Over the past few decades, the hiring landscape has drastically changed.
Companies have sought out ways to “automate” the process in hopes of cutting expenses on what is arguably their most important investment – their employees. This resulted in the black hole that we now know as applying for jobs online.
Today, companies talk about culture and diversity ad nauseum but refuse to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to hiring. Amazing candidates are passed over because of “non-traditional backgrounds,” “lack of experience,” and “poor cultural fit.”
Enter Eric Termuende.
Eric is the co-founder of NoW Innovations where he’s aiming to dispel generational groupings and rehumanize the workforce. Eric has given TED talks and written best selling books on how he’s doing this and today, he’s hanging out with us to talk about how job seekers can empower themselves to take control of their job search and find the perfect cultural fit. We’re going to cover:
- Why the idea of “culture” is so screwed up in today’s companies and corporations
- How technology is changing the hiring process and company culture as we know it
- A simple strategy job seekers can use to avoid the black hole of applying online and speak to a real person
- Eric’s formula for getting a deep understanding of a company’s culture before your ever hop on the phone for a job interview
- Plus a whole lot more!
If you like what Eric has to say, I would definitely recommend checking out his book Rethink Work which takes a far deeper dive into the topics we discussed:
Full Interview Transcription
Austin: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to another cultivated culture expert advice series. Today I have Eric Termuende, here with me. He is the co-founder of NoW Innovations. He’s also a best-selling author and international speaker.
Eric is out there to dispel generational groupings and to rehumanize and gain more out of the workforce. He’s given nearly 200 presentations I guess we’re at 201 now. It goes beyond diversity inclusion to help audiences understand people and patterns in order to optimize the workplace. Eric, you’ve been featured in places like Forbes, in Inc, in Thrive global. You’ve given a ton of TED talks. You’ve represented Canada at the G20 summit like you’ve done it all man! The pedigree is insane but for me, the coolest part about what you offer is a fresh new look to company culture. Many companies are obsessed with this idea of culture.
They force things down your throat like happy hours or theme days where everybody shows up wearing the same stuff or unlimited vacation and all that stuff sounds nice on paper but it’s like buying a new BMW in my opinion. You spend a bunch of money on the car and then you’re feeling good until the next model comes out. Until the person next to you gets something a little bit cooler and then all of a sudden it doesn’t feel so great. What you’re doing is helping companies, in my opinion, distill that idea of culture and bring it to have the overarching idea but also bring it to an individual level so that they can connect more deeply with people and make sure that they’re finding the right fit on both ends for the company and the employee or the candidate.
I just took that over a little bit. I would love to have you introduce yourself.
Eric: Hold up, interview is over. That’s it. That’s what I’m doing, you nailed it. I mean let me put it this way. If you got a happy hour at work and you are six years sober, it’s not all that appealing. If you’ve got a dog running around through the office or two or three and you’re allergic to dogs, that’s all that great of a perk.
Austin: That’s the sky.
Eric: That’s the sky too. If you don’t like coffee in the morning and the biggest newest perk is a big Nespresso machine that they just brought in, right it doesn’t matter. One of the big things I like to talk about is a universal best culture doesn’t exist. I mean I was looking at the fortune top 100 places to work in the United States 2018, pretty fresh stuff. Salesforce is number one. I mean great company no surprises. Perhaps, a bit of a surprise though is Wegmans, the grocery chain, the food market. For us North of Canada or North of the 49th parallel we don’t we don’t even have Wegmans. It was a surprise to me.
A lot of companies really anchor on the best places to work, most engage cultures, best-managed companies et cetra. First thing I’ll say is for those companies who are on those lists congratulations. Because they’re really hard to get there and they do mean something. From the person outside looking in, who’s looking for a job, what I’m saying is that someone who’s working at Wegmans might not want to work at Salesforce and someone who’s working at Salesforce might not want to work at Wegmans right.
A universal best culture doesn’t exist and unless we understand the components that enable this culture to be what I would call, optimized for their employees. I actually think that these lists in many cases are doing more harm than good. If you see that AT&T, just throwing that out there, no idea where they sit on the list, is ranked a top employer and you’re a job seeker who’s looking for a telecom position. You’re looking to see that they’re way up there on the list, of course, you’re going to apply.
Then you look at Verizon and Sprint. You see the same job descriptions, the same brochures, the same perks, the same this and that and you realize that “Hey, you know what. Maybe the experience at Sprint is far better for me based on the lifestyle and what I’m looking for. What I would call the lived experience while you’re at work.” I mean if I’m an introvert, I might rather do 150 emails a week rather than 15, instead of doing 30 hours of meetings a week as opposed to three.
Now again, Lululemon is a big apparel company here in Vancouver. They do so many in-person meetings because they’re really a people first company. I think anyone who knows Lululemon will know that there are people first companies. Now if you’re someone who just likes to sit in their corner and do emails and not have a lot of that interaction, Lululemon’s not going to be a great company for you. The truth is that doesn’t make Lululemon a bad company right. Lululemon is still a top-rated company across the board. They do incredible things and the things that they do well is they articulate those components that make it unique to the people that actually thrive in that environment.
