The Perfect Pitch


The name pretty much says it all. Tonight I attended a *phenomenal!* (yes, it was that great) workshop put on by RocketSpace* and Wharton over at RocketStudios in the San Francisco Financial District. *Disclaimer: I work for RocketSpace and love my job to death.

Although I’ll get to write about it for RocketSpace’s blog tomorrow, I’m slightly depressed that I won’t be able to churn out the lengthy but oh so comprehensive post you’re currently sinking your teeth into since, to put it bluntly, readers tend to be intimidated by long content (especially in blogs, which are traditionally more bite-size media.) I just received way too much wisdom and good advice to selfishly keep to myself tonight, so this is my very grateful and gleefully lenghty account of tonight’s Perfect Pitch Workshop.

RocketSpace CEO Duncan Logan led VC Alex Kr… (darn my terrible memory!) and Chris Redlitz, Founder of Transmedia Capital, first in a panel, then in giving feedback to the entrepreneurs who pitched tonight. Alex and Chris gave A LOT of very useful, insightful advice but I’ll do my best to control my enthusiasm and limit it to the most critical advice.

1.) Keep it simple. Something Chris and Alex came returning to is the need to explain in simple but compelling terms the need your startup addresses, how it goes about doing that, and why you’re so passionate about it. You need to identify a compelling need a significant number of people really want relief from (pretty self-explanatory), demonstrate clearly how exactly it is that your startup fixes this problem (read: your grandmother should be able to understand this, most VCs aren’t engineers or biochemists), and then convince the VC your passion for this issue will carry you through the ups and downs startups must weather on their way to success. Duncan very memorably reminisced about Uber’s stay at RocketSpace – one of the many reasons they’re inspiring is that it took them 10 years to get to where they are today, but they never gave up.

2.) Research, research, research! Not only do you need to understand the ins and outs of your market to convince a VC you know what you’re doing, you also need to research the VC and his or her firm before you go in. Know the startups in their portfolio. Have they invested in a similar startup in the past? Is this an industry they don’t typically invest in? And lastly, research your competition. EVERYONE, has some kind of competition, whether it’s direct or some kind of alternative. Knowing your competition is a learning opportunity – see what they do well and innovate what you can do better.

3.) Sell. Last but not least, you need to be able to sell yourself, and in later stage investments, your startup. In earlier stage investments, it can be tough to really know whether a startup will make it, especially since they often change so much before they officially make it, so it comes down to you as an entrepreneur. Are you committed? Can you listen to advice but also know which 20 – 30% actually makes sense for your startup? Will you persevere? Will you have the perspective necessary to reign your emotions in and pivot when necessary? The team is everything. There’s no way to tell where a startup will go from the initial idea, so you have to have faith in the people building it. Once you’re further along, it becomes a mix of selling yourself and also your knowledge of your industry (back to #2, research!)

I summarized and grouped a decent amount, but these little pearls of wisdom are worth sharing too:

  • A rising tide helps all boats. In a good market, even an OK team has pretty good chances.
  • Focus on partnerships; they’re a very effective way of getting exposure to many customers early on.
  • Getting seed funding isn’t all that hard, getting customers and recruiting your team is the real challenge!
  • You can get funding with no minimum viable product, just an idea!
  • Don’t show up drunk. Surprisingly, this actually happens!

Last but not least, the startups that pitched tonight!

DoormanDoorman – you will never come home to a UPS sticker instead of a package ever again. With doorman, you can choose a 1-hour window during which your package will be delivered. Genius!

ScholateScholate – Scholate puts research communications back in the hands of physicians and researchers (instead of publications.) Consume, create and curate relevant research content, and receive recognition from your peers.

Totspot

Totspot – expectant mothers and elementary stage moms alike can now discover, shop and sell pre-loved items on Totspot. Extra perk? The social network aspect will keep you coming back for more!

That’s all for now! Cheers to generous people with great advice to share!

How to Get a Job/Internship


JobDid a presentation for high school Girl Scouts a few weeks ago and completely forgot to post the presentation online! This is especially helpful for high school and college students, but there are some good tips for job seekers of varying stages.

