Category Archives: Full-time Job Search

5 Reasons Why Social Media Prep Should Be Part of Your Job Search Strategy

The fine folks from Social Assurity are back this summer with some important tips on social media prep and strategy.

NYU students should set aside some time this summer to begin prepping and optimizing their social media profiles across social networks. By creating a content rich social media presence reflecting your skills, activities, interests and accomplishments, you will be enhancing your ability to secure choice career and internship opportunities later on. Here are 5 reasons why:

Reason #1: Employers Are Looking at Your Social Media

According to a recent JobVite survey, just about every employer will eventually take a look at your social media activities as part of the recruiting/hiring process. The ultimate hiring decision has always been a subjective one and most often comes down to personal characteristics and soft skills. Social media now provides employers with a fast, easy, efficient and inexpensive way to assess your character, maturity, genuineness, credibility, overall “likeability” and cultural fit. Therefore, making that inspection easier and less time consuming for employers by being transparent and directing employers to your social media profile links will not only be appreciated by the potential employer but will likely be advantageous to you as well. Rather than dwelling on the potential negatives, you should be working to unlock the positive powers of social media by building a well-rounded, robust and easy to find online presence accurately depicting your talents, activities and accomplishments.

Reason #2: Since Employers Are Looking Then Give Them Something to See

Recruiters have neither the time nor the interest to search social media simply to find reasons to reject you. When recruiters look, logic dictates they look because they want to learn more about you, opening up a door of opportunity to set yourself apart from other qualified applicants. An overload of photos depicting social activities is not nearly as detrimental to your professional interests as not being found online at all. If this is a concern, you can use the summer to counterbalance your social activities with more professional, career oriented content. The key point is to leverage your social media by making sure you can be found rather than deactivating social media accounts or creating aliases to remain hidden.

Reason #3: The Best Offense is a Good Defense

Every company that is searching for employees online likely has a significant marketing and/or corporate presence on social media. Do your research and then follow your list of targeted companies. For each company you follow, you will be engaging with an important mix of employees, vendors and customers who will all be discussing real-life issues in real-time. As you start engaging by commenting and sharing newsfeeds, you will begin to identify real people behind a company’s curtain and they will begin to recognize you. Remember that social media is not a passive activity so keep researching, keep connecting, keep building and you will be found.

Interacting with industry experts, companies and executives is recommended if, and only if, your social media is in proper order.  Remember that whenever you send a message using a social network’s messaging system or otherwise post, you are also necessarily transmitting a digital dossier containing your entire profile and activity specific to that social network. This includes all past posts, photos, friends and followers. By having your social media optimized for inspection, you can then use social media to freely and safely interact with businesses and industry leaders and will start building a strong network as a result.

Reason #4: Many Businesses Are Using Social Media to Proactively Recruit Employees

This is all so much more than simply creating a LinkedIn account. Many companies are searching for talent on Facebook and Twitter as well. Therefore, this is also about learning how to leverage the capabilities of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to your full potential by going beyond the basic post and like functions. Surveys continue to show that a surprisingly large number of recruiters are using Facebook to find qualified candidates, especially when looking for candidates who may not be on LinkedIn because they are not actively looking for jobs.

The ultimate goal is to be found when a company taps into social media’s big data search function by understanding your personal search metrics and the proper keywords needed to describe your unique set of skills, talents and qualities.

Reason #5: Proactively Managing Social Media is an Essential Life Skill

Social media is here to stay and will continue to influence character assessments made by grad schools, scholarship committees, internship selection committees, employers, landlords and future significant others. It is time to learn how your social media can work for you rather than against you by accurately reflecting your persona, skills and attributes for people to see and view.

Networking at Your Summer Internship

Professional schmoozing is one of the keys to turning a summer gig into a permanent job. Because networking (done right) leaves a great impression on the employer, it can lead to a permanent job offer or a handy recommendation. Here’s how:

Beef Up Your Memory. When summer interns bump into the same high-level manager on their way to get coffee the manager will be a lot more impressed if the potential employee remembers something about them, says Anna Mok, a Strategic Relationships partner at Deloitte & Touche. Mok suggests that interns should put in the effort to remember anecdotes and names of co-workers and keep notes on whom they’ve met.

