Every year I host the Manageers Conference, the largest career conference in Austria, which connects the brightest young minds with the awesome employers. We provide young talents from all disciplines with a setting that makes it easy for them to get in touch with employers and CEOs, the conference’s content lubricating this symbiosis. Participants can engage in job interviews with awesome companies like Runtastic, Deloitte, Xing; they can participate in workshops with companies such as karriere.at; and they can meet the top managers of companies like Coca-Cola, Hutchinson 3, Virtue Austria, Accenture, Pinterest, Uber and Meltwater.
We spend the entire year working on evaluating and selecting the best talents for the Manageers Conference and we’ve done a pretty good job in the past years. But every year we are confronted with one daunting fact: In Austria we lack the “let’s f****ing do this!” culture that it takes to get things done. The root cause is the Austrian “gemütlichkeit” – a cultural phenomena – coupled with an educational system that is misaligned with the needs of global labor market. We talk instead of doing. We chill instead of working. We delay instead of finishing. We are underperformers in comparison to our international counterparts. What our cultural and educational system breeds is a generation of young talents who fail to act professionally, who fail to move their asses and who lack the initiative it takes to make a career for themselves. Here are some situations and tips for young talents to break out of this vicious cycle and succeed in getting the job you want.
For God’s sake, be professional
I receive around five job applications per day. Of these five, four candidates fail before I’ve even met them. I receive CVs in Word format instead of PDF format. I receive letters of motivation that bore the hell out of me, always starting with the same boring sentence. I receive CVs of candidates who have tried to be “creative” using Word Art and pretty graphics – unless you’re applying for an Art Director position, cut the crap. I receive emails with the name of another company instead of mine in the subject. If you really want the job, do the effort and be professional. Write up a letter of motivation and CV that is tailored to my company and position and isn’t simply copy-pasted from your previous application. Remember, the recruiters you are writing to receive hundreds of applications. Stand out from the crowd, be professional and be authentic.
“If you’ve spent several years reading and memorizing books, whilst volunteering as a “Board Member” in some student organizations, then that’s really cute. But you know nothing.”
Experience is everything and you know nothing
For some reason, the universities teach us that we are rockstars and the employers are our groupies, waiting to grab us as soon as we receive that ridiculous piece of paper, which confirms that we can memorize stuff. Just because you’ve graduated from a decently ranked University doesn’t mean you’re a hero. If you’ve spent several years reading and memorizing books, whilst volunteering as a “Board Member” in some student organizations, then that’s really cute. But you know nothing. If you haven’t been out there gaining international experience (yes, international experience at no-name companies beats local experiences at well-known companies), getting your hands dirty in uncertain, absurdly irrational environments, then you should start now. The good news: understanding that you know nothing is the first step to advancing your career. You now have the chance to gain the experience that will transfer you from a state of knowing nothing to knowing something. Look for a job in a startup or small business, your learning curve will be a lot steeper than if you become a better-paid administrator in a large corporation. Cut that attitude of yours and focus on gaining real, international work experience fast if you want to hit the floor running. And by the way (this is for the guys), wearing cufflinks and a pocket square in your job interview is not professional, it’s absolutely ridiculous (unless you’re a Senior Managing Partner at Goldman Sachs).
Move your ass
The next time you visit a recruiting event (such as the Manageers Conference) you will go there prepared. You will do your research on the companies and representatives attending, you will know what positions they are hiring for and you will know all the important facts about the company, what they do, how they operate, who their major clients are, what they have been up to in the past months, who their competitors are and what their profit figures look like (yes, I am telling you to look at their profit & loss accounts). You will bring your business cards with you as well as your immaculate CV, which follows the guidelines of professional CV writing (check out the live CV Check of karriere.at at the Manageers Conference). You will approach the company’s CEO directly, approaching them when they leave the stage after their talk. You will introduce yourself with the claim that you have seen their open position and you are really interested in working for their company. You will give them your business card and your CV and you will try to tell them something that will stick, something they will remember you by. The follow-up email you will send to the CEO the next day, thanking them for the interesting conversation and attaching your CV again, will be the icing on the cake. If you’re lucky, the recruiters will contact you after the CEO forwards your CV to them and you will have an entirely different bargaining position, having demonstrated your drive and eagerness to work for their company. Move your ass and show some initiative. It’s not that difficult.
Benjamin Ruschin is Managing Director of Vienna Digital. He hosts the Manageers Conference, which allows young talents to connect with >40 CEOs, engage in live job interviews with companies such as XING, Runtastic, Deloitte & ÖBB and engage in “Meet the CEO” workshops. Moreover, Benjamin is Co-Founder of WeAreDevelopers.org, the leading community for developers and IT specialists in Europe and host of the WeAreDevelopers Conference, the largest developers conference in Central & Eastern Europe. Get in touch via eMail or LinkedIn.