Happy Hiring Holidays

Thanksgiving is two weeks away. 

If you’re looking for a job right now, that means you have less than two weeks to hustle. Once Turkey day happens, the tryptophan can sometimes put the hiring impetus to sleep until January 2nd.  

Lame, I know. - So if you have any leads, follow up … Now. 

Yeah, write that email, call that person, send that application out, get that coffee, grab that drink. If you don’t, it might not happen till 2018. 

The best thing you can do is accept that between Thanksgiving and New Years, hiring managers sometimes don’t have the bandwidth or the need to hire new people. They have family obligations for one. In some cases, visiting the family is more stressful than anything work can throw at them. 

Plus, there are just copious amounts of people taking time off. Vacation is hiring kryptonite. Note, that this has nothing to do with you, right?

In this case, it might be true

In this case, it might be true

The point is that hiring managers might focus on closing up loose ends instead of new hires. They need to manage their time off, their families, and their business all at once. Plus, interviewing and on-boarding lead times most likely extend into the new year.

Think of it this way, when you start to hear (insufferable, in my opinion) holiday music at every store: That’s your auditory cue that hiring season is slowing down for some companies until Q1. 

So mentally prepare yourself for the hiatus in your job search. It’s a good time for self-reflection, strategizing, working on your resume, improving your interviewing skills, and doing research on whom you want to reach out to on Jan 2nd. 

I know that isn’t what you want to hear. You want a job, and preferably the right job right now. But the more you can let go of the things you can't control, the happier you’ll be. Heck, you might even enjoy the holidays more. 

Now, of course, you could get lucky. And I hope that you do. Someone might need you ASAP; I just would not emotionally invest in that possibility. 

Here are some resources to help you prepare for next year: 

Revamp Your Resume

Get better at Interviewing

Take Care of Yourself

Happy Holidays, 

Nate Chaffetz
Director of Business Development

Building Confidence Through Vulnerability

Over the past year, I’ve taken my now 5-year-old daughter Alena to a park near where we live. The main attraction is a rope structure for kids to climb on. Normally, Alena is hesitant on the ropes. She would jump on, but never climb to the top.
However, I recently snapped the following picture of my daughter.


She made it to the top! Curious as to what was different that day, I asked her if she was feeling extra brave in her Wonder Woman outfit. 

Alena responded, “I’m brave in any outfit.”

I beamed with pride at her confidence. Just a year ago she was still cautiously trying to find her footing when she climbed, always fretting about whether she would fall. 


Over the last year, I couldn’t help but think about the parallels of her rope climbing to starting my own company: - A scared 4-year old standing next to an intimidating rope structure juxtaposed to her naive entrepreneur dad wondering how to build a business. The fear of falling is always daunting.

Building one’s confidence is a journey. Here's what I’ve learned in helping my Alena find her confidence and in the process finding my own:

lt’s okay to be afraid: A year ago, Alena’s foot shook as she clung to the ropes, fearful of the fall. Starting an ambiguous project can have a similar paralyzing effect. 

To conquer one’s fears, research has found that acting courageously requires an understanding of those fears. As such, I would constantly reassure Alena that it was okay to be afraid. This allowed me to redirect her attention to where she needed to place her hands and feet next. 

Similarly, I had to acknowledge my own fears and insecurities of starting a new company. Would I be successful? Was I focusing on the right things? 

How often do we start an ambiguous project and feel like we’re on a hamster wheel? Or a dense maze? Acknowledging these insecurities liberated me from constantly second-guessing myself and instead focus on the tasks needed to move forward.

Focusing on the climb, not the destination: Rather than focusing on big goals, Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy recommends focusing on the “million little things that get us” to that goal. Cuddy’s research found that focusing on “incremental change [and] little bits of improvement” has a profound impact in building confidence.

For Alena, this meant focusing on the closest rungs of the rope ladder. For me and building a startup, it meant taking our ideas and making our goals as “bite-sized and task specific as possible.” In aggregate all of these bite-sized goals - rungs if you will - helped us get our first customers, build a profitable business, and hire our first employees.