Be Sincere. Kristen Garcia, a group sales manager at Macy’s West (M) says that her genuine interest in meeting others from the company got her the job offer after she interned at Macy’s two years ago. “I introduced myself briefly to someone who wasn’t my direct boss, and it got me to work on an advertising project that the rest of the interns weren’t working on,” Garcia says. “But I never misrepresented myself and was always sincere.” Butler agrees, “To be indiscriminate for the sake of networking is going to be a waste of your time and not get you what you want.”

Find Some Face Time. Online networking sites, such as LinkedIn, are great. But to truly build connections, Mok, encourages interns to join professional organizations in their field to get valuable face time. Especially for those in a large city, a variety of networking groups are available and organizers are often thrilled to get younger members. Dave Wills, vice-president of Seattle-based Cascade Link, encourages interested interns to join tech clubs and professional organizations organizations. “Through those clubs we’ve met people whom we’ve hired as interns or to work on other projects.”

Join in the Big Kid Activities. Interns don’t need to stick to their own kind. Instead, ask to play in the company softball league or volunteer with their charity of choice. For those willing to be more proactive it helps to create an activity others from the company would be excited to join.

Show Up Alone. If fellow interns at the company don’t join that optional lunch or head over for a few drinks at a happy hour—go alone and meet others at the organization. In fact, not bringing work friends to networking events helps guests leave their comfort zone and meet new contacts, according to a study by Columbia Business School professors Paul Ingram and Michael Morris.

Skip the E-Mail. Most key figures at a company are overwhelmed with their inbox, so instead of being 1 out of 200 messages, pick another way to communicate. Instead, a quick hello or a short chat goes a long way according to Wills. “A phone call is still appropriate,” he says and encourages interns to figure out a convenient time in the day. “I’m always booked solid in the mornings, but usually the afternoons for me are pretty laid-back”.

Save the Tough for Last. Reach out to those who are easiest to approach first—hold off on chatting with the heads of the company who probably know less about incoming interns. “Don’t start at the top of the food chain—network with people who can still identify with where you are as a student intern,” says Ken Keeley, executive director of the Career Opportunities Center at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. Going to the higher-ups later in the summer also increases the chance that a colleague will put in a good word about the intern before the actual approach.

Evaluate Them. Not only is networking a tool interns use to stand out, it’s also a way for students to find out whether they’re willing to commit to a full-time job. “Many times these organizations force students to make big decisions before campus recruiting, so the companies will know how much recruiting they have to do during the school year.” Garcia, who received her offer in September of senior year, agrees: “Not only did I want to make a good impression on the company, I wanted the company to make a good impression on me.”

Source: Dizik, Alina. “Networking for Interns.” www.businessweek.com Bloomberg, L.P. 18 June 2007. Web. 04 June 2014

Career Potential: Working at an Ad Agency

This summer here at Wasserman, we want to help give some insight into particular career fields that you may not have previously considered. Here, Sydney Mai, MCC ’17, offers forth some thoughts on working in advertising.

Want a career like Mad Men’s Don Draper? Want to build an empire on Madison Ave. while spearheading a talented, dynamic team? Want office experience but dread the humdrum nine-to-five white-collar cycle? If you’re in for a little adventure, working at an ad agency is one career potential you can’t skip.

I was exposed to the concept of ad agency work in my Advertising & Marketing class last semester with Professor Eugene Secunda (to NYU future marketers: the course is a must-take). All through high school, I always thought that whatever field I ended up in, whether it was to be journalism, PR, or marketing, I’d always opt for the creative path. Truth is, an artist doesn’t have to make arts to be creative. Whether you’re a creator, a strategist, a communicator, or a businessperson, there’s a place to express your inner artistry at an ad agency.

