• It’s not about me, it’s about you… the 21 questions you need to ask in a job interview

    It’s time for my twice-a-year update of the best questions for you to ask in an interview.

    I’ve put this list together because so often we can forget what an interview’s all about. It sure feels like it’s about you, but it’s really not.

    An interview is actually about how you can help your future boss and future employer succeed. It’s about finding out what their requirements and hopes are and matching up your background and experience with what they need.

    Overlooking these basic facts about the interview is easy. There’s so much else going on in your work, your life, and in your job search, that you can forget to look at the interview from the interviewer’s point of view. And that’s a shame, because you need the interviewer to walk away from the interview thoroughly impressed.

    When I ran these questions previously, commenter “spiderji” wrote in and said:

    Marc, I used some of your questions in a job interview today. When I asked how to get a “gold star” on the evaluation, the interviewers faces lit up!” I contrast today’s interview with others I’ve been on where I didn’t have any meaningful questions at the end. This one was electric! I won’t know the results for a couple of days, but if they hire me I’ll owe you a drink! Thank you!

    And reader LBRZ shared:

    I have to thank you! I had an interview yesterday and it went great. When I asked about his leadership style and reward system his face lit up like a christmas tree.

    After he answered the question “how can I help you receive your next promotion?”, he began to give me advice on how I should negotiate for a higher starting salary.

    And that’s exactly the point, Readers. By asking these questions, which focus on the needs, traits, and preferences of your future boss and future employer, you’re demonstrating that you are somebody who is genuinely interested in their well-being. And the more interest we show in others, the more commitment they show to aiding our cause.

    With that in mind, here’s the twice-a-year update to my collection of “best interview questions” below. My aim here is to arm you with easy-to-ask, revealing-to-answer questions for you to take with you to an interview:

    1. What’s the biggest change your group has gone through in the last year? Does your group feel like the tough times are over and things are getting better, or are things still pretty bleak? What’s the plan to handle to either scenario?

    2. If I get the job, how do I earn a “gold star” on my performance review? What are the key accomplishments you’d like to see in this role over the next year?

    3. What’s your (or my future boss’) leadership style?

    4. About which competitor are you most worried?

    5. How does sales / operations / technology / marketing / finance work around here? (I.e., groups other than the one you’re interviewing for.)

    6. What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not?

    7. What’s one thing that’s key to this company’s success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know about?

    8. How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?

    9. What are your group’s best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company? What are the pain points you have to deal with day-to-day?

    10. What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest worry these days?

    11. What’s the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?

    12. These are tough economic times, and every position is precious when it comes to the budget. Why did you decide to hire somebody for this position instead of the many other roles / jobs you could have hired for? What about this position made you prioritize it over others?

    13. What is your reward system? Is it a star system / team-oriented / equity-based / bonus-based / “attaboy!”-based? Why is that your reward system? What do you guys hope to get out of it, and what actually happens when you put it into practice? What are the positives and the negatives of your reward system? If you could change any one thing, what would it be?

    14. What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? Is this an “open book” shop, or do you play it closer to the vest? How is information shared? How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?

    15. If we are going to have a very successful year in 2015, what will that look like? What will we have done over the next 6 months to make it successful? How does this position help achieve those goals? (This question helps show your ability to look beyond today’s duties to the future more than a year away.)

    16. How does the company / my future boss do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process to ensure that I’m doing the best I can for the company?

    17. What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it’s “all hands on deck” and we’re pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year? How about during the week / month? Is it pretty evenly spread throughout the week / month, or are there crunch days?

    18. What type of industry / functional / skills-based experience and background are you looking for in the person who will fill this position? What would the “perfect” candidate look like? How do you assess my experience in comparison? What gaps do you see?

    19. What is your (or my future boss’) hiring philosophy? Is it “hire the attitude / teach the skills” or are you primarily looking to add people with domain expertise first and foremost?

    20. In my career, I’ve primarily enjoyed working with big / small / growing / independent / private / public / family-run companies. If that’s the case, how successful will I be at your firm?

    21. Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other? Conversely, what are the characteristics that are common to the promising people you hired, but who then flamed out and failed or left? As I’m considering whether or not I’d be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and of the flame-outs?

    I hope you find these questions useful in your interviews, Readers!

    A final note. Previously, another commenter, “Lenore”, asked:

    Hi Marc. Awesome questions!

