My husband and I have been in the software business for ten years. We are from Eastern Europe (Croatia). Paul was a crucial part of two
successful start-ups. The products he developed won awards and were best-sellers, and as a result he was hired by a German company.
(They hired me, too.) There, Paul started, designed and finished a small project for a client that was worth about 50,000 euro. Then
he showed how his work could be turned into two products -- the company's first. The company was thrilled and so were the customers.
The company netted 500,000 euro from his work. The rest has been history for us. Paul became the leader of our team and we have
created many more successful products.
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Now Paul feels he has no room to grow and it is time to move on. The companies to which he has sent his
C.V. [Europeans call their resumes curriculum vitae, or C.V.’s.] are very impressed, but they say he has not managed huge
enough projects or teams. He even got a call from a headhunter (his first!), but four weeks after the interview there has been no
We are frustrated. Paul has proved again and again that he knows how to make a product that will sell -- but he can't sell himself. These companies have lost a chance to get a great man! Is there any hope? Should we keep trying to
get the jobs we want, or start our own company?
The answer is do both. Trying to start a company can lead to getting a job. I will explain how momentarily.
Paul is clearly talented, and I'm sure you are, too. I believe
the problem that big companies have with his lack of experience with "big projects" and "big teams" is nonsense.
Narrow-minded headhunters, personnel jockeys and managers miss out on great new hires when they confuse experience with talent. Lots of people can conceive new products. Some can actually design them. But the rarest worker is
one who can conceive and get a finished product out the door profitably and make customers happy. That's talent. Interviewers often do not know what to do with
unusual people like Paul. Investors, however, do.
You are both at a crucial point in your careers. You have proved
what you can do. Now you need the infrastructure that will enable you to do bigger projects. If you compromise on that, you will
hurt your careers and make yourselves miserable.
Here is my advice. Forget about pursuing jobs. If you want a
great job, create your own business. I'm not suggesting this is easy, but it's a path worth pursuing.
To start your own company, you will need to examine the market
and the industry you want to specialize in. You will need to talk with many people, including prospective customers and
distributors. You will need to talk to companies whose products will interact with yours, and with companies that produce related or
competing products. All these contacts will guide your product development ideas and introduce you to the partners you will need.
They will help you get funding, whether in the form of purchase orders or direct investment.
As part of your effort, you will produce a business plan. The
plan is actually a substitute for a resume. It shows what you can do. However, unlike a resume, a business plan also shows how you will do it. That's what gets a company's attention and its investment. In the course of talking with these
companies, your meetings will be a substitute for traditional interviews. Companies will get to know you far better than they ever
would in a job interview. Your business plan and these meetings will help you overcome objections to your lack of "big
your new contacts may help you start your business. Others will prefer to avoid competing with you -- and they will recognize the
opportunity to hire you and Paul. Stimulated by your business plan, they may offer you jobs. The key is to introduce yourselves with a business plan instead of a resume, and
with a business presentation instead of a job interview. That is how you will get past the "employers" so you can meet with
the people in a company who worry about profit.
The traditional, small-minded hiring process of big companies
doesn't hurt just the job hunter. It also hurts the employer. Thus, your challenge is to avoid the hiring process. Your challenge is
to get to the corporate-level executive (preferably a board member) whose job is to find new ways to make money; to find new products; to create new markets; and
to develop new partnerships through new investment. You cannot do that with a resume and a job interview.
Paul is a point on the productivity curve. He is a point on the
very narrow, leading edge of that curve. He is unusual. Few companies will know how to interpret his resume or how to interview him.
He has great abilities. Don't use those abilities to get a job. Threaten to start a company instead. You will get more attention -- the right
kind of attention. And you will either get funding, or you will win a great job.
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