Today’s post is a guest post by my wonderful friend Mr. Waffles on Wednesday. We first met almost 2 years ago and hung out for a week in Ecuador at Chautauqua 2017. I also went to visit them in California last year. Mr. WoW and I have some pretty great philosophical conversations, and recently a lot of those have been on interviewing and job hunting. I asked him to compile some of our conversations into a blog post and he happily did so. This is the result. Read on to the end as to why this topic is so near and dear my heart right now. Take it away, Mr. WoW!
I’m a bit of a loose cannon when it comes to my career. I like to chalk it up to the fact that I had an unconventional mentor. But, some could just say that I’m a little whacked out of my head.
That being said, somehow I’ve managed to make it this far in my career. I haven’t been fired. I got laid off once, as a part of a consolidation after an acquisition. And you know what?? Some crazy f*ckers have actually let me manage people. Like REAL people. Like they actually gave me the responsibility to make sure that these people are doing their jobs, when I’m lucky if half the time if I know what I’m supposed to be doing.
In all seriousness, I’ve managed some teams, and I’d like to think that I’ve done fairly well. I’ll take the fact that I keep in touch with a lot of the people that have worked for me, and the ones that still work for me come to me with questions and advice, as a positive.
But, a few things that I tell them has gotten me in trouble more than once.
Let Me See Your Resume
I remember I came into a new job. I got introduced to my team, there were two of them that were fairly junior. So they showed me the ropes of the in’s and out’s of the place we were working. We had our weekly 1‑on‑1 meetings that were their time, to ask and talk about whatever they wanted.
It could be career advice, personal advice. Hell, we could just go and get coffee and stare at each other, I mean it was their one hour each week of my undivided attention.
Actually, one of them took to the FIRE mindset pretty early on, so a lot of the time we spent discussing different investment strategies and how he should allocate things.
Then there came a time when I told each of them.
Bring your resume to our 1‑on‑1. I want to review it.
Wanna watch someone freak out? Have their boss tell them to bring their resume to a meeting. That certainly raises some red flags.
Am I getting Fired?
I had to reassure them that no, they were not on the chopping block. I just wanted to make sure that they had a resume that was up to snuff, because as I put it:
I’m loyal to you the person. This company will come and go, but I want to make sure you are set up for your career.
So, yeah we sat there multiple times, reviewing their resume and making sure that it was good enough to catch the eye of someone that was scanning them.
Today, both of them have moved on and moved up in their careers. I’d like to think that I had some impact there. At least… that’s what I tell myself.
Never Turn Down an Interview
Another thing that I tell everyone that works for me that is a little unconventional:
Go interview with other places.
I’ll tell you what. This little piece of advice is most certainly unconventional. Especially coming from your boss. But there are several reasons why it’s good, not only for the employee, but also the employer:
For the Employee:
- Interviewing is a skill that needs to be practiced. You need to keep it up, otherwise you lose it. It exposes you to different interview styles and allows you to get used to being “on”.
- Interviewing at other firms allows you to know what skills people are looking for. If you go into the interview and they start asking you about something you don’t know, you know what to look into. This also might be something that you are able to bring back to your current employer.
- You learn the actual market value of your skills. Most employers don’t keep tabs on the market value of their employees. So, it’s up to you to know what your value is. The best way to figure it out is to find what someone else is willing to pay for your skill set.
- Should you actually get all the way through and get an offer, you don’t have to take it, but you can practice negotiating. Nothing like bringing a big ol’ can of IDGAF to a salary negotiation.
For the Employer:
- Your employees are exposed to other ways of doing things, and potentially can learn something that might be beneficial to your organization. I know for me, I learned several important ways to actually interview new candidates, simply by going through other processes.
- You learn the value of your employees. As an employer, you want to be paying your people a fair wage.
- As an employer, we want to know what makes a competitive workplace. If one of our employees goes out and gets a new offer, what are the benefits? How is the compensation structured?
- I always wanted to employ people that others are interested in. If someone else likes what they are doing, it’s my job to keep them happy and keep them wanting to work at our company.
So, while this might be a little counter-intuitive, I feel like it’s actually quite beneficial. Should the employee go out and find a new job that is better than the one we are currently offering, great!! That’s awesome, good for them.
What have I learned from interviewing?
In an effort to heed my own advice, I am continuously interviewing. Now this doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily unhappy with my job, but it does mean that if I get a call from a recruiter that is interesting or I find an interesting position, I’ll see what the opportunity is all about.
In my own experience, I’ve learned tons from interviewing. It’s actually made me a better person and employee.
One of the skills that I’ve picked up that has been most handy, is how to interview future candidates. It’s been immensely helpful to go through the process at other companies to understand how they approach interviewing.
Another aspect that has helped me along the way, is knowing my own shortcomings as an employee. A lot of times I’ll go into an interview feeling confident, and leave completely deflated. But, that’s a good thing. It means that I know where I should concentrate efforts to improve my skill set. This has been a boon for me through my career as I have rounded out my shortcomings.
I’m always sure to ask a company I’m interviewing with how they handle things in their company, how their organization is structured, what types of tools they use. These things are always invaluable since you can brush up on what skills other employers are looking for, even if your current employer isn’t making use of that skill. I’ve actually taken knowledge from an interview back to my own company and implemented it with great success.