One other example in 2015, Amazon you might remember was under huge fire for having long work hours. People were stuck in the office, they were grinding 12-14-16 hours a day. If you look at Glassdoor even today they’re 4 out of 5. 80% of their employees would recommend the job to their friend group, right. Yet, you and I might think of we’re nine to five people. That is a toxic terrible environment that you’d hate to be a part of, great. The thing is that Amazon does a really good job at attracting the people that want the experience that they’re providing for their people.
What I’m trying to say here, again going back to saying a universal best culture doesn’t exist and if we as job seekers are looking for that right fit. I mean just in Toronto in Canada, 80,000 account managers. If you’re an account manager and you’re looking to find that account management job based on the skills and requirements knowing that you’ve already got all the skills requirements, education experience et cetra, the questions that we need to start asking is what is that lived experience while we’re in the office? If we’re an introvert that’s allergic to dogs, it doesn’t really like happy hour, going to a company like Lululemon probably is not a great fit.
The truth is that’s okay. The better we understand ourselves in the environments that we thrive in and better questions we can ask the people who are already there, the better chance we have of finding that ultimate for us.
Austin: Yes, I totally agree. When we’re talking about companies versus candidates, I think one of the interesting things is, I don’t know if the chicken or the egg is the right phrase for it but we’re kind of– I know as a candidate you can feel powerless here. One of the things that I’ve experienced and I see a lot for my audience is they would love to have the choice between Salesforce, Lululemon, and Wegmans and be able to make that decision. A lot of times given the way the job market is and how tough it is to get a job these days, I think a lot of people just settle for a company that gets back to them and gives them an offer, right.
Austin: To me, that’s sad. I don’t think anybody should settle because they have to put food on the table or pay rent or do whatever it is that they want to do. That’s why cultivated culture was born. My question to you would be, do you think that this change needs to come from the companies first? Do the companies need to realize- because I think there’s a lot of benefits here. Something that I wanted to make an analogy or tie parallel to was, starting a business.
Everybody will tell you when you’re starting a business to niche down right. You want to find your target customer because you can go out there and you can do the same things that all the big guys are doing. You can get a website, you can get business cards, you can sign up for Facebook Ads, you can do all this stuff. If you don’t know who you’re selling to and you try to sell to everyone then even if it’s top talent, even if that’s your niche that’s still very, very broad and you’re going to end up with a lot of people who aren’t great fits et cetra.
In my mind, it’s in the best- Well it’s definitely in the best interest of the company to realize that. Get very clear on their culture and then find a way to go after the candidates. This isn’t something that we have to explore immediately we can delve into it later in the interview. I’d love to know how, like what impact candidates can make, when they’re trying to figure out this culture and trying to find the ideal culture. I think a lot of companies out there– I think if I’m an introvert, non-dog person who likes tea but Lululemon offers me a job that’s double my salary like I’m right in there and that salary may not– That made me being happy for a little bit. Over time that’s going to be the new baseline. Then the dog’s in the office and the conversations and all that stuff are going to get to me.
It’s a bit tougher for the candidate in my opinion than the company. I don’t know if you agree with that but I would love to get your take.
Eric: I do agree with you and not but. I do agree with you and I think there’s a little bit more to the conversation.
Eric: The first thing I’ll say whether we’re a candidate or whether we’re an employer. When you try and be everything to everyone, you ultimately become nothing to anyone, right. I mean you can use the analogy of being a startup too. When you’re trying to be everywhere doing everything, you ultimately don’t even have that focus.
I think from the candidates perspective, when you say, “Oh, yes. I can be this or I am a little bit of this and I am a little bit of this.” I think inherently, obviously, we all know that we make decisions out of love or fear and more often than not it’s fear, right? In the job seeking market, you’re obviously afraid you’re not going to get the job. Been there, got it. I know what that feels like. What else I would think though is because of that fear mindset we move into like a scarcity safe state. If we’ve got that opportunity that comes to us that we think isn’t right and we know deep down it’s not right. Something’s not sitting right in our gut at the same time, “Hey, money in the bank, yes.” Friends covered, foods covered, families covered whatever that is. I can understand that.
Also though, first of all, at risk here the numbers are different based on industry, on every on sector on profit status and size but some of the numbers that I’m seeing is that and even some of my peers are applying up to 80 and 90 jobs at a time. They’re changing that one line in their cover letter and they’re blasting it out to everything with appropriate title that actually makes sense.
Austin: Getting in a thousand account manager jobs.
Eric: Well, totally that’s just it though. Then, maybe getting one or two back and really cross their fingers. The numbers is like between 60 and 80 applications. One in 50 will lead to an interview and one in 10 interviews will land a job. Basically, you’re rolling some loaded dice against you and still hoping for snake eyes, right. That’s like good odds. The odds that you got really are even less, you’re basically playing the lottery.
