Interview with Marti Konstant for the Women in STEM, Reimagined masterclass.
Finding a new job can feel like a huge undertaking in today’s climate. The tried and true tactics from before will not give you the best chance of success in even landing the interview, let alone the job.
“Only 1-2% of people get to the interview of people who apply online,” shares this week’s blog guest Marti Konstant. “The vast majority of people who get interviewed are there through referrals. It’s not enough to just send your resume out anymore.”
A little about Marti: Marti is a workplace futurist and the best-selling author of Activate Your Agile Career. She has an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and is a former technology executive from Silicon Valley. She has been featured in media outlets such as NBC Chicago, Levo League, The Muse and has worked with companies like Samsung, Dow Jones and Apple. She is an expert in applying agile principles to workforce development.
In her work, Marti often talks about experience as your x-factor.
What makes experience the x-factor when finding a new job?
Experience is what sets you apart from the competition. However, with great power comes great responsibility. “Having all this experience has a dark side,” states Marti. “The dark side is that when you are packaging yourself to pitch yourself to the hiring manager you may think, ‘I have 10 years of experience in this so I will tell them every bit of experience I have,’ but people have a short attention span. So, I advocate experience editing. Edit down your experience to the most important points.” When you first start out, since you lack a lot of experience, you are attuned to this. You’re packaging volunteer and work experience to talk directly to the hiring manager. The trick is to do this even when you have plenty of applicable experience. Based on her marketing experience, Marti emphasizes that you shouldn’t be listing all your features and benefits, but instead sell yourself as the solution to their problem. By doing so, you’re being empathetic, you’re letting them know you’ve walked in their shoes and you feel their pain. “They don’t want to know everything you know, they want to know what you know in the context of their wishes and desires,” Marti underscores.
How do we discern what is important for the hiring manager?
“That starts with asking questions,” states Marti. Even in the process of getting to the interview, there has probably been a lot of information shared that can help you learn what is important to them.
Another way to contribute to your understanding of the organization’s pain points is to find the people you know who work there and interview them. Even if they’re not in your prospective department or making hiring decisions, they are your window into the organization.
“Ask why they are working there and what it’s like. Learn about global problems that the company has,” says Marti. “For example, if the biggest issue is that the customer experience is lacking, it could be a delivery or shipping issue in their products and services.” All of this information will pay off in the interview where you can position yourself as the solution to the problems in the organization.
What kind of mindset do we need to adopt so that asking for interviews or referrals is not overwhelming and is instead fun?
“I’m an introvert,” shares Marti. “It’s not that we introverts are shy, it’s just we regenerate ourselves differently. So, we can’t go long term talking to many people. So, don’t think of these career conversations as informational interviews. Instead, get people talking about themselves, why they are there, what’s fun, and what keeps them. If you ask for 10-15 minutes of their time and keep it to that, you’ve made a connection.” That 10-15 minutes of conversation is just an entry point. From there you can send a thank you note or send a relevant article to propel the connection further without exhausting your conversation quota as an introvert.
How many of these career conversations should we aim for?
“There’s a body of work out of Stanford’s design school that says that in order to make something you have to do research,” shares Marti. “In that research, about 30-40 conversations have a higher hit rate than someone having 10 a week.” This is not just applicable to the job hunt– This could be for a project, too. Marti suggests aiming for five conversations per day or 30 a week.
Another way to make this process easier for introverts is by setting a goal for how many rejections you want to get in a certain time period. By making it the goal to get rejections, you start to have less fear around taking action. Rejection is inevitable, so having a goal of a certain number of rejections raises your chances of success and the stakes aren’t as high. “It makes it fun,” laughs Marti.
One more tip from Marti: “Don’t ask if someone has a job opening. Ask them to tell you about their job and what they do. Say that you’ve been interested in entering that field and you’d like to learn more about it. Plus, if someone likes you, they might not hire you right now, but they’ll keep you in mind and try to refer you, maybe 20% of the time.”
Missed Women in STEM, Reimagined?
Marti Konstant. Marti is a workplace futurist and the best-selling author of “Activate Your Agile Career.” She has an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and is a former technology executive that has worked in Silicon Valley.
As a Top Career Influencer, she has been featured in media outlets such as NBC Chicago, Forbes, and The Muse, and has worked in companies like Samsung, Dow Jones and Apple.
Dr. Nicole Tschierske is a positive psychology coach who helps women in STEM get noticed in their company so they attract their next opportunity with total ease.
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