Being Frank: How To Get The Best Job In The World
For many years I have been asked how to get a job in the bike industry, which I consider to be the best job in the world. True, it might not be the best for everyone, but if one is enamored with cycling/bicycles and wants to have a life where personal passion and work merge to form a never-ending ride of fun, challenge, experience and reward, then hardly anything else comes close… well maybe being Design Director at Ducati in Borgo Panigale, Italy!
While many things have changed in the world in the last quarter century, the internet has totally reinvented job hunting. Before, finding a job in the bicycle industry was really about personal connections. The bicycle industry has always seemed a bit “underground”, but it was very difficult to find out about open positions without company websites and job posting sites.
Case in point, I learned about my first industry job from a former racer acquaintance turned sales rep. Jim Stevenson, who’s since been leading Bianchi’s USA sales effort for years, came into the shop where I was working part-time while in graduate school. He told me that he was moving to Southern California to take a product manager position at the bike company he had been representing. Holy Macaroni that sounded like winning the lottery – especially in 1991 when the mountain bike was going mainstream in a big way. Jim said that before he left his sales rep post, he had been tasked with finding a replacement and wanted to know if I would be interested. I focused much more on the “bicycle industry” than the “sales rep” part of the sentence and said Hell Yes! Since that first industry job, I think all of my subsequent positions and career growth have been related to contacts that I have made over the years.
Despite the revolution in how jobs are posted, personal connections still play a big role in finding and landing the sought-after bicycle industry position. But if you are not in the industry and don’t have said connections, what can you do? Let me be clear, I am not an HR professional, but I have read thousands of CVs, interviewed hundreds of applicants, hired dozens, and these are the things that make an impact on me.
First, CVs that are overloaded with the latest business jargon are almost worthless to me other than seeing where you worked and for how long. Those CVs are fairly unreadable and never sound like a human being has written it. However, the (hopefully) attached application letter can indicate a lot more about a person, their motivation, and how their mind may work. Application letters get call backs, CVs alone do not.
Second, OK this won’t be popular, the college which you graduated from has little meaning to me. That you graduated is meaningful in the sense that you completed a significant challenge. What you “learned” in college, for most positions, is not very relevant. Likewise, awards and affiliations listed on your CV get only a quick glance. Why? Because they don’t tell me about what kind of person you are. That you worked your way through school can be more telling.
Third, how you present yourself is critical. As my dad said, “It does not get any better after the first date”. You know, for the first date you fret over every detail in order to make the desired impression. But once you move in together you may walk across the room in front of your better half in boxers, farting, with a week’s worth of whiskers. Regardless, of how the world changes (not necessarily progresses), being professional, respectful, organized, politely persistent, and tactfully ambitious will always be important.
Lastly, I want to understand and believe your interest in working at our company. I repeatedly say that “we want people that REALLY want to be here”. While there are plenty of reasons one wants a job, the reason we want to see is that you truly want to be a part of the team and all that that entails. Good luck out there, and if you happen to come our way, make sure you do some research and come with questions!