Marketing Yourself

Thomas Friedman, American journalist, columnis...

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I have been involved in a few start up companies and I have helped quite a few others to get their businesses cranked up, funded, and operational.

I have also advised many more that their ideas, their companies – were not ready for prime time.

Regardless of whether the ideas are fully formed one thing I think we can be pretty sure of is that if you are entering the work force now, whether it is because you have just graduated, or because the company you were with has folded… you should appreciate how much the marketplace for work is changing.

We are well down the road where every person on the planet has to be an entrepreneur in order to make money. Not just to become a billionaire, but just to work.

There was a fascinating article in the New York Times this week written by Thomas Freedman about this topic.  He talks about the massive change not only in values of successful companies, and the implications of this, but also about the changing workplace environment for employees – how employees nowadays don’t have yearly reviews, but quarterly, and how soon it will be monthly. This is the eat what you kill mentality that is part of our new society. It isn’t particularly pretty, and its not something that I like myself, but its the reality.

My belief is that we need to be pragmatic about these things and deal with the cards that we get dealt.

Now, having said that… while I was wandering the halls of the building that I spend a fair bit of time it, I bumped into a PhD student who I know. I had just read the Tom Friedman article and ironically the student asked me if I answer a couple of questions about what he was intending to do after he completes his PhD – next year.

He works in a fairly esoteric area of biomaterials science in printing of cells. However, he told me that he is interested in going to work for one of the large consulting companies. My advice to him was to not start where you hope to end, but rather to figure out a strategy to ensure that you get noticed.

I suggested to him that he should start by researching a company in the biotec sector that he is is researching and then to try to contact the CEO of such a company, not to try to get hired, but to see if he could undertake further research – this time into the market ecosystem in which the company operates. By asking whether you can do research, you get through the door relatively easily. Most CEO’s will open the door to someone who is smart and not trying to sell something.

And if they get the sense that the person interviewing them is really smart, they will probably ask that person to contact them when they complete their formal education…. CEO’s always want to hire the smartest guys in the room, and especially when they are not asking to get hired.

So my advice to anyone who wants to get a job, is to not approach it directly, but to think about how to get the person who you want to hire you to come up with the idea that you would be a good person for them, so that they try to sell you on the idea…

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