Be logical and evaluate the opportunity based upon what creates value for your career.

Create a Matrix containing: Company, Project, C0-Workers, Technology/Skills etc… Rate each one and the one with the most pluses is the logical choice.

If all the offers were the same, where would you prefer to work? If you worked for free, which company would you work for. When you can say that I want to work for company A and I will accept a reasonable offer from them, you are ready for the negotiation stage.

Deciding this before you are handed an offer will allow your negotiations to proceed more smoothly while maximizing the result.


Career Trajectory

Careers have momentum and direction. We call this Career Trajectory. After launch, the goal is to break free of the atmosphere where there is no friction. You all know someone in your field that has enough career equity that they can get a job anytime and anywhere.

There are different stages of a career which can be plotted over time. Each stage has different risk factors and variables associated with the job search and the evaluation process. It is a viable approach for any career, but our specific focus is the goal of working for emerging technology companies and start ups. The missile launch analogy being that in the early stage you can effect the outcome much more than in the latter stages. At one point there is a critical window of opportunity to reach beyond the pull of gravity and have the best and most sought after companies seeking your employment. Once that window has passed, the probability of correcting course towards the higher goal is limited.

For example, experience has shown us that between 8 to 12 years is the “career defining” phase. Whatever you are doing at the end of this stage will probably be what you will continue to do. In other words, if you work at big fortune 100 software company and after 15 years decide to move to a start up, the probability is low that you can successfully make the transition. The risk may be too high for the company building their core team. Some reasonable questions from the hiring company would be, why haven’t you worked in a start up before?..can you thrive in a less structured environment, and so on. The point is not that senior people cannot change, it is that making a hire at $80K has less impact than the riskier $ 120K mistake. Also, making a drastic change of working for a start up is much harder once life has given you a big mortgage, college tuition savings and the other things that constrain life decisions.

So, be aware of the fact that significant change to keep your career on the right path is more easily made early on and that once the rocket is well on it’s way to Pluto you cannot easily turn it 180 degrees towards another destination.


A Big Company can offer Job Stability?

Tricycles are stable, but roller blades are so much more fun. Big Companies do not provide job security

Your value in the market provides your security. If you pay attention to building career equity, you can be secure with the fact that you can move on when you choose.


Is Working at a Start Up better for my career than a Large Company?

We believe that a start up increases career equity more than a larger company. Value is somewhat based on perception, and the perception in the market is that only the top 20 percentile quality people can work at a start up.

Data Points:

Working with people better than you brings out your best.

Which reference do you think will be more valuable? Paul Buchheit or Joe Blow from Acme Big Company?

You get more experience and have more accountability at a start up, which translates to more accomplishments.

Start ups are typically ahead of the curve with respect to up to date tools and technology. The more leading edge your skill set the less people to compete with and therefore more opportunities.

Bottom Line: If you are motivated to get up in the morning and get to work on your project, you are in a good situation. But for maximum career value, work in a start up.


Career Equity

The object of managing your career and your job search is to maximize Career Equity. Your value in the market place translates to the quantity and quality of positions available to you. The moves one makes effect Career Equity either positively or negatively.

The variables that effect Career Equity are the following:

A. Organizations you work for or have worked for.

There is a perceived quality associated with every company or organization.

The quality is measured by success, usually financial sometimes technical.

Due to the dilution factor, typically the quality of individuals at a large organization cannot be as high as a smaller one due to simple averages. Therefore, perceived quality is higher coming from a smaller successful company, especially as viewed by other smaller companies.

B. Individuals in your reference network.(opinions of you are formed in the workplace, business meetings, trade associations and interviews.) be mindful of the impressions you leave.

If you work with people better than you, you get better.

If you work with people of lesser abilities you sink to their level over time.

Known quality individuals increase career equity, ie.. my reference is James Gosling vs. a middle manager at DEC. You want the manager to think “I know your reference and respect his opinions”.

C. Accomplishments and Skills

The more current and leading edge your skill set, the more options you will have.

The most important criteria to a hiring manager is quantifiable accomplishments.

Smaller companies afford the opportunity for more impact on a product or accomplishment.

Focusing on Maximizing your Career Equity will produce a better caliber position and ultimately higher compensation.


Have a Plan

Changing jobs is one of the most stressful events in our lives, ranking right up there with getting married, relocating, buying a home, your first child etc…

Having a plan and processes in place to find, evaluate and secure your next opportunity will minimize stress and the emotional roller coaster during the job change. Emotional decisions are not necessarily the best decisions, if one can make a logical decision and minimize the emotional impact, the results will typically be better and longer lasting.