The thing is and when we see global engagement right now still under 30% I’m thinking well yes, no kidding. We’re all promoting these great cultures and great workplaces without understanding how to attract the right person in the first place. Then in two, when people are applying to 60 ready jobs and they get the one where the people reply back because they were in the bottom 10% of the resume stack when the top 90 were thrown in a recycling bin, yes, I mean no wonder we don’t have sit.
On the candidate side though, what I would think is if we were to channel that effort in applying to 90 different positions and tailoring one or two sentences, what I would do is go through the job description of a couple companies that you think might be the dream company. Go on LinkedIn, see someone who’s working at that company in the position that you’re looking to hire for and understand what life they’re living as a result.
No, is it in the job description? We don’t even know what hours we work. Is it a nine-to-five organization or you’re expected to be on call from 6:30 am to 10:30 at night. If your boss emails you at 10:00 at night, are you expected to get back to him or her tonight or is it in the morning, right? I mean none of these things. Do you get 15 or 150 emails a day? Is it an open office concept or is it cubicle style? Do you have one person on your team or you totally autonomous as a remote or flex work?
Do you have a family at home? Have you been outside of the country in the last year? What did you play sports? What is the life that you get to live as a result of the job? Because if I’m in Vancouver in Canada and I’m applying for a job in Manhattan and I move myself not only across the continent but into a new country, do all the visa and everything else only to find out two weeks in that the environment and what I would call a lived experience was never right for me in the first place.
Even though I had the skills, requirements, the experience, everything else, man that’s a tough realization. Instead if I saw, Hey, Austin is doing his thing. I could go ask him a few questions about the life that he’s living. Maybe he’s getting married, maybe he gets to spend some time with his fiancée and the life that he gets to live not just inside of work but outside of work as well and I could say hey.
I think that could be fun I think I could enjoy the life that that job gives me. If I could change my efforts from applying to 90 jobs to understanding hey, how can I– Maybe I can have a 30-minute conversation with Austin, maybe I can have a 30-minute conversation with Jared, maybe I can have a 30-minute conversation with Kathy, three hypothetical names then maybe I can identify what would be a better fit.
Then as a next step what I would do is I would take all of the notes that I took from a meeting with you say. I would write out what I aligned with in terms that lived experience given that they know that I’ve already got the skills, the requirements, the education et cetera. Then I would go to the recruiter and say hey, had a great chat with Austin last week, I learned this that and the other thing.
I really aligned with this, that, the other thing and I think actually not only would this be a great fit for me in terms of skills requirements and education but actually I think I could really contribute to the organization on a personal intangible level as well. I think that the life that company X would give me would really make sense. Then what happens is you’re not just a resume, you’re not just a number, you’re not just an application number, you’re a person that really aligns and has taken that extra effort to understand what components those are.
Then what happens is the resumes is a follow-up document. It’d be a dream. It’s a dream of mine to see the resume not be an entry point but to be a follow-up document because I want to know all about you Austin. First, if you applied to my company, say I wouldn’t know everything about you. Assuming that I know you’re going to tell the truth that you’ve got the skills and requirements and then what I’d like to do is to say okay, Austin’s a great guy. Hey, can I just see your resume real quick.
Pass job check, check, check, check because you’d assume all the skills and requirements are met anyways otherwise you wouldn’t apply. Yes, great maybe you’re a good fit. Now, come in and shadow for a week. Let’s not get you to commit. I’ll even pay for half your flight to come out to Vancouver, come here and see if you like the team. I’ll tell you what if you tell me you don’t like the team or the team tells me they don’t like you we’ve spent or saved a ton of time and effort as opposed to even flying and moving you out across the continent again.
Again, I just think it’s a shift of effort to say it maybe we’re not applying to 100 things because it’s got the right title but maybe we should be looking at that experience that we have at work, one that we can ultimately thrive in. Then be a little bit more robust in that application process by really reaching out to the individual in the company and not just be an application number.
Austin: I love it. I love it and you touch on a lot of stuff that is near and dear to my heart there and two things that I wanted to ask you as well. We’ll start with one and move into the other but when we’re talking about like I love the idea of the shadowing period. I don’t understand why that doesn’t exist now. I think it’s crazy because if either party doesn’t like the job then there’s a huge loss in terms of if they decide to stay.
If the candidate decides to stay and performs 50% of their capacity versus 100% of the job they absolutely loved, that’s money left on the table for the company itself but if the company makes there or if the candidate decides to leave after three or six months the company paid– You may know the numbers off the top of your head. I don’t but I think it’s definitely in the high tens of thousands if not low six figures to train an onboard and ramp up a brand new person.
Eric: Yes the research that I’ve done suggests that in little-to-no education job we’re talking like fast food even can be upwards of $25,000. An engineering firm that we worked with it was a quarter-million.
