Career Advice

How Getting A Job Is Like Getting Start-Up Investors

Getting a job is not all that different from finding an investor for a start-up company. If you make $75,000/year, get normal raises and benefits and keep the job for four years, your net takeaway is close to a half million dollars. Treating your career move as a hunt for the right investor just might make a difference in your approach.

Much of the advice job hunters are given doesn’t make much sense when the stakes are this significant.

When looking for places to invest, the conventional wisdom among bankers is ”when I hear about a company once, I often ignore it. When I hear about it twice, I pay attention. When I hear about it for the third time, I take a meeting.” In other words, the game goes to anyone who can figure out how to generate name recognition.

A common strategy is to make sure a potential investor hears about your start-up as many times as possible. Getting multiple introductions gives an investor the opportunity to cross reference sources while taking the initial meeting. While there is no directly equivalent process in hiring, the phone networks light up with people jockeying for jobs when there is a change in a company’s executive ranks.

So, what if getting a job boils down to becoming top of mind for the hiring authority?

What follows is a process you can use if you are clear about the job that you want. The rules of job hunt change based on the precision of your objectives. If your agenda is very specific and you are committed to working for one of six or seven companies in a very specific role, here’s how you find your ‘investor’:

1. Prepare an elevator pitch describing the role you want to play, the value you’ll generate and the experience and qualifications you bring. No more than five PowerPoint slides with no more than 30 total words per slide (This is where your Twitter skills come in handy). Try to solve a problem that you know happens in the kinds of companies you are targeting.

2. Rehearse the presentation so that you know it cold and can do it in less than four minutes. Present it 30 times to your support team (i.e. family and/or friends). Be prepared to ask for ‘four minutes of your time’. Nail it.

3. Research the companies you are targeting. Use financial sources, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, alumni groups. Understand their businesses and organizational structures.

4. Call into your network to see who has intelligence on your targets. You are not looking for introductions just yet. Right now, you need a ‘lay of the land’. Find out who works for whom and what the internal politics are like.

5. For each of your targets, prepare a list of six or seven people who could pass on your name to the person you hope to work for (the hiring manager). Research these people thoroughly. The last thing you need is to be introduced by someone who is on the political outs. (If you can’t figure that out, you probably shouldn’t use this approach.)

6. Slowly, over the course of several weeks, feed copies of your elevator pitch to people in your target companies. Ask them, if they like what they see, to forward it to the person you hope to work for. The trick is to have your name keep popping up without appearing to be a spammer. Resist the temptation to hurry.

7. Persistence, clarity, an emphasis on service and a commitment to delivering value are essential elements of this high end job creation technique. At every step of the way, write thank you notes (by hand).

Within about six weeks, this will produce a job. It’s hard work requiring clarity and the willingness to reach out and connect with about 100 people.