You Don't Want This Perfect Job
I have the perfect job to offer you — but you do not want it. You actually do, but cannot communicate how you could stretch to fill in the areas where you have limited experience today. Let me share a hiring secret. I do not want the “perfect fit” (even if I could find it) because that means you will be bored. I want you to stretch and grow and be motivated by solving new challenges and being great. I want to work together for years. But you will not try to explain how you have stretched in the past and how this job is everything you have ever wanted.
Let me share a hiring secret. I do not want the “perfect fit” (even if I could find it) because that means you will be bored. I want you to stretch and grow and be motivated by solving new challenges and being great. I want to work together for years. But you will not try to explain how you have stretched in the past and how this job is everything you have ever wanted.
I am sad because I really want you to.
Do you often wonder why you sacrifice your personal aspirations for what is comfortable? Have you always wanted to pursue a challenging new role or even start a company, but have given up before you really got started? You might want to forget about that and start with what is really stopping you — lack of confidence.
Too many folks will tell you that fear is holding you back. But I do not think so. Confidence is the one tool you need to achieve. You need to trust yourself and your ability to work — hard.
This struck me after I was talking about Aha! and our open Lead Rails Developer role with a candidate. It’s a dreamy job at a rapidly growing cloud-based software company with a proven team that has recently sold two companies to public companies. The company is profitable with a profit sharing program in place and employees can work from anywhere in the US. Good stuff.
But here is the challenge (some might say opportunity). We grok product and are the premium brand in market. We know what we are looking for — a highly motivated person who has traditional computer science training and is at the vanguard of Rails, Reactive UI, coffeescript, and D3. That is a tough find and we know it. So, the reality is that we are searching for someone who really wants to stretch and can explain how without being defensive about areas where they need to grow.
Can we please have that open discussion?
If you are in tech already, you likely are wicked smart and have had to take calculated risks along the way to get to where you are. We see this all the time while speaking with smart product managers and engineers that are building software that matters.
And you probably have pinned fear down at lots of points in your career and in your life. The reason you did is because you had confidence that you could overcome the challenges and be better for it. Or, maybe you had nothing to lose and were ready to forge ahead because you thought there was a small chance that you could actually make it happen. But for most of us, this is the exception, not our dominant mindset.
Finding that perfect new position always starts with a vision (unless you are going to bet on luck). And this is where confidence helps folks move forward and continue to seek that perfect opportunity. It also helps us speak openly about areas that would be new to us and how we would master them.
Without confidence, we have nothing but a dream. So, if you really want that career changing job, start building up your confidence to grab it. I suggest you take the following actions today:
Build confidence by studying the markets, customers, and competitors that are fundamental to the jobs you are pursuing. By immersing yourself in a business (even as an outsider) it is possible to gain insights and perspective that allow you to speak humbly with conviction about what you see happening. You will not be an expert overnight, but can build a mental framework to help you intelligently discuss a space.
Getting involved means doing actual work. And doing work typically means writing something down. While developers are often told to go work on a related open source project that interests them, aspiring product managers should write a competitive review, complete a SWOT analysis, fill in a business canvas framework, or simply craft a one-pager on the product’s positioning. They key is to immerse yourself in a product, company or market ecosystem that you are interested in. And writing will force you to do your homework (see educate yourself above) and think critically.
You would be surprised how many folks are willing and honored to help others achieve their own goals and accelerate their careers. It is important to remind yourself that it is ok to admit that you do not know everything. When you do ask for assistance, be specific in your request and committed to making the most out of the time someone spends with you. With the inter-connected reality of the world we now live in, I guarantee that with a little effort, you could connect with someone that would be willing to help you.
I think the question you should ask yourself is the following: What do I need to do to grow my confidence to obtain the job that I really think I deserve?
We all have goals — the key is learning to achieve them. At the end of your career, it is unlikely that you will look back and think that you did not have dreams. The real question will be whether you achieved them and that will totally depend on the skills and confidence you built along the way.