Austin: No kidding and that gap is unreal but even at the floor 25k is a ton of money and that’s just not– There’s no test to have people try it out and see what happens on both ends. That to me sounds like the future of work. I’d love to have you tell us a little bit more about how work at culture all that has evolved but also where you see it going next.
Then the next thing I want to ask you is about kind of how people can position themselves for that but where do you think work is going next and where have we come from like what’s the flow and the trajectory that we can expect?
Eric: 300 years ago, 98% of the developed world but the world I suppose they’re still there. Today, we’re involved in the production or harvesting of food 98% of the population. Fast forward to today, it’s between 2% and 3% and shrinking mostly due to robotics and automation and just the systematization of really agriculture. That didn’t take all that long, right, to go from 90% of the population to two.
We see that right now 72% of the fortune 500 companies that are there now will be gone by 2027. If you look at the insane growth of Amazon, Google Salesforce, Microsoft, et cetera. It’s kind of unprecedented. We look at the jobs the future I think eight of the 10 jobs of the future don’t exist today when we look at 10 years down the road. When I look to though at this future of our conversation I come at it from more of a human side of things than a robotics blockchain artificial intelligence side of things.
I mean there are the futurists in that sense. I think there’s incredible value there. I’ve just chosen to again narrow in the nation and focus on the human-centricity side of things. When I look at the evolution of work I kind of refer back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right? Food, shelter, water, the psychological safety, emotional safety really, a sense of belonging, love, self-esteem, and self-actualization.
Self-actualization as we were talking about being those cultures who really got it right attracted the right people and they’re being their best because they want to be not because they feel like they have to be because everything else is met. They feel like they’re loved, they feel like they belong. I don’t want to get to like fluffy about this either, it really– It’s just that they’re safe and they feel great. They’re being where they want to be.
I look at the world of work today and we’re spending 10 hours a day in front of our screen we’re checking our phones 85 times a day. The numbers are staggering, to say the least. A Harvard Business Review study said that 40% of American adults are now feeling alone and there are major health implications to that too. When I look at the future of work where we are today, artificial intelligence, all of these robotics machine learning our Internet of Things were supposed to be this incredibly optimistic thing.
Where we could essentially mail in whatever we were doing to outsource it or have it automated and we could go to the Bahamas or Greece for not two weeks but two months and not miss anything back at home, right. I don’t think that that’s not true moving forward, it’s certainly not true right now right. As a result, I actually feel like thinking and the research evidently shows that we’re feeling more isolated and that we don’t belong more so now than we ever have before.
In fact, a study showed that American men specifically and I think you could probably say the same for Canadian men, the number of confidants that they had the most common response was zero. The number of people that a grown-up man could go to if they were really feeling in the dumps is what it came down to. When I look at work today I think two things. I think Human Resources is not just a department, it has to be an organizational focus. It’s not just payroll benefits holidays, the salaries et cetera. It is cultivating a culture, cultivating an experience that people can really align with because if you and I are aligned– Let me put it this way.
The Philadelphia 76ers last year one of the worst teams in the NBA. Over this summer they rolled out– This is last year now. I know we just finished in playoffs. This is last year now they put in this policy where after each game or after each end they watch tape from the practice of the game, one of their players would do a pre-10-minute presentation on something that they like doing. One of the players did a presentation on snakes, one did on race cars on race cars etcetera, etcetera.
They actually went 15 I know last year. They made it to the playoffs. It was really exciting year for Phillys. It’s really a couple of exciting years for Philadelphia sports. The line though is that when people trust and like each other better off the court, they play better together on the court, right. I think that human resources going back to that is two things that are wrong.
Number one is it’s a cost center and not an investment center. Meaning we spend on people, we don’t invest in people and a lot of HR practices now are reactive and not proactive. If we can proactively invest in people and align the experience that they desire with the experience that we ultimately provide for them, I think that culture fit doesn’t really exist. It never did. It’s just a term that it sounded good because nobody knows what culture means anyways, right.
If we talked about experiential alignment like we did before and we can align people on who they ar,e not what they are. It’s not about Millennials or females or males or Caucasians or anyone else for that matter, it’s about aligning people based on who they are and what they really stand for. This doesn’t necessarily mean starting with why, it’s a bigger conversation about starting with the experience that the company provides for them because again it’s not a best experience. It’s just a right experience for you or I, right.
Moving forward, I think that the shift that I’m trying to promote, I mean I was writing about that in the book Rethink work 2 is this shifting from how do we be less reactive and just spending trying to put a band-aid on a bullet wound hole and how do we actually shift this to say hey, look how do we believe everything that cultivated culture is promoting and be more proactive and invest in our people as opposed to having to mitigate or mop up or sorry react to or mop up the mess that we made by not prioritizing people in the first place?
