At the age of 15, I wrote my first line of code. It was amazing to create something out of thin air — what a feeling! In the 13 years that followed, I learned engineering and math in university and worked in the R&D departments of Intel and Broadcom. Afterward, I decided to open my own tech company. Although it was a great journey — one which I could write a whole book about — we ran out of money and I had to look for a new job.
Even though I had years of experience in programming, I didn’t want to code anymore. I started to search for tools and apps to help me understand what I wanted to do next and how to achieve it. Surprisingly, I found none. I could get help from HR agencies and career advisors, but nothing digital.
Eventually I decided to become a product manager, and shortly afterward I got hired by an interesting automotive startup. But I had already decided that I would create a data-driven and personalized app for career decision making. It is ridiculous that we use apps to help us save a few minutes on our commute to work, but we have nothing to help us decide how and where we are going to spend the next four years or more.
That’s why, about a year ago, I decided to start my MBA adventure at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, probably the best place in the world to research the future of work.
7 STEPS TO ACHIEVING YOUR DREAM JOB
I met with many professors, surveyed more than 200 students about their career, and talked with more than 30 career coaches and advisers in various higher-education institutions. All of which led me to the conclusion that career advisers give recommendations based (almost) solely on their own background and experience. In other words, there is no data-driven platform that analyzes past data to help them. Would you book a flight from an agent who does not use an app to find the best deal for you? Then why do you count on a human when making your biggest decisions in life?
Recently, a team and I started to develop the MVP — the Most Viable Product, a platform that aggregates data from all over the web to help you make better career decisions based on your background and your aspirations. Using our algorithms, we invented a unique seven-step career breakdown process. Until our app will be fully developed and released, we are running workshops and writing articles to help people achieve their dream job.
Each step in the process has a goal, an explanation, and a secret tip. The steps are:
1. Which company is the right one for me?
Goal: Create a list of 30 companies that you would love to work for
Explanation: Every tech company in the world was established to solve a problem, and every one has a vision of how this problem should be solved. Nowadays, more than ever, employers check not only which skills or experience you have, but also why you want to work for them. Therefore, you must find companies whose vision you are passionate about and learn about them. Try to find out about their financials, customers, strategic partners, founders, technology, products, and special events in their history. Although you probably don’t need all of this data for your next job, it will help you to understand the full picture, and realize what unique value can you bring.
Secret: When you search for companies, don’t just look at websites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor; go to websites of active venture capital (VC). Look at their portfolio companies. You’ll be amazed how many great companies exist that you never heard about.
2. Which position can make me shine?
Goal: Figure out which department and position in a company fits you the best
Explanation: First, you must understand how a company is structured. Who is responsible for what, which departments work frequently with each other, and which skills are necessary for each position? Pay attention, because the smaller a company is, the more general and versatile its positions will be. For example, in a 50-employee company there will be product managers, while in a 500-employee company there will be inner division to inbound and outbound product managers.
Secret: Don’t fall in love with a specific position; rather, keep things flexible. It is more important to get hired by one of the companies you listed in the previous step than to get the position you want.
Goal: Reach out to five new people each week
Explanation: Your network quality is one of the key factors in finding your next job. Currently, it is among the top reasons of why people are going to business schools. First, update and upgrade your social media profiles, specially LinkedIn, the most widely used social network for employment. Second, find and connect with at least 30 people who currently work in the position that you want or at one of the companies you listed previously. After they accept your friend request, send them an introduction message.
The introduction message should have one to two sentences about yourself and one to two sentences about why you want to talk to them. End the message with a request for a 15-minute call. I guarantee you that many of them will agree.
Secret: Document everything! Write down the important issues that came up during the conversation. If you have another call with this person in the future, read what you wrote in the previous conversations to prepare.
4. Become a master of your next job
Goal: Become a master of your next job
Explanation: It is very important for employers to understand how fast you will bring value to the company. Therefore, you should use different resources — such as the conversations in the networking step — to understand which knowledge and skills are necessary for the job position you want. You also need to find out which digital tools you will use in your next job and learn how to use them. Lastly, check how your performance will be measured and what kind of communication you will have with other departments.
Secret: If you don’t have enough experience in this field, create a relevant project — don’t just take courses.
5. Professional interview
Goal: Clearly, pass the interview
Explanation: The professional interview is done by an expert in the relevant field. Therefore, you need to take everything you learned in the previous step and package it into small stories. For example, you should have a 3- to 4-minute story of how you used the digital tools to complete a task or achieve a milestone. Another example: having short stories that each show an important skill you have.
You might be wondering why you should create stories and not just state facts. But think about yourself when your friends tell you something — when do you listen more carefully? It is very important to prepare and rehearse these stories. Try them with your friends and make sure they are engaging and interesting.
Secret: Use the research you have done to understand where you can bring unique value to this department and talk about it. It will highly surprise and impress the interviewer.
6. HR interview
Goal: Receive an offer
Explanation: The HR interview is going to be mostly about your personality and the culture of the company. For this interview, make sure to talk about the reasons you are passionate about working in this company. Be as specific as you can. Try to create a story that shows that everything you did in your life prepared you for this job and this company. This interview is also a chance for you to ask everything you want to know about the day-to-day in the company, including the dynamics inside the company.
Secret: Arrive to the interview with questions you have about the company — it shows interest and it is important.
7. The offer
Goal: Get the best terms
Explanation: Congrats! You worked hard and you received the desired offer. Read it carefully and consult with people in your new network. Make sure you understand everything and that you are truly happy with your compensation terms. If that is not the case, do not be shy to talk with the person who gave you the offer and discuss your thoughts. However, you must discuss issues that are critical for you, and not ones that are just “nice to have.”
Secret: Make sure you are getting company stocks as part of your compensation. You are going to work very hard and you should be rewarded for that.
3 PRINCIPLES TO FOLLOW
Career and personal development are not easy. But using the steps above, you can achieve your dream job. Just remember that while following the steps, there are three principles you must follow.
First, be specific about what you want to achieve. Get to a point where you can describe your goals to the smallest detail. This is the most important lesson I have learned while studying at MIT. The more specific you can be, the greater your chance to achieve your goals.
Second, there is no replacement for hard work. In a journey to conquer a new peak, you are always going to be in short supply of something (e.g. skills). Work hard to compensate for any shortcomings.
Third, and most importantly: Talk to people who have already achieved what you are after. Most will love to speak about how they succeeded, how they achieved their dreams. Ask them about it, get as much information as you can, and use their insights to make your own journey better.
Ofir is an MBA student at MIT Sloan School of Management. Prior to Sloan he worked as a software developer in various companies. He loves to learn and is passionate about math. Ofir wishes to improve education worldwide. Visit his blog here.