Leverage LinkedIn for career opportunities

I’ve worked at over 10 companies with multiple roles within each and I’ve changed career directions multiple times. Only 3 times did I ever really apply for a role. Most of the time, I had a connection to the company and was able to get an “in” for the role.

It is important to keep an open dialogue with the outside world. You never know when you’ll need to explore a new role – layoffs, bad manager, promotion.

This doesn’t mean to connect with just anyone. It is best to only connect with someone you have interactive with before – meetup, work, vendors, partners. Recruiters should be vetted to make sure you have at least some mutual connections.

So grow your LinkedIn network, keep your profile up to date, and be active.

How to optimize your LinkedIn resume

If you’re looking for a new job or even if you’re happy in your current role, it’s important to keep your LinkedIn resume up to date and findable. 

Here are a few tips to keep your Linkedin profile in tip top shape.

  • Make sure your title and description reflects the role you want. Calling yourself a product manager will get your product manager calls. Focus on the parts of your current role or experience that will help you land the next role you seek. If you want to become a career coach, focus on how you mentored a junior team member.
  • You don’t need to use actual titles. My former titles have been associate, senior manager, director etc. Those are internal titles about reflecting the hierarchy of the organization rather than a reflection upon what I do.
    I recently had a colleague update his title from Lead Consultant, Analytics To Web Analytics and Business Intelligence. It resulted in him getting at least one ping a week about potential roles. 
  • Put buzzwords in your role description. Write out the tools and skills along with your responsibilities. Web analytics and reporting, Google Analytics, Tableau, etc. 

LinkedIn SEO

I’ve asked recruiters about how they use LinkedIn to find candidates and it’s pretty simple – Recruiters use LinkedIn just like you use Google. They search for terms that they need a candidate to have. If there is a hit, they scan by looking at job titles then skills and then tools. 

So structure your LinkedIn profile to reflect how recruiters should find you. 

To test this, I used a fake account. (It is a well established account from when I was testing some LinkedIn functionality. It has several hundred connections and has been on the site for a while.)

I changed the two most recent jobs to SEO related terms and included terms like serp, seo, page rank, link building, disavow etc. The companies were small and non brand name. Over the next 3 days, the profile received 40 views, and 6 emails from recruiters. 

Of course doesn’t mean you’ll get the job. But it’ll start the conversation and that’s the biggest hurdle.

Luck

In my opinion, getting a job is 90% luck and majority of that is timing and network. But you need to work to get that luck.

The luck is connections and timing. Connections are your source of jobs – be it LinkedIn, or colleagues, of classmates or just people you meet at meetups or other functions. 

Connect with them on LinkedIn.

You also need to be active on LinkedIn. You don’t need to write posts, but you should be posting/sharing relevant and interesting links. This way, you’ll show up in people’s feeds and you’ll remain top of mind. 

Timing is out of your control, but that’s basically being ready to jump on a call or take an interview when the time comes. Most of the time, you’ll have to wait for your desired position to open.

Getting a job in VC

Without fail, I get at least one email a week asking about how to break into VC. I will give my short answer, and then point you to some other posts with great answers and advice, much better than mine.

There are two common paths to becoming a VC:

  1. You worked in the startup space
  2. You have transactional experience as a banker

Some other common traits:

  • Have a network of entrepreneurs and VCs/lawyers/bankers
  • Strong interest in working with startups.

Most of all… you have to be Lucky. There aren’t many openings, so you have to be there at the right time and place.

Other Posts: (will add as I come across others)

Learning To Code with CodeYear.com

CodeYear.com is a great idea. They will send you a weekly homework assignment that will teach you how to code. I also like the marketing push to coincide with New Year Resolutions. Sign up if you haven’t already.  I did.

Great idea, but how many people will finish and gain enough skills to actually land a job or launch a successful app?

We all know majority of new years resolutions are never met. I know of only a few reasons most people can successfuly achieve such goals – your life depends on it and/or your career depends on it.

Codeyear is a start in the right direction, but there is a lot more needed than just a tutorial. It needs to create a community support group through forums, meetups, experienced newbies and mentorship

Augment the codeyear experience by adding taking some additional steps:

1. Set a goal – launch an app or get a job. Keep it simple, a simple CRUD or better yet, a read-only application
2. State it publicly – accountability always helps
3. Get Support – a community to answer questions, guide etc.
4. Get a coding buddy/mentor/partner
5. Fix someone else’s bugs – Coding from scratch is hard. Modifying someone else’s code is a much better starting point.