I think moving forward the line that I like to use is that it’s darkest before dawn, right. We’ve all heard that before but in this case, we get to choose when the sun rises and the organizations that are doing it right are reaping the benefits from it. I think that this opportunity is great. It’s not just a feel-good story, it’s a bottom line story and I think we can both agree on that too.
I think moving forward though it might take a little bit while because there aren’t enough champions doing this yet but we’ll start to shift this conversation and we’ll all reap the benefits. It will result in better lives, happier families, longer lives, less stress, just a better experience. I mean the last thing I’ll say if work is something we do more than anything else than a day including sleep, I mean we better enjoy it. By enjoying it I don’t mean kegs and ping pong tables, I mean enjoy the experience that we have when we’re at work. That’s what it comes down to.
Austin: Definitely and I think one of the most interesting things to me is this progression that you talked about a little with technology, how every generation– Like today we read all these articles about artificial intelligence automation taking jobs all that stuff but that’s not a new narrative. That narrative has been around forever in history even though when you go from horses to the Model T or when factory start becoming a little more autonomous. The interesting thing was back in the day people weren’t as scared of automation.
They saw automation like you said as this thing that would then take over their job. If I’m working 9:00 to 5:00 and I’m back in like the 60s or something, my hope and my thought was that okay, these robots are going to come in and then I’m only going to have to work 9:00 to 11:00 and get paid the same amount because the robot– Or maybe slightly less but the robot is going to take over the rest of my day. Now, it makes sense given capitalism and the way corporate America works and all that.
They said while you’re already working 9.00 to 5.00 and the robot is also working 9.00 to 5.00, now we have 16 hours of work instead of just eight. To me it’s going to be interesting to see because it doesn’t– People, I guess you could say they were naive to think that the robots would take over for them but now there’s a bit of a movement that’s stirring and it’s not necessarily at the corporate level, I don’t think that.
It would take a really innovative really progressive sort of disruptive corporation or company to kind of break the mold that we have now just given the fact that profits are what matter at the end of the day. There’s this talk of like universal basic income and things of that nature where at the very least people are– We are starting to move towards that, hey the robot does my jobs that I can free up time to go work on something that I love.
I think it’s one of the things that’s it’s the biggest shame to me is that you have these people who have this passion for something, right, whatever it is. It could be painting, it could be creating something, it could be building PowerPoint decks or sales or whatever it is but most of the time I would say I don’t have a hard number but I would argue that the majority of us are not doing something that we are passionate about.
Like you mentioned I think the Gallup poll is what you were pulling from before with the engagement. Basically like you said 70% of the US at least is disengaged from their jobs. It’s even higher across the world 85% as a whole. To me that says that if you’re not engaged with your work then you’re not doing something that you’re passionate about.
My hope here is that we will be able to move towards a place where companies understand how to work better on an individual basis culture-wise but also how to leverage this autonomy that we’re building with technology with artificial intelligence etcetera. To allow some people to maybe step away from the data entry and the grunt work in the monotonous task answering 150 emails every day so that you open up time for people to go out and brainstorm or do what they’re passionate about. That’s kind of the hope on my side at least.
Eric: I would say the difference though between let’s just go 60’s and now is speed. It took 75 years for 50 million people to listen to the radio. It took Mason Ramsey I think eight days for 50 million people to see his Walmart yodeling video before he got to Coachella and Stagecoach in the Grand Ole Opry and Ellen. I mean those numbers are staggering.
There are three and a half million truck drivers in the states and an additional 5.2 support workers. What happens when an autonomous semi rolls out overnight? I don’t think it’s automation and the future of work that we fear generally. I think it’s the speed of it happening that we fear because I don’t think many of us, us included if we’re automated out tomorrow by a technology that we’ve never heard of that’ll come in and do our jobs for us it’s a bit of a scramble.
We go back to that fear and scarcity mindset that we were talking about earlier, I mean it’s very real. In fact, I was speaking at a conference in Beverly Hills with the head of IBM’s supercomputer Watson and he said that 90% of the information on the Internet today was put there in the last two years. I dove into that a little bit further and Internet traffic is going to triple by 2021.
Austin: The numbers on that are insane.
Eric: I can’t even count them. I mean Cisco said that in 2016 we entered what was called the zettabyte air. A zettabyte is a thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand megabytes, okay? I can’t even picture that. They put it into perspective that’s the equivalent of 250 billion DVDs. Let me ask you when’s the last time you watch the DVD?
Austin: Never, but thinking they hold a decent amount like [crosstalk]
Eric: Yes, I mean oh yes maybe even that too. I mean my point is that automation is inevitable. Innovation is inevitable like we’ve seen it for decades. The speed that is happening now is unprecedented and it’s only a fraction of what we’re going to be seeing. I would say for anyone who’s looking for a job now focus on something where you can use a lot of your soft skills that creativity, that innovation, that problem-solving, that critical thinking, that working with people, that being really human empathetic, sympathetic, and really just working to ultimately solve a problem.
