How can a college student get hired at a San Francisco Internet Startup? Experience helps, but excellence is more important. And excellence is a matter of choice.
It’s the eternal college problem: You can’t get a job until you have some experience, but you can’t get experience until you have a job.
We work at a startup. In San Francisco. We’re hiring interns for a social gaming website. Our CEO is 25. Most of us still get carded at bars. So please, believe us, we’ve been there. We know how hard it is to struggle for that first job, how terribly unfair it can seem.
And we know the feeling of
If they could just get past my lack of experience, I know I’d be GREAT there. I’d blow them away. People are always telling me how great I am at doing things. It’s just that I don’t have any experience!
We get it. It’s not easy being 19 years old and having no experience. Especially with globalization, and the economy so terrib… wait a minute. Did you just say people have been impressed with how well you do things?
Now we’re talking.
Do us a favor. Forget about the career center, and Times New Roman 10 point, and action verbs. Clear your mind of all that junk for a minute. Take a deep breath. Now consider two questions:
- Have you ever been good at something?
- Can you prove that you were good at it?
We’re betting you answered “yes.” We’re betting you’re great at something. Guess what? You have EXACTLY the kind of experience we’re looking for! It just so happens we’re looking to hire people who are great at stuff, people who understand the importance of proof.
Now, please put that greatness on your resume in terms we can understand.
Most resumes suck at this. Your resume probably sucks at this. But it doesn’t have to. Most resumes–and we’re talking about real, grown-up, working-professional resumes here, too–go overboard with puffed-up terms and exaggerated responsibilities. But responsibilities don’t tell us much about you. They just tell us about your job.
- Trained and supervised four employees.
(You started the job two days before your four coworkers showed up, and you showed them where the bathroom was and how the cash register worked.)
- Responsible for weekly status updates.
(Every Monday, your boss would ask you “How’s it going?” and you would reply “Fine.”)
- Translated documents from English into Latin.
(Hey, it’s great that you know Latin. But you haven’t actually told us if you are good at translating.)
Telling us that your job required you to do something does not, ever, even a little bit, prove to us that you were good at it. Some people are bad at their jobs. Sad but true. At Grantoo, we’ll at least consider you if you have never been a marketing intern. But we won’t consider you if you’ve never been good at something.
So tell us what you’re good at, such as your schoolwork, your extracurricular activities, or your personal achievements. What was your batting average last season? How many people did the music teacher turn down to cast you in the school play? How much more traffic did your blog get after you updated the layout? What was your GPA last semester?
If you haven’t been keeping track of that stuff? Well, the bad news is… that’s bad news. Sorry. Results matter. But the good news is… You’re still in college! Start tracking your outcomes now, and you’ll have a convincing resume in no time, the kind that convinces employers that you’re good at stuff.
Do something. Do it with with a smile. Make tiny improvements. Figure out what the average result is for whatever you’re doing, and then make sure you are getting results that are above average.
We’d love to tell you we thought of this concept, but it’s actually pretty old. It mirrors this quote from Martin Luther King Jr. (and he wasn’t the first one to say it, either):
If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted pictures, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of Heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’
We’d like to interview a street sweeper like that. Even if she didn’t have much “experience.”