    My question for you is…..how do you ask questions when you are meeting with more than one interviewer. I met with 3 to 4 interviewers, one at a time. I didn’t want to come off generic by asking each of them the same questions. I guess you can go by their role to determine what questions you are going to ask. Sometimes they are all top executives. I’m guessing there are enough questions to divide amongst them all. I had asked so many questions in an interview once, that I didn’t want to seem redundant. Do you think this is ok?

    To which I replied:

    Great question Lenore.

    Three options:

    1) Change the wording a little bit each time so you’re not asking the same question in the same way.

    2) Mention that “You know, I already asked your colleague about this, and I’d love to hear your thoughts…”

    3) Divide the list and ask different people different questions, as you suggested.

    Hope that helps!

    M

     

  • Hey, that’s me!

    How do recruiters and employers find you? Half the time they’re searching, half the time they’re posting jobs, and half the time they’re buried under too many bad resumes for the positions that they have open.

    We’ve added "Inside Leads" to make it easier for you to stand out.

    When a recruiter or HR manager searches on TheLadders for a particular role — a Director of Marketing, or a Lead Developer, or a Sales VP — and our system detects that this is a role they’re recruiting for, we’ll share that information with you.

    You’ll see "Inside Lead" on the job search results page like this:

    If you think "Hey, that’s me!" when you see what the recruiter or employer is looking for, just click "Like" and we’ll let the recruiter know:

    Here are a few examples of what Inside Leads look like:


    We’re always innovating here at TheLadders, and we’re awfully proud of inventing "Inside Lead" — the first time you’ll get to see the actual searches of recruiters and employers in a system.

    And we think it’s just one more way to make your search easier and more effective.

  • The best employers and recruiters in the country for you


    Each quarter, our CEO Alex Douzet publishes our list of the best employers and recruiters in the country. These represent the savviest, most supportive and most successful hiring professionals in the USA, and we are pleased to have them be part of the extended TheLadders family.

    With great pleasure, acclaim, and gratitude, may I present this selection from our most recent "Top Recruitment Professionals in America" list, for Spring 2014:

    Top Corporate Recruitment Professionals


    Stefan Boyd Stefan Boyd
    Sr Finance Manager at Amazon
    Senior Finance Manager – San Bernardino, CA
    Finance Manager – Operations – Hazleton, PA
    Senior Financial Analyst – Moreno Valley, CA
    Christine Foglio Christine Foglio
    Sourcing Strategist at QVC Inc.
    Manager Statistical Modeling – West Chester, PA
    Senior Online Marketing Coordinator – West Chester, PA
    Business Analyst – Innovation and Intergration – West Chester, PA
    Surya Prakash Surya Prakash
    Recruiter at Radiant Systems
    Clinical Data Manger – Franklin Lakes, NJ
    Project Manager – Detroit, MI
    Sr Technical Operations Engineer – Shelton, CT
    Charmane  Croll Charmane Croll
    Talent Acquisition Specialist at Lexis Nexis
    Sr. Financial Analyst – Dayton, OH
    Territory Manager – Miami, FL
    Territory Manager – Dallas, TX
    Angela Boeckmann Angela Boeckmann
    Senior Strategic Sourcing Strategist at UnitedHealth Group
    Optum Strategic Account Executive – Western Region – Denver, CO
    Optum Strategic Account Executive – Western Region – San Francisco, CA
    Optum Strategic Account Executive – Southeast Region – Nashville, TN
    Mackenzie Davis Mackenzie Davis
    Talent Sourcer at Nestle Purina PetCare Company
    Category Development Manager – Fayetteville, AR
    Category Analyst – San Antonio, TX
    Nicole Vachon Nicole Vachon
    Talent Acquisition at CVS Caremark
    Operations Shift Supervisor – Wilkes Barre, PA
    Human Resources Generalist – Scottsdale, AZ
    Senior Compensation Analyst – Woonsocket, RI
    Jeffrey McCarthy Jeffrey McCarthy
    Sourcing Specialist at General Motors
    Software Integration Engineer – Warren, MI
    Java Developer – Warren, MI
    Java Developer – Atlanta, GA
    Cathy Finnie Cathy Finnie
    Search Consultant at Marsh, Berry & Company
    Outside Sales Representative – Boston, MA
    Outside Sales Rep (IMA) – Worcester, MA
    Outside Sales Representative – Jacksonville, FL
    Mohammed Waji Mohammed Waji
    Senior Technical Recruiter at CORE Education & Technologies Ltd.
    IBM Datapower Consultant – Warren, NJ
    Business Analyst – Tampa, FL
    Identity Management – Siteminder – LDAP – Irving, TX
    Paul  Crowley Paul Crowley
    Sales Recruiter at Care.com
    Account Executive – Benefit Solutions – New York City, NY
    Account Executive – Benefit Solutions – Chicago, IL
    Account Executive – Los Angeles, CA
    Ron Silver Ron Silver
    Founder and CEO at Nova Training Systems, Inc.
    Sales – IT Services and Consulting – Parsippany, NJ
    IT Services / Consulting – Account Executive – Parsippany, NJ
    Peter Ansara Peter Ansara
    HR Recruiter at ABF
    Software / Pre-Sales Engineer – San Francisco, CA
    Lead Development Representative – Newton, NC
    Accountant – San Francisco, CA
    Amanda Molloy Amanda Molloy
    Lead Recruiter at Taxware
    Enterprise Software Sales Executive – Wilmington, MA
    Enterprise Software Sales Executive – Houston, TX
    Pamisetty  Rajesh Pamisetty Rajesh
    Talent Acquisition Specialist at KMM Technologies
    ERP Business Systems Analyst – Arlington, VA
    ERP Project Manager – Arlington, VA
    Alexis Aubrey Alexis Aubrey
    Corporate Recruiter at Moguldom Media Group
    Deputy Editor – Los Angeles, CA
    Managing Editor, Hispanic Online Properties – Los Angeles, CA
    Data Analyst – Digital Marketing – Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Dionne Heard Dionne Heard
    North American Sourcing Strategist at Accenture
    Corporate Accounting Specialist – Chicago, IL
    Contracts Negotiation Manager – Cincinnati, OH
    Compensation Design / Discipline Manager – Houston, TX
    Top Executive Recruiters