With the explosion of social networks in recent years, the business of digital advertising is burgeoning alongside traditional advertising. The basic structure of a full-service ad agency, nevertheless, remains the quite static:

  • The account department acts as an intermediary between the advertiser (client) and the agency, communicates finance-related matters, and works closely with all internal departments to develop content & ensure that the advertiser’s message is being delivered.
  • The strategy department, also called account planning, conducts research that provides the basis for the campaign. Remember: the creative process starts with an insight!
  • The creative department is in charge of writing and designing the ad campaign. Good creatives are full with fresh ideas and know how to smoothly incorporate the advertiser’s message within their creative context.
  • The media & interactive department acquire outlets to run the campaign: prints, television, websites, social media, etc.
  • The production department executes the campaign. From printing ads to contracting directors for TV commercials, they turn plans into actions.

These vital elements of a full-service agency work like gears in a clock: everything has to be in sync. The creative department can’t go overboard with a creative idea and neglect the advertiser’s budget or intended messages. Same goes for the strategy department: account planners can’t squander a client’s budget conducting restless surveys and focus group researches. Therefore, an ad agency needs a capable account team to lubricate its gears, keeping its component departments on par with one another.

It is also important to keep in mind that an ad agency must hold great accountability for its statements. While it is easy to make unfounded claims sound convincing, it is extremely difficult – even impossible – to amend those claims and the retrieve the reputation that’s been lost. Respect your client by being accountable for your words.

Want to get your feet wet in this ever-changing, fast-paced business? Start now by searching for an internship. One of the most exciting facts about the ad world is that you learn as you go. Therefore, don’t worry too much about your background and experiences – be confident and show your passion, knowledge, and creativity. Impress your interviewers with latest articles from Ad Age & Ad Week. With your first internship, be even more flexible and look into marketing & PR positions to see how these practices crisscross and correlate. Best of luck with your endeavors!

Secrets to Landing a Job in PR & Communications

By: Ayeesha Kanji, NYU Wasserman Center @ SCPS Graduate Assistant

Recently, Rachel Frint from the NYU Wasserman Center @ SCPS hosted a webinar with Brittany Mullings, HR Associate at Prosek Partners on the Secrets of Landing a Job in PR & Communications.  In case you missed it, here are a few strategies to breaking into this competitive field:

Your Resume & Cover Letter

·      Maximum two pages, preferably one page in PDF format.

·      Pay attention to formatting details (Are all bullet points aligned? Dates aligned at the margin? Consistency in spacing?) Ensure grammar is correct.

·      Nix your objective at the top of your resume and outline your areas of expertise utilizing key words within the field, such as client relations, media relations, pitching and public speaking.

·      Use a personalized cover letter that explains employment gaps, describes why you switched industries and parallels your experience to the job description.

You & Social Media

·      Google yourself to see what positive and negative links work against you and work for you to maintain a clean and professional image. Sign-up at www.brandyourself.com to monitor your Google search results.

·      On LinkedIn use a professional picture, keep your profile up-to-date and follow companies you are interested in.

·      Ensure your public profile represents your professional brand between all social media you follow and subscribe to.

Interview Tips

·      Prepare three to five questions to ask in the interview which are not answered through researching and/or using the company website.

·      The interview is your opportunity to begin a dialogue and talk about what is not on your resume, personalize your responses and be genuine in your tone during the interview.

·      Within 24 hours send a thank-you note in either an email or as a card.

To develop your own career action plan for landing a job in public relations and communications, schedule an appointment with a NYU Wasserman Center Career Coach through NYU CareerNet.

Professional Networking Tips from Treatings

Hayden Williams is Co-Founder and CEO of Treatings. Treatings is a professional networking platform that facilitates one-on-one meetups over coffee. Prior to Treatings, Hayden spent four years as an investment banker at BofA Merrill Lynch. He graduated from Vanderbilt in 2008 with a degree in Economics and Corporate Strategy.