We’re not quite at the top of our rope ladder and I’m not sure when we’ll get there, or if there is even really supposed to be a top. Maybe it’s always about the journey, about appreciating the next step in the moment whatever it is. 

As we take each stride at work,  I’m confident that like Alena, we’re better equipped to face any challenge that comes our way. Most importantly, no matter where we end up, I do hope to make her as proud of me as I am of her.

Joe Shao
Chief Talent Officer


Resumes: Tell your story

Writing is an important career skill, especially in the digital age. It was especially critical while I was at Amazon. Business proposals, operating plans, career promotions and business reviews were all packed into dense but concise narratives.

At Amazon, a clear narrative helped leaders quickly understand a business, digest problems, and ultimately make decisions (here’s an interesting take from one of Amazon’s VP’s on the magic of their 6-pagers.)

Similarly, resumes are a form of business writing where what’s being presented is you and your narrative. Making a positive impression matters.

While there are more obvious do’s and don’ts like typos, great resumes waste little space in each bullet point when communicating a candidate’s impact. Like writing an Amazon-style business review, writing great bullet points leverages these fundamentals:

  1. Speak to what was accomplished

  2. Quantify the impact with metrics

  3. Contextualize how something was accomplished

Consider the following examples:

  1. Revenue responsibility for an ecommerce business

  2. Grew revenue 80% YoY to $25M by expanding assortment and optimizing marketing campaigns

Which example makes a more meaningful impression on a resume?  

The focus on the accomplishing “80% YoY” growth makes the second example a more powerful statement. The additional detail of “$25M” helps the reader understand scale and significance. Finally, including the actions taken adds credibility by giving some insights on your strengths.

As you’re thinking about updating your resume, consider how you are telling your story and communicating your impact. If you need some ideas, see below for some real-life examples: 

Analysis Examples:

Before: Analyze data from sales portals to make better decisions

Suggested: Captured $25M in lost sales opportunity by analyzing data from sales portals

Commentary: Presenting that your analysis resulted in capturing lost sales demonstrate the effectiveness of your analysis.


Before: Made recommendations to the sales and operations team regarding the improvement of customer service including process improvement                          

Suggested: Improved customer satisfaction 20% by recommending process improvements that were adopted by the sales and operations team                                   

Commentary:  Communicating the improvement in customer satisfaction demonstrates your ability to put forth meaningful recommendations and can build trust across an organization.

Customer Service Examples:

Before: Answered high-volume of calls on multi-line phones, handled customer issues, and gave great customer service with integrity and professionalism

Suggested: Achieved a 97% customer satisfaction rating by providing superior customer service in a high-volume call environment

Commentary: Adding your ability to maintain a high level of customer service communicates your ability to juggle multiple tasks without sacrificing quality.

Operations Examples:

Before: Created a database designed to track compliance

Suggested: Increased compliance rates 60% by creating a database that identified compliance opportunities

Commentary: Communicating that compliance rates increased demonstrates the impact of tools you implement.

Project Management Examples:

Before: Deployed 7 end-to-end releases.

Suggested: Delivered 7 releases to 15,000+ sellers and 5,000+ partners with requirements, usability studies, & testing

Commentary: Adding details of how many sellers and partners your releases demonstrates the scale and the complexity of the projects you were involved with.


Before: Implemented an innovative discussion board

Suggested: Implemented an innovative discussion board to enable 10,000+ users to adopt an application in 3 months

Commentary: Communicating how quickly you were able to get users to adopt demonstrates your effectiveness to launch a new product.

Training Examples:

Before: Assisted with creating onboarding manuals for new hires

Suggested: Reduced new hire onboarding time 80% by creating onboarding manuals

Commentary: Presenting that you help save your organization time demonstrates your effectiveness in creating onboarding materials .

What's a "good" interview?

