February 2, 2024

Even if you don’t get the job, you still come out a winner


If you want to make the people around you feel safe, do something that shows them you’ve thought of everything.

Your plan doesn’t even have to mean anything. Because at least you’ve done something, and now nobody can claim you brought nothing to the table.

Never underestimate the power of this kind of thoughtfulness. Being generous and considerate for the needs of others is worth its weight in gold.

And the secret is, it’s not a big thing, it’s a thousand little things. It’s about putting in the labor and time, but it’s also about investing the attention and intention.

One of the mantras I always come back to, in almost every area of my life, is the following.

Wow, did you do this just for me?

That’s the goal. Making a meaningful deposit in someone’s emotional bank account. Delighting in the humanity of a little personalization.

I want the other person, whether it’s my wife, relative, boss, coworker, friend or neighbor, to have a sense of gratitude for the experience of being seen. It brings me deep fulfillment.

Once I was doing eight job interviews back to back in one week. Mentally exhausting, but highly informative. One common question hiring managers were asking me was:

What would the first thirty days of your job here look like?

It’s pretty standard for senior level roles. Companies want insight into how you will adjust to a new job if hired. They’re looking for the candidates who will over index on initiation and ownership and become productive as soon as possible.

Now, I have been asked this question many times before. And there are plenty of solid answers I’ve given. Like how I will spend the first month learning as much as possible. Or how I plan to come in early and stay late. And ask key people lots of questions. Or how I won’t share my opinions until I’ve done my due diligence first.

But in that instance, I wanted to do a stretch on my own abilities as a planner. Traditionally I haven’t been much of a planner, even though I do value the process.

Turns out, sometimes an ounce of planning goes a long way, and I’m happy to oblige if it makes the work easier for all. Even if it’s not my default mode and I’d rather just start making things.

And so, I opted for showing instead of telling. I thought it might be fun to create an artifact and have it chambered to show potential employers that I’ve thought of everything.

Here’s what I did.

I spent an entire day reflecting on my last five or six jobs.

Which strategies and tactics helped me adjust to the new environments? How did I orient myself to new work cultures from an interpersonal, operational and organizational perspective? Which tools and systems and processes equipped me to ramp up quickly? And what hacks that reduced my learning curve so I could begin contributing immediately?

From those questions, I draft a rough inventory of tasks to complete over the first ninety days at a new job. As I reviewed them, the order of operations began taking shape. My plan broke down into four specific phases. Week one was all about orientation and exposure.

I would be building my foundation at the company, settling in administratively, but also building a baseline of product and company knowledge.

Once I got setup and moved into the first thirty days, now my plan would be focused on meeting, learning and understanding. By syncing across the organization, I could earn people’s trust.

Progressing through that first month or so, next it became time to transition into strategy and planning mode. Now I would be building the actual roadmap, getting into the weeds of the role itself.

All of which lead up to the ninety day mark, in which I could start adding material value to the organization and building team momentum.

Can you imagine how a hiring manager would react if a candidate presented that kind of plan to them, without even asking? Even before even getting hired for the job?

That’s a holy shit moment. When you can intersect generosity, thoughtfulness and organization, and compress it all into a compelling artifact that shows people you’ve thought of everything, nothing can stop you.

Even if you don’t get the job, you still come out a winner. Because by virtue of mapping out the plan, you’ve already elevated your value. In your eyes and theirs.

At the bare minimum, you have a leveled up your perception of leadership, which is now undeniable.

Who wouldn’t hire somebody like that?

Besides, it just means less work for your eventual manager. Once they realize, wow, he did this just for me, all they just have to do is tweak the plan a little, sign off on it, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. What kind of holy shit moment could you create? What artifact could you have chambered to show potential employers that you have thought of everything?

Are you investing labor and time, but also intention and attention to make people feel safe?