Reid Hoffmann is one of the most successful investors in the Silicon Valley, he’s the founder of LinkedIn (which is performing really well on Wall Street as a public copany now) and really a guy who knows stuff. Now he’s written a book about career building and I think it’s worth a read.
With 19M people without jobs in Europe, we’re suffering the biggest unemployment crisis in history. Everywhere I go people complain there are no jobs. While I don’t want to go into politics, bubbles and crisis theories, the fact of the matter is that it’s just a lot harder to get a job now than before. Although it’s a very complicated problem and there are many causes of this situation, the book by Reid Hoffmann and this blog post will focus on only one of the problems: young people don’t know how to plan their career. Here’s Reid’s argument:
Think of yourself as a start-up
The argument goes that you should find the entrepreneur within you - even if you don’t want to run a business and be an entrepreneur, you must think “more entrepreneurial” when approaching your career planning.
Sending out CVs in bulk doesn’t help
I’m still surprised how little research job candidates do when applying for jobs. Last year when I put out an ad for a programming job in Nozbe I got around 20 replies… and almost all of them were generic replies saying:
“Hi, I’m interested in the programming job at your company, here’s my portfolio and here’s my attached CV, Best regards…”
Only a few actually took the 5 minutes to go to Nozbe web site, see what we are all about, check out my blog… do at least a little research. And I can’t highlight it enough what a difference an email like this makes:
“Hi, I’m interested in the programming job at Nozbe, I’m impressed by your company and how a Polish-based company is one of the leaders in project management space. I set up a free account and I’m impressed by the software but I see a few areas of improvement and I’m sure I can contribute. Here’s my portfolio and attached CV, Best regards…”
Seriously, I know it sounds like schmoozing, but I can’t highlight enough how I like receiving emails when people actually care enough about getting a job to spend a few minutes doing their research. How else do you want to land your dream job? By sending generic emails?
It’s all about relationships
This is where Reid is kinda promoting his social network, LinkedIn, but he’s right to do so. It’s all about relationships. You absolutely must take time to create a network of relationships with people in your industry. It’s a lot more effective than just sending out CVs. You must know who’s important, who’s trending, who are the top experts.
It always astounds me when someone is complaining about “no jobs available” and I ask them: “So who do you want to work for? Who’s your “guru”? Who do you admire?”… and they hardly can list even one name. You should absolutely know this, you should follow these guys and read their blogs, tweets, facebooks, whatever… Invest in these relationships and it will pay off in the long run.
It’s all about career planning
Just like with a startup venture, you should plan what you want to achieve. Where you want to go. There is a saying:
If you don’t know where you want to go, any road will get you there.
Yet many people are totally clueless where they want to go. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to know exactly where you want to go, or what’s your ultimate goal - you should just start exploring your options and find what excites you know and go there… and invest in this ability or interest.
No, money is not a goal. It’s a means. I didn’t build Nozbe because I wanted to be rich - I built it because I wanted to solve a real problem, help people, build a business and have a lifestyle that I have now (where I can travel, work on the iPad, work from home, have a happy family, etc.).
That’s why early on in my career I always tried to pursue projects that were the most interesting and had the best growth opportunity, and not just the best ROI (Return On Investment). I started Nozbe not knowing if it would bring me any money. It gave me an opportunity to learn AJAX coding, deepen my interest in GTD and connect with the community I was already passionate about… and it all grew from there.
You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to be entrepreneurial
In my company we all work from home and I want my team to grow, be better and develop better skills and pursue their passion. I support them all the way in this. Ask them :-)
That’s why I love this book. Sometimes it may sound like an ad for LinkedIn but most of the times it’s just a great “kick in the rear” for people to really take planning their career seriously and leveraging their connections to pursue the job they really want to do. Go read it.
Question: Did you read this book? How do you approach planning your career? Are you entrepreneurial?