If you know anything about me, you know I love to talk about some of the ridiculous things that are out there happening in job interviews. I had the pleasure of picking the brain of Sr. Engineer Jacob Herrington about the mountains he’s had to climb to get to his position (and some hoops he refuses to jump through).
If I caught you on your daily mental health hot girl walk and you want to listen in:
Our main takeaway, though, is something I’ve been preaching for a long time. In this job market, you have to know your value and own your value. Have confidence in what you bring to the table, but don’t be a jerk about it.
Jacob didn’t start his career in the traditional, institutional fashion. But being self-taught has come to include more than just knowing how to do the work. The whole thing started with a whole lot of hustle. For him, that meant his 19 year old self messaged everyone in his area on LinkedIn with less that 1,000 employees and a C at the beginning of their title asking to meet for coffee. We’re not saying this will work for you. I’m mean even Jacob had a 90% rejection rate. It’s more the tenacity we’re looking at here.
Eventually it worked. And even without being college educated, he was able to land some internships that we’ll refer to as learning experiences. In the words of Jacob, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know yet.” But at these less than ideal jobs, you can’t deny that he was learning. And if you’re learning, you can start to see areas where we add the most value and where we have the most impact.
To put it bluntly, correctly identified value/impact and being able to talk about that = more money.
You have to leverage this stuff while interviewing because lots of people will have the same skills and education. Find something that can move the needle, learn to do it well, and then bank off that.
That being said, the interviewing process isn’t all gumdrops and rainbows. As most of you know, sometimes it’s giving “everything is on fire, how did I get this far, why do they keep asking me to prove myself.” The interviewing process is broken. We need a full culture switch from approaching the hiring process as you need to prove to us why you are good enough to work here to we want to make sure you’re a good fit for this company. Jacob mentioned being in a later round of interviews recently where they asked him to do a 5-6 hour take-home project. “I have all these examples of my similar work, do I have to do the take home? Yes? Then I don’t want to work for you.” Hiring managers, if you’re listening— do you want to hire an engineer that’s going to move your business forward or do you want to hire as someone that’s just going to check boxes?
Sometimes obstacles make you stronger, sometimes obstacles make you fall flat on your face, and sometimes obstacles are an arbitrary challenge that serve no purpose and only exist because people don’t want to change how things have always been done. Regardless, never forget there’s someone out there way less qualified getting paid way more. Let’s all strive to be that person.