That computers, if you read zero to one or you know I’ve just finished this book it’s called Life 3.0 by Max Descartes. We’re talking singularity and there’s still a lot of debate on that, either way, we’re long or longer than our lifetime away from singularity. This is the better we can work with people and solve problems for better of our being.
Austin: Nicest guy Nets a little ways out.
Eric: Yes, that’s right.
Austin: Awesome. Yes, I totally agree with you on all those points and I think the speed at which stuff is moving is insane. Like the data, thing blows my mind because somebody came out with an article that was like for the up until 1990 or 2000 or whatever there was 16 let’s call it zettabytes ever. Yesterday there was 16 data bytes, your Zettabytes. That’s like we’re doing in a day what took 100 years to do, it’s unbelievable. With this shifting landscape, I think, we’re seeing a lot of this automation or AI or filtration at least in the job search itself. Companies especially these larger entities are filtering out people’s resumes, and you gave the stats earlier, you’re looking at less than 1% of a chance of being hired when you apply online these days. God forbid, you’re coming from a non-traditional background because the machine is looking at specific criteria.
The guy from Harvard who had a major that aligns with this career and then has two years of experience at another decent company, that guy’s getting picked and picked and picked. Whereas you who maybe you were a psych major and this is a finance job, you didn’t work in finance before you were in marketing and now you’re trying to get in, your resume is just getting batted away by all these ATS systems. To me, that’s a shame because the people who– Well, I think the stat right now is that 70% of people out there in a job that’s not related to their college degree.
We change, I’m not the same person I was when I was in college. I don’t think many of us are, our interest change.
Eric: Even last week.
Austin: Yes, exactly, yesterday. Stuff changes overnight like you said with technology. There’s all these new branches that people want to go after but I think they don’t know how because they feel like they went to school for this thing and that’s their experience. Especially if they’re a newer grad or maybe they graduated and they worked in one field for five years but now they want a 180 into something else and they don’t have any experience, they feel stuck. This is something that I obviously work on a lot with the folks in my audience but I’d love to hear from you as we move into this future of work.
One, what skills are people going to need to be successful and how is getting a job, how does the process of getting a job changing?
Eric: Again, I’ll go back, the skills are a lot of the human skills, the creativity, the problem-solving, the critical thinking, the empathetic curiosity, sympathetic, being able to solve problems with people is really what it comes down to. I think that first and foremost you can apply that to numerous things. My grandpa always told me that to be the president of GM you don’t need to know how to drive a car. You just need to know how to manage the people that could drive a car. I thought that was fascinating. Basically what he told me when he said that is that if you want to be in business you just have to be good with people and have a good head on your shoulders.
Obviously, I’m simplifying things a little bit. I just think that that was really powerful. In terms of applying for a new job, I’m going to botch this story but the analogy is more important. There was a young engineer that graduated out of Calgary, which is Canada’s Houston, oil and gas town, absolutely that is what drives the economy there, perhaps not moving forward but we’ll see. Anyways, he was trying to be an engineer on a new pipeline that was being built. I think it was, again, don’t hold me on the numbers but a thousand mile pipeline. They said, “No kid sorry, you don’t have enough experience, come back next year and we’ll see what we can do for you.”
“Fair enough, I’m going to do the project anyways,” and he built the pipeline in whatever program he did and then submitted it to the oil and gas company. They had a team of engineers that built it. He was only of 15 miles off on the whole pipeline that was a thousand miles that went from town a to town B and he did it by himself. Guess what? They gave him a job at two times the salary the day after they realized how close he was because they realized how strong of an asset he was going to be to the team.
Now, whatever you’re doing, whatever anyone is doing, if you know you’re capable of doing the job, prove it. If you can do something for an organization, if you’re a marketing specialist, design something, put a little extra time in, everyone’s talking about a side hustle right now anyways. Make the application your side hustle, talk to the right people, don’t even go to the recruiter, go to the head of sales or go to the president, say, “Hey, really interested in your company, I saw that this is a project that you’re working on. I thought I’d just give my two cents on this. I’m also looking for a job right now.”
CC the recruiter, CC the person that you might know in the company so that everyone’s privy to it. Then what’s going to happen is the CEO is going to go to the recruiter,
“Why didn’t you bring that person on? They’re perfect.” Again, I just think that when it comes to applying for jobs when we’re looking at the future of work we’re just putting our time in the wrong places. Instead of guessing and checking and putting as many irons in the fire as possible.
What I think we really need to do first is to slow down, to understand ourself, to get a little bit more introspective, to see what our definition of success, fulfillment, and happiness looks like, to see what lifestyle we want to live, what people we want to work with, what lived experience we want to have while we’re on the job. Write all of that down. In fact something I said to someone I was coaching before is, write down the 20 non-starters that you want to have in every day. Wake up with a cup of coffee, go for a run after work, get a hug from your girlfriend, your boyfriend or whatever it is. I’m not talking big things.
