On Getting Hired

Over the last few weeks, my feeds have been flooded with announcements of layoffs from across the tech industry. While it’s great to see so many people rally to support each other, a referral can only get you so far.

Job hunting is a resource-intensive process, and both ADHD and anxiety amplify the hard parts exponentially.

Anxiety works against you by creating a sense of urgency and desperation — especially if you’ve been let go. This usually drives people (at least me) to apply for jobs that would help solve the immediate problem of needing a stable income for my family and me, but adds distortion to very important pieces of the process like culture fit, matching the role and responsibilities to your strengths, etc.

ADHD complicates things by making it hard to focus on the details that usually capture the hiring manager’s attention. Your anxiety is pushing you to apply for roles you’re not really interested in and, as a result, your ADHD is preventing you from submitting strong applications.

I can honestly say that anytime I’ve applied for jobs out of frustration, fear, or anxiety, I’ve received around a 5% response rate. When you think about how much time goes into an application, it’s easy to see that this is an absolute waste of time.

old wooden gate with decorative metal doorknocker

“Yeah, but I lost my job and I NEED to find something now… MIKE.”

You… right now.

I get it, and I’m not suggesting you don’t get out there and find something ASAP. I’m suggesting you avoid the scrolling and scanning of dozens of semi-relevant job listings and start with a different approach.

Start with Your Network

Your friends and former colleagues are one of the best resources you have. You can lean on them to understand what it’s like to work at the company you’re considering and also get direct insights on the specific teams and/or roles you’re looking into. Most companies use employee referrals to pre-filter candidates and will move referral applicants directly to an “in-person” step in the process.

Even if you don’t have a direct connection to the company you’re considering, you likely know someone who can introduce you to people who work there so you can get some inside information on the culture and open roles that look interesting. You might even impress them enough to earn a referral.

I got my foot in the door at 10up because a former client had interviewed the owner/founder. I reached out to my former client, even though we hadn’t connected recently and he gave me an email intro the same day — despite being on the other side of the world.

I had actually applied for a number of roles at Automattic in the years prior to starting here. Once I got serious about a specific opportunity, I was able to reach out to two different connections to get me fast-tracked to the interview and trial process.

Be Critical on Fit

person in blue and white plaid shirt holding brown cardboard box

Instead of applying for anything that you could do, critically evaluate:

  • Your skills and experience in relation to the expectations of the role.
    • I’ve spent a lot of time in digital. I love physical products, and I’m sure I could learn the differences quickly, but I know I can make an immediate impact in the digital/web space.
  • Your interest in the business, the products, the audience/customer-base, etc. Would you be excited to tell people you work there, with those people, or on that “thing”?
  • Culture fit.
    • For example: I know that I’ll never be able to go back to working in person. Not just because I like working remotely, but because there are expectations that teams can hold each other to around communication, accountability, and drive that aren’t as critical when you’re in person.
  • Your compensation and benefits requirements.
    • It can be tempting to try to take a lower-level role for the sake of getting your income and benefits going again. We tell ourselves that we’ll be able to prove our worth and advance quickly. While there’s always an opportunity to do that, it’s usually not as quickly as anyone would like. You will be frustrated and (potentially) resentful about not being paid what you’re worth from day one. This approach sets you, your team, and the company up for failure.

Factor In Your Excitement

You should be excited about the opportunity and (ideally) feel optimistic about this being a net-positive change. Take the opportunity to find a role that is more focused on what you are best at and one that doesn’t come with as much of things you don’t like to do.

This is where ADHD helps you. If you’re not excited, it will be much harder to force yourself through the application process. I’d go as far to say that if you’re not excited about applying for a role, you just shouldn’t.

If you are excited, you’ll slip into a hyper-focused state and be able to put together a really compelling application. You’ll knock your interview/trial process out of the park, and you’ll hit the ground running.

One Last Thing – Confidence

Be confident. Stay confident. Don’t assume there are better applicants ahead of you. Don’t assume you said something wrong. Focus on why you think you can do this role better than anyone else and you will.

I’ll probably write more things and you might just want to read those too.

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