How to Get Hired

Derek Sivers, who started CD Baby and sold it to eBay, generally writes great stuff. However, I think he misfires in his recent post How to Get Hired. His advice for landing a job is:

1. Focus on one company

2. Tell them how much you want to work for them

3. Be persistent (though succinct)

4. Do this until hired

There's more detail under each step over at his post. I agree with the general principle that instead of blasting your resume out to a hundred firms you should be more strategic and proactive and very persistent in your follow-up.

The gaping hole in the advice is simple: How do you know which company to focus on and relentlessly pitch? Under Step 1, he writes: "Do some soul-searching to decide what you really want to do." Those are 12 words of a 432 word post. Yet it's the hardest thing to do.

Calling it "soul searching" is problematic. Had he said, "Figure out which company you want to work for," it would have left open the possibility to arrive at the answer in various ways. But by saying one needs to search one's soul, it furthers two myths that I see.

The first is that we all have one or two things we are destined to do. In fact, I think you can become good (and thus) really interested in a range of things. The second is that the way to find what you "really want to do" is through inspection and reflection. In fact, introspection seems never to bear the fruit you're promised; personal discoveries and self-knowledge seem sooner found via experiments and activity.


Here's Derek's great post on how to hire a programmer to make your idea happen. Here's his thoughtful post titled A real person, a lot like you, about how the web can sometimes make us forget that a real person is behind the other computer you're interacting with.

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