    Janet Bloom Janet Bloom
    Owner at JBC Executive Search
    Sales Professional – B2B Sales – Virginia Beach, VA
    Sales Professional – B2B Sales – Bellevue, WA
    Sales Professional – B2B Sales – Pittsburgh, PA
    Elisa Sheftic Elisa Sheftic
    President at Right Executive Search
    Content Marketing Manager (Financial Services) – Jersey City, NJ
    Stock Loan Analyst – Greenwich, CT
    VP Sales – Account Mgmnt (Mutual Funds, Solutions) – Deer Park, NY
    Martin Appelson Martin Appelson
    Partner at Bradford Group Consulting and Staffing
    Hybris Solution Architect – Miami, FL
    Hybris Solution Architect – Edison, NJ
    Hybris Solution Architect – Boston, MA
    Mike Schoen Mike Schoen
    Recruiter at Concepts in Staffing
    C++ Programmer – New York City, NY
    Sr. Systems Engineer – Distributed Systems – New York City, NY
    Core Java SOA Developer – New York City, NY
    Steve Weber Steve Weber
    Principal & Recruiter at Access Staffing
    Senior Residential Property Accountant / Analyst – New York, NY
    Divisional Controller – New York, NY
    Controller Financial Reporting and Planning – New York, NY
    Phillip Marquart Phillip Marquart
    Segment Analyst at Pinstripe Talent, INC.
    Territory Manager – Sales Rep. / Trade Marketing – Minot, ND
    Territory Manager – Sales Rep. / Trade Marketing – Stanley, ND
    Territory Manager – Sales Rep. / Trade Marketing – Williston, ND
    Zachary Straub Zachary Straub
    Recruiter at CNI Consulting INC
    Inside Sales Professional – Minneapolis, MN
    Inside Sales Professional – Seattle, WA
    Account Executive – Kansas City, MO
    Mohan Rao Mohan Rao
    Recruitment Professional North America at Innovalus Technological Inc
    Data Network Architect / Consultant – Corning, NY
    Storage Consultant – Corning, NY
    Database Architect – Corning, NY
    Ron Simpson Ron Simpson
    Principal – Search Partner at Hire-Search Group
    Senior Tax Manager – Denver, CO
    Tax Manager – Boston, MA
    Trust & Estate Tax Principal / Senior Manager – San Francisco, CA
    Roger Preble Roger Preble
    President at Cornerstone Search and Consulting
    Senior IT Security Engineer – Greenville, SC
    Senior IT Security Engineer – Charlotte, NC
    Regional Sales Director – Chicago, IL
    Congratulations to them all! For the full list of 200 Corporate Recruitment Professionals and 200 Executive Recruiters, click here.
  • Bad news, you just got one year’s severance

    Sometimes bad news comes in the prettiest packages. One of the commonest I see in the careers business is the generous severance payout. What seems like a gift from the highest graces too often turns out to be bad tidings in disguise.