I have an interview next week and I really need to get the job. When you interview people what do you consider a good interview?  - Anonymous

Ok, here’s the quick and dirty. When I’m interviewing someone for a position on my team I’m trying to determine:

  1. Can they do the job and how well?

  2. What’s their growth potential?

  3. How will they fit with the team?

I consider it a good interview when I can answer all three questions with specific examples from a candidate's past experience and behavior in the interview. I consider it a bad or sub-optimal interview when I can’t. 

As an interviewee you can help me answer these questions. In fact, with some basic preparation and forethought you can almost always give a good interview. It won’t always mean you get the job -- sometimes your skillset, experience, or temperament isn’t going to be a match. BUT by giving a good interview you will leave a positive impression and possibly open up an adjacent opportunities. 

So… here’s what you can do to give a good interview. 

First and foremost, you need to demonstrate that you can do the job and do it well. The best way to do this is with specific examples of relevant past experience. The keyword here is RELEVANT. 

Here’s an example. I was recently interviewing a candidate for a Director level position at a Fortune 100 tech company. I asked about the hardest problem they had solved and I got a story about a chess problem. NO! NO! NO! 

In that situation the candidate missed a key opportunity to convey that they could solve my client’s problems. 

Look, interviews are short. Every question you get is a chance to show that you get it, that you understand what the company is looking for and that you’re the person to do the job. Choose your examples wisely

I know that this can be easier said than done. Interviews are difficult to prepare for, no thanks to crappy job descriptions and recruiters with limited information. How to decipher what a job actually entails is a subject unto its own but what I recommend is do your research. Google the company, than read, read, read. 

Knowing a bit about a company and its industry will help you in any type of job interview and you’ll be surprised how much you can learn in a couple hours of reading.

My third piece of advice is are a few mental tips to remember when judgement day comes. First, before you go into the interview, spend 5 or 10 minutes smiling. Think of something that makes you happy or laugh, then concentrate on it. Not only will this help you relax, it will help you make a positive, confident first impression. 

Second, every time you get a question, take a breath. Literally. Then, repeat the question in your head. Taking just a second or two to consider the question can make all the difference in how you decide to answer and how calm you are when you do. 

My third piece of advice is to ask questions. The best interviews are like conversations. There’s a back and forth. So, if you’re not sure what you’re being asked, don’t be afraid to ask a clarifying question. As an interviewer, I much rather a candidate ask for clarification than give an answer that’s not relevant. 

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Gregory Rutty


The Career Coach blog is PERFECT LOOP’s blog full of the career advice we wish we would have had. Have a question? Ask it here!

Staying positive during your job search

How do I stay positive in my job search? After getting rejected from a couple of jobs that I thought I should have gotten I feel like I go into interviews expecting to be rejected. I’m worried that it’s becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. What should I do?  - Anonymous

Excellent question. It’s really easy to let frustration with the job search process affect how you present yourself. In fact, you might not even realize that you’re wearing the stress and rejection of the job search process on your sleeve. And fair or not, how you show up in your job interviews has a huge impact on whether you get the job or not. No one wants to work with someone who appears negative, self-defeated, etc. The good news for you, Anonymous, is that you already recognize that this might be happening. 

On this topic my advice for all job seekers is really simple: Be kind to yourself. 

You’ve probably heard the cliche that you can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself first. Well, the same applies in the job search process. If you want to convince an employer that you’re a great hire, you first have to believe it yourself. 

So, how the heck do you “be kind to yourself”?

Well, first, try not to take the rejections and non-responses personally. Even though it feels like personal rejection, it’s not. The truth is most companies and managers are terrible at hiring. Getting rejected from a job has less to do with you and your worth, and everything to do with how crappy the hiring process is at most companies. After each rejection you face, force yourself to say, “Too bad. Their loss.” Then move on and don’t look back.

The second thing to remember is that each new job you interview with has no idea about your past frustrations. In fact, the people interviewing you are facing their own problems. Try to treat each interview as a new beginning, a chance to put your best foot forward and make a strong first impression. Rather than focusing on how you feel, focus on smiling. In fact, do that right now. Force your mouth into a smile… Now… let out a little laugh. If you’re feeling real bold, try laughing hysterically. Feel better already? There’s evidence that smiling can affect how you feel.  Before every interview, let your mind go blank and smile. 

