But What Do They See?
Do you ever feel just plain unseen?
like nobody really gets you?
I get it
You must’ve sent 100+ applications
You’re starting to question your entire worth
“If only they took the time…“
Ever show someone your favorite movie
only for them to hate it?
What the heck is wrong with th–
…those weirdos anyways?
The job search isn’t a test of skill
It’s a test of communication
That burden of communication,
the burden of proof is on you
If you’re hunting for jobs right now, you probably can’t afford the luxury of aggressively upskilling. The harsh truth is that you can’t cram the night before the exam (unless you really like living life on the edge: Livin’ La Vida Loca)
If you need the money soon,
Don’t improve your hire-ability
Find companies ready for you today
But what if you’ve got some time on your hands?
Get a better mirror
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”
No plan survives first contact with reality
I’ve seen too many people sink literal months into optimizing projects only for their first users to click all the wrong buttons. You’re not “preparing for the job search” for your own amusement. You’re here to communicate to the right people that “I am the professional you want on your team”. Their perspective is much more meaningful in this context than yours. Feedback is your most powerful tool. Use it at every opportunity.
The more feedback, the better
Take all the time you want to draft something up, but you better run it by people first. Ideally, you should scale to people increasingly unfamiliar with you: give them only a brief amount of time (e.g. 10-60 seconds) to form an opinion about you based solely on your information online.
First your friends & family, then your “weak ties” or “somewhat friends”, then anonymous online communities. The less familiar they are with you, the better. The less incentive they have to make you feel better, the better. We want to keep stacking on layers of feedback like a delicious cake.
Sure, you might think you understand who you are, but most people will never see 99% of the colorful self-concept you identify with. This is a methodology for discovering what parts of you aren’t shining through, so you can more strategically include them. Most people don’t need to hear to your story, but you can decide which 1% everyone hears first.
This is your problem:
“How could you say that?!
it’s clearly a duck”
…or is it a rabbit?
In case you didn’t notice, this is a famous illusion showing both a duck & rabbit (depending on which direction you look at it)
You see 1 thing. They see another.
This happens to writers, professionals, & artists every. single. day.
I can guarantee you that THIS VERY INSTANT there are over 100 writers around the world trapped in this exact same illusion trying to better understand what The Others are seeing when others read their own words
You are a product
There are infinite products out there. Sure, anyone can make a product …but what about a product you absolutely friggin’ love? They probably didn’t slap a price tag on a first draft & call it a day. They probably brought multiple outsiders to check out their idea, to get thier hands on it, & to see how well or poorly they experience it. Oh yeah …& they take copious notes on both what they say & what they don’t.
So that’s today’s twist:
not only do you make products,
but you yourself are a product as well
Let’s pull out some tools
from the same product feedback toolkit!
This is also the part where I’m supposed to tell you the inconvenient truth that you have to physically get up & out of your building to talk to people.
Magic doesn’t happen in your head,
but in the dance between yours & others
That’s twice the computing resources!
Prototype with people, not ideas
“Sometimes the quickest way
to find out what people want
is to give them something they don’t”
What isn’t clicking?
You need fresh eyes & ears,
so find someone nearby
The hardest part?
After you set some ground rules,
you’re strictly forbidden from speaking unless prompted
❌ No putting words in their mouth
Playtesting done right
Let’s cover some of the virtues of playtesting:
- Everyone you will ever meet has something to teach you
- “I’ve seen developers move mountains if it meant they didn’t have to talk to users”
- Feel free to start with familiar friends, but build your way to strangers. The less familiar they are with you & your project, the better
- More feedback channels & iterative agility: “The internet rewards B+ content with A+ consistency”
- Proactively solicit more candid feedback/ Self-awareness is a compounding competitive advantage
- “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” -Henry Ford (inventor of the first car)
- Your brand isn’t how you describe yourself: it’s how others describe you. Take the time to have a few friends pretend to not know you & ask them after a brief scan of your profile who they think you are & what you do. If they’re able to put your feelings aside, you’d be surprised how poorly your messaging might come across. I find this exercise as fun as it is sobering. Often just 1 or 2 attempts will provide an overabundance of ideas & renewed focus onto what preciesly you were trying to communicate in the first place.
- The Mom Test: assume friends & family will tell you whatever you want to hear. Craft your questions carefully such that not even your mom could lie to you about (e.g. less “what do you think of this idea?” vs “I’m just trying to understand, what workarounds have you tried in the past?””) …more on this another day
So what do they see?
What happens when I Google your name?
How would I crawl around the internet for more information on you? What impression would I form if that’s all I could see?
Now that is your resume