Get a job by acting like a start-up

A lot of people are faced with redundancy, and traditionally either use recruitment agencies or career consultancies if they are lucky. But one approach not traditionally considered, but which could well work for you in these uncertain times is to act a little like a start-up. Here’s my notes on how to do this based on real life experience of redundancy and start-up skills. It’s an unusual mix but one which could make the difference between success and failure in difficult times.

OK, so the lean start-up method is based on the idea that successful start-ups aren’t just about hard work and luck, but need to based in testing out your product: build-measure-learn. In other words once you have an idea you validate it with customers, and if it doesn’t fly you ‘pivot’ and change tack with a more customer friendly approach until you hit the sweet spot.

Similarly, people treat job hunting as a combination of hard work and luck, but don’t consider sufficiently that you need to be able to sell yourself, where the CV is really a piece of marketing material and the interview is really a business meeting where you ask for feedback from a potential customer. So just like a start-up you may focus on a particular market and test out whether your skills and experience are sufficient to land a job. But if not then it’s not the end of the road, but the beginning of a process following start-up principles.

Instead of simply pumping out hundreds of CVs you listen carefully to feedback from potential employers (customers) for their views on your performance (your ‘pitch’ to use start-up jargon) to refine your offering. If necessary, where you aren’t making headway consider ‘pivoting’ and look at a different sector where you have sell-able skills and experience. Above all you’re not a ‘job beggar’ simply asking for a job for the sake of it, but a business person looking to meet the employer’s business needs.

That way while you may ‘fail’ at a series of interviews, by taking on the feedback and considering what the customer says, you are going to fail faster and eventually succeed; by taking a more entrepreneurial approach more likely to beat the competition you can land the job of your dreams, even in a recession-hot jobs market. Believe it or not I’ve been turned down by top global companies including Barclays, Shell, and Ernst and Young in 2012 – but through application of start-up techniques ended up with a nice job.


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