Speaking of letting your mind go blank, check out some other resources we’ve compiled that might help you maintain a positive attitude during your job search here

There’s a lot more that can be written on the topic of being kind to yourself. The bottom line is that even pretending to relax and have fun in your job search process will help you weather the ups and downs. 

Good luck! I’m pulling for you. 

Gregory Rutty


The Career Coach blog is PERFECT LOOP’s blog full of the career advice we wish we would have had. Submit your questions here

How do I write a resume for a position I haven't formally done?

Any advice on getting into Product Management? I have lots of experience with this type of work, although not by title, and I'm having trouble communicating that experience on my resume/cover letters. Every PM job requires 3+ years experience in a PM role! - Anonymous

I know this problem well. When I was a book editor in NYC I wanted to transition careers into technology and building products. The problem was, unless you’re intimately familiar with what a book editor does it’s hard to see the parallels with product management. I probably sent out 200 resumes trying to make this transition and got ZERO INTEREST. 

Needless to say, I feel your pain. 

What ended up happening with me is I got a job in an editorial/marketing/merchandising position at Amazon. It wasn’t the product management job that I wanted but it was adjacent to A LOT of product management. 

This enabled me to get closer to the action, continue to learn, and eventually start building product at Amazon. When I made the official transition to a Sr. Product Manager role on the Kindle team it was because I could point to products I had built and the impact they had.

I don’t know any specifics of your work experience so my advice is general here but basically you need to:

  1. Show that you have built things
  2. Get in front of the right hiring manager of the right opportunity

To my first point, showing that you have been able to take raw resources and make something is table stakes. For anything more senior than an intern/entry-level position, demonstrating that what you made solves a problem and had impact is a pretty basic requirement for product management roles. Having built something is a shorthand way of saying that you understand the million different things that go into building and launching products.

If you haven’t built a product per se, that’s OK! That was the position I was in when I was trying to transition from editorial to product management. Which brings me to my second piece of advice. 

Sometimes getting into the right company or learning environment is more important than landing a specific role. In my case, I wasn’t ready to be a product manager at Amazon when I applied for product roles. BUT I was ready for Amazon and it proved to be one of the best possible places to learn about product management. 

If you take a slightly longer view of your goal the questions might be less about how to make yourself look like a product manager in your resume and more about where can you get a job that lets you build product no matter what your title is?

Sending out resumes and not gaining consideration, especially when you know you can be great at something, can be terriblly discouraging. For me the answer was to take a slightly longer view and find another path. 

I don’t know the specifics of your situation so I can’t say precisely what your resume or cover letter should say that it’s not saying now but this is what I look for when reading resumes for product management:

  • Has this person built a product? What was the scope? What was the situation? What was the product?
  • How / why has this person been successful building product before? Was this person a driver of or cog in the process?
  • What impact / results has this person had by building product? To the business? To UX?

If someone has demonstrated they can build something and own / drive the process than I’m looking for details that help me see how a person might add value in different situations?

  • What’s this person’s domain expertise?
  • How technical is this person?
  • How experienced is this person?
  • Etc.

And underlying all this I’m trying to see if I catch any glimmers as to what motivates you to pursue a particular position. Why do you want to be a product manager?

Hope this helps!
Gregory Rutty


The Career Coach blog is PERFECT LOOP’s blog full of the career advice we wish we would have had. Submit your questions here

Three unconventional tips for writing a better resume

A lot has been written on what a resume should or shouldn’t be. Some of it good, a lot of it bad. We’ll save the list of do’s and don’ts for another time. What I want to dedicate this short post to is how to THINK about writing your resume. 

Alright, here’s my first tip and probably the most important: 1). Think of writing your resume as a FUN challenge. One that WILL lead to exciting OPPORTUNITIES. 

Before you roll your eyes, think about it…

Writing a resume DOES suck. At the least it’s time-consuming and hard to feel like you’ve ever really nailed it, especially once you send it into the application blackhole. 

