In Search of Occupation

Table of Contents
  1. 1. In Search of Occupation
  2. 2. Natural Cycle of Collaboration
  3. 3. The Prerequisites of Searching for a Job
  4. 4. The Day of Judgement
  5. 5. If You Didn’t Get the Job
  6. 6. If You Got the Job
  7. 7. If They Fired You

Last Thursday, during an awesome Thanksgiving party, my friend told me that he is probably getting fired and he must start looking for a job. Coincidently, my mentor, Amir Sedighi, published this post in Persian to talk about what he has learned during his career. After being fired for “20+ times”, he launched his Machine Learning as a Service startup which is currently serving so many big companies in Iran. I have been following Amir for more than 4 years, and I have learned many things from him.

With this in mind, I decided to translate his post to English; mainly to change a boring weekend to a fruitful one. Perhaps my friend and also some other people find it useful. This is not my first time translating a Persian text to English. But this is probably the first time that I am trying to be loyal to the source as much as I can; bear with me if it is not well written; the original text was much more interesting.

In Search of Occupation

In almost no other field, I have this much experience that I have in getting jobs/projects. I have been fired more than 20 times so far; sometimes gently, sometimes seriously was told not to show up again.
Here, I do not want count the things causing me to lose my jobs; as for everybody there is something. Rather, I will talk about some simple techniques helping not to panic after losing a job.

Natural Cycle of Collaboration

The first thing to know is that no collaboration is eternal. Even if the company belongs to us, it is possible to not to work there forever. All of us have heard the story of Steve Jobs being fired from Apple. The natural cycle of collaboration looks like this:

  • Acquaintance: via sending résumé, friendship, networking, or nepotism.

  • Beginning of Collaboration - or Probation Period: the period which we find ourselves in the new job. It is like the engagement period, the parties do not reveal their true selves.

  • Bringing Value: the time when we got familiar to the values of the environment. We don’t hesitate to be ourselves. Therefore, we give our whole power, creativity, and talent to our organization. At the same time, they have also known how to deal with us.

  • Ending: It is possible that you leave your organization by your own to join a better one; maybe you have struggles, or maybe you get fired, and maybe you leave the organization to continue your education. There can be a thousand of reasons. “Mute my tongue” 1, maybe we die or the organization goes bankrupt. No collaboration is eternal.

The first and the last stage will surely take place for any collaboration. However, if you are a “good gene” 2, it is not important to take the two middle steps (frankly speaking, there is nothing worse than being a “good gene.” It is better to be yourself. How do you know what the life is when you always count on another person?). But definitely, you start one day and on another day, the collaboration ends.

If we understand this natural cycle, we know that one of these days, we will go to the next stage; and it is normal.

The Prerequisites of Searching for a Job

In order to get a good job, it is necessary to develop some characteristics in ourselves (I wrote them according to their priority).

Heads up: I have written this for people in IT industry. Maybe, there are different priorities for other occupations.

When we are starting to search, we must have these characteristics:

  1. Passion: passion of life, passion of being useful, passion of collaboration with that particular team, particular project, particular company, or at least the field which we claim we are interested in. Where does this passion come from? I will talk about it in part 5.

  2. Self Confidence: believe that jobs are given to your confidence and passion. The rest is story. In order to build your confidence and have a firm hand on the tiller 3, read part 5.

  3. Freedom: Some people might think that getting a new job is like waiting in line in a gas station. They negotiate with some companies and eventually get the best offer. I think this doesn’t work. Getting a new job is not like picking a line in a gas station. Sleight does not work. You are going to spend 8 hours of best days of your life with that team. You should choose the job based on parameters which you can not even describe to anyone; the ones which are deeply implanted in your gut and emotions. So it is better to be free in searching for a job. Your mind should be focused on the desired characteristics of your job. Maybe you will be offered well-paid positions which do not match your values. You must refuse them at the first place and freely search for your desire. In order to think freely and choose correctly, you should know yourself (the next paragraph).

  4. Excellent Knowledge of Yourself: you must know which fields you are talented in. Know your weaknesses. If you have started searching but still don’t know which job and project you must work in, no problem; however, don’t have high expectations from your search. In order to know yourself, you must have had experience. Only the gauge of experience will show our limits to ourselves and others.

  5. Work Sample (Experience): Work samples show that you have related experience. And it is never enough to talk about the importance of experience. Experience makes you different. Having good experience level in a particular field tells so many things. Long experience shows that you have had so many highs and lows. You have faced the pressure of tough days. You know how a smart solution can put the work so many months ahead of the schedule. You know how to deal with teammates and managers.
    Having a résumé full of buzzwords does not have to do anything with experience. Surprisingly, experts’ résumés usually goes deep toward particular certain axes. They know what they are doing. They didn’t trade their interest with money; so they became expert in their interests.
    Well, I know, It got like the chicken or the egg causality dilemma: If you have not worked so far, how will you have work samples and experience? The answer is just to put time by yourself (or with friends) for yourself and implement a project of your interest. You must take this way, it works.
    Gaining experience lets you to know your internal motivations. It adds up your passion. Probably, there is a difference between the person who after ten years, is still willing to learn and solve problems in a particular field and the person who just liked a video on Youtube. Experience shapes your confidence. When you have experience, your memory is full of issues which you have resolved. Not to worry, you will be able to solve the next problems too. Experience also broadens and deepens your network. When an employer is looking for a reference to assess you, he will know you easier and comes to the conclusion earlier.

