Resume Faux Pas: Your Objective vs. the Company’s Objective

April 8, 2014 in Work Smarter

For job seekers, your resume is make or break. It’s the first point of contact with a hiring manager, regardless of company size. When I see a friend or potential applicant make use of the Objective sentence in their resume, I feel the slightest cringe when it is structured along the lines of…

Objective: “Seeking a challenging position leveraging analytics skills that will enhance my leadership skills and technical background.”

I’ve definitely written Objective statements like this before.

The question you have to ask yourself is this: What is your objective from the POV of a potential employer? A hiring manager reading this is usually thinking just one thing: WIIFM (What’s in it for me?)

They would be more inclined to move you forward if your objective was positioned from the company’s perspective as opposed to your own.

Some alternatives that could work:

“To share my experience of sales and marketing analytics to help a fast-growing tech startup to better understand their customers, developing best in-class dashboards and reports, and training future hires to do the same.”

“Seeking a position that allows me to directly increase the lifetime value of existing customers at X through my analytics, engineering and client-facing business background.”

By taking this approach, your resume shares how you plan on actually creating value, while giving the hiring manager ammo/talking points for championing you.

Imagine him or her saying, “Take a look at Jeremy, he’s the one who wants to help our company improve our reporting and mobile app tracking. He’s got a bachelors in engineering and was also previously a consultant. Let’s have a chat with him next week.”

Yes, one could just include this in the cover letter, but I recommend putting it in the resume. Cover letters have a tricky little tendency of getting lost.

So He Put In More Windows…

April 1, 2014 in Work Smarter

Coach K on Lebron James:

“The game is a house, and some players only have one or two windows in their house because they can’t absorb any more light. When I met LeBron, he only had a few windows, but then he learned how beautiful the game can be, so he put more windows in. Now he sees the damn game so well, it’s like he lives in a glass building. He has entered a state of mastery. (Source)

Great analogy for early stage companies and picking up different skill-sets whether it is marketing, engineering, product, sales, etc.

Some places to learn “how beautiful the game can be”…

Now for a little “Get Real”:

“I’ve looked up every company that did an IPO in the U.S. since 2000. Even the best-known employers of knowledge workers often have fewer people than a local car dealer or Walmart store. For instance, real estate site Zillow has 812 employees, and travel site Kayak has only 205.”

(Harvard Business Review - Why Do App Developers Still Live with Their Moms?)

What I’m Reading

March 1, 2014 in Prevent Boredom

Met the guys at Hashicorp and I’ve been playing and dabbling around with Vagrant for a few weeks. Awesome tools for getting a run-time environment right out of the box and for the design-centric folk, being able to focus on testing designs without worrying about the nitty gritty.

Eloquent Ruby - Lots of programming language books have a lot of information. This one contains knowledge.

Running Hadoop on Mesos


Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits

I’ve read a few of Kevin Roose’ s articles in the New York Magazine and wanted to check out his latest book. Interesting cross-profiles of young people and how they are faring after the recession in the field of high finance.

“Doing thousands of little things, day after day, inching along as consistently as you can, in the right direction, as best as you can tell, is management  - and motivating or inspiring everyone to work together for long-term purpose is leadership.” (The Partnership)

“History is a tale, Franklin came to believe, not of immutable forces but of human endeavors.” (Benjamin Franklin – An American Life)

“This means answering the most testing question of all. What will keep the scintillating twenty-three year old engineers in the world’s greatest colleges and universities yearning to hear word that they have been offered a job at the company formerly known as Apple Computer, Inc.?” (Return to the Little Kingdom: Steve Jobs and the Creation of Apple)

“Business development is not a science but it does operate by a logic that is subject to analysis.” The more people you know, the more opportunities you get. (Creating Rainmakers)

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World

Weekend Inspiration

February 22, 2014 in Start Something, Travel the World

Here’s Your Copy! – A Contrarian Approach to Writing Copy

January 18, 2014 in Work Smarter

This one is for all my engineering friends who dread writing copy.*

I personally do not enjoy writing copy. The thought of slapping CTA (call to actions), rhetorical questions, and sprinkling fun facts next to an awesome looking product is never a fun exercise.