I don’t know the goals of codeyear, but lots more need to be done to build an app than some javascript. Granted with most shared hosting services, you can get a simple website up and running quickly, but it gets pretty complex with any other functionality beyond HelloWorld. Databases require some understanding of queries, relationships, data integrity, etc. What about version control? GIt vs subversion? What about hosting vs local machine dev?

I doubt many people will stick with the program.  But I want people to make me eat my words. Prove me wrong!!

I’ve signed up for CodeYear and I’m going to seek out a programming mentor, thanks alexkehayias. I “plan” on sticking with it to dust off my development skills and learn some new skills and languages. But life happens … 

Secret Interview Question

I’ve shared this tip several times and heard great responses. So now I’ll let everyone in on my secret interview question.

During the course of my last job search, I came up with a great question to ask the interviewer. I used it 18 times and was able to predict the outcome of 11 interviews. I got 3 wrong and I couldn’t get a read on the rest. That’s a success rate of over 50%!

The question is “What concerns do you have about me?” or some variation. It’s a simple, but effective question. I really like the question both as an interviewer and interviewee because it cuts out all the bullshit and formalities.  It forces the interviewer to give real feedback and brings any shortcomings front and center.  As the candidate, you get truthful feedback and most importantly, an opportunity to address it.  

During your interview, you are trying to prove yourself. But you might not fully address all the requirements,  both explicit and implicit. Asking the question turns an unstated requirement into an explicit one. Each time, I was able to address their concerns and I walked out with a good sense of the outcome.

Here are some of the answers I received. 

Note: The interviewer will probably not offering up their criticisms directly (at least I have never heard them), but they may be the reasons you don’t get the job.  

– not enough experience/not right experience
– not the right fit/startup experience
– over qualified/will leave for a better position/not a management position

If you can directly address their concerns, you’ll increase you chances of getting a call back. Otherwise, you will be letting the interviewer to deliberate critical points without your input. 

If you use this tip, I would be very interested to hear how it went. 

Image by Jessica Hagy http://thisisindexed.com/2007/05/always-everyone-everywhere/

How I got a job in VC

This is a list of things I did to prepare for a VC job search.  It is not all encompassing, but rather some things I thought would be useful to others.

Mark Davis Peter has a great series of posts on Getting the VC Job.  I read all of them and definitely recommend them.

Read everything
 – VC blogs –  Larry Cheng has complied a list which he updates annually.  I added the top 20ish to my RSS reader to help make reading more efficient.  This will help you get some insight to how VCs think and what they are interested in.
 – Twitter – follow VCs and entrepreneurs.  Read what they link to.
 – Read BusinessInsider SAI and BetaBeat. SAI will usually link to the most popular postings of the day, so add that to your RSS list too.

Join the community
 – Network – attend events and shake hands with VCs and entrepreneurs (Meetups, pitch events) and then grow the relationship.
 – Twitter – start conversations by asking and answer questions
 – Comment on blog posts –  Add value to the discussion.
 – Join every alpha/beta/new product and play with it.  Take some pictures with Color, Check-in with Foursquare, get a Kohort username 

 Process the information
– Take what you read/what you know/who you met and form an opinion.
      Will Company X be successful?
      How can Company Y monetize?
      What do you like/not like about Company Z?
      Know all the hot startups and some relatively unknown ones. Have an opinion.

 Help a startup
 From the networking events you attended, hopefully you made some connections.  Now reach out to the entrepreneurs and ask to help out.  Propose a plan that will leverage your skill set.  Got social media skills? … help with marketing.  Got finance skills? … help with an Excel model.  Got software skills? … well, everyone can use help here.
How you will help will vary on your availability, your skillset, and their needs.  It could be volunteer, hourly, project based.  Either way, you’ll learn something.

I consulted with numerous startup building Excel models, writing software, doing QA, and just thinking through marketing plans and providing feedback.  They all gave me some insight into their startup which was helpful in interviews.

Study up
Learn how to build financial models (Training The Street)
Learn about term sheets (http://www.gabrielweinberg.com/blog/2010/06/how-to-learn-about-angelvc-term-sheets.html)
Learn about the different business models 

Be lucky
Luck plays a role in any job search, so be prepared when your time comes. During Q12011, there were at least 4 openings – OATVSpark Captial, First Round and Time Warner.  I haven’t never seen so many VC openings in such a short period, and those were the advertised ones!  Each have their own specific requirements, but they all require the applicant to know the venture space and love it.

I’m happy to answer any questions.