BUT the problem with this thinking is that once you view writing a resume as a chore you’re likely to feel daunted, frustrated, and impatient with the task. This is no mindset in which to write your story. 

A little self-trickery can be a useful tool in getting things done. Many of the most successful people in the world use this trick and so should you: Change your mindset. 

In all earnestness, if you think of writing a resume as a chore, it will become one. If you think of it as a chance to write your story and unlock new opportunities, then writing a resume can be a powerful act of self-actualization. 

My second tip: 2). A resume shouldn’t be a compendium of everything you’ve done. Or everything you think a recruiter wants to hear. Or all the keywords you find in the job description. A resume should be a clear story. YOUR STORY. 

This brings me to our third tip: 3). Less is more. Seriously.. This can feel like you’re selling yourself short. But here’s the unfortunate truth. A traditional recruiter is going to spend less than 10 seconds “reviewing” your resume. Your goal at this stage isn’t to communicate everything about yourself. It’s to get sorted into the pile that deserves a second look. 

Take these two summary sections for example. Which one is easier to understand?

Which one of these is easier to read and understand? Now this might be an extreme example but you get the point. Sometimes just simply saying who you are and what you’re looking for is better than trying to explain the entirety of you experience. 

When you take these tips together what you end up with is a simple framework for writing a great resume.

  1. Have fun
  2. Tell your story
  3. Less is more

Like most things, it’s easier said than done which is why we’re creating some additional resources for you. In the meantime though, take this advice to heart and you might discover that writing a resume isn’t so bad after all. 

The Career Coach blog is PERFECT LOOP’s blog full of the career advice we wish we would have had. Submit your questions here

Know Thyself: The Key to Successful Job Interviewing

You learned to interview at Amazon. What kind of mistakes did people make when interviewing for a job at Amazon?  - Anonymous, Seattle

Great question. We’ve done thousands of interviews as a team and there are some definite themes. The number one mistake you can make is not selling yourself. The second worst mistake you can make? Selling yourself too hard. 

Say what?

Look, the single most important thing you can do to improve your interviewing skills is to take some advice from Plato and “Know thyself.” That’s right. Knowing WHO YOU ARE is the most important thing you can do to improve your interviewing. 

What do you mean? 

Here’s what I mean: Are you a people person or are you shy? Do you like to go with the flow or do you stress out? Do you get nervous? Do you like to tell a tall tale or do you adhere to the facts and only the facts? 

Personally, I don't like to talk about myself and tend to focus on ways I can improve rather than my successes or what I did right. As a manager once wrote in a performance review at Amazon, “you need to celebrate and socialize your wins.” Knowing this about myself, helps me prepare for interviews. I make sure to balance my self-criticism with a win or two. This doesn't come naturally for me (those of you who suffer from impostor syndrome will understand) but it’s been the difference between getting a job and getting passed over. 

Everyone’s got a different personality. You might be gregarious or you might be shy like me. You might be prone to hyperbole or you might fixate on facts and details. No judgement here. We’ve all got our quirks. But if you truly want to improve your interviewing you’ve got to get in touch with who you are. This is the first step to understanding how others perceive you. 

And if you can understand how others perceive you you’re in a good position to put your best foot forward when interviewing. This is essentially what's called emotional intelligence (EQ) and it's going to be one of the most in-demand jobs skills in the next decade. How specifically you use EQ to land your next gig is a matter of circumstance and style but there are some general do’s and don’ts. Our Head of Talent Advocacy has put together a little guide that covers common interview mistakes and how to avoid them

This is obviously a topic that deserves elaboration so if you have a question, ask it here.

Gregory Rutty, CEO

Interviewing 101: Common job interview mistakes and how to avoid them

In the last few years I’ve interviewed thousands of people for all sorts of jobs. For the amount of time people spend preparing and stressing about job interviews there are a surprising number of common mistakes that people still make. First let’s review where people are going wrong, then I’ll share some advice for avoiding these common mistakes. 