In case you don’t know, “copy” is the all-encompassing word used in tech companies for consumer-facing messaging. It’s the text you find on product tutorials, reengagement emails, and other “seemingly” trivial pieces of collateral.

The realization that one soon discovers, is that writing good copy is hard. Effective copy should not only instruct, it should persuade. There are also professional copywriters for this sort of thing. Given the resources, leaving it to them is probably the best option. Alas, in an early-stage company, you need to do it all sometimes. I’ve included just one simple trick that I’ve found helpful. (Shout out to an old friend Zach for this one.)

Ready for the tip?

Use Cosmo.

Yes, you read that correctly. Any time you want to write a piece of copy, I am suggesting that you check out Cosmo as your source of inspiration. Let’s take a look at why it works:

Brevity: If you check scroll down their site, no title or subtitle is more than six words.

Emotional Appeal: Their magazine titles are a bit much but rationality is not what they are striving for here. Most of your members, users, subscribers make daily decisions in a similar manner.

Attention-grabbing: Pretty self-explanatory. There’s a reason why you can’t look away at an issue of Cosmo near the checkout aisle of the grocery store.

Knowing their audience: Remind yourself who your intended audience is and find words that resonate with them.

Granted, sites like Upworthy, Buzzfeed, etc are taking the viral web by storm due to their use of mysteriousness and hyberbole in their headlines. Effective as they may be, checking Cosmo is still a preferred source. The I-ching of copywriting, if you will. I’m exaggerating just a bit here, but if nothing more, this tip is a way to remind yourself that copy works best when it is conversational.

Progress, Plans, Problems

December 30, 2013 in Work Smarter

Let’s talk business development and follow-through.

One of the best ways to lay out your goals is to have a PPP. I’ve found it useful for building a goal-focused team culture and an excellent tool for small companies to stay focused and prioritize. 

At Skillz, we rely heavily on the PPP system to make sure that we aren’t dropping any balls, irrespective of whether you’re an engineer, product manager, designer, etc.


- What have you made progress on last week? Any major accomplishments? List them here.


-  What are your goals and objectives next week?


- What blocking issues or concerns do you have? These usually require the help of someone else.

Make sure you update it on a weekly basis so that you can monitor your traction towards those goals. I recommend using a Google spreadsheet with 3 columns for each P, and creating a tab for each week. Every once in awhile, I look back at past weeks and it enables me to get a qualitative sense of how well our strategy is working.  

This is also a great way to manage a team member and make sure that everyone is on the same page week-in and week-out.

Pro-Tip: Have a monthly overview that summarizes your PPP for all four weeks.


The Architect vs. The Carpenter

December 16, 2013 in Start Something

When hiring in an early stage startup, go with the carpenter. It’s the person who will be comfortable with little infrastructure/support and thrive in a rapidly changing environment.

“There’s a difference between the architect and the carpenter. The architect says these two beams will come together. But it turns out that the wood is not perfectly straight and things aren ‘t exactly right and things do not always work out as planned.

And the carpenter’s job is to make it work. Being able to deal with that. That is a different skill.”

(Dan Bricklin, Trellix)

I also highly recommend this book – which the quote above is excerpted form – entitled, “America’s Most Successful Startup Companies“. It is written by one of the Samwer brothers (Oliver Samwer) for his university thesis in 1998, yet many of the lessons still hold true today.

The 5%

December 11, 2013 in Pic of the Day, Stay Social


Hats off to the Google team for sending out an email that is actually pretty social and would likely drive shares. I remember watching that video when it had less than a million views.

Boiling the Ocean

December 9, 2013 in Do Good

Via Huffington Post 

Reminds me of a one of my mentors’ favorite Albert Einstein quotes:  “Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.” 

Take a Breather

November 18, 2013 in Prevent Boredom

“You’ve got to enjoy yourself. The evening’s the best part of the day. You’ve done your day’s work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it. That’s how I look at it. Ask anybody, they’ll all tell you. The evening’s the best part of the day.”

- Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

Just finished this book. I highly recommend it because of Ishiguro’s ability to transform one man’s highest calling into a comedy of manners.