One of the good things about being a Gyaandu: Some people take you seriously and note down your gyaan. I was doing an 1-1 session with a candidate from Aristos recently. Afterwards he asked me if I wanted to share the notes he took with the rest of the world. I was like why not. A new blogpost where I won’t have to think about new content sounds amazing. So I am just copy pasting his notes here (with minor edits. minor edits = me mostly taking out the “.” at the end of random sentences)

Resume

  • Think of your resume as a product screen. Now think of the information architecture. What is the most important thing a recruiter needs and then arrange accordingly? Bio no one reads or cares. You should remove it. But phone number, email, LinkedIn url should be at the top

  • Make sure you can explain everything in your resume with confidence. Ask others to take a look at it and ask random questions or try coming up with questions that interviewer might have after looking at your resume and prepare for those

How to speak in an interview

  • Speaking in a structured manner and articulating thoughts well (in an interview or in general) Structuring and articulating your thoughts will come with experience eventually. Being confident helps and if you already believe/know what you’re saying, that gets easier. Even if you mess up in between, course correct and don’t lose confidence which will eventually end up ruining the whole thing

  • Refer to the pyramid principle post, follow this method and NSTAR framework too, this will help in structuring thoughts in a better way. Figure out the root cause of the issue, if you think you’re talking to fast, try talking slow which makes you look thoughtful. If something else is the problem, address it. A post by Derek Sivers on this. Ask for time if needed instead of talking as soon as asked. Anything that makes the interviewer think that you’re smart, it’s fine. Take pauses, structure your thoughts and then speak

Figuring out your next job

  • Figure out where you’re at your career at this point and what direction you want to head
  • What are you optimizing for? Learning or money?
  • What kind of learning do you want? Are you a self learner and if you find the right role/environment, you’ll figure things out and learn everything? Or do you need people to guide you and teach things? Different companies offer different types of learnings, based on your priorities, choose companies that will offer what you want
  • Think about second order effect of your decision. If you join a super early startup now, even though the learning can be exponential, if it fails, do you know the next steps? Figure out how your career will look like after 5 years if you take the path you’re taking

Framework to select your next job

  • Upside and Downsides (for you and company)
    • Figure out the maximum upside and downside for you as an individual if you choose that job
    • Figure out the maximum upside and downside for the company if you choose them because eventually that will be a cap on how much you can grow
  • Manager
    • This is the most important factor and should hold a lot of weightage while making a decision. Your success in the role heavily depends on your manager
    • Spend time with him/her, do background checks, ask ex-colleagues, go for a coffee, spend a day with them at work or do whatever it takes to figure out if you want to work with them
  • Colleagues
    • They’re super important if you’re optimizing for learning
    • Figure out if they’re smart and high performing? If yes, in their company you’ll automatically grow as they motivate you
    • If the team is low-performing, you can’t succeed. If your developer/designers aren’t good, you’ll not be able to give good output too
    • Ask yourself if you’ll hire them if you do a startup
  • Power of defaults
    • Unless you’re very very sure, the default answer is no
    • This applies to a lot of things apart from choosing jobs. Eg. If you set your default to reading daily at night, unless there’s a very strong reason, you shouldn’t break that default
    • Define good defaults and it will save you a lot of effort
  • Money/equity
    • This applies as a tie-breaker when you’re juggling between multiple offers
    • More on this below under Salary negotiation section.
  • Funding, future roadmap
    • Know the runway for the startup based on the current funding they have
    • Know the future roadmap to figure out your trajectory
  • Geography
    • Be in a city where there is an active startup ecosystem, like Bangalore

Salary Negotiation

  • Don’t index your expected salary on your current salary
  • Talk to show that you’re on top of things Show yourself as a smart person who has leverage (listen to this Sarah Tavel podcast & how Pinterest got a $40mn pre-round)
  • Stand your ground and don’t seem desperate
  • Talk about your leverage instead of focusing on theirs
  • Read this post on salary negotiation
  • If you have an option, go for RSUs rather than ESOPs

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