I have spent a few years in a start-up company and have encountered so many others along the way. Experiencing start-ups encourages you to change how you work because the fundamental difference between start-ups and established companies is that the bottom line is more fragile for the former. Because of that, there is higher value for time and better appreciation on how things are done. So here are the 10 things that start-ups taught me but don’t just consider it as a listicle. As you go through these, make the effort to look at how you do things in your own work and figure out how you can make it better and why you want to do so.
1. Time is short
We were told to “reach for our dreams” so we grew up trying and exploring hobbies, interests and identities. But we were taking too much time and they hardly brought food on the table, so were told to make more “practical choices” for our future. So we toiled, did the leg work, suffered the consequences of haphazardly-constructed processes and accepted brief rewards as fee. They said this was real work but it felt meaningless so we questioned whether there was something more. To this they told us that it wouldn’t feel much like work if we discover our “passions”.
Companies that are celebrated in the past decade offer freedom of movement in and out of the office, decentralize decision-making, mold culture exalting individualism and collaboration, foster what Bob Johansen calls in Leaders make the Future “diasporas of makers,” and where leaders involve themselves in the “messy processes.” However, among the whole labor force, there’s only a tiny percent who are fortunate enough to work for these companies. Like I said before, it is a choice – a choice to find ways to get in these companies and a choice not to go the extra mile. Nevertheless, those who need or want more flexibility and self-controlled work don’t necessarily get to work in companies that allow that. This leads some to be freelancers – first as a sideline, then full-time.
I am officially 2 years and 6 months into my freelancing stint. Many are curious as to what exactly I do and many of them forget because unlike most, I’m not identified with a specific title. Some are envious that I have better control of my time, but very few truly understand how much hard work I have to put in to sustain it. I know more people who have been freelancing way longer, working from home, taking care of their families, taking enough personal time and so on, but I doubt if anyone really understands what it takes to make all that happen.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s a bad side to freelancing and I’ve experienced them all, and I’d like to think that I’m not alone in some of them at least. So I’ll give them all a go:
The company CEO quits his job to be a full-time Dad.
A prominent PR firm executive give everything up for a life of travel and photography.
This 30-year old is valued at millions of dollars and is now retiring.
Five things all successful people do to start their day.
These are the headlines that catch the attention of working professionals like us who are trying to look for tips, tricks, secrets and short-cuts to having the good life. For many, corporate work has become a chronic disease. It persists on controlling at least 8 hours of your day (if you’re lucky) as you adult your way through life. What you can and cannot do in that life depends on the compensation that your industry has decided you deserve based on what you can and should do.
This all sounds like an uneducated simplification of the complicated existence of economy, but that’s what all of this is to the hard and hardly working individual working up, around, and behind the corporate ladder punching numbers, negotiating deals or cleaning the floor. So it is not surprising that we are re-living our own version of the mid-60’s liberal movement that’s all about self-discovery and living in the now. The hippies of our parents became the hipsters of today. The baby boomers and angry Gen X’s gave birth to the seemingly incomprehensible Millennial. But compared to the let it all go and live for peace motto from half a century ago, our contemporary version is the constant search for work-life balance.
In a time when “how to ace your interview” and “what to ask to make an impression” are at our finger tips, we expect a higher level of interaction in recruitment. This may be true in more progressive industries, but many applicants missed the lecture on application basics. This is absolutely surprising since a simple “best resume” search in Google gives you numerous results. We, Filipinos, spend an average of 3 hours and 42 minutes on social media every day (Global Web Finder, Q4 2015). Surely we can spare one minute looking at a listicle about job applications!
For your benefit, I put together these 21 basics on applying for a job based on my experience in candidate sourcing and screening. Recruiters and head hunters will definitely be familiar with these. Some may find them trivial but these will surely be news for what proved to be a whole lot of people.