My first job out of college was in investment banking. While Vanderbilt’s Career Center was a great resource in securing the job, it was the individual relationships I’d built the summer after my junior year that were most helpful in deciding what I wanted to do.

I was living in New York doing an internship in Consulting. I realized that I didn’t want to work in Consulting after graduating, so I had to figure out an alternative career path. I started reaching out to all of the Vanderbilt alumni I could find who were working in roles I was interested in, asking people out for coffee so I could learn about their job.

The most helpful conversations I had were with junior people working at the level I would be starting in. I wasn’t looking for a job offer, just access to information about what certain roles were like and what types of people succeeded in them. I found it more difficult to find junior people than senior people. Young professionals aren’t prominently displayed on company websites and often don’t think to open themselves up on alumni networks. But, by the end of the summer I’d met enough people in investment banking that I decided the transferable financial skills I’d pick up as an Analyst would make for a good place to start my career.

Fast forward three years later and I was promoted to Associate. I had learned a lot and worked with great people, but realized that I didn’t want to remain in investment banking forever. I wasn’t passionate about the work and my skill set was getting narrower. I wanted to leave the finance industry and potentially work at a start-up, but I didn’t know how viable that would be given my lack of technical expertise.

My best friend (and now co-founder), Paul, was in a similar situation. We both wanted to leave our finance jobs, but didn’t want to blindly transition to a job that wouldn’t be a great fit. We wanted to talk to peers who had made career transitions we were interested in. I found that existing professional networking tools were helpful in documenting and leveraging my professional network, but not reaching outside of it. This was a problem because no one in my network worked at a start-up.

Paul and I decided there should be a professional networking equivalent to online dating sites, where people could go when they wanted to meet people outside their network. So, we quit our jobs to build Treatings, a local professional network where everyone is open to meeting over coffee to share ideas and opportunities.

The core value that Treatings offers is access to knowledge. We believe that people’s insights and career experiences have as much latent value as any physical good they own, so we’re always looking to reduce the friction of knowledge transfer.

We’re a peer-to-peer networking site. We don’t differentiate between “consumers” of knowledge and “producers” of it. Most people sign up for Treatings as a consumer, not imagining that people would be interested in their insights. People are often surprised and flattered to hear they can be a producer of knowledge when they are asked by fellow members to talk about their work. People have been using Treatings to find collaborators, meet people with shared interests and learn about new skills.

We have incorporated a filter into Treatings that makes it easy for NYU alumni and students to connect with each other. You can sign up for the platform and follow companies and skills you’re interested in. You’re then matched with other members based on shared interests and can propose coffee meetings with whomever you’d like.

We think networking should be a routine part of people’s lives, but it doesn’t have to be boring or formal. Treatings is all about taking conversations about your work out of the office. We hope you get the opportunity to meet fellow members of the NYU community over coffee (or the beverage of your choice!).

Sign up today! treatings.co

NYU Veteran’s Resources

On this Memorial Day, please take part of your day to reflect on those who bravely served our country. NYU offers a wide variety of resources to those affiliated with the military. Whether you are thinking of enrolling, are currently enrolled, or are back on campus following your service, you can find a wealth of pertinent information through our Military Service/Veteran’s Resources site. Additionally, we’re here all summer at the Wasserman Center to assist with all aspects of career planning. Log into CareerNet and make an appointment with a career coach or drop by during our walk-in hours.

Three Ways To Make The Most Of Your Career Fair

Murshed Chowdhury acts as an advisor to both companies and individuals who are looking for assistance in technology talent acquisition and development. He has served as the CEO & Partner of Infusive Solutions Inc. since its establishment in 2001. Prior to Infusive, he worked at several recruiting agencies where he honed his skills and rose the ranks within the organization before founding his own company.

With over 15 years of technology placement experience, Murshed has helped secure some of the most competitive technical positions for his clients at some of the world’s most prestigious firms. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from Fordham University.

Murshed is passionate about helping technologists develop themselves both professionally and technically.