One of the biggest benefits I’ve seen through continuously interviewing is the salary bumps that come along with it. As mentioned, interviewing is the best way to test the market value of your skill set. It constantly is changing and if your skill set is worth more than your current salary, it’s time to consider the next move, whether that be negotiating a raise with your current company or looking to move externally. I’ve used this to my advantage several times.
Like most things in life, it’s important to keep gathering up experience and continuously learn and stretch yourself. And interviewing while you are employed is one of those ways to brush up on a very important skill and keep aware of the current trends in the market place.
While this might be a little contrary to popular opinion, constantly interviewing at new places is beneficial to you and your employer. Especially if you are getting interviews at respected and impressive companies.
Mr. WoW was one of a few people I leaned heavily on when interviewing for my current position at a governmental agency here in DC. I found the transition from freelancer to worker more difficult than I anticipated because I was out of shape interview-wise. My skills were hella rusty. I might have found it easier to get back into the W2 world if I had kept up my skills. With his and a few other people’s help, I landed this gig.
Part of what I did was revamp my resume. My resume wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t WOW either. I paid a friend of a friend some money to redo my resume and make me sound like the superstar I am. She did a fantastic job! As part of that process, she helped me tweak my LinkedIn profile. I’ve been at this job for almost 3 months now and I’m back on the interview circuit. I didn’t go out looking, but a recruiter for a Very Big Tech Company in Silicon Valley headhunted me based on my LinkedIn profile. I flew out last week for an on-site interview and have completed 6 interviews so far. I’m currently waiting to hear how I did and if I move on to the last interview in the process. I could more than double my salary and have a really cool job, so my fingers are crossed. Who knows, maybe my next post will be about me moving to Silicon Valley!
Thanks to Mr. WoW for being such a great friend and for being willing to write this post. What are your thoughts on honing your interview skills? Sound off in the comments below!
What!? WHOA! What a time of (possible additional) transition for you!
I am crossing my fingers that you get whatever you want from this process!
Susan @ FI Ideas says
This is very good advice. Although I’m now retired from my Engineering career, I worked at small companies along the way and was the interviewer many, many times. Along the way, I developed some unconventional methods so that I could sum a person up in a short period of time AND observe them solving a problem with trade-offs.
My favorite was the “yellow post-it” question. I had them arrange 12 post-its with attributes of the ideal job on them from most important to them to least important. Things like “the job matches your goals” or “you love your boss” or “excellent salary” and so on. While they thought I cared about the order, I was actually observing how quickly they could get a job done, make decisions and deal with trade-offs. And often I got the bonus of seeing whether someone had a positive attitude or negative outlook. It was priceless.
That’s a very interesting method. I like it, you can learn a lot about people through those exercises.
I often like having them walk me through a problem that we face daily. I’ll dumb it down and see how they dissect the problem, and if they can pick up on the important parts, and throw away the parts that are irrelevant.
Mrwow recently posted…Wandering with the Wows: Volunteering in Cambodia- Part 1
This is a great post. I interviewed for a job recently, and realized that I couldn’t properly verbalize my resume to the interviewer. Needless to say, while I had experience for the job on paper, the interview didn’t reflect that. It was a humbling experience to realize that I couldn’t properly verbalize my skills especially because it was a very good opportunity.
A humbling experience that will hopefully turn into a learning one. That will eventually lead you to be able to accomplish that task.
I always look at these things as, I didn’t blow it. I learned what I need to work on. Good Luck!
MrWow recently posted…Thoughts On Asset Allocation
That’s so exciting, good luck! I recently went through the interview process and ended up at a Very Big Tech Company. Definitely try to line up interviews at other Very Big Tech Companies because competing offers will let you negotiate at least $30k in additional compensation a year. Those recruiters will play hardball with you if they know that you don’t have any other offers.
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Making Mint says
What a great mindset to cultivate!
Also HOLY COW Silicon Valley! That’s wonderful 🙂
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Mr. Shirts says
This is solid advice from Mr. WOW (but I’d expect nothing less). Asking employees to bring their resume is bold. My views have changed over time, I was rewarded heavily from employee loyalty and time/tenure at the company, but its also about recognizing when you hit a plateau. The first one I hit I took a number of interviews to make the stay/go decision, now the second one I’m going to retire instead.
Interviewing is a good way to keep/grow your professional network. I’ve also found just staying in touch with acquaintances you meet along the way at work is helpful, especially those you recognize as “damn, this person both works hard and is really bright”.
I’ll have my last mentoring session with a lady I’m assigned with, I pushed her last time on her professional network, so this time I’m going to ask her to bring a copy of her resume. I can’t wait for the reaction I get.
It’s a bold move, but it’s also something that I feel is important. Especially with folks that are just starting out on their journey. They just don’t know better.
And you are exactly right, if the company is paying you appropriately and you are continuing to grow, there is no reason to leave. Once there is a reason, you’re kind of stuck if you haven’t had your ear to the ground the whole time.
Dustin Stout says
While interesting, I’d be careful here. If your employer finds out you’re advising those you’re managing about their resumes and recommending they take interviews with other companies, this might cause some serious issues. Not exactly tactful.
I can say from personal experience, that yes, it’s a tricky and controversial thing to do.
There’s something to be said about an honest and open line of communication. Being able to have these frank discussions with your employee/employer keeps everyone on the Up and up. At least that’s my view of it.
But again, when a company is willing to throw you out on the street at the drop of a hat, you have to protect yourself as well. And I think it was worth it that these younger folks understand and set themselves up going forward.
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Love the conversation. Forward thinkers!