OnDeck - External Job Search
For OnDeck users - Ben and Kevin will use our Crunchbase Pro Account to run a filtered search
Part I of II: Searching for the right company - My recommended process for how to think about your next career move.
I'm thinking about my next job.
Where do you think I should work next?
Which companies do you think are interesting?
I think it's time for me to consider the next phase in my career.
I've heard the above statements a lot over the years. With so many factors involved in making a career move, it's hard to know where to start or know what decision is the right one. As I've gotten further along in my career, I've become better and better at helping people navigate this challenge.
Reverse Engineering your Next Right Move
I've found that this thought experiment creates a lot of focus.
Imagine your resume 3-5 years from now, after you've taken this next role. What do you want it to show? Specifically, when you think of applying to your ideal future job, say VP of [Sales, Customer Success, BD, Product, Eng, etc.], what are the minimum requirements for that role that you want to have completed in this role, so you're qualified to apply for that next-level job?
Even if you're at the very beginning of your next-move exploration, you already have a list of goals you want to achieve in your head. It might look something like:
- I want to get paid more
- I want to work on a smaller team where I have a larger impact
- I want to improve my core sales skills
- I want to manage a team, and at a company headquartered in the city I live in
When you start from the future and work backward, you get clear on what you need to achieve work wise at this next job. So I encourage you to go through the thought experiment. Keep at it until you can clearly articulate 2-3 distinct requirements to add to your list. What do you need in terms of management experience, experience negotiating large deals, recruiting a team, working internal, presenting to a board, reporting to a CEO or VP, etc. to successfully make a move after this one? Figure that out, and write it down.
After that, I recommend you do a career retrospective and examine more of what you do and don't like about your past jobs.
Think of moments when you were most passionate or most frustrated with your job. Try to examine things that got you excited, who got you excited, what got you excited and vice versa. This information will help you get a better understanding of your work self. How important working closely with your boss or team? Do you like training or teaching vs. completing and achieving your individual goals? The more you enjoy what you do, the better at it you'll be.
It's also critical to understand how important money is to you. Would you take 30% less salary for a better company with a more exciting role?
Put all of this information together, and you've got your "next job goal" list. It'll be your benchmark as you review, apply, and interview for roles at companies.
Understanding Risk is the Next Step
Now that you've done the work to understand what you want to get out of your next role, it's time to think about specific companies.
You probably realize this already, but unfortunately, there's no easy way to find the best ten companies to work for given the custom nature of a job search. But I can offer you some guidelines that work well for finding and systematically narrowing down your top choice of companies.
The first variable you'll want to consider is risk.
An early-stage startup has a high risk in terms of base salary and equity that may be worth nothing. Larger companies, on the other hand, face issues of being much larger, slower, and political organizations. They're often are looking for specialization in a very specific role over a generalist who can do a lot of things.
Risk typically manifests itself in the overall number of employees and rounds/size of funding. Here's an excellent example of questions to ask yourself if you're not sure what your best fit is risk-wise.
Focus your List with Online Tools and the 4-Step Filter
You’ve figured out your "next job goals," and you understand your risk level. Now you want the names and info on real companies.
At this stage, I recommend you use a trial of Mattermark to easily and quickly do your search. Crunchbase, angel.co, YCompanies, and Cbinsights also are excellent free resources for aggregating companies pre IPO. Also, check the companies' direct websites, then angel.co and Linkedin for posted jobs. VentureLoop is a great way to find all the jobs from a specific firm, and Monday.com is a great resource, too.
Now it's time to filter. Use this six-step process to narrow down your list.
- Location. This is the easiest. Most of the time, it's a deal breaker if the job isn't where you live or where you are trying to or willing to relocate to.
- Industry. AdTech, MarTech, B2B, Consumer, Media, Energy, etc. -- You likely have to stick with what you know or start at the bottom.
- Funding Stage. This is the number of funding rounds that a company has completed. 1‐Pre-Seed/Seed, 2‐Series A, 3‐Series B. This is also a good proxy for the level of risk, number of employees, levels of middle management, etc. Personally, I like to be at a company post‐Seed and during the A the most.
- Role. Once you have a focused list of companies, do some research on the senior leadership and which of the C or VP level leaders you want to work with. Check out available jobs, but don’t get too attached to specific ones. Early stage companies will be growing quickly and will give you a chance to grow alongside them. (Another tip: Try to find a way to get your resume in front of senior leaders and be willing to do anything to be on the team. More on this in Part II.)
From here you can use tools to create a list of 10-25 companies to target, review openings and find a way to get an intro. Also look at the Sr. leaders in the company, especially leaders in the same role / part of the company as you - One of them will likely be your manager or your manager’s manager.
- Manager. Most important, in my opinion, is finding a great manager for your career growth. This is especially true in your first few jobs. A close second is company culture. Make sure that you want to spend the majority of your life over the next few years in the trenches working with these people.
- Intangibles/Personal preference. This is where things like you should filter for the role, growth rate, exp of team, culture, traction, etc.
By now, your list should be pretty short. The number of NYC based, post series A but pre B companies in AdTech is pretty small. For most verticals, you should have less than 50 companies to choose from. Go ahead and rank these companies based on your "next job goals." Ideally, you’ve focused your list to 20 or less. If you start applying right away, be sure to use Jobtrac to keep track.
You're ready to move onto the interview stage. We'll go into details on how to land them, ace them, and make the most of your offer in Part II.