Here, he shares valuable insight into achieving career fair success. Think about his tips as you prepare for the NYU Career Fair next fall.

Recently, our company had a table at a career fair and I noticed that many of the students had a puzzled look on their face. One student caught my attention in particular. I asked her, “What are you looking to do?” This is typical company talk at a career fair, and she responded, “I have no idea, and I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do here.” We then spent the next few minutes discussing what she majored in, but more importantly, what she liked and what interested her.  After that, we came up with a game plan where I told her to visit the various companies that were present to see if they had roles that were closely aligned to what she wanted. I told her to have some real conversations, to get representatives’ business cards and if there was interest, she should follow up. Focus on quality versus quantity, because at the end of the day, you really need one job. You hopefully get many offers, but only need to work at one company. After a few hours, she came back to our booth to tell me that she found some really good prospects, met some really good people and had some genuine conversations.  She went on to say that the career fair was not that intimidating after all, and that, actually, it was kind of fun. She said, from now on, she would make the most of her career fairs and try to use it as a vehicle to further her career.

The career fair for many first time or recurring students can be a daunting task. I remember my first one as a senior in college. You’re told to make a great impression; how exactly is unclear. You’re told to make multiple copies of your resume, dress professionally and go. That’s pretty much the advice I was given.  When I actually walked into the conference hall, I saw a lot of unfamiliar faces, got nervous and wasn’t sure what do next.

So, how do you make the most of your career fair experience? It really comes down to 3 simple steps in my opinion: have a plan, meet (network) and effectively follow up.

PLAN

Like any other successful outcomes, it all starts with proper planning. Do some research once the career services center makes available the list of companies that are visiting your institution. Then, put together a list of the companies you want to meet with and find out where they will be. Some career fairs are so large, they can have companies housed in different buildings.  Map it out and really have a game plan. If you are going with a friend, ask them to split up and see where the crowds are and then come early or stay late to meet with them. The goal is to have some quality conversations, not just say hello and give them your resume. Part of your planning should include research so you can differentiate yourself from the competition. Knowing about what a company does can go a long way in building rapport. As most people ask the quintessential, “What do you do?” question, you are unique when you can walk up to an employer and tell them you are aware of what their business does because you’ve done your homework. I can tell you for a fact, that students who took the time to research my company and me, in some cases, always got more attention from me. Their resumes went to the top of the pile. I’m sure it is no different for other employers as well.  That leads me to my next point, which is, if you have the information on who will be attending from the company, please research them. It shows two things on your part: one, that you’re serious, and two, you are willing to go above and beyond but what most people are willing to do. In today’s digital age of social media and particularly, LinkedIn, that information is readily available.

NETWORK

Next, you should allocate time to meet with as many companies as you can. If you are like most college students, and people for that matter, you’re probably familiar with the big brand companies. But don’t overlook a really great startup or fast growing company that might be perfect for you. There are amazing opportunities at some of these lesser-known brands, as well. Remember, all big brands were small at one point, you never know where this company may go. Also, they wouldn’t be at the career fair if they weren’t growing and looking for great talent like you. Speak to the representatives of these companies and find out what they do. Get their business cards…why, I’ll get to shortly. Be curious and explore, the information you find about these firms, their product and services, can help you narrow down some of your choices, and help you decide what you might be interested in doing once you graduate.

FOLLOW UP

Finally, you need to make sure you effectively follow up. For those companies you’re keen on, send a quick email thanking them for meeting with you and express your interest in the next steps of their process. A week later, follow up with a phone call and reiterate your interest in the firm and/or opportunity. Now, going back to why I asked you to collect those cards, send an email to all the people you met with, even if you’re unsure about the firm or company. Ask them to please forward your information on to anyone they feel may have an interest in your background. Remember, just because that person may not have the ideal role for you at their organization doesn’t mean they don’t have a network of contacts that can be beneficial to you. By making a good impression, and effectively following up, you will already be ahead of your fellow students. Lack of effective follow up is one of the biggest ways to pass on potential opportunities. Most people do a poor job of this. Why? I have no idea, but in any case, this can be an opportunity for you. If you start, you stand to gain. Remember, successful people don’t just focus on doing great things, they make a concentrated effort to do the small things really great, and with consistency. It’s the little things that matter. Keep doing them well and often, and the results will speak for themselves.