Feel free to share!

WordPress  incorporates PowerPoints as links: World Of Opportunities PPT

And here’s also an example resume: Sophie Bousset Resume Oct 2013

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

How to Make Yourself Stand Out (AKA How to Get an Interview)


First of all, let me apologize for not writing in a few weeks. My new job has been awesome and I’ve been so focused on making sure I do a good job there that a few things have had to fall to the way side. So thanks for sticking it out with me!

Now on to the good stuff =]

Recruiters, sourcers, hiring managers, etc., who does everyone you want to impress look for? Rock stars. It’s the recruiting #buzzword of the day. So are you a rock star? I bet there’s something that makes you a rock star. Whether it’s a cool hobby, some impressive expertise in a domain, or your ability to just make something look easy. I won’t write about figuring out what that special something is just yet, maybe that’ll be good for another post.

So, assuming you’ve already followed the first few common-sense steps to applying for a job… (in no particular order)

  1. Make sure you’re actually qualified for the jobs you’re applying for
  2. Follow directions
  3. You’ve got a resume and a cover letter draft ready to go (yes, you are supposed to tailor them to each job you apply to…)

…you should be ready to rock star up your resume and cover letter.

What makes a rock star? Outstanding accomplishments, deep expertise, an unquenchable thirst to learn…. oh and some crazy notion that challenges are fun and exciting. So how do you show people you’ve got a little (or a lot!) of that?

You tell them a story. Not a long, 10-pager mind you. Just enough to help them see what’s so special about you. Your story starts at the objective line.

  • Are you a recent grad?
  • Do you have 10 years of experience?
  • Do you have an unquenchable thirst for learning
  • Do you love challenges?
  • Are you just way too excited to change this industry?

Point it out! Your objective line is a great place to do that! “Recent grad with 1 year of experience in PCB design for consumer electronics looking to take on new challenges and make company XYZ’s products even better!”

Make sure whoever’s reading your resume doesn’t miss that because it’s drowned out in some not-so-glittering details about all the super technical, in-depth things you did. 

  1. Cut out the jargon. Does your mom understand what you do when she reads your resume? If yes, you’re on the right track. If not, consider changing some of your verbage…
  2. Bring out the meaning in the tasks you did. Did your technical jargon accomplish something like creating a new product for your company? And oh, you were in charge of doing everything from A to Z all by yourself? Well, make sure you write that clearly and simply! I sure as heck don’t that’s what your “oscillometer design, integration and validation” experience means.
  3. Don’t undervalue your college triumphs. Winning some cool competition or working on an electric car in college is just as valid once you graduate as it was when you were trying to flirt with the not-so-geeky sorority girls (although I would continue to do cool things after college, especially if it’s been several years since you did anything that exciting. You want to continue being a rock star!)
  4. Show off a little. There’s nothing wrong with dedicating a few lines to some cool personal/research projects you undertook or having a section where you list all of your accomplishments and awards. Heck! Have both (just stick to the 2 page rule. Less is more.)

The point is – don’t be afraid to show off, and write it all in a way that makes it easy to understand for everyone who did not sit in those mechanical engineering courses with you.

Freebie insider tip: Don’t apply to a whole bunch of jobs at one company – the recruiters and hiring managers can see the list of the 10+ openings you applied to. Let’s face it, how likely is it you’re a good fit for ALL of those roles?

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

How to Apply for a Job


Professional Kitty! Photo Credit: ladydinahs.com

Been kicking around a rather mild form of writer’s block, but I’m back with more job search advice! Today’s topic: what to actually do to apply for a job in the most effective way.

