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Paris, France
My friends think I'm a jet-setting international playboy...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summary of my job search

In May the U.S. unemployment rate climbed back to 9.1%. In June I received 3 really good job offers. I'm not trying to brag; however, I have written a couple of posts about finding jobs and it turns out my methods may have worked. This post will be longer than my usual posts and will share the details of the interesting story of just how I got a job. I will conclude with 7 useful points.

About a year ago, on my own dime (about $450) I went on a field trip with some classmates to San Francisco to meet with distinguished alum and tour their companies. We met with Mark Paul, Division President of then Boston Scientific's Neurovascular division (#305 Fortune 500). My dream job was to work for a Fortune 500 medical device company and so I asked Mark how I could get a job at his company. It was a bold move and he more or less dismissed it. But I didn't stop there. He had mentioned that he wanted to help start a life science MBA program at the U and I happened to be president of a club of students interested in the life sciences. After our meeting I asked if I could help and he gave me his card. I must have sent him half a dozen emails and called three or four times over the next 4 months with no response.

Last fall I happened to see Mark at a medical device conference in Park City. I approached him during a networking break and he actually remembered me. Turns out all of my attempts to contact him weren't in vain and he was impressed with my persistence. After some small talk he asked me if I was still interested in working for Boston Scientific and agreed to help me get a job. Pause there.

Around the same period I went to a job fair in Salt Lake City and met a recruiter from Merit Medical, a local mid-sized medical device company. I applied for one of their jobs and got rejected, but I had a couple of really great interactions with them.

Also last fall I flew to Chicago for a job fair. It cost me about $500. While there I happened to sit on a hotel shuttle next to an employ of Abbott Labs (#69 Fortune 100) - a company I really wanted to work for. Turns out he was one of the top 50 employees in a company of about 90,000 employees, worked in their vascular device division and happened to know some people in the company. I impressed him and he told me he would make some connections for me. We kept in touch for about 6 months. Finally I purchased a plain ticket, found a friend of a friend to let me couch surf in San Francisco where he was located and told him I was going to be in town and asked if I could meet with a recruiter. He did better than that and set up meetings with the top marketing folks in his division.

Then I emailed Mark, whose division had just been purchased by Stryker (#323 Fortune 500), and told him I was going to be in town and asked if he would set up an appointment with a recruiter. He also did better and set up meetings with his top marketing folks.

I flew to San Francisco ($650) and had a marathon of 10 interviews in two days. Both sets of interviews were set up as informational interviews, but both turned into job interviews as both companies informed me that they recently had openings. A month later I found myself back in San Fran for final interviews. More on that later.

In the meantime, a Salt Lake City based medical device company Merit Medical contacted me about another position. A classmate of mine had landed a job there and put in a really good word for me. I interviewed and they called me a week later with an offer. I had to turn them down because I was holding out for San Fran and they wanted a decision quicker than I was willing to make one. But it did help to speed up the process in the Bay Area as both Abbott and Stryker were willing to rush the interview process to accommodate.

During my final interviews I gave them my best. I dropped every name I knew, showed as much passion and energy as I could and prayed like crazy. The hiring manager at Stryker summarized my situation best. He said, "You have a lousy MBA with no work experience, but you met Mark and bugged him like crazy until he finally gave you an opportunity at Stryker and you met some random guy on a bus in Chicago who gave you an opportunity at Abbott. You're a go-getter who takes initiatives and you're a likable guy. That's why you are interviewing for this position and nobody else is."

Not only did both companies give me offers, but knowing about each other they both fought over me. It felt really good to be wanted. I took the job at Stryker because it was a better fit and I start July 5.

In spite of all this information, I've mentioned merely a fraction of what I did to get these jobs. I didn't mention the random people who would share bits of information about the companies or people who made connections for me on LinkedIn and all of the names I would drop in these interviews because I knew so many people, or the hundreds of jobs I would apply for at these companies so the recruiters knew me inside and out before I even met them because my resume had come across their desk so many times (I'm still getting rejection notifications for jobs I applied for).

What I learned:
  1. To get a good job sometimes you have to create opportunities for yourself. In my case I flew around the country, sent dozens of emails, made dozens of phone calls, cultivated hundreds of relationships, applied for too many jobs to count and took every opportunity I could to get advice and a chance.
  2. Be likable. Not sure how to help you with this one, but likable people are given opportunities.
  3. Network like crazy. Everything worthwhile in my life comes from my relationships with people I care about.
  4. It takes money to make money. In my case it cost me about $1600 to get a job. 
  5. Sometimes you get lucky. It was pure serendipity that I sat next to one of the top leaders in a company I really wanted to work for.
  6. Business is about making money. Ask yourself how you are going to make a company money, or at least add value.
  7. To get your dream job (or maybe even just a job) you have to work hard and do things differently than the rest of the applicants out there.