20 things that make you smile in a day and then draw out a day that ultimately enables those things to happen and then go find that job. Anyone who doesn’t think that job exists is wrong. Again, it’s that scarcity mindset that’s telling us it’s not there. Take a little bit of time focusing on ourselves and the experience and the life that we want to live, put a little bit of extra side hustle effort into it, circumnavigate the recruitment process altogether and follow up with the resume. Make connections, do all the things, be creative, problem-solve, identify all those skills of the future that we were talking about, exemplify it and go get that dream job.
Austin: I love it, I’m totally on board with this because this is what I preach every day but two things to that. One of the biggest hurdles for the people in my rounds that I found is that they don’t know what they want to do. I think that is because we tend to box ourselves in. We’re like, “Well, I’m not sure if I want to be in Account Manager at Salesforce. I don’t know. Is that my passion or is it not?” We tend to box ourselves in that way by job title, by industry, “Do I want to be in finance? Do I want to be a physical therapist or a personal trainer?”
The problem is for a lot of us you haven’t lived that life and there’s no way to know whether you’d like it or not. That’s what that I think. The points you made earlier are fantastic where if you don’t get hired for a role, the job description doesn’t tell you, “Here are all the things that you can expect and we’ll be doing and this is how you will feel about it.” It’s impossible. I think from the conversations I’ve had it’s almost like people expect to wake up in the middle of the night and be like, “I need to be in sales at Lululemon,” and then like fuck it, just everything just flows out of their head and they go hit the computer and they apply and they get the job and life is amazing.
It has never worked like that ever. If you haven’t experienced something, you can’t know that you will like it or not. It’s almost impossible to do. What I tell people to do instead is exactly what you mentioned. Think about stuff that doesn’t have to do with work or that has to do with work but something makes you happy. Is being able to leave the office at 3:00 every day to go see your kid at baseball practice or work on a side hustle or whatever, is that important to you? If so, check. Is living in Vancouver or New York, a city like that important to you or do you want to live in somewhere smaller? Check.
Do you want to be able to have some creative freedom? Are you a creative left-brain person? Great, check. You put together all that stuff and then you take a look at what your life looks and then you go out and find a job that matches. Rather than trying to find this job that will be like a passion for you, figure out what you’re passionate about, figure out what makes you happy and then find a job that allows you to do that because that’s the only way you’re going to get it right. I think what’s also scary for people is that the application process is broken in my opinion on both ends, from the company’s side and the candidate side.
I think on the candidate side the reason it’s broken is because when we ask people for advice, you and I might be a little bit different because people might look at us and be, “Well, Eric knows Austin and Austin knows Eric. If I’m struggling with a question about culture, I’ll go ask the international expert, Eric sitting across from me.” When we were all growing up the people that we would go to for advice were the same, friends, family, teachers. If you’re getting a job, maybe college counselor, a career counselor.
The problem is the advice that all those people gave are the same, it hasn’t changed at all. It’s tweak your resume, tweak your cover letter, send it out to 80,000 account manager jobs, it’s a numbers game, hopefully, you hear back.” That’s the formula, and it’s crazy because people run on the hamster wheel, they send out applications, they send out applications, they don’t hear back, they get frustrated but they keep doing it because they’re not sure what else to do. The stuff that you’re saying here and the stuff that I teach is very, very different. There’s a lot more perceived risk because you have to go and build the relationship with a stranger. You have to prove out your value. You have to do all this other stuff. From what I’ve seen based off, you know I have my course and people go through it. The people who follow all the advice to a tee and then are willing to find some creative solutions to hurdles that they run into. Their success rate of landing a job is close to 100% which is crazy but not something that I ever expected. Those people, they’re just more afraid to step outside the box and go after it. I think that’s really what it’s going to take, it’s got to be more about relationship building. It’s going to be more about proving out your value ahead of time. There’s so many people out there who have done the job beforehand. One question for you, I’m just curious to see how you’ll answer it. When I get pushback on doing the job before you have the job, a lot of people say, “Well, what if that engineer, what if the company just stole his plans and his idea, and they took it and they never gave him the job?” What then?
Eric: What if you applied to 100 jobs and you never got a callback? I mean, that’s the risk you’re going to take if you’re pitching any entrepreneurial idea. I told you about a new startup and you took it and ran with it. Yes, there’s a lot of risks. What if you drive downtown without a seat belt on? There’s a risk there too. There’s a risk everywhere and I think that unless we realize the reward versus the risk, we’re never going to get anywhere. What if you forget to tie your shoe when you walk out the door and trip onto the middle of traffic? Yes, there’s a risk for sure. I like to put a little bit more faith in humanity than it is just that’s the case. Even in that example that I use, maybe they did take it, and maybe they didn’t. At the same time you can still take the copy that you have at home and say, “Hey look this is what I did for the other company,” and then show somebody else.
