Like many graduating MBAs, I have a fairly broad background. Little of this. Little of that. All focused on a few main interests. Most people don’t do exactly the same thing forever, and if you’ve had a few jobs I would guess you’re in the same boat.
Graduates are typically advised to “tell a story” when relating their experience. So that’s what I’ve done. I can easily take a recruiter through the career choices I’ve made and why they align with my career goals. However, when looking to enter the startup world, the phrase “career goals” gets a little mushy.
Trying to forecast what the CEO of a startup is looking for in employee #5 is tough. I (along with I’m sure many of you) find it difficult to express what I’m really interested in because of the whole broad background thing. So, I normally default to “I’m looking to join an energetic team with an exciting vision.”
I thought this was working well for me. Until reading this post by Jason Freeman. It has changed my outlook on both interviewing and job referrals.
In his post, Jason describes a bright 27-year old, who is looking to join a great company where she loves going to work every day. Aren’t we all. When asked what her next job role might look like, she remains flexible in every answer, thinking this broadens her employment prospects.
Little does she know that being 100% honest about her flexibility is actually shooting her in the foot.
Jason relates that without this bright 27-year old positioning herself as having one core interest (he calls this a “plan A”), he has no clue which of his connections to refer her to. If Jason forwards this person to a contact, odds are that his contact is looking for someone with a specific background/interest as well.
His conclusion: often times flexibility = no referral.
Jason recommends presenting yourself with a specific focus when hunting for job referrals. I expanded this theory to job interviews, which I think applies well. So, enough with this “I’m interested in lots of things” for me. I’m now a focused man. I hope you know what you’re talking about Jason (because I need a job!). J