  6. Certificate: Having a certificate is like food decoration. If the meal is delicious, the dressing will be delightful. Taste and quality of the food is experience and other previous items. If you are pragmatic, having a certificate can be advantageous.
    In fact, in our field (computer engineering) certificate is not very important. It is true everywhere in the world; no matter if it is good or bad. I studied masters’ of software until the dissertation. But believe me, no one has ever asked me about my education. Whenever I say this, the fellows who have studied software engineering get offended and say software is not only programming … Well, I agree with them, but the people who are very very good do not search for a job; jobs are searching for them. So here, we talk about the guys who are not as expert as others.

The Day of Judgement

The interview day is the day of judgement to examine your claims. It’s a great opportunity. You can know the demands of the market. You can make new friends.

Usually, during the interview, the employer is trying to find the answer of these three questions:

  • Do we like her personality?
  • What does he bring to the team?
  • What is the cost of matching her to the team?

However, they cannot directly ask those questions. So they will ask some other questions:

  1. They put a classic questionnaire in front of you containing the questions which they found by googling. Childish questions that are asked in every interview whose answers also can easily be found with google. Basically, I don’t know why people ask such ridiculous questions. They ask them anyway; I ask them too.

  2. Depending on their need, they will bring up the problems that they are currently facing and searching people for to solve. You explain the solutions coming to your mind. Now, they have an idea of what you are made of 4. And you know how much they are stuck in the mud and how much they need you. Here you can get a better estimation on the price of your work.

In order to answer type 1 questions, it is enough to do some googling. To answer type 2 questions, you must use your creativity, your knowledge, and your experience.

The worst thing to happen is not failing to get the job. The worst misfortune is joining a wrong team and wasting your and their time. For that reason, be brutally honest and tell the truth. Maybe you are really not a good fit for the job. Do not insist to get it. 5

If you certainly believe that you are a good match for the position and can truly bring value to the team, explicitly mention it during the conversation. However, say this only if you are sure. If you bluff even a little bit, they will undoubtedly figure it out. As everyone is able to bluff, everyone knows how bluffing looks like; so be honest. Honesty by itself makes you obtain a big credit. They are usually more experienced than you and will notice your integrity.

If You Didn’t Get the Job

The ultimate luck is to not to join wrong teams and on the other hand, being found by the right teams. If you could not get the job, honestly answer these questions to yourself alone:

  • Was I really fit for the job?
  • Couldn’t they find a person better than me?
  • Do I want to imagine myself in that job 10 years from now?

To be honest, I am glad for all the jobs I didn’t get. Not getting the wrong job and on the other side, not getting the wrong guy is fortunate for both sides.

If You Got the Job

If you got the job, start with passion and trust. Don’t waste the money you earn on unnecessary stuff. Don’t immediately upgrade your computer. Don’t give your money away for camera, TV, etc. pronto. Be patient a bit. Give yourself some time. Until you don’t have money for about 6-12 months, do not throw your money away.

Work in a way that the company belongs to you. Work with love. This is the opportunity you attained to develop your skills. You lose your life by wasting your time.

On average, spend one hour a day to study the things you need for your next project/team/job. Always remember that this is not your last job. Even if you stay in the same company and in the same team, upgrade yourself and your environment. Build the best possible relationship with your teammates and your employer. Gain credit. Nonetheless, while you are toiling for the company, keep in mind that this company is not the end of the world.

If They Fired You

It’s a good sign. I have been fired 20+ times. One of the employers who have fired me 4 times is now one of my best friends. Being fired is not the end of the world. Being fired is natural. It happens. It can be due to a misunderstanding or due to several work-related and economic reasons. In short, don’t quarrel with yourself and the world. It happens.

When you get fired, you can go to an unplanned trip if you have enough savings. During our life, we rarely have such chances to go on trips which we don’t know when they finish. It can be a hike in one of the beautiful areas of Iran. I don’t recommend going to Thailand or Turkey and come back with an empty wallet.

While you are working for others, you must come back to work after your vacation ends. But during the period between quitting a job and starting another, you have the chance to adventure. Start a travel in which you don’t know what happens the day after. When you come back home, you’ll well realize that searching for a job is not a big challenge for you.

This travel helps you to strengthen your morale. When you get away from your place and your city, you see that the world is not only about that company and that team. It was not really important that you got fired. The world is astoundingly big. Nobody cares that you got into problems with that company X and you got fired. The never ending opportunities are waiting for the people who have the courage to challenge themselves and vet their own capabilities. Find your own limit and take a step further every time. No one can prevent you from progress; neither can they put you in a successful position. It is only you and you. In order to architect your professional personality, you already have everything you need.

  1. 1.The Persian idiom "زبونم لال" is used when people want to imagine a horrific scenario. I literally translated that. Any suggested translation is welcome. -- Translator
  2. 2."ژن خوب": Another idiom which is literally translated. It is a metaphor for a person who got the position due to nepotism. -- Translator
  3. 3.Another idiom ("توپ تکونتون نده"). I wish I have done a good job in translation. -- Translator
  4. 4.Yet another idiom ("چند مرد حلاج"). This idiom is used when one's capabilities are being vetted. -- Translator
  5. 5.Because I have made the very same mistake I put this part in quote block. In the original text, it wasn't quoted. -- Translator
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