Make the career fairs work for you. Remember, they are there to find you, so make the how and why as easy for them as possible.

Breaking into Baseball—Lessons Learned from Mark Smith at the Oakland A’s

By Jeannie Liakaris, Director, Wasserman Center for Career Development@SCPS

The Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management and the Wasserman Center for Career Development@SCPS co-sponsored a workshop on “Breaking Into Baseball” hosted by Mark Smith of the Oakland A’s. Here is what he had to share.

First and foremost, there is no magical path to break into baseball. Mark himself started as an aerospace engineering student, entered into the Air Force for 8 years, and parlayed his passion for sports photography to break into baseball starting as a volunteer with the Utah Grizzlies and Ogden Raptors.

Here are his top tips:

1. You have to start somewhere, begin with your passions, interests and show it with a portfolio of those passions.

2. Become a “professional” ditch the “fan hat”; having an intricate understanding of the game, operations, skillsets and experiences in the industry will certainly help you in your journey, but don’t get caught rooting for the wrong team.

There are two arms to baseball, the “business side” which includes Legal, Accounting, PR, Marketing, Finance and so forth, and “player operations” which include Baseball Operations, Scouting and Player Development. Learn and understand the difference of each area. In addition to team jobs there are numerous ancillary companies that teams use for various functions throughout the season. Baseball America Directory, Baseball America Magazine, and Sports Business Journals are good publications that showcase the companies involved with sports teams.

3. Be aware of the various job categories that exist, such as: Administrative Services, Broadcast Media & Journalism, Communication, Executive “C” Level Management & Athletic Administration, Facility Operations, Information Technology, Marketing Management & Product Development, Professional Services, Retail & Supply Chain Management, Selling & Sales Management. Know the areas that you are targeting, as well as your value add for your specific areas of interest.

4. Be open to gaining experience in various market segments that are transferable, such as: Amateur Athletics & Governing Bodies, Corporate Arena/Sports Marketing Suppliers, Facilities/Live Events/Leisure, Health & Fitness, Sporting Goods Brands/Consumer, Strategic Alliance Groups and Teams & Professional Leagues.

5. Have a plan. Develop daily, weekly, monthly and yearly plans that are strategic and thoughtful in your approach to break into baseball. Mark recommended that students talk to at least 80 people in the industry to get a clear understanding of the roles and expectations that will be expected of you. He planned his exit strategy from the Air Force for a few years until he made his transition, and continuously refined his plan.

6. Foster and grow your network. Begin with friends, colleagues, professors and the NYU community to share personal and professional updates. It is never about “a job” but rather combine your skill set and experience into what you
are exploring next. Think about ways to provide value to your network before asking them for something (i.e. an introduction). Also, never let your relationships dwindle; keep them up as you move throughout your career.

7. Know the tools that are needed to be successful in your area of interest. For example, if you’re into Baseball Operations understanding the various topics in the industry is KEY; therefore reading FanGraphs,Journal of Quantitative
Analysis, Baseball America, and Baseball Prospectus in Sports is a must!

8. Be strategic with your resume. Put in metrics and accomplishments and be specific with your objective/profile.

9. Have a plan A, B, C, and D, and remember that you are never asking for a job, it is about having quality conversations about industry, trends, best practices in your field/discipline that will keep you top of mind with your network.

To learn more, follow Mark on Twitter @MarkASmith6, connect with him on LinkedIn, or email marka.smith6@gmail.com.

As an NYU student you have a vast amount of resources available to you to help plan your own personal career action plans. To get started, or help refine your strategy, schedule a career coaching appointment with the NYU Wasserman Center, NYU Wasserman Center@SCPS, and/or the NYU Tisch Center team to hone your approach. As we like to say, leverage all the resources
available to you!

