Lizzie Ann Jones has been a recruiter at Amazon and Expedia for over 4 years including MBA recruiting and global talent acquisition. She is a recruiting thought leader on LinkedIn where she has gained over 8M+ annual views on her career content. Lizzie is currently completing her MBA and is an incoming Product Marketing Manager MBA Intern at Microsoft.
Here are some questions we will be answering:
– How to win as an underdog?
– What is it like to work at Amazon?
– The key trait to breaking into competitive development/rotational programs?
– What should your mindset be when recruiting for jobs?
– How to master networking calls and coffee chats?
– How to identify your strengths and weaknesses?
– Is an MBA is right for you?
– How to overcome challenges in your life?
– How can being an introvert actually be a strength?
Connect with Lizzie: www.linkedin.com/in/heylizzieann/
Learn more about Lizzie’s Company: www.heylizzieann.com/
Get 1-on-1 Career Coaching: www.careercoachingcompany.com/
Follow our Host, AJ Eckstein, on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-aj-eckstein/
*Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this podcast are of the host and guest and not of their employers.
“When hiring managers put together job descriptions, for the most part, they’re kind of like a wish list.” – Lizzie Ann
Welcome to the Final Round podcast, where our mission is to help you knock out the competition and land your dream job. My name is A.J. Eckstein, and I’m a recent college graduate, a strategy consultant, a five-time intern and the founder of the Career Coaching Company. I have a passion for helping people achieve their career goals through non-traditional career advice.
Have you ever wondered why only a few people get past the final round interview and land the job offer? Join me in the ring as I speak with recruiters at top companies to learn the secrets why certain applicants get “knocked-out” and others are still standing after the final round.
The Final Round podcast is brought to you by Career Coaching Company. They offer one-on-one live tailored coaching from recent grads who work at leading companies across multiple industries like consulting, investment banking and much more. Now, let’s jump into the ring and get you past the final round.
Lizzie Ann has been a recruiter at Amazon and Expedia for over four years. She’s a recruiting thought leader on LinkedIn where she has gained over eight million annual views in her career content. She is currently completing her MBA and is an incoming product marketing manager, Internet Microsoft. Lizzie Ann, welcome to the Final Round.
Lizzie Ann: Thank you so much for having me, A.J. Yeah, I’ve had an interesting career in tech and I know that this is a space that a lot of people want to get into. So, it’s my pleasure to be able to do talks like this. I can give back some tips. Hopefully some wisdom to help some of you guys, some of your listeners to break into a big type as well.
I think the most interesting thing about your story is from afar you would see a lot of victories, right? Microsoft, Expedia Group, Amazon, right? I think what people don’t realize is that you really have a true underdog story. I mean, I recently interviewed a recruiter from Tesla, who we’re talking about earlier and she has an underdog story as well. I think it’s so important because a lot of people think that to break into these top companies, you have to be such a perfect candidate and your parents have to work there and everything has to line up. But a lot of times you come in as an underdog, right? And some things for your underdog story, you said that you grew up in a low-income household, first generation college student, breaking into tech as a minority and from a non-tech background. So, can you tell me how you were able to navigate around all these obstacles and still found all these successes in the last few years?
Lizzie Ann: Yeah. So, like you said, I had probably all the cards stacked against me. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college. When I was in college, I was primarily studying occupational therapy. So, I was wanting to go into the healthcare field and it wasn’t until right around graduation when I wanted to make a pivot. So, I didn’t have a business internship or anything at all. So yeah, I definitely have a nontraditional background, but I think the thing that helped me the most in the beginning and still to this day is just self-advocacy. I’ve never liked having anything handed to me. I’ve always had to kind of find resources and things on my own.