  1. Update your resume. Make sure all of your recent / relevant positions are included and the start and end dates are correct, then use online tools such as my toolbox (and there are tons of other websites with great advice!) to make your resume as appealing as you can.
  2. Make a list. It won’t look like you’re organized or know what you’re doing if you apply to the same role several times. The recruiter will notice this and may think you are desperate (you never want that to come across, even if you may be in dire need of a new job.) Keep a detailed list of each position you applied for, the link to the job description (so you know what the recruiter’s talking about when they call you), as well as an updated status if you know for sure you were rejected, had a phone screen, or went in for an interview. It only takes a few extra seconds and could make you look much more professional.
  3. Read the ad carefully. Do you meet the skills and/or experience requirements? If not, by only a little or by a long shot? If you’re nowhere near what the ad asks for, you’re wasting your time applying (and most likely the sourcer/recruiter’s too.) Also, does the ad specify how to apply? Are there application instructions? Do you need to email someone your resume instead of clicking on the big red “Apply” button? Do you only need a resume and no cover letter? Paying attention to these details will demonstrate your attention to detail, ability to follow instructions, and ultimately give you a leg up.
  4. Tailor your resume and cover letter to each position. For your resume, this does not mean only add new bullet points with phrases from the ad to each position, if you do that you will end up with a 3-page resume. Instead, take out the bullet points that don’t relate to the ad (or take out whole positions — just leave the title, start and end date, and one bullet point summarizing what you did), and summarize less important points. For the cover letter, do something similar. You can probably keep your first and last line, but change the info in your cover letter to show you have the skills this specific company is looking for (not all of the others you applied to as well.)
  5. Beware of typos. Are you applying Facebook but your cover letter and resume say you want to work at Google? Small details like that aren’t going to help you position yourself as a top-notch candidate.
  6. Follow up. Didn’t hear back? Give it 4 work days and email/call/LinkedIn InMail. If there isn’t any contact info listed anywhere, then unfortunately they just don’t want you to reach out. In that case, I would assume you were not selected for interviews and move on. *Ideally, you should still have been applying to other positions while you waited anyway, and it will be an even more pleasant surprise if you hear back 2 – 6 weeks later!
  7. Research. Once you’ve applied, be prepared to get a call from someone at the company. They may ask you why you’re interested in working for them so take a few minutes to look at their website, their values, their culture… those will often showcase the unique traits that make a company more desirable to work for. Also, do take a close look at the job description. If you can sell your desire to work for the company as well as your interest/passion for the position you will be all the better off for it!
  8. Look inwards. You should eventually be invited to interview for a position, and you will have some more wonderful preparation to do. Take 20 – 30 minutes to research commonly asked interview questions (achievement you’re most proud of, strenghts & weaknesses, what you could improve on…) and come up with thoughtful and honest, but also flattering, answers.
  9. Try, try again. Very few people get hired for the very first position they apply for, so set aside 15+ minutes to apply to 1 or more positions each day. As your applications add up, you should start receiving more and more phone calls and going in for interviews. Don’t despair if you don’t hear back from the first few though, keep applying! Sometimes it takes a little while for recruiters to go through all of the candidates who applied in (especially considering most work on 10+ reqs at a time!) and you may simply not be the best fit for every position you apply for.

In short, be ready to sell yourself as soon as you are called in response to an application, and don’t despair or take it personally if you don’t hear back.

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

How To Get A Job: 7 Tips


Picture from the job fair where I met Contract Live’s founders (Le Camping, the organization that put it together) used it to publicize their next job forum!

This seemed like an appropriate post to write since so many people are currently complaining that they can’t find work. Furthermore, I know this is going to make me sound like an ass, but I feel like I did a pretty good job finding my job. When I first started looking in Paris, I went to a job fair where a Master’s and internship program’s advertisement was that ~80% of their graduates found work withing 9 months of graduating.

Gah! I saw this and thought I was screwed! People with masters’ degrees and internship experience were still having that much difficulty finding work?!