Startup Thoughts and Considerations by 9th Dot

9th Dot is a consumer insight platform that gives individuals a “blank canvas” through which they can share their innovative ideas for improvements with businesses, and  rewards consumers for successfully doing so.  From the businesses’ perspective, they receive insightful information in the form of answers to questions they often don’t even know to ask. Last week, they offered up some advice for the interviewing process. Today, they share what to consider when starting your own business.

So you’re ready to take the plunge?  You’ve got a great idea for a product or service that solves a problem with a huge market size, you’re well underway with developing the technology and have written more code than you ever thought possible, you’re already crafting your go to market strategy and you’ve thought through a business model that will scale seamlessly as your startup grows like a weed.  Think again, and again after that.

Starting your own business is one of the most gratifying things a person can do. Take it from us, we thought careers in banking were exactly what we wanted until we had a taste of what entrepreneurship had to offer.  From seeing your app published in the app store to hearing your first potential customer express interest in your product, starting a business will give you countless ups, but also plenty of downs.

The advice we never received, well, maybe we never sought out, is what exactly to expect before starting a company.  Hindsight, 20/20 as it may be, will never provide all the answers, but it’s certainly given us some perspective that we’d like to share with other budding entrepreneurs.

With that in mind, we asked ourselves, what would have been most helpful for us before we started out?

First, for any milestone you set or any hurdle you want to cross in which you think things will become easier, guess again.  For all the progress we’ve made, from writing the business plan, developing the technology, getting covered in TechCrunch, receiving a formal offer to join an accelerator program, and delivering our first demo to a customer, we’ve continued to learn one thing – it doesn’t get easier.  No matter what your strategy for building your business, whether it be widespread user adoption, monetization from corporate clients, or a combination of both, be prepared for a long slog ahead with progress likely to come at a rate slower than you expect.

The reality is that it takes time to build a business.  Viral marketing, hair on fire problem solving and growth hacking are all great buzz phrases, but none will be your cure all panacea as you look to build awareness of your startup and the problems it solves.  Be creative in your go to market strategy.  Ask friends and family what they think – they’ll likely give you feedback that will lead you to think and rethink ways in which you position your product in the marketplace.

Talk to your co-founders and then talk to them again.  Communication and candor is paramount.  As most investors will tell you, the number one reason startups fail is due to differences in opinions that co-founders are unable to reconcile.  Founders agreements and incorporation papers are a great start, but nothing takes the place of addressing key questions early on:

– Do all of the co-founders share similar risk appetites?  The idea of launching a startup is appealing to everyone, but tolerable by few.  Make sure from the get go that everyone is prepared to give your startup the time and attention necessary to succeed before doing anything else

-Do all of the co-founders have the financial cushion necessary to give it a shot? No matter how much progress you make, and how quickly you make it, you’re a long way from being comfortable.  Assuming you all have the patience to remain uncomfortable for a while, make sure everyone is prepared to forego a meaningful income for a while.

– Be prepared to change and change often.  Pivoting is another one of those buzzwords in the startup industry, but it’s much simpler than that.  While plenty of companies do truly pivot, in many cases more than once, we learned to simply not commit to anything other than having a clear vision to experiment and experiment often.  We thought we had it figured out – our idea solves a major problem, a problem we vetted across several major VCs by sharing our business plan before embarking on our journey.  We thought, “let’s get a little bit of media coverage and run some campaigns over Facebook and Twitter and we’ll be off to the races” – were we ever mistaken.  Dampen your expectations and then dampen them again.  Building a business and a brand takes time, endless amounts of energy, and above all a passion to see your idea grow into a business. Regardless of how good you think your go to market strategy is, think of as many ideas for building awareness for your product or service as you can, you’ll test them all and then think of some more.

