Tag Archives: interviews

Which Way to Go? The Career Ladder is a Maze

Throughout the last 10 years of my career, give or take, I’ve basically just gone where the wind blows. Each job I’ve obtained was the only option I had at the time. I’m not being overly dramatic here. I would interview for dozens and dozens of positions and finally when someone gave me an offer I’d take it. I didn’t really have the luxury of deciding what to do or weigh two or more offers against each other. I either accepted the offer presented or I waited weeks – months – years – more to get another offer. Waiting just wasn’t worth it.

All of that has left me in a career which — while I’ve been able to earn and save money — hasn’t shaped up to be a good foundation for whoever it is I want to be. It also hasn’t provided the experience needed to put me in that much of a better position each time I’m back on the market. That’s finally starting to change, but I still have yet to land an offer.

Right now, I’m extremely confused about what I should do next. I’m interviewing for very, very different positions in companies ranging from 25 people to 1000. Some of the roles have the potential of a VP titles, other director, and others manager. Part of me says “go for the VP role now” while the rational part says “you are not ready to be a VP and this is the time in your life when you should invest in being a manager for a larger, stable company to learn how to do this stuff right and/or broaden your skillset without everything being on fire all. the. time.”

I don’t have any offers yet, but I know that part of getting an offer is really wanting the role and pushing for it. Right now I’m interviewing for three positions and I just can’t make up my mind which one I would want. The VP role not only is a very senior position, but it also is with a company that is doing something really interesting and that excites me. But being a VP in a small company and having to build out an entire team while also executing on the day-to-day is probably too much for me right now. All I really want is the chance to focus on something (partially due and partially what I’ve done before) and do it well while learning how to do it better. A VP position will not provide that opportunity. I just don’t want to waltz into another failure. I have ideas of what I could do in order to do a good job, but I can see myself getting overwhelmed again.

But on the other end of the spectrum I could be very bored at a slower moving, larger company. Right now I think slower moving would be a good thing for me, but I’m not sure how long of that I’d be able to thrive in. I tend to do well in fast-moving environments, just ones where I don’t have to manage, build teams and execute all at the same time.

Then there’s the question of whether I stay in my specific area of my field or move into a tangential one, if I can get such an opportunity. I’m torn about that as well, although I’m comfortable admitting that I want to be closer to the product vs the more buzz side of marketing. Getting new customers is a useful skill but it’s a never-ending and impossible-to-win game. Meanwhile, figuring out what a market wants and determining how to tell the story of a product is at least intellectually stimulating and offers new challenges vs the same ones each quarter only bigger.

I mean I value this area of marketing a lot but I do not want to spend the rest of my life praying night and day that a reporter will decide to write about my company or testing the color of a button on a website to see – not if a product would be able to be used better – but if a few more people would fill out a form to contact a sales team. Again, I highly value the people who do that but I do not want to spend the rest of my life doing it. I’d rather be working in product but that’s a challenge given I don’t know how to code, so the next best thing is product marketing. That’s an area I can see myself really excelling in. And I’m looking to take a lower-level role in an organization to focus on just that. Yes, it also includes a lot of the less exciting dirty work (making dozens of datasheets for different industries, et al) but at least you get to be part of defining the story of a product and why its new features are valuable. You don’t just rehash the messaging someone else came up with. That’s the mind-numbing part of PR.. you’re a professional megaphone, and I don’t want to be a professional megaphone the rest of my life.

That said, I don’t have any offers yet, and eventually I might have to revert to megaphonism if that’s the only role I can get.

 

Networth IQ Series: How Did You Save?

Since 2007 in addition to keeping a personal finance-ish blog, I’ve also obsessively updated my networth on the NetworthIQ site (my profile here). While the site itself hasn’t been updated in years, what it does have is a very interesting community of people who track their networth on a monthly basis. While there are some outliers of people who seem to like to pretend to have millions of dollars when they clearly do not, most of the profiles are legit, and some are very impressive. This led me to wondering – who are the people behind NetworthIQ, and how did they save their money? The great news is that everyone has been so wonderful about sharing their stories when I reached out.

To kick off the series, I interview Jonathan, a 31 year old in Arizona with no formal education who has amassed $943k in networth as of October 2013. This year, he is set to gross over $350k per year. What does Jon do for a living, you ask? He’s a programmer, which explains the sky-high salary. But he’s also a self-made man. And he’s expecting his first child with his wife this January, so we’ll have to check back in with him once he’s buying diapers. That said, having nearly a million in networth at 31 is nothing to shake a stick at. So, other than being an engineer, how did Jon do it, and what advice does he have for the rest of us? Continue reading

10 Things Not to Do on a Job Interview

I’m terrible at interviewing for jobs. My hands get all clammy, I start to have heart palpitations, and somehow the words come out of my mouth all wrong. I leave the interview wondering what I could have done better, and wishing I could have feedback from the interviewer to improve my skills in the future.

Lately, though, I’ve been in the position to interview candidates for roles at my company. I’ve been surprised by how poorly some candidates interview, despite their impressive experience. There are a few trends I’ve noticed during interviews that make an otherwise qualified applicant score lower. Here are 10 things not to do on a job interview.

1. DON’T spend five hours telling me about how your last gig was a nightmare.
Your last/current company sucks/sucked. I get it. That’s why you’re applying for a new job. ‘Duh. It amazes me how some job applicants, when I ask them why they’re interested in this job and our company, spend a good amount of time rambling about how crappy their current/last job is without even mentioning the role they are applying for. Sorry, but you’re going to be stuck at crappy company for a lot longer.

2. DON’T say you’re here because a recruiter sent you.
Congrats, you’ve been pushed to the top of the interviewee pile by a capable recruiter who convinced you to consider this opportunity. But, wait, you really don’t know anything about the company and aren’t sure why you’re here to begin with? Don’t waste either of our time. It’s perfectly fine to come into the interview with intelligent questions about the business, it’s not ok to act like you’re holier than thou and you aren’t sure why you’re interviewing for this role to begin with. Just go home. Waste someone else’s time. Continue reading