    The “severance vacation” — that fools’ gold of “time off” that turns a few well-deserved weeks into several empty seasons — has led too many professionals, executives, and high-performers to mistakenly act against their own best interests.

    How can it be that something as seemingly non-controversial as a full year’s “money for nothing” can end up hurting you?

    First off, the severance vacation can lead you into a false sense of security. “I’ve got enough cash put away so that I don’t have to worry for a while” or “I’m in good shape so I don’t need to look right away” are how we hear it from our clients here at TheLadders. This phony freedom from fear lulls you into believing that the future is far away. Instead of your sixth sense flashing warning signals and blaring the alarm siren, your pleasant-enough living situation inhibits you from securing your future cash flows and career prospects.

    That serene sense of calm is harmful. When urgency is low, and the bank account is flush, it seems there’s always a good reason to spend another day contemplating instead of cold-calling. And more time spent on the sidelines leads to ever-worse habits and rustiness. You forget the more obscure industry buzzwords. All that sun leaves you a little slow on the uptake when it comes to the tough interviews. You get softer, you get happier, you get lazier.

    That’s because the alternative — the job search — welcomes avoidance. The job search involves rejection, rejection involves pain, and pain is something most of us want to experience at the gym and not carry through our waking day.

    The pain of the job search is the result of how unusual the job search is relative to the rest of our lives. A job search occurs perhaps twice a decade and involves meeting a lot of strangers so that they can assess you. That the assessment is in regards to your professional ability to meet their specific, narrow, corporate need, does nothing to alleviate your feeling of being a-foot-and-a-half short of puberty and still in braces at the junior high dance. It’s embarrassing.

    It’s true, the job search is the most unusual, unnatural, unenjoyable part of our lives that is, nonetheless, unavoidable. (And avoid it, we try! If Dr. Seuss were still about, he could write a book about the job search entitled “Oh, the excuses you’ll make!”)

    So how to handle the bad news that you got a year’s severance?

    First, a lay-off notice is actually an acceptance letter for your new job — and that job is at Your Job Search, LLC with you as the President and Chief Search Officer.

    You’ll need to negotiate a start date. Give yourself an enjoyable, but manageable, severance vacation: one week if you’re antsy, two weeks if you’re bold, three weeks if you want to follow a flight of fancy.

    Having a tight schedule for your severance vacation will make those days of leisure sweeter for their scarcity, and allow you to tough it out in a better class of airline, hotel, or amusement park. You need to take the break you deserve and recharge your batteries.

    Because once you come back, your new job is full-time. You’ll need to approach it with a seriousness of purpose and dedication to success befitting a professional. And your new job has just one goal – getting yourself into a new seat at a new company getting paid in dollars, not promises or favors.

    So don’t let good fortune ruin your luck. When the breaks go your way, bank your plenty rather than fritter it away, and make a timely transition into your new job-finding job.

    It’s the best way to ensure that you’ll be collecting a year’s pay, and not a year of empty wandering.

  • Please review the other applicants for this job first.

    Would you like to see the name, title, compensation, work history and educational background of each person applying to the same jobs you’re applying to here at TheLadders?

    Well, I can’t show you name, and sometimes I need to truncate the title in order preserve anonymity, but our popular feature "Scout" shows you the compensation, skills, title, work and educational background as well as overall years of experience for each applicant to the jobs posted directly here on TheLadders.

    For obvious reasons, we can’t show you personally identifiable information like current employer.

    But for understanding how realistic your prospects are in 2014, and how stiff the competition is, there’s no better insight on the web, or your phone.

    For example, here’s a closeup of the two parts of an applicant for a Director of Strategic Planning job:

    Vice President of Marketing

    This person’s current title is Vice President of Marketing, their compensation is around $160K, and they have over 15 years experience.

    How you compare

    The other half of the graphic shows you the salaries, years of experience, and education level of all the applicants to the job, and where "you" place. (When you log-in to your account the "you" arrows will accurately reflect the information you’ve given us, so you can compare easily.)

    Here’s an applicant for a VP Technology job, with a degree from Cal and over 15 years experience:

    VP of Technology

    Or a candidate for a Regional Vice President, Sales job:

    Regional Vice President of Sales

    Or a Director, Human Resources position:

    VP / Director of HR

    This information is helpful to you, because it allows you to understand the type of experience and background that others are bringing to their applications for the job, and the landscape of available options as the employer or recruiter may see it.