So, in college, I was very much in the habit of documenting my successes, making sure any time I achieve something in a club or in a job that I had that on my resume and that I was always like tweaking my resume like it was like a living, breathing thing because if I don’t advocate for myself, I know no one else will. I didn’t even have people who went through the college or corporate recruiting process and that really helped me in my first job out of college, which was Amazon. This is a very competitive company. I didn’t have referrals. I didn’t know anyone who worked at Amazon, but what I did have was an excellent resume, super metrics driven, super concise. I had been going over it again and again, like way before graduation, applying and then going into the interview process. Again, I was just hustling super hard, having my parents help me do the interview prep because I didn’t like any other professionals. So, having that self-advocacy I think was key in terms of getting to break that big tech and then also staying within that industry. And there are a lot of things that I’ve learned along the way in terms of self-advocacy, in terms of networking, using LinkedIn, personal branding that I didn’t know about and I wish I did, it would have made that process easier and that’s precisely why I love to give back in terms of career development and career tips and going on talks like this.
Leadership Development Programs
Well, it’s such an amazing story and I completely agree that self-advocacy is critical and if you don’t advocate for yourself, why should someone else advocate for you? Right? I think that’s such a big thing going into the recruiting process with just so much confidence that you know that you can provide value at any company. It’s just a matter of what company is the best fit. And you mentioned Amazon coming out of college and I know that you specifically recruited for the MBA leadership development program and it’s so amazing that a lot of companies today, I had the privilege of being on one at Disney for a leadership development internship program, but a lot of companies are trying to look for aspiring leaders. So, what did you look for in terms of the ideal candidate for this leadership development program?
Lizzie Ann: So, for Amazon’s rotational programs, it’s a pretty robust structure. So, the first step is having a good resume and that is something that you have a lot of experiences that have transferable skills. So, they’re not looking for someone who is like a finance expert going into this like a finance rotational program. It’s someone who has really good critical thinking skills, analytical skills that has the potential to be trained up. And that’s the whole point of rotational programs is that we’re getting people who have just innate skills that can be developed within a program. These can be helpful for people who are joining tech out of undergrad or grad school or career changes because you have a little bit more structure there. With rotational programs, it’s typically kind of a path from Point A to point B. In terms of you rotate into like two or three like job functions. You have a mentor, you have a cohort of people who are doing the exact same thing and that can be really helpful for people who are coming from an untraditional background into tech.
What are you looking for in an ideal candidate that would be a good fit for a leadership development program?
Lizzie Ann: The top quality is seeing someone who has consistently shown initiative over time. So, when you’re looking at their work experience, even if it’s not in a tech background that you see over and over again that they’ve been leading projects, that they’ve been creating things, that they’ve been facilitating things that whatever work environment they are and that they’re the ones who are stepping up to make things happen and they do that successfully again and again, that would be the biggest thing because that is more of a softer skill. Leadership is something you can definitely cultivate, but it’s different from learning like Excel is equal where you can take a class if you can figure it out, but becoming that person who will step up in a situation and then lead others to do the same, that’s a lot harder to teach and that’s something that is really special and what companies are looking for.
Experience at Amazon
And it’s interesting that you said consistency with taking initiative in being a leader. It’s not just doing one thing off the bat, but it’s doing multiple things throughout your life to build a theme throughout your application, your profile or story. And that’s the same thing actually that recruiter that we had on the podcast from the Boston Consulting Group. He said the exact same thing that we’re looking for someone who can show initiative but not just once, but over a longer period of time to prove a pattern. For myself, when I was on the Disney business leader rotation program, which I’m assuming it’s probably pretty similar to the Amazon one, but just a different company. The main interview questions, the main talking points, were how have you shown initiative in the past? So, everyone out there try to – even if you don’t want to be the president, just take more initiative than being just a member in a club or organization and don’t just show up but set up the events, clean up the events, speak with the yes, before all the members get there and I think that the initiative is something where it’s not necessarily just taught, but you have to go up and get it.
So, I think that’s an excellent point in terms of who we’re looking for these types of Amazon programs. Talking about Amazon for one more second, it’s been said that the years of Amazon are almost kind of like dog years because the environment is so fast paced, right? So, cutthroat and also the work that you probably accomplish in one year at Amazon is equivalent to maybe seven years of a different company. So, what was your experience like at Amazon, was it an absolute grind? Did you learn a ton? What was that experience?
