Beginning to stalk (and approach) a potential employer

Hey friends,

Just home from a meeting with the new producer for #thehumanjukeboxproject, that interactive album I'm recording this summer. Really, really thrilled. Rehearsals start later this month, and I'm going to do my darndest to record all the behind-the-scenes bits for you to scope out.

Last week, a friend of mine came to me for a little bit of help. His GChat began, "Oh, sage wizard of job applications, master of first impressions..." -- so I basically had no other option but to listen.

His situation: He's perfectly happy with his current employment, but is eyeing the cool hardware startup with an office in his neighborhood. His question: How would you go about introducing yourself, and as those Human Resources folk like to say, "starting the conversation"?

My advice to him should, hopefully, work. Basically, I told him this:

(1) Go through the back door. Introductions are the fastest way of getting you in the room. And the most efficient. Finding that person will be, in the long run, significantly less work than sending out 300 applications to jobs@______.com email addresses. I promise.

(2) Be professional, not formal. If you're trying to work in a startup office, it's OK to show some personality in the interview process. That does not mean that you get to be late, use poor grammar, or tell the HR manager about how wasted you were last night. But it does mean you can write in the little PS about how you already live in the neighborhood and know ever burrito shop within a 3-mile radius. I mean, I would hire someone who knew where to get great carne asada -- wouldn't you?

(3) Be curious and helpful. Read the About Page. Read the mission statement. Try to understand what the company's challenges might be. In this situation -- and in all -- the theme of your first email should be: "I think you're cool. Here's what I offer. How can I help you to do better?"

(4) Be honest. Much like in dating, companies want to feel like they're getting the good, selective candidates. I told my friend to admit up front that he's more-or-less satisfied with his current work, but he's starting to look for a place where his corporate finance background could make a bigger impact. And especially in this situation, for a company that is working on the future of manufacturing, to say that he's curious about the industry, honestly believes in the potential, and is intrigued about the challenges of working with products instead of services.

(5) Go the extra mile. Even if you're not in marketing, Google the company and look at their recent news (type their name into news.google.com to find recent articles). And check out their social media (will be linked on their website, or else you can do some digging). There will be allllllll kinds of little gems that will better prepare you for that first interview.

Hope that helps. Now, I must be off. Things to do, baby.

Love and soul music,

Alexa

PS: I got two meet two seriously impressive women last week -- Sheryl and Elle. I highly recommend that you all read their respective books.