The fact is you put the time and the effort in. The one thing I want to sort of applaud you on is that a lot of the times through this interview you’ve used the word passionate and not passion. I think one of the best intended worst pieces of advice is this, “Go and find your passion. Go follow your passion.” The truth is, is that you and I and everyone else are passionate about 100 things. I think what happens is, the more we try and find or follow our passion, we end up chasing happiness and not realizing happiness. The realization is that happiness is all around us and we’ve got it. Maybe we’ve already made it. Maybe we’re here where we need to be. The kicker here and we said this before, what if I just wake up and have this epiphany basically? The truth is that we don’t know what we don’t know.
What if when you get into this job that we hadn’t really had about from a company that doesn’t have a globally recognized logo and we realized that this experience is far better than anything we would have imagined because we’re aligned with people who have so much experience? We don’t know this until we go out and look for it. If you want to talk about risk, yes that’s a risk too. I’d prefer rather to take that risk and learn what I don’t like than not take the risk and be stuck in my ways for rest of my life thinking I’ve got it all figured out. I like what you’re saying, find the things that make you feel passionate. Start realizing happiness instead of chasing something that you don’t really know exist. I think we’ll all be personally surprised.
Austin: Awesome, I love it. Eric, you shared a ton of awesome information and advice with us about culture, the future of work. If you had to leave folks with the number one piece of advice, number one takeaway that they can go act on tonight, tomorrow, next 24 hours, what would that be?
Eric: Take Austin’s course. Do that, it’s great. I would just say, start to get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s really what it comes down to because meeting new people, it doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert or an introvert. It’s not easy. There’s always risks, we’re always stuck and then fear, “What if they don’t like me? What if they think?” We’ve all gotten unconscious biases, don’t suggest that you and I don’t either. Nobody considers that we don’t. The difference is that people surprise us all the time, and for anyone who’s watching this today, be that person that surprises somebody. Make sure that you’re doing everything that Austin’s course says. If you’re interested pickup Rethink Work on amazon.ca. Canadian, you are talking to here, so it’s amazon.ca. I’m sure Austin will throw a link in the comments. Just try something different, start learning a little bit more about yourself. Start being a little bit more introspective. Start taking little baby steps into the unknown and I think you’ll surprise yourself and the people around you with what you’ll discover.
Austin: Definitely. Just a take I started on, one of my favorite things that for some reasons always stuck with me, how you go to a talk, or you read a book and out of all the books and talks you listen to, there’s one story or one anecdote, a few that sticks with you. One for me about getting outside your comfort zone, Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek, I’m sure you’re familiar. He went to Princeton and he gave this talk, and he basically said, he tried to encourage people to do what you said. He wanted people to get out of their comfort zone and to reach out to people they’ve never met before. He offered the class. He said, “For anyone of you, whoever can get in touch with the objectively coolest person and get them to reply then I’ll buy you a round trip ticket anywhere in the world, no problem.”
After a couple of weeks goes by he checks with the professor and not even a single person had sent an email. If somebody had emailed their mom, and just sent it to the professor and said, “I emailed my mom.” Tim would have had to buy them round-trip flight. The next time he went and he told the students– He offered the next class the same deal but he told the story how nobody reached out to anybody. That class had a bunch of people who got in touch with Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and people like that. This insane business people just because they literally took the time to do a little bit of research and send an email, and put themselves out there. It was the same for me when I was growing up my parents would always make me like, if I wanted to go eat somewhere, they’d make me go call and make the reservation. I hated it when I was young because I was like, “I don’t want to adults, I’m an introvert naturally and that’s uncomfortable for me.”
Doing that led into later in life, I just wasn’t afraid to send any person an email because the worst case, they don’t reply to me or they’re saying, “No.” If I don’t put myself out there then I don’t have anything to gain. I think the best way to practice this, is to just pick one person every day, or one person a week if that’s easier, and say, “I’m going to send them an email.” Just start there. I love that advice because connecting with people, building your network, so taking people from the unknown part of your network and bringing them into your meaningful network is really going to be the game changer in the future. Moving forward for your career, for business, for literally anything you want to do in life. Eric, I appreciate you stopping by. I appreciate the advice. I will definitely put a link to Rethink Work which everybody can find on amazon.ca. I’ll put a link below the video. Where else can people find you? Where else can they watch your talks? Tell us a little bit more before we head out of here.
Eric: Yes, I’m just getting into the YouTube game, just starting but LinkedIn is my primary social media for sure and my website which is just firstnamelastname.com. I sure will have a link to the bottom there but if anyone wants to reach out, connect or follow online, I would love to have chats. Thanks for your time too, Austin, I appreciate it.
Austin: You got it there, we’ll talk to you soon man. Take care.
Eric: Cool. Bye-bye.
Austin is the founder of Cultivated Culture where he helps people land jobs without connections, without traditional experience, and without applying online. His strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, & Fast Company and has helped people just like you land jobs at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, & more.