Whether you attended the Net Impact Conference or read our article Find Your Drive – Using Lean Startup Principles to Discover Your Dream Career, the content on this page builds on the concepts presented there and provides you more tangible guides and templates to help you validate your career aspirations.
This page shares information mentioned in that conference and article to help you in your search.
- The career validation board
- How to find people to help you validation
- Sample emails to introduce yourself to contacts at organizations
- How to ask smart questions
- A spreadsheet format to track your interviews
1. The Career Validation Board
A simple board to help you outline your assumptions about your dream career, and the space to track your progress in testing them.
2. Finding People to Help You Validate Your Assumptions
Why is it so important to talk to people in the roles you hope to one-day have? According to Dan Gilbert, that is the best predictor of your own happiness.
To help you find people, here are some tips:
- Use LinkedIn’s advanced search feature (screenshot at right) to find people in roles and/or in companies. It’s worth buying a premium account for a while to find the right people. Done correctly, you can search for things like:
- Years of Experience (look for people with more than you)
- Skills (find people who are leaders in the skills you’re working on developing)
- Past Company (find people that used to work at the company you want to be at)
- Industry (even if not in your ideal role, industry experience means they’ll know enough to offer insight)
- Function (look for people cross function)
- Company size (find people in different size companies to get the highs and lows of different sizes)
- Ask your Facebook timeline and friends for tips and connections
- Find thought-leaders and subject matter experts on Quora, Google Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and even Facebook Groups. I especially recommend a thorough look at Quora (screen shot below) because it will let you:
- See answers to questions that might be similar to yours
- Ask your own questions
- Follow people that tend to write about specific topics, companies, roles, and/or industries
- Lets you see information about contributors, where you can ask them
- Build your experience.
3. Sample Emails to Introduce Yourself
Once you find people, here is a sample email you can use to ask for the opportunity to interview people:
I came across your profile on ______ and am impressed with your work in the _______ industry. I am currently happily working in _____, but would like to start building my experience to work in _______ . As we are both in ______, would you be open to a brief coffee chat (my treat!) so that I can pick your brain and learn more about your work and experience in _____. [alt if not in same city: Would you be open to a brief phone or Skype call so that I can pick your brain and learn more about your work and experience in _____… like a virtual coffee chat?]. I’m sure your busy and promise to respect your time.
If you are able to afford it, I know it’d be really valuable for me as I explore my career options.
Thanks so much,
4. How to Ask Smart Questions
Once you are in contact with people, prepare to ask them smart questions. Every search is unique, so you’ll have to work on your own to develop smart ones, but here are some thought-starters:
|If you want to learn if…||ASK||DON’T ASK|
|someone likes their job…||On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend your company to a friend?||Do you like your job?|
|an employer promotes autonomy…||How often do you report to management?||Do you feel micromanaged?|
|your skills are needed at your dream employer/role…||What are the key skills that this employer measures in its annual employee review?||Does this employer value [skill name]|
|an employer is living a bigger “mission”||What do beneficiaries say about your organization and its work?||What is your company’s mission?|
5. Tracking Your Interviews
Use a spreadsheet like this to track all of your interviews for easier reference. Setup your own, or copy and customize a version of this google spreadsheet version.
Last, but certainly not least, take ample time to reflect. We recommend taking the assessment at Imperative to better understand your own drivers, and use it to help reflect. If you need a partner in crime, considering joining a Net Impact chapter to connect with other like-minded individuals.
To learn more about the principles used to formulate this method, check out the following videos:
DRIVE: The Surprising Science of What Motivates Us
The Lean Startup
For more information about Lean Startup methodologies, take the Udemy Course on Lean Startup.