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3 May, 51 tweets, 10 min read
This thread is titled: “I Quit My Job and Found a New One So I Could Write a Thread for Twitter Engagement”

Or, more simply: "Notes From My Recent Job Search"

Let’s begin.

PS: Don't leave me hanging - please like/RT so I hit my OKRs.
0. Context

I just wrapped up four years at a fantastic company called Airtable.

I still recommend it to anyone considering.

I started to get the feeling that it was time for me to go, so I interviewed and signed an offer in March.
I haven’t been on the market in four whole years. I'm sharing my mistakes/reflections/reminders here.

This thread is likely more applicable to people around my career stage and earlier.

As always, everyone should take all advice with a grain of salt.
1. Tell everyone

The network is everything. And by network, I mean “people you know that want to help” but ALSO “people who don’t know you but want to help”.

Tech is special because both groups are always larger than you think.
At the start of my search, I was a little shy about telling people I was looking around. It felt weird!

But as a couple weeks passed, I got in touch with LOTS of people who were so down to chat and connect me. That was really cool.

So I’d lean into that more and earlier.
That means telling every one of your supporters! And messaging more people on your LinkedIn connections than you think you should.

It also means cold emailing, especially to those who can connect you with a wide range of opportunities.

Many will respond if you are thoughtful.
Special shout-out to @vedikaja_in who was particularly awesome.

A wonderfully kind person who also got me in touch with more and different people than I expected to be talking to.

Thank you, Vedika!
And shout-out to @chautong who first got me to realize this point.

In one of our 1:1s, she very directly said something like, “Let us help!” with an emphasis on "Let us"

I didn’t realize how private I was about it until she said that.
2. Prepare to take a lot of convos

I didn't have a particularly crisp idea of what I wanted to do next, let alone how I would choose among options.

It was very much the same problem I had 4 years ago: lots of options paralyze the ability to choose.
Ultimately, getting to talk about a wide array of opportunities was useful to start narrowing down the search.

For example, I wasn't sure on stage, so I tried all of them, from seed to ServiceNow.

It was evident that Series B/C would be the latest I could see myself going.
Sometimes, these convos are the only way you *actually know* what you're down to be doing.

Sometimes things look good from a distance, and it's only once you get closer that you realize which are actually just tolerable vs. specifically what you want.
It also lets you test the market to see what's available and how you're landing with hiring managers.

Some folks will recommend interviewing once a year to keep on top of this and to keep sharp on interviewing skills.
I see how it works but couldn't get myself to do it. It felt distracting.

So instead, I tried to play catch-up on this round.

Everyone's in a different spot. Play it your way.
3. Understand the business

If you're interviewing with startups, you're making a bet with your time, just as VCs make bets with capital.

So, you have to vet the company, starting with a baseline understanding of what the business even is.
Start with these three questions:

- What does the product do?
- Who uses/buys the product and why? (+ what if they don't?)
- What needs to happen for this business to be very big?

No numbers needed, just very simply worded answers. Explain it to your mother.
Perhaps *more importantly*, the process of answering these will test how compelling you personally find the opportunity.

That whole-body conviction is critical, especially for earlier stages.

If you don't have it now, then how will you feel when the going gets rough?
I had a wonderful first conversation with @mikekarnj.

Loved how he handles culture (see the @withotis careers page), but the business relies on trends that I'm not connected to.

I am not a collector. I wouldn't use Otis myself. *I* don't get it. Have to pass.
(Obviously, this is more about me and what I understand/focus on, not a judgment of the actual business.)
4. Nail your story

The first question is always: "Tell me about yourself".

The second question is always: "What are you looking for in your next role?"

Three parts to a good answer:

1. What you just worked on, focusing on quick hit signals - general responsibilities, range of success/exposure/ownership
2. Long-range career goal - think 10-15 years out
3. The responsibilities/exposure/ownership you want in the next thing
(You can flip 2 and 3 so it progresses linearly, but I like ending on the role at hand)
Be as specific and clear as you can while being honest about what you want.

This is your pitch, and it sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. It's a signal of how you think.

So, a hint: wanting to "make an impact" at the next gig isn't good enough.
Startup convos are a lot about "career" and less about "job".

If you wanted a job, you'd go elsewhere that can pay you more.

What are you looking for in the startup experience that brings you here?
Don't try to force it if your story isn't matching the role/company.

I spent some time with a ~5-person co where I had some doubts about my fit there, but I wanted to push through the process.

Really wanted to convince myself I would fit because I loved the business idea.
Team flagged it immediately and told me straight up. They were, of course, very correct and I had to confront that.

There's no hiding these things. And what's the point, anyways?
5. Take your questions seriously

Because you're making a bet with your time, you have to pressure-test a *lot*.

But you only have a few touches, only so many minutes, with people.

