Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Show Me Something, Give Me A Valid Reason, Or Cross Your Fingers

If you have never done something, please don't tell me you know you want to do that as a career. Why? Because you don't know. How would you if you've never tried it?

A person just called me up asking if I had any ideas on how he could get into software development...
  • Person: Can you help me find an entry-level software position?

  • Me: Are you currently writing software?

  • Person: No, I'm pursuing a gardening certification.

  • Me: That has nothing to do with software development. Why are you doing that?

  • Person: A friend told me it'd be useful later in my career, and I'm currently too busy to write software.

  • Me: Hmmm...

Show Me Something


Two people are interviewed for a job. Person #1 says they're really good at the duties of the job, but can't quantify their experience. Person #2 not only claims proficiency, but has great examples to show of work done.

Have you heard the term seeing is believing? If you tell me you want to get into software, show me some code that you've written, because I'm interviewing at least one other person who will. It's not about whether or not I believe a non-coding person is sincere about a coding career. It's just easier to trust someone who shows me something I can see.

Give Me A Valid Reason


If you've never done it before, you can't show me the work you've done. If you can't show me, at least help me see you doing the role.

Every job applicant has a story about being willing to learn, work hard, and be loyal, so to stand out you need to a differentiating story. I recommend making it personal...
  • I've been dreaming doing this job since I was a kid.

  • It was my major in college and I loved every second of my coursework.

  • My child needs something that is super expensive, and this career will let me pay for it. I'm willing to endure the pain of learning to ensure my family is provided for.

  • I won't take up more the 2 hours per week of your time, I'll train myself, and I'll work for free.

  • I realize this is a stretch, and I give you permission to fire me at any time if things aren't working out.

Cross Your Fingers


If you see a job that you've never done and never thought about doing before that moment, you can still apply. There's nothing wrong with it, I just don't think it's a very effective strategy. If you think crossing your fingers and hoping for the best is a good strategy, go for it!

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