Common mistake #1 -Underselling your value: It’s surprising (and unfortunate) how many candidates we interview who sell themselves short on what they’ve accomplished. While humility is a virtue it can also work against you in a job interview. Interviewers have to make decisions on limited information -- don’t expect them to know how awesome your accomplishments are unless you spell them out explicitly.

Which leads to the #2 and #3 most common interviewing mistakes...

Common mistake #2 -Overselling yourself with fluff: Simply saying you’re a “team player” or a “quick learner” or an “analytics guru”  or any of the hundreds of buzzwords that companies seem to care about doesn’t mean much, especially if you can’t back it up with past experience that demonstrates this quality. In fact, this is a surefire way to lose credibility and torpedo your interview. Instead of staying you’re a “team player”, give an example where your teamwork skills led to an important result. 

Common mistake #3 - Convoluting your story with excessive details: Diving into the details without first providing context is most likely going to confuse your interviewer. If you’re lucky, the interviewer will guide you to first setting up your story before getting into the details but don’t count on this. Also don’t count head nods and “uh-huhs” as understanding.

Common mistake #4 -Too much “we”, not enough “I”: While being a team player is important, keep in mind that an interviewer needs to assess your specific contributions. An overemphasis of “we did this” or “we did that” makes it extremely difficult to distinguish between your accomplishment versus the team’s. Help your interviewer make that distinction by being explicit about your contributions. Example: “The team worked on building the strategy. I was specifically in charge of X and delivered Y as part of the greater team goal.”

Common mistake #5 -Throwing out numbers without context: While it helps to include metrics about your accomplishments, it’s extremely important to contextualize the numbers you provide. It’s often a bad assumption that an interviewer will recognize the significance of your accomplishment without more context. As an example, is 5% revenue growth good or bad? Well the perception of that growth figure can vary depending on context (i.e. could potentially look good in an environment where growth is stagnant, but could look insignificant in an environment experiencing hyper-growth). Takeaway is that context is just as important as the actual metric. 

So how do we improve our communication in an interview and avoid the mistakes above? 

When answering an interview question, it’s always advisable (when possible) to use actual work examples to highlight what you’ve accomplished vs. talking abstractly about things you’ve done. Ahead of an interview you should always prepare specific work examples that address situations a company might want to evaluate. Examples may include a time where you had to meet a deadline, or a time when you needed to address a customer promise. Our interview question bank has examples of common situations you might be asked about. 

Once you’ve selected work examples to highlight, practice how you would structure your response to be easy for an interviewer to follow. Here is framework we recommend when thinking about structuring your response:

Step 1: Frame the situation. Start by framing the situation for the interviewer in a few sentences. Your answer should address the circumstances of what was happening, who it involved, and what was your role/responsibility in the situation.

Example: “When I worked at Amazon as a buyer, I was given the goal of adding 30k new items to my category. This meant going and finding manufacturers and vendors who weren’t already selling on Amazon, convincing them to do business with us, then handling all the logistics of getting those items listed on the site and the inventory into our warehouses.”

Before continuing, pause to make sure the interview understands the situation. It’s nearly impossible for an interviewer to evaluate your example if they don’t understand the situation.

Step 2: Present the problem that needed to be solved. Next be explicit about the problem or issue that needed solving and why it is important. Your response should answer in a concise manner, what was broken and what needed to be fixed?

Example: “The main problems I needed to solve was how to find 30k new items and as efficiently as possible get them on the site. I was solely responsible for this project.” 

Step 3: Tell the interviewer what you did. Be specific about what you did to tackle the problem. Your answer here should focus on explicit actions you took to solve the problem.

Example: “I looked at the problem a few different ways. First, I identified products sold on other websites but not Amazon. Then I identified products sold in other countries but not the US. And finally I identified products our current partners had but weren’t selling on Amazon. For each of these scenarios I developed a strategy and began working on it.”   

Keep in mind that you’re not trying to spell out every single thing you did here. You’re just trying to provide enough context so the interviewer understands at a high-level what you did and why it led to your results. 