Really think about your questions and what you want to get out of them.
My highest value questions have mostly been extremely specific and sometimes deliberately vague.

Specific questions force people into specific answers. You can't hide without signaling something bad.

Especially when challenging the other person.
Example: I found comments online saying the decision between you and X is mostly based on price. How are you going to change that?

- a level of nuance that only honesty provides
- "we don't know and here's why"

- we believe it's important to review feedback regularly
Vague questions have helped when what they *don't* say is as important as what they do.

I love asking people how they found the company.

If they talk about the market size and how big the company can be, I'm curious why they don't talk about the product, the people.
6. Look for good humans

I put this really high on my list.

There are enough pompous grifters looking to climb the status ranks and make money for the sake of being rich.

Not enough people who are just good humans.
I had this pitch call.

Guy talks about how he found the company - his manager, who was "already very rich", told him, "We're going to make a lot of money on this."

Guy said he left a director-level role at a large brand to be here.

That's how much he believes in it (!!!)
I'm not saying everyone should be 100% missionary, 0% mercenary.

You gotta decide what type of people you want to be around.

I like being around people who know that this grand chase will ultimately be just one component of life.
7. Pay attention to the recruiting process

A poignant comment I got from @LiatBycel, who I respect very much:

Companies are on their best behavior during the recruiting process. They'd *better* nail it on every front possible.

If they don't, then what's on the other side?
Two companies that I had a great time with: @MuxHQ and @brightwheel.

Very transparent process, with great conversations and wonderful interviewers. The people represented their culture/mission well.

I'd love to work with them one day! I recommend people talk to them.
A company that turned me off was @PilotHQ

Two touches (ext. recruiter + assignment) before I talked to anyone at the company.

Constant nagging to get me to move my process faster.

Two interviewers jumped right into asking me questions within 15 seconds.
One of them had the weakest answer to a simple "Tell me about the Pilot culture." that I'd ever heard.

All dimensions put together, is that a place you'd work at?

Clearest hard pass I've ever had.
8. Get every perspective possible

Back to the "vet the company because you're making a bet" point.

If you can, don't just stop at hiring manager + peers. Try to get to executives, investors, customers and previous employees.
If things are positive, then you will not have any trouble finding people to tell you they are a fan.

Even if they don't have the time, they should be able to tell you a simple good vs. bad by email.

Cold message people if you have to. It works.
This also includes searching Twitter and Reddit, by the way.

When I was first considering Airtable, I searched "airtable" on Twitter and saw such effusive love for the product.

Like, completely outsized for how big the team was at the time (12 people). Great sign.
I did the same for every company I started to consider.

You learn a lot. People share a ton more today than they ever used to.

Doesn't have to be all good stuff, by the way. Sometimes, bad stuff is a sign that people care enough to be upset.
Ask people what they think about the product.

Do you backchannels on people, especially the CEO.

Conduct references on your future manager.

Ask the team: "Have you ever had to pivot under direction from leadership? What was that like?"
If you ever talk to investors, let me know if you find a set of questions that drums up good conversation.

I only ever did it for two companies, and everyone just dotes on their horse.

Only had one conversation that actually made me smarter about it (thank you, @daniel_levine!)
9. Write everything down via a framework and do not deviate.

The point is to slow down and put things on paper.

Sometimes you don't realize that how you feel about an opportunity is papering over gaps in what you know about them.

Or that an opportunity is better than you think
Simple framework:

- Role / comp
- Culture
- Mission
- Success to-date
- Major "unlocks" needed for big success

Write down your ideal state for each, then the specifics for each company as you go along.

This can help guide your questioning in point 5
10. Frustration is a valid reason to start the process but a bad reason to sign an offer

I almost left Airtable in August 2020.

I was burned out, man. Hated the place. It was like 3 years of endless grinding was suddenly hitting me all at once.
I vented a lot to people who cared to listen and they helped me see I was failing at the whole "you should run towards, not run away" thing.

They were so, so right. I would have left wondering if I left too soon. No closure.
So, my current stance is: if you're feeling like I did, I'd support you in looking.

But just get it out of your system; don't sign the thing.
11. It's never who you think

Based on my experiences so far, job search process goes:

1. Start with a list of criteria for cos (size, stage, biz model)
2. Talk to lots of cos that fit the list
3. Add random opportunity halfway through that does not fit the list
4. Feels like universe is aligning?
5. Sign with that rando opp

I mean...what can I say? Someone out there is telling you something.
This is a long thread, so here's a link to the top. If you liked it, let me know by ~like/RT/comment~

I'll be sharing some reflections on negotiation later this week.

And more about my new gig next Monday, followed by threads on my onboarding process!

PS: All this implies that I am *not* starting something new.

Sorry to the 3 investors that messaged me thinking I was.

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