Above all, don’t launch your startup because it’s cool to say you launched a startup or because you want to make a lot of money – neither of these reasons are likely to lead to success.  Start a business because you see a solution to a problem that will only seem obvious after you’ve exhaustively told your story to customers and investors, and likely the rest of the World.  We started 9th Dot, a crowdsourcing consumer insight platform, because we saw a tremendous opportunity to create a “win-win” situation for both consumers and businesses. Creating a platform that enables consumers to deliver insightful solutions to businesses and rewards them for doing so made a lot of sense to us, but it was the realization that we couldn’t live with ourselves if we did not that made us decide to slog it out.  As we were told by one VC investor early on, “Remember, entrepreneurs are mostly irrational, driven by a passion for creating something where there was nothing and realizing a vision they couldn’t ignore. It’s like jumping off a cliff and having to build a plane before you hit the ground!”

Innovative Interviewing Tips from 9th Dot

9th Dot is a consumer insight platform that gives individuals a “blank canvas” through which they can share their innovative ideas for improvements with businesses, and  rewards consumers for successfully doing so.  From the businesses’ perspective, they receive insightful information in the form of answers to questions they often don’t even know to ask. Here, they offer up some advice for the interviewing process.
Demonstrate an Approach to Problem-Solving

With such a competitive dynamic in today’s job market, individuals often try to do anything they can to gain an edge and differentiate themselves from other candidates. Interviewers want to be convinced you will be able to solve tough problems and help the corporation achieve its objectives.  Demonstrating your ability to think critically and provide innovative solutions to problems is a skill that can help you both secure the job during the interview, as well as climb the corporate ladder after you’ve landed the job.

It’s widely known that one of the best ways to answer interview questions is to make reference to situational experiences in which you successfully solved a problem.  Success stories tend to be tales of the defining moments in one’s career when an individual overcame significant challenges to succeed. These stories create a memorable impression and give the interviewer anecdotes about you that identify your ability to think creatively, solve complex problems and provide a solution.

While many experts suggest relating interview questions to similar situations from earlier in one’s career to demonstrate specific experience in dealing with similar situations, this can prove challenging for students preparing to enter the job market for the first time.  As we all know, challenges also tend to present opportunities.  When preparing for an interview, think of where you use or have used the company’s products or services.  Think about the context in which you used a product or service and ask yourself “what could have made that experience even better?”  Chances are that you’ve had several occasions like this where the proverbial “light bulb” went off in your head as to what would have made your experience better.  With the rise of crowdsourcing, businesses have quickly realized the value that can be derived from the consumers of their products and services – so much so that many large corporations have built full scale social media, consumer insight and guest experience teams to learn from and incorporate their customers’ innovative ideas for improving their products or services.

For instance, while preparing for a job at the corporate office of McDonald’s or Starbucks one may consider addressing an interview question centered around problem solving or critical thinking by drawing on an experience in which you observed an opportunity to improve something and exactly what your solution would entail.  Starbucks, through its MyStarbucksIdea platform, solicits and reviews ideas from its customers and has implemented just over 300 ideas over the last five years.  Things like WiFi, splash sticks and cake pops all originated through their crowdsourcing platform.  McDonald’s recently began testing third drive-thru windows after its social media team picked up a tweet from one customer who decided to share his idea over Twitter by saying, “I hate waiting in line for 20 minutes during the lunch rush at McDonald’s when all I want is a simple McFlurry.  Why doesn’t McDonald’s have a third drive-thru window for express orders?”  Innovative ideas like these gain the attention from senior leadership throughout an organization.

Companies like 9th Dot, a crowdsourcing consumer insight platform, are gaining traction by serving as the connection point between consumers and businesses.  By providing consumers with a “blank canvas” through which they can share their innovative ideas, and potentially earn rewards, 9th Dot enables consumers to showcase their bright ideas to businesses.  Having the right portal through which you can share your idea effectively gives you the podium in front of a large lecture hall filled with businesses wanting to learn what they can do better.

Consider that the next time an interviewer asks you to describe the last time you’ve solved a problem and how you went about doing so!