Step 4: Impress with the results you delivered. Metrics here will help, but the result could also be intangible things like a better work environment, strong team participation, etc. Finally contextualize it with why the result was important.

Example: “Each of the strategies contributed to meeting my goal, some more than others. By the end of the year I had added 32k new items that generated $5M in new revenue in that first year.”

Step 5: Be prepared to dive into the details. A good interviewer will always want to probe your answers. Steps 1-4 should give them a good baseline understanding of what you’ve accomplished. The details you provide in follow-up questions will help validate the interviewer’s understanding of what you’ve accomplished. Note: if you can’t speak to the details, you’ve chosen a bad work example.

Need additional help preparing for an interview? Ask a question here.

Thanks for reading. I hope this helps.

- Joe Shao, Head of Talent Advocacy


Job search advice for code academy graduates

I recently graduated [a code academy] and am not getting any response to my job applications. What should I do? - Anonymous, San Francisco

I don't need to tell you that the nature of work is changing, and changing rapidly. You're one of the forward-thinking ones who is actively making yourself more relevant and employable by going to a code academy. Unfortunately, many companies are slow to recognize the amount of "non-traditional" talent that exists out there. (This is something Perfect Loop is actively working on but we'll save that for the marketing ;-)

First things first: Don't be discouraged and don't take the lack of response personally. I know, easier said than done but my point is that breaking into a new career is like a marathon. You have to keep going, one step after another and eventually you get there. I've been in your situation several times in my career and can tell you that if you take positive steps forward every day you'll make it. 

So, what are the positive steps? Here's what I've learned breaking into new careers.

  1. Make it easy to be sorted into the right pile. It's unfortunate but the average recruiter spends just 6 seconds reviewing a resume. Providing a concise summary at top of your resume can help contextualize everything else and leaves less to interpretation. The key here is being concise (think 20 words or less) and factual. For instance, "Entry-level frontend developer" tells me 1). what your level is and that you're self-aware of it (a good thing) and 2). you're area of focus. Normally a recruiter has to look at your previous jobs and scan your work experience to deduce this. Add something like, "Strengths: HTML5/CSS3/Javascript + Angular/React; prototyping" and now I know your core tech. "Ready for professional environment with light supervision." Now I know whether your in the realm of possibility for a role. In 17 words. This is obviously a topic that begs elaboration and examples so feel free to ask and we'll dedicate a post to resume examples. 
  2. Code everyday. One of the best ways to stand out is having work that you can share and talk to. One thing I see a lot with code academy graduates is they've done project work in school but nothing after. Unfortunately, to a recruiter or employer this can look like a red flag. I get it, job searching is time-consuming but think of continuing to build and sharpen your skills as a key part of your job search. You may not have much professional coding experience but being able to talk about what you've built and what you're currently building is really helpful when trying to get your foot in the door. Companies hiring entry-level positions accept that your skills might not be polished. But they need to see you're the right person to invest in. 
  3. Collaborate with others in the same boat. One thing I've learned in my career is how important having a network is. Finding other people to work with on projects is a great way to develop a network of references and referrals. And you never know, sometimes those projects take on a life of their own. My co-founder Anupam and I started working together by building a personality test. 2 years later and we have a company growing faster than we can keep up with. 
  4. Tell your story. Some of the common mistakes I see code academy graduates make are stuffing their resumes with keywords, omitting all previous work experience, and exhaustively including all previous experience. Instead, focus on telling your story. In suggestion 1 above you came up with a concise summary of where you're at, what you can do, and what you're looking for. Now the rest of your resume needs to tell that story. For instance, if you were a nurse and now you want to be a full-stack developer, don't tell me how good you are at changing IV lines. Tell me how you know how to work on a team, in a fast paced environment, where precision is critically important. Again, this is a topic that begs elaboration and examples so feel free to ask and we'll dedicate a post to resume examples.

I hope some of these suggestions help. Have other questions? Feel free to ask anonymously here.