    From this, you’re better able to determine when you’d be a top prospect for a position, or, alternatively, when you’re kidding yourself about your suitability for a job. When every other applicant is much more experienced or a higher pay-grade than you, it’s best for you to save your clicks for another day.

    And that lets you spend your time more wisely.

    It also looks great on the iPhone and Android, so you can make the most of your airport downtime:

    TheLadders on mobile devices

    Make sure you get all the advantages you need to get to the finish line in the job search by using “Scout”!

  • Employers hiring for May 2014

    We have over seventy thousand employers looking for new employees on TheLadders, and we could use your help.

    If you, or your friends or colleagues, could fit the bill for one of the below-listed jobs, please let us know by clicking through and applying.


    Joseph Anthony Vaccariello Joseph Anthony Vaccariello
    Owner & Recruiter at Genesis
    Engineering Technician – IA
    Principal Engineer, IC Design – San Jose, CA
    Lead IC Design Engineer – San Jose, CA

    Scott Hensley Scott Hensley
    VP of Sales at Advocate Merchant
    Senior Outside Sales Representative – Indianapolis, IN
    Senior Outside Sales Representative – San Diego, CA
    Senior Outside Sales Representative – Dallas, TX

    Shawndetta Miller Shawndetta Miller
    SR. Executive Recruiter at William W. Professional Staffing
    Software Engineer – Java – Portland, OR
    Software Developer – San Francisco, CA
    Senior Data Scientist – San Francisco, CA

    Kristyn Grasing Kristyn Grasing
    Staffing Consultant at Quest Diagnostics
    Hospital Account Manager – Milwaukee, WI
    Sales Representative – ExamOne – Tampa, FL – Tampa, FL
    Marketing Specialist – Lenexa, KS

    Herald Massey Herald Massey
    Sr. Technical Recruiter at Rangam Consultants Inc
    Java / J2EE Developer – Alpharetta, GA
    Java / J2EE Developer – Warren, NJ
    Business Analyst / Project Manager – Orangeburg, NY

    Lindsay Davis Lindsay Davis
    Executive Recruiter – CPG at The Judge Group
    Marketing Manager, Demand Generation – NJ
    Product Manager – Lancaster, PA
    Senior Trade Marketing Manager – Lancaster, PA

    Elaine Weinberg Elaine Weinberg
    Senior Recruiter at Bradfordgroup Consulting and Staffing
    Mobile Software Engineer, Research – Cincinnati, OH
    Mobile Software Engineer, Research – Philadelphia, PA
    Mobile Software Engineer, Research – Indianapolis, IN

    Frank Merritt Frank Merritt
    CRMS, CITC, Senior Recruiter at Harvard Risk Management Corporation
    Professional Benefits Sales Consultant – Overland Park, KS
    Professional Benefits Sales Consultant – Olathe, KS
    Professional Benefits Sales Consultant – Lawrence, KS

    Mike Cirner Mike Cirner
    Director-Information Technology Recruiting at Fowler Placement Services
    Account Executive – Public Sector – WA
    Account Executive – Public Sector – CA
    SAP Project Manager – NY

    Steve Kohn Steve Kohn
    President at Affinity Executive Search
    Automation Engineer – WI
    Store Manager – WA
    Sales Manager – IL

    Have a great week in your search!

  • When Bono, Warhol & famous people were rejected, too

    The accumulation of rejection letters, voicemails, emails, and, yes, unfortunately, text messages, is a good sign for any job search. You need to go through a lot of maybes and uh-unhs before you find the right YES!

    So you can imagine that famous people who were once not famous got a lot of rejection letters on their way up.

    For example, here’s Bono being turned down by RSO:





    And Andy Warhol getting the gong from the Museum of Modern Art:







    Part of any search for a fit in your career involves the exploration of possibilities. The more possibilities and the more opportunities you explore, the more rejections you’ll receive. But you’ll also get something very valuable with those turn-downs: a better sense of where your talents do belong.

    You see, it takes some effort to find out what we’re not in order to find out what we are, and where we belong.

    So while I know it’s foolish to ask you to enjoy those rejection texts, at the very least, perhaps you can understand the vital role they play in getting you to your destination.

  • Seeking VP, Anything

    “Oh, I’m looking for anything,” you might tell well-meaning friends who ask.

