If you want to give your career a big shot of steroids, I want you to listen closely: what you need is a big, flashy name on your resume (or client list).
What I mean by that is, find a way to have some big, super recognizable company on your resume – because for better or worse, that will make people take you seriously and pay attention to you more than anything else – for better or worse, if you’ve got Facebook or Adidas or Amazon or whatever, fill in the blank big name company on your resume, people will instantly think you know what you’re doing. It’s kinda dumb, but it’s the truth.
I think a lot of people find themselves in the same situation I was in when I was first starting out, which is that you’re reasonably good at what you do, but you can’t get anybody to even look at you or your work – it’s so, so hard to cut through all the noise and just get someone to pay attention you and actually consider you for the job you want, right? How do you even get them to look at your resume?
The answer is simple: you need that big name on your resume. That shiny, cool name that will instantly give you the perceived credibility that makes it an easy choice to give you a shot.
Here’s the reality of the situation, from the perspective of an employer: First of all, they probably got 50 or 100 resumes for the job you’re applying for and it’s just not possible to look at all of them in a lot of detail.
And secondly, people are kinda lazy. They’re just not going to spend a bunch of time or mental energy assessing each person who applied and looking for that diamond in the rough – they want people who are basically already proven – and the best signal that someone is “proven” is a big name on their resume.
So they get 75 resumes for this job, and 74 of them are all more or less the same. But they’re going through the pile, basically just skimming everything and barely paying attention until they see a big name– “Whoa, look at this one!! This is Jenny, and she interned at Pinterest or Under Armour!!”
Yep… just having a name like that on their resume makes people instantly treat applicants like Jenny like they’re the fucking golden child. Is it annoying and stupid? Fuck yes it is! But it’s just the way the game is played.
What’s particularly frustrating about this to me is that this way of filtering people is actually pretty dumb from the employers’ perspective. Because the fact that someone interned at a big company means absolutely nothing about good they are at their job – in fact, they probably didn’t really do shit because that’s how big companies are… someone who interned or worked at a tiny company nobody has ever heard of is probably better at their job, because at small companies you wear a lot of hats and you’re probably gonna get way more actual hands-on, practical experience.
But that’s the world we live in, and if I’m being completely honest, a bullshit job or internship at a big company will impress people more than doing great work at a small company they’ve never heard of – I really wish this wasn’t true, but it most definitely is (I can tell you from firsthand experience).
I’ve seen this happen so, so many times – people getting dazzled by big names on someone’s resume and hiring someone who’s actually totally incompetent, but for some reason nobody can see it because they went to Stanford and worked at Apple or whatever, and apparently people are so dumb and lazy that they don’t look any further than that.
Seriously… what is wrong with these people?!
As an example from my own career – and I won’t see what company it was because I don’t want to put them on blast – was one boss I had who got hired because of all these shiny names on his resume, but he was such an incompetent idiot who literally did nothing at all as far as anyone could tell. I remember my co-worker asking me, “Hey, what does [BOSS] actually DO all day??” and we honestly couldn’t answer the question.
To give you an idea of exactly how incompetent this guy is – despite his supposedly amazing pedigree – he seriously asked me once how to center text in Powerpoint. I thought he was fucking with me at first, but unfortunately he was dead serious.
And mind you, this guy was like 45 years old! So he’d been fooling people for like 20 years! Eventually he was found out as incompetent and “”coached out of the company,”” as they say, but of course he failed up and now he’s a VP at a big fancy tech company. Apparently every time he gets found out he just shows all those fancy names on his resume to the next company that’s gonna get dazzled by his bullshit, because THAT is how powerful big names are.
So guys – here’s the takeaway for you if you’re a new grad, or really trying to get their career off the ground: the reality is that big names catch people’s attention more than just about anything else, so I very, very strongly suggest that you find a way to get a big name on your resume. Find a way into one of those companies and do literally anything for them -what you do honestly (and sadly) matters very little compared to just having that name on your resume.
I hate sounding so cynical, because I try very hard to avoid looking at the world, but it’s honestly the truth.
So with that being said, the best move that a new grad can make is to get that big shiny name on your resume, because that is gonna be the key that unlocks so many other doors for you and make the rest of your career so much easier.
And it’s important to note that this is all true whether you want to work for someone else, be an entrepreneur (investors and clients are also dazzled by big names) and even if you want to be a freelance creative (big names work exactly the same on your client list as they do on resumes).
It kinda sucks, but that’s how the game is played, and you might as well use it to your advantage, right?