- Gregory Rutty

What questions will an Amazon Bar Raiser ask me?

I’ve finished 3 phone interviews (HR, Hiring Lead, and his Manager) now scheduled for a call tomorrow with a Manager outside the immediate group. What unique questions does the Bar Raiser ask, differently from the hiring group? - Anonymous

Bar Raisers, like all interviewers, are assessing for specific competencies. These rotate based on role function, job level, business stage, etc. The uniqueness is more in how you're evaluated. Hiring teams tend to compare you against their immediate team and need; Bar Raisers compare you against all of Amazon.

In terms of preparation, I wouldn't do anything different for a bar raiser interview. I would however be aware that by nature of being outside the group a Bar Raiser may not have domain knowledge relevant to the role or your past experience. Not always true but worth paying attention to if you're getting lost in the weeds while answering a question.

For what it's worth, Bar Raisers didn't typically do phone screens early in the process. Maybe that's changed since I was one but usually we only worked with other teams for the onsite interview loop. 

- Gregory Rutty

Have a question? Ask it here!

Tailoring Experience for Product Management @ Amazon

I would appreciate your take on my background and any advice you have about tailoring it for Amazon product/program management roles. - K., Seattle

During my time at Amazon, I was a product manager in Kindle as well as managed a product in Retail. I also worked and interacted with dozens of other product managers at the various intersections of Amazon's heavily matrixed org structure. In my observation, the good product managers at Amazon do three things well:

  1. They focus intensely on a customer problem -- "customer focus" is all the rage these days. But what's often missing is focus on a specific, defined problem. Deep understanding of a pain point (or opportunity for invention) requires research, observation, measurement, and lots of thought, which brings us to the second thing good product managers do...
  2. They build strong cases and argue persuasively -- the most popular question at Amazon is "why?" (followed closely by "why not?") which means you need to take your deep understanding of that customer problem and translate it into a case that you can defend, in meeting, after meeting, after meeting. Nothing is going to happen unless you will it to and at Amazon, data and narrative are the tools of the trade. Amazon is tightly managed and the way that ideas turn into products is they fight their way to the top. At each rung, they're subjected to a barrage of "whys?'. Survival of the fittest. 
  3. They get *the right* shit done -- at the end of the day, Amazon cares about results. It's not enough to simply get things done. You must get the right things done, and by that I mean those things that have a significantly positive, measurable impact. 

This is what "meeting the bar" at Amazon looks like. The best of the best do these three things faster and more creatively than everyone else. 

So, in terms of tailoring your experience, a few things stand out as really important for Amazon's Product Manager / Sr. Product Manager roles. You've got to be analytical. You've got to have a lot of hustle and persistence. And you've got to own every aspect of breathing life into your idea. Obviously you can break all this down into buzzwords but my suggestion is to think of the hardest things you've ever done professionally, even if you failed, and be able to talk through everything you did or didn't do, why it was important, what ended up happening, and what you learned. 

At the end of the day, Amazon is a unique environment that's not ideal for many (probably most) people. Talk about the hardest thing you've done and why you're proud of it. If Amazon isn't impressed, than it's for the best. There are plenty of exciting, interesting places to build product besides Amazon. Hell, Perfect Loop has been built largely in coffee shops around the country. 

- Gregory Rutty

Have a question? Ask it here!

Why this blog exists

The Career Coach blog exists to give the advice we wish we would've had. 

Don't get us wrong; Learning the hard way has it's merits. But sometimes it's nice to have the insight of someone who has "been there, done that" when it comes to the big (or not so big) decisions. 

When it comes to mistakes, we at Perfect Loop have made them. Lots of them. In fact, I have probably made the most of anyone at our company. Mistakes happen and we firmly believe that you shouldn't let the fear of making them hold you back. But if we can help you at least evaluate your options, we'll be happy.

At the end of the day, we believe humans have an innate desire to learn and improve. We hope our Career Coach blog helps you do just that as you navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of professional development. 

- Gregory Rutty, CEO

Have a question? Ask it here!