Luckily… I did find work. And it didn’t take me that long (just 1 month). So maybe I’ll be able to help a few people out O=]

So here are my 7 Tips for Finding A Job

  1. Know what you have to offer. What experience do you have? Volunteer work? Languages you speak? Even stuff like waitressing counts–you learn how to deal with people, work under pressure, etc. So make a list of all your experience and skills. Now start thinking about the kinds of businesses/jobs that would find these skills useful.
  2. Know what you want.What are you interested in? What do you like about your hobbies (important detail since you’re most likely not going to get paid to do your hobby, but knowing what you like about it will help you figure out the type of work you’d enjoy)? Are you passionate about an industry or vocation? (You’re really into computers or love to write.) I really enjoy writing, socializing, and learning new things so Comm/Social Media was a natural fit for me.
  3. Market yourself. Ever heard of soft skills? (article in NY Times) The vast majority of employers put these at the top of their list of attributes they want in employees. Unfortunately, they also complain that young people today are lacking in them. (And of course I don’t remember where I read this ><‘ promise I didn’t just pull it out of my ass though.) Soft skills are the things you don’t usually learn in school. Things like communication and teamwork (forced group projects didn’t always turn out that well, right?). In order to develop these, you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things, especially activities that force you to communicate, such as sales. A great way to do this is to volunteer for students organizations. They often need more people to help so you’ll be given more responsibility and opportunities to do things and learn than at a regular job (my personal opinion.) Quick tip (1.): AIESEC is an amazing organization. They run an international internship program as well as conferences. It’s where I developed skills such as leadership, sales, writing newsletters, PR, fundraising, giving training seminars, etc. I highly recommend AIESEC! Quick tip (2.): soft skills will also help you give stellar interviews.
  4. Send amazing resumes and cover letters. Make sure you know how to create a good-looking and effective resume and cover letter. These are the first things recruiters see from you. Want a sure-fire way to make sure you’ll never even get so much as an interview? Send in a lousy resume and cover letter. If you’re not sure how to go about it, here are a few links that will help you get started: About.com: Job SearchThe Rockport Institute’s Award-Winning Guide, and Wikihow.com’s guide to writing cover letters. Universities and even city libraries also often offer workshops and consultants to help you in your job search. Besides these sites though, there is one big thing you need to keep in mind: keep what the recruiter wants in mind! Use keywords from the job ad in your resume and cover letter. And don’t just send everyone the same resume and cover letter. Take the time to write one for each job you apply for.
  5. Be open-minded. Apply for jobs that aren’t exactly what you want or that don’t pay quite as much as you would like. Why? Jobs aren’t always what they seem. The job description doesn’t always explain what you will actually be doing very well, and a lot of companies will customize your tasks depending on your strengths and experience. Furthermore, a company that doesn’t sound as cool and hip as Google or Apple might still have a great job to offer. Case Study: Sophie. I went to a job fair where we did a speed-dating type exercise so that everyone would at least have the opportunity to meet all the other participants. The result? I met tons of interesting people, and kind of forgot about the ones that didn’t sound quite as interesting. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to go when I was called back for an interview at Contract Live. Boy am I glad I went though! At the interview, I discovered that this start-up has a great young team that is very fun to work with, that they’re already pretty successful so they would be able to pay me a living wage, and (Tada!) their philosophy is very young and open so I would have a lot of opportunities to try things an older, more conservative company would never dream of letting their PR people do. So I found the job of my dreams (no joke, I didn’t think I would find it) because I went to the interview that didn’t sound that interesting. Don’t judge a book by its cover!
  6. Don’t say no to interviews. (Oh, and make sure you dress professionally too! See pic for example.) Sounds obvious, right? Well… what about the jobs you’re not that interested in? You might start to get a little tired from writing resumes and cover letters, and going to interviews. Think about this though: you’ll get great interview practice. You’ll feel less pressure since it’s not a job you really really want! And… wouldn’t you rather practice and mess up BEFORE you interview for an amazing job? And finally…
  7. Take every opportunity you can. Are your resumes and cover letters up on Monster, LinkedIn, Craigslist and Careerbuilder? No? Why the hell not?  Have you been looking into job fairs happening nearby? What about volunteering for a company you really like? Some companies hire volunteers who show a lot of potential. And networking? Chances are someone knows of a job you’d be interested in!

Wow, I feel like all my job hunting and researching over the years have really paid off. I never realized I learned so much =] Hope you find this helpful! Feel free to leave comments, questions, and anything I forgot ❤

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***