Pitch your visions not your history
It’s been two weeks since I announced that I’m looking for new opportunities. Not specifically looking for a job, but a leap. A next level, a new step towards my dreams. And a job or a longer project seemed to be the best platform for the development I sought for (read more about that in My Manifesto). I played a wild card, announced high and low, to my extended network and everyone I know, that I was looking for something that wasn’t really in my previous field of expertis but that was my passion and craft.
And these two weeks have been transforming in a way. First of all, I am so grateful to everyone in my network who gave me their best tips, contacts, and wanted to meet up. Even so that on the day of sharing the post on social media I had an interview booked the same afternoon. I decided to say yes to most requests. Out of curiosity, to practice and gain insights – and for most of them out of genuine interest for that specific person and place. Plus I love meeting inspiring people and what a great opportunity to do so!
So I went out exploring in the wild wild we… job market. And for the first time in my career I talked almost only about my vision. The direction I am heading, the potential I have, the dreams I long to fulfil and the change I want to create in the world. I talked about my why, my values, where my motivation comes from. I was pretty relentless. I refused to adapt my presentation to what they needed (but I did of course go there because of a genuine interest in what they need), or guess what they where searching for and try to seem more like that kind of person. I described my strengths and my weaknesses and was totally honest about it. It’s pretty easy, because I’m completely certain that my strengths outshine my weaknesses a million times and the right place can see that without a doubt.
I want the best match I can find, a place that will be my symbiotic partner where my visions and theirs work together to enhance each other in reaching our goals. If I’m not all out me, how could that ever happen? So I was my fiercest, most fiery me. I’m gonna let my humanity shine through here and admit I was a little bit nervous about my haircut (silly, I know, but I was so much more polished in my previous corporate positions) but I decided to be bold and brave and if my sidecut makes me look to weird/edgy for a place that’s definitely not my place anyway. I decided that if I let them see the real me I would probably get to see the real them. And it really seems to work. I’ve had CEOs and founders expressing weaknesses and vulnerabilities as if we were already partners. If their worse and my worse are things that aren’t too bad and we’re completely fine working with those, how wrong could it get? Just like with people, a company’s drive, vision and passion are always worth a million times more than some small flaws here and there. So why do most people and companies hide them so stubbornly? Why not laugh at them, take them seriously but not too seriously and then move on to what really matters: where are we going, you, me and this team that we become if you hire me, and how are we going to get there?
And you know what – this approach changed everything! First of all, who wouldn’t feel awesome touring around pitching their dreams? I love job hunting in a way I never thought was possible, it all just works naturally. I said no to a few places in mutual respect and understanding that we weren’t a great fit. But it’s all good because both sides made interesting new contacts and left with ”maybe some other time”. I met amazing people, and I’m pretty sure I lit a few fires around important topics as I talked about them in such an engaged way. ”Wow, you’re really passionate about this” is something I’ve heard a couple of times now.
I am certain that vision and passion leads to a better job than history and experience. If comparing ”a burning desire for…” and ”have done it many times before” I believe the earlier to be much more important and trustworthy for an employer to go with than the latter. Authentic drive and passion is the one factor that can not be created from the outside (not ignoring the fact that leadership, culture and the right tools can help sustain it and make it grow). Hiring someone without the right drive is like buying an electrical car without a battery – useless. It has the right technical equipment, a lot of skills and experience put into its’ making, an appealing outside… and you’ll have to push it to go anywhere! Remember that it is where you are going not where you have been that matters.
I believe it is as important in recruiting and companionships as in entrepreneurship to ”start with why”, as Simon Sinek describes in his presentation How great leaders inspire action. So here’s my recommendation for recruiters and managers as well as job seekers and entrepreneurs: dare to pitch your vision without compromise! There will be a lot of temptations on the way, employers that aren’t really right for you but offers something hard to refuse, candidates that are amazing but might be a little too.. something to match. These mistakes are costly – don’t kill each others authentic passions by pretending to be perfect together just because you like or are impressed with one and other. As Jim Collins puts it: good is the enemy of great!
Lastly, I want to clarify that this perspective is not the same as not compromising. In everything we do there are compromises. That makes it even more important to be open, to talk through the potential and the work it will take to reach goals and have fun on the way. Nothing is perfect, but a great match makes the compromises easy because you choose them to make more important things possible. And it won’t be that hard to compromise when you are in a team full of passion for reaching that vision and building that dream.
Cheering you on!