In an age of hyperconnectivity, the ease and thus the rise of professional comparison (as opposed to social comparison) is rampant and crippling.
“I didn’t get that A2A promotion like Person A from my school so I can’t win interviews at X” or “I was in a coverage group and Person B was in the M&A group before landing a position at Y, I have zero chance if I apply.” The list goes on (shout out to LinkedIn for making that possible). And while some select firms do tend to hire based on set parameters, the unfortunate truth is – the individual, not any one company, is the hardest screen to pass (OK – maybe a bit hyperbole, but you get the point). So how did I go from a regionally focused, no-name boutique bank to end up at a Sequoia-backed unicorn responsible for all M&A and investment activities? Tactically – I’ll let you research that on Google as there is enough information. I’m here to say, chill. And also give you some qualitative tips as a reflect back on my own journey:
#1 Remember that goals are attained not with accuracy but directionally
You may be thinking, “WTF” does that mean. It quite simply means, doesn’t attempt to mirror the steps someone else took to get to Point A. Not everyone achieves their goals linearly. Oftentimes, if you move directionally towards the goal (in this example, your desired professional goal), you’ll be pleasantly surprised where you land.
#2 Pedigree helps but always play to win
I don’t need to discuss the pedigree vs. hustle argument. I will say that in my experience, on average, I’ve seen those with much higher pedigree try to skate their way through an interview. Sometimes it works. But it also opens up an opportunity for someone with less relevant experience, a less pedigreed background, or some other suboptimal detail to come in with a Michael Jordan game and secure the position. To translate, treat each stage of the interview process as a must-win game. Final round? Put together a summary deck with your thoughts on the industry (to present or as a leave behind). First screen with an internal recruiter? Come with energy. Whatever stage you’re at, play to win.
#3 Apply, interview, get smacked, repeat
This tip definitely has some Rocky Balboa spirit to it. While I don’t suggest a “pray and spray” tactic for all scenarios, I would suggest applying to a healthy amount of positions that fit the position you’re looking for. The caveat – come to the interview with a strategy, take copious notes (particularly when the interview goes horribly), and apply those learnings to the next one. Countless times I applied something I learned in a previous interview for which I incorporated into my strategy for an interview with another company. Go into every interview as an opportunity to get better.
#4 Why not [me]?
This one is simple but easy to forget. Of all the possible people that could have that position, why not you? This ties to the beginning – don’t reject yourself before applying. Every application you submit and interview you take, do with confidence. You put the work in and have the same opportunity to land the job offer as the next interviewee. As oft-quoted by Russell Westbrook, “Why not [me]?”
The ELI5 “Explain Like I’m 5″ for all of the above? Don’t self-select yourself out from getting your desired job because your professional career isn’t mirroring your image of the ideal path. And while there will be tons of roadblocks on the way (whether you have the perfect resume or not), take those losses as learnings, and for every opportunity you get, play to win.
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source image: https://www.fintastico.com/collections/fintech-unicorns/