Rework Book Cover

Recently the founders of 37signals released their second book – Rework. It explores some of the common misconceptions of starting a business and serves to deflate the bubble somewhat of what starting a real business is all about. As a founder of Jobspeaker, I read it with interest hoping to pick up some gems of wisdom from two guys who have built a very successful business. I found it to be both inspiring and challenging to some of the assumptions embedded in our own business. So, if you haven’t been following their blog and during a time of unemployment you have flirted or even started a business and are thinking about doing it again then I would recommend it!

However, most of you are here to read about how to improve your job search and there are a few nuggets of wisdom here to help you as well. The advice in the book is generally pitched at founders or business owners and it speaks to these individuals about how to approach hiring. But if you flip this advice around and think about what it means for you, the job seeker, then there is also some common job search myths displaced. Here is a quick synopsis of what those ideas are:

  1. Resumes are ridiculous
  2. – the authors argue that resumes are full of half-truths, exaggerations and are for lazy job seekers that “spam” employers. So in order to stand out from the pack they recommend writing a focused cover letter that shows how you are interested in THAT company

  3. Years of irrelevance
  4. – Years of experience in a industry or a particular function is not a good predictor of future performance so employers need to look for how good candidates are at the job. Therefore you as a candidate with or without years of experience need to focus on how well you can do the job and perhaps be prepared to demonstrate it

  5. Formal Eduction?
  6. – If you don’t have a formal education from a well known school don’t worry, some employers are looking for those who do not necessarily excel in the classroom. Speaking from personal experience here: some of the most talented people I have ever met never finished any college education. These employers will look for your ability to deliver and your enthusiasm for the company and role.

  7. Managers but not delegators
  8. – the authors urge employers to look for people who are used to managing themselves, define tasks and accomplish those tasks themselves without oversight thus freeing the employer up to do other work. They challenge employers not to hire delegators who like meetings, who clog up the system with busy work and who don’t know how or want to roll up their sleeves and get the work done. Executing an effective job search is arguably a great test for this ability!

  9. Be a great writer/communicator
  10. – No matter what the job function – clear, concise and effective writing is a core skill that will benefit the employer as writing (via email, sms, etc) is the main form of communication today. So as a candidate use whatever chances you have prior, during or after the job search process to show your own style, personality and communication skills through your writing.

Taking this approach requires you to know what type of company you are applying to, how they hire and whether this approach will work. It won’t work for all situations but there are certainly some that it will help you significantly (particularly smaller companies). But this is the approach that we are recommending anyways as job seekers who are looking to take control of your job search.

Tell us what you think, is this good advice?