    It’s a problem.

    Because in today’s economy, no employer is looking for a “VP, Anything”, or a “Director of Whatever Needs to Be Done.” They’re looking for an experienced professional who can solve specific problems.

    When you’re thinking about moving jobs, you need to have a brief, pithy assertion of who you are and what you’re qualified to do. It’s important that you be able to explain to an old colleague, or a new connection, in 30 seconds or less, what it is that you’re looking for.

    That’s called an “elevator pitch” – a concise statement of your abilities and goals that can be shared in the time it takes an elevator to go to the top floor.

    Vague and general aren’t helpful:
    “I’m a saleswoman”, or…
    “I’m in logistics”, or…
    “I’m a finance guy”, don’t work because they don’t explain succinctly what you need and how your audience can help.

    No, in the 21st century you need to be more precise and more concrete. You need to describe what you’ve done and what you’re looking to do… specifically.

    So it’s not “I’m a saleswoman” but rather…

    “I’m a sales management professional looking to lead a 100+ person sales organization, and am particularly interested in opportunities leading sales teams going through the transactional-to-relationship-selling transition.”

    It’s not “I’m in logistics” but rather…

    “I’m a logistics team leader who specializes in driving efficiency improvements in established groups, bringing down the cost of production year after year.”

    And it’s not “I’m a finance guy” but rather…

    “I’m a finance guy who enjoys rationalizing finance teams in multi-unit businesses and creating metrics and operating procedures that partner with the business to drive understanding of the underlying levers of growth.”

    You need to be specific and concise in your description of your ambitions, so that your network contacts, your future boss, or an HR recruiter can understand how and where you’ll add value and improve the business.

    So please, avoid the easy temptation to say that you’re looking for anything, and be specific in your job search. It’s the best way to let people know how to help you, and to let companies know how you’ll help them.

    I’m rooting for you!

  • Leonardo da Vinci’s resume

    Before he was famous, before he painted the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, before he invented the helicopter, before he drew the most famous image of man, before he was all of these things, Leonardo da Vinci was an armorer, a weapons guy, a maker of things that go “boom”.

    And, like you, he had to put together a resume to get his next gig. So in 1482, at the age of 30, he wrote out a letter and a list of his capabilities and sent it off to Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan.

    So to celebrate Leonardo’s birthday tomorrow on April 15th, I’d like to share his wonderful resume with you. You can click on the link below to see the full-size version.

    Leonardo da Vinci's Resume



    The translation of this letter is quite remarkable:


    “Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.

    1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
    2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.
    3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.
    4. Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.
    5. And if the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many machines most efficient for offense and defense; and vessels which will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.
    6. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made without noise, to reach a designated spot, even if it were needed to pass under a trench or a river.
    7. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable, which, entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.
    8. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars, and light ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.
    9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.
    10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.
    11. I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may.

    Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the immortal glory and eternal honor of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.


    And if any of the above-named things seem to anyone to be impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency – to whom I comment myself with the utmost humility, etc.”


    What a fantastic piece of personal marketing! There’s none of his famous backwards-mirror writing here – this letter was intended to be read and to persuade.

    I’m a hopeless pedantic, so here’s what I think we can learn from Leonardo’s resume:

    You’ll notice he doesn’t recite past achievements. He doesn’t mention the painting of the altarpiece for the Chapel of St Bernard; he doesn’t provide a laundry list of past bombs he’s built; he doesn’t cite his prior employment in artist Andrea di Cione’s studio.

    No, he does none of these things, because those would be about his achievements, not the Duke’s needs.

    Instead, he sells his prospective employer on what Leonardo can do for him.

    Now imagine being the Duke of Milan and receiving this magnificent letter from the young prodigy of Florence. The specific descriptives paint a vivid picture of siege engines and bombardments and mortars and trench-draining and bridges to defeat the enemy. You can imagine the scenes that ran through the Duke’s head as he held this letter in his hands and read through Leonardo da Vinci’s bold statements of capabilities.

    What Renaissance Duke wouldn’t want “kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; [that] can fling small stones almost resembling a storm”? Sounds pretty enticing.

    And that’s exactly what your resume needs to do, too. Not the laundry list / standard bio that talks about you, but the marketing piece that talks about the benefits to your future employer and how you fit into his or her needs and desires.

    So it turns out that even on his 562nd birthday, this remarkable fellow Leonardo da Vinci is teaching us about the future. What a genius…

    Here’s wishing you an illustrious week, Readers!

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