How to Get a Job in 4 Days - by Boris Taratutin, '12

The worst thing you can do when looking for a job is to go shopping when you're hungry.

Sure, it has its redeeming qualities - you get through the store quickly, you find *most* of the things you're looking for.   But quite often, you find yourself with a number of things you really don't need (free lunches and "swag days" come to mind) and inevitably, you miss those ingredients you were too much in a rush to pick up.

The same principle applies to job searching, and it's just not the best way to go. I've done it twice now - the first time, I got lucky (thank goodness), and the second time I made a mistake. But both times, I found the position I would accept in under a week.

If you're on the job hunt now and interested in how you can accelerate it, here's how I did it:

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My Office @ Kayak

1) First, you have to get clear about what you want.

Knowing what you want to learn, what you want to work on, what you can't compromise on - keeps you from wasting time chasing opportunities that won't be a good fit. And knowing the attributes of the next position lets you talk to people about it (crucial in step #2).

Don't know where to start? Start with the question: "what am I unwilling to compromise on?"  Know what is a show-stopper for you; what you can never give up, in any circumstance. What if a company said, "We don't believe in mentorship" - would you still work for them? Or if they said, "we don't care about our users - we just want to do what makes us the most money" - would you still work for them?

Asking these edge-case questions lets you quickly understand what's truly important to you - and suddenly, 80% of the opportunities out there are much less appetizing, and you've saved yourself time tracking down bad leads.

The other side-effect is you can better articulate what you're looking for - which helps in #2 (talking to people).

For me, my uncompromising attribute was "the company needs to be doing something meaningful" and "my role needs to have a lot of responsibility" - my effort needed to be tied to my reward. Once I had these figured out, I could easily screen out positions that weren't a fit, and find the ones that were - in a matter of days now.

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Kayak DID give me an awfully nice desk...  

2) Once you've identified those qualities - go and tell them to everybody you know.

And I mean everybody you know, not just people you only think are in that industry.

There's a beautiful thing that happens once you can clearly and concisely articulate what you want. Suddenly, other people can understand it, and then they can help you.

It's much more powerful to be able to say, "I'm really interested in Data Science, have a background in X, Y, and Z, and would love to work for a small company, in Design, in Nevada or Massachusetts."

When you can articulate something like that, what you've done is given people a number of "hooks" for their mind: "Data Science", "Nevada", "small company", "Design" - that can now trigger their synapses: people, opportunities, and companies they might know that relate to those ideas. Now that person can say, "Oh, I know someone in Nevada!", or "I was just reading about Data Science yesterday - have you heard about [Company X] doing [Thing Y]?" - and now you have 2 more leads to check out, and you're making progress.

It just doesn't work the same when someone asks you what you're looking for and you reply, "I don't know.. Something in Mechanical Engineering?" Even if the person wanted to help you, what you've told them is so vague that they'd have a hard time thinking of good opportunities and leads for you. You haven't given them enough specifics for their mind to trigger resources they have that can help you.

So who do you talk to?  Everybody. You have your college network. Your family. Even that crazy uncle living up in Vermont - you never know what opportunities he knows about. People next to you at the cafe. Your professors. Your high school friends. Everybody.

03 Kayak.jpgLast day @ Kayak - leaving down the hallway

3) Follow  up, go on lunches and coffee dates and meetings ...

A good way to start is to call up every person you know in the area, and ask to have coffee with them.

Make the effort, and fit to their time schedule - they'll be more than happy to talk to you (people love talking about themselves and what they do, it's innately human), but make the effort to fit their schedule. That might mean waking up at 6AM to drive and take the train out to the city an hour away - but do it anyway. Your priority is to find a job, right? Every meeting, every person takes you one step closer to your goal - generating leads, clarifying #1, and finding a position you will be happy working in.

Once you've met with a person or two, if you're doing it right, you'll have an ever-growing list of people to talk to. To "do it right", make sure that you ask at the end of every conversation, "Is there anybody else you I should talk to?"  This way, each conversation gives you more people to talk to, and the process perpetuates itself. Soon, you'll have more opportunities than you can keep up with - and that's a problem you want to have.

This process is absolute magic. At worst, you've had a great coffee date and learned something about the position you were aiming for, so you can better refine and understand #1. At best, you have an incredible conversation, more leads to follow up on, and possibly even an interview that could very well be your next job.  Or, even if you've found something that won't work - that's progress too: now you know what you don't want, and you can sigh a breath of relief and be thankful you avoided a bad fit for a job.

So if you haven't figured this out by now, it's actually probably not advisable to find a job in 4 days - due to that "rushing" mistake I talked about earlier.  But the point is it is possible - and following this simple process of getting clarity, sharing those thoughts with people, and following up - can help you find a job faster.

So go out there and talk to some people - you only stand to gain!

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My work desk @ RocksBox - with the CEO Meaghan in the background: Open, friendly, a perfect fit for me!

Finishing Thoughts from Boris...

This process is how I ended up working for RocksBox, an incredible, Olin Alum-led startup in San Francisco, and absolutely loving my role. And it's how I ended up at Kayak.com, where I left my position after 3 months because it was not as good of a fit.

The difference between the two situations? I rushed too much in the second process, and did not listen to my intuition. I wanted a job more than I wanted the right job - and I talked myself into something I thought would be "good for me" instead of listening to my gut.

 

 

Hopefully you have advantages I did not have - of still being in school, of not rushing yourself to make a decision - and can take a month, two months, or more - to find your next, wonderful, fantastic position. And above all else, if your gut feels funny about a role, don't take it. Your gut knows best, trust it.

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* If you're looking for speed, believe it or not, calling always moves faster than texting or emailing. Call a person, ask them out for coffee, and set a date - all in under 5 minutes, what could take weeks over email or text.  And follow-up.  If you call and there's no answer, send them an email and say you called. Sometimes it takes 4 tries, but persistence is key here - you really want that job, don't you?

** There are a number of reasons I think talking to people, "networking" (though I prefer to call it simply, "talking to people") is so important.

1) There's some statistic that something like 90% of jobs are found through connections - because we tend to trust people referred to us through friends & contacts, as it's a form of "social - validation". Much like a high GPA helps you out, so does being referred by someone to a company.

2) Not all of the jobs out there are on job boards. Many are just being conceptualized, or are too niche to fit on a job board. And these are sometimes the best ones - and they'll never be found when looking on job boards. So you'll only find them by talking to people.

3) It makes the whole process way more fun - instead of sitting and reading person-less job listings all day, you get to learn, meet people, and be exposed to ideas beyond what you think you can google, and there's magic in that.

 

*** Lastly, you don't have to be an extrovert for this to work for you. I know, I'm an introvert myself - all of these conversations can be had 1:1, and don't take any 'people-meeting' magic. Just being able to articulate what you want goes a long way. After that, it's like any conversation you would have with a friend.

05 RocksBox.jpgI even got my own mug! How awesome is that?  

Posted in: Alumni Speak, Job Hunt