How to Land a Job That Fits You Like Second Skin?
In the busy and fast-paced of western world, most of us probably spend more time working than doing any other activities (e.g. sleeping, exercising, relaxing, spending quality time with our families and friends). So we might as well do what we love rather than just do “something” or hold “a” job.
The spark for this blog post came from an overwhelming number of questions, calls, and emails I received within the last year from friends, friends of friends, and strangers who wanted to learn more about how I landed a role that I’m super passionate about and how I decided to join Fitbit versus other companies — the second question came from people who knew me closely and were aware of different opportunities I was assessing. Thus, I decided to share my experience with a broader group here to inspire and empower others to seek what they are most passionate about and to help them reach their dreams, whatever that might be. Below are five fundamental concepts that I believe will help you find a job that fits you like second skin:
1) Discover and follow your passion: The beauty of working on what you are super excited about is that work feels like play. Additionally, if you are passionate about what you work on, you will spend more time thinking about the problems in that field and coming up with better solutions than other people who don’t have the same passion. This will give you significant edge and competitive advantage over time.
2) Know your strengths and chose a role accordingly: Being aware of what your strengths and best skills are is an invaluable insight. That awareness will allow you to not only pick a role that you are most excited about, but also one at which you can deliver significant business values.
3) Pursue the passion that’s in a high growth industry: Despite the fact that Ben Horowitz is one of my heroes and role models, my knee jerk reaction to his Columbia University commencement speech on “Don’t Follow Your Passion” was that what the hell is he talking about! That’s the worst advice you can give to new graduates! However, after listening to his talk and pondering his points, I can’t agree with him more.
If you find your passion in an industry that’s shrinking or dying, it will be a lot more challenging to have a high impact and successful career. The good news is that most of us have more than one passion. What you need to do to discover your passions is to go through a deep self-discovery experience. As part of that process, there are some of the questions you need to answer (and try to be really honest with yourself):
- What makes you tick in life?
- What are your hobbies?
- What were the things you liked to do as a kid?
- What technologies, products, or experiences excite you?
4) Shape and express your point of view about your industry: One of my favorite professors at Harvard, Professor Gunnar Trumbull, gave us valuable career advice that has stuck with me. He told us that we would each reach the height of our career if and when we become experts in our field. He said that when people call you up to ask your advice on a particular topic, that’s when you know you’re on the right path. In other words, you need to be a brand, something that you stand for!
There are many ways to build your expertise. Here are a few tactical tips to help you develop your knowledge and build your brand:
- Read, research, and experiment a ton in the area that you are passionate about.
- Shape your point of view on what will work and what not in your area of focus.
- Share your knowledge and view with others by commenting on forums such as Quora, where people seek other’s expertise, writing blog posts on topics that you are passionate about, and speaking at relevant events.
5) Have your criteria straight to be able to say “no” to the wrong opportunities: If you don’t know what type of role or industry you would like to land on, it will be very hard to make it a reality. It’s like people who want to be in a serious relationship, but have no idea what their type is! It’s absolutely fine to spend some time and explore, but at some point you need to set your criteria.
Your criteria could totally change over time, but you need to clearly know what you want at any given time in order to make reasonable (vs. emotional) decisions. You don’t want to say “yes” to every job offer you’ll receive, just like you wouldn’t want to say “yes” to any guy or girl who wants to go out with you.
Some of the criteria that are important to sort out for your next career move are the followings:
- In what role or department could you add the most value: engineering, product, design, marketing, business development, corporate development, etc.?
- In what industry would you like to work?
- What size company will fit you best: seed-round, Series A, B, C, growth company, or a public company?
- What type of culture would best fit your personality and work style?
- What are your deal breakers?
- What job attributes will most contribute to your overall happiness: location, opportunity for growth, compensation, job security, title, opportunity for learning, mentorship, etc.?
In order to make the right career choice that brings you satisfaction and happiness and that meets most of your personal and professional criteria, I highly recommend that you figure out your list of criteria first, and then stick to it.
I truly hope each and everyone of you who are reading this post and pondering if you are at the right role or company, or if you could instead maximize your talent and passion elsewhere, start a self-discovery journey and find what’s the best fit for you soon. Please share your thoughts and experiences below in the comments to help others hear different point of views.