Thursday, February 16, 2012

8 Job Search Tips From the Co-Founder of LinkedIn


Early on in The Start-up of You, Reid Hoffman takes on the sacred cow of career advice books, making it clear that the timeworn exhortations of What Color is Your Parachute? won’t fly in this economy.
“That’s the wrong question,” Hoffman, the co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn writes (with the help of coauthor Ben Casnocha). “What you should be asking yourself is whether your parachute can keep you aloft in changing conditions.”

Hence the central conceit of the book. Just as Detroit’s dinosaurs fell victim to hubris and an inability to adapt, so will you, dear career seeker, if you don’t mimic the nimble startups of Silicon Valley. Though Hoffman and Casnocha see the struggle through the eyes of one percenters (they don’t seem to know anyone who didn’t go to a good college), there’s lots of good advice that you can apply to your own career. We’ve distilled that advice into eight solid tips that you can apply to your job search today.

1. “A Company Hires Me Over Other Professionals Because…”

To answer this question, Hoffman uses the example of Zappos, which focuses on mainstream shoes and clothes. While it might be tempting to adapt the company’s “over-the-top customer service” to other categories as well, that would make Zappos’s unique selling proposition less apparent. “If you try to be the best at everything and better than everyone (that is, if you believe success means ascending one global, mega leaderboard), you’ll be the best at nothing and better than no one,” Hoffman writes. “In other words, don’t try to be the greatest marketing executive in the world; try to be the greatest marketing executive of small-to-midsize companies that compete in the health care industry.”

2. You Don’t Need to “Find Yourself”

Hoffman makes a sharp distinction between his advice and that of Parachute, which, like many self-help books, believes that uncovering your deepest desires is the key to finding your passion. “Contrary to what many bestselling authors and motivational gurus would have you believe, there is not a ‘true self’ deep within that you can uncover via introspection and that will point you in the right direction,” Hoffman writes. “Yes, your aspirations shape what you do. But your aspirations are themselves shaped by your actions and experiences. You remake yourself as you grow and the world changes. Your identity doesn’t get found. It emerges.”

3. Use ABZ Planning

In Hoffman’s formulation, Plan A is what you’re doing right now. Plan B is “what you pivot to when you need to change your goal or your route to getting there.” Plan Z, meanwhile, is your fallback plan. “In business and life, you always want to keep playing the game,” Hoffman writes. “If failure means you end up on the street, that’s an unacceptable failure.”
Hoffman illustrates what he means by Plan Z with a personal anecdote: “When I started my first company, my father offered up an extra room in his house in the event it didn’t work out — living there and finding a job somewhere else to earn money was my Plan Z. This allowed me to be aggressive in my entrepreneurial pursuits, as I knew I could draw my assets down to zero if necessary and still have a roof over my head.” Hoffman writes that if you’re in your twenties and single, working at Starbucks and living with your parents might be a viable Plan Z, but if you’re in your thirties or forties with children, your Plan Z might be cashing in your 401(k).

Read tips 4 - 8 and complete Mashable article

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