Lizzie Ann: Yeah, it’s super-fast pace. It is a company that has its hands in a lot of different industries and it’s constantly evolving. So, you feel that as an employee. So, yes, in my time there, I was there for two years and it definitely felt like a lot longer and that’s what I loved about it and that’s what I was kind of looking for. I kind of wanted to be in a place where I was drinking from a fire hose and just learning as much as I could. I think that’s super helpful especially when you’re young in your career and you don’t know exactly what you want to do long term. There were just times when I was at Amazon where like the way that we’re running our operations at the beginning of the month was like 70% different by the end of the month because something happened, and we just had to pivot really quickly or there’s like this theme at Amazon where you don’t launch something when you’re 100% right, and you have to be like 70, 80% ready and then just figure out the rest. So, there are times where we like to run super-fast in one direction and we’re like, ‘Okay. We need a pivot,’ and then just go in the complete opposite direction. So, it was very challenging, but you learn so much in an environment like that. So, I’m grateful that that was the first place I decided to start off in my career.
When to Apply?
And I think that quote and I’ve actually heard that quote before as well from Jeff Bezos, where he said that, “You don’t launch something when you’re 100% ready, but rather when you’re 70 or 80% ready because if it’s 100%, you wait too long. Competitors come in and you’re at a loss.” And I think we can translate that to someone’s recruiting journey. I’m curious to know, do you think that you should only apply to an internship or a job or any opportunity out there where you feel 100% qualified and you check off every box or rather 70, 80% qualified and you check off 75% of the boxes?
Lizzie Ann: Yeah, definitely don’t wait until you’re just 100% ready because you’re going to miss out on a lot of opportunities. When hiring managers put together job descriptions, for the most part, they’re kind of like a wish list. I had my ideal candidate in the perfect situation. This is what they have, but then reality hits and then you get people in front of you and you realize, ‘Okay. This person doesn’t have this one skill that I listed in the job description, but they have two more skills that I didn’t list and are really helpful.’ So, there is that flexibility there. For that reason alone, you shouldn’t wait until you find something that’s 100% a good fit because you’ll be limiting yourself. So, yes, 70 to 80% is a good rule of thumb in terms of like that’s kind of where you want to spend most of your time. If you saw something with like less than 70, 80%, doesn’t mean you can’t apply at all, but it just means you want to just be strategic with your time and try to get the most of the qualifications but there are a couple missing, then it’s still okay to apply.
MBAs and Tech Companies?
I think that’s such a great way to think about a job application and that the HR managers essentially are making a wish list, not a requirement list, but a wish list and what the ideal candidate would be like. But at the end of the day, most people don’t check off every box and most people who get the position, don’t check off every box. So, I think it’s a great way to think about it and you should apply to more roles even if you’re not 100% qualified. I know that for tech there have been some pretty different viewpoints on if an MBA is required. I know Elon Musk is super big on saying that MBAs are not required. I know for Amazon, it’s probably a little bit different, but curious for your own career path, why did you get an MBA? Do you think it’s required to really grow in these tech companies?
Lizzie Ann: Yeah, the decision was definitely a personal one. So, I’ve spent the last four years in corporate recruiting. Although I loved it very much, I started a company on the side and in that process, I was constantly doing research to make sure my products are priced right. I’m interviewing customers just to make sure that I’m getting the right information out to people. I was doing a lot with the website and the design and I realized that a lot of the things that I was doing fell under the marketing umbrella and I loved it and I wanted to get a try at it. And when I started networking with other marketers and product marketers within tech, I knew that it was possible for me to pivot from recruiting to this other role if I wanted to.
But it would take a bit of networking and a bit of time for that to happen. Whereas I know from working at Amazon they have these rotational programs where you don’t even have to have a marketing background before business school, like business school is setting a lot of people up to kind of pivot. So, I saw that as kind of like a more built-in system for me to pivot to a different company in a different role. So, that was a big thing for me was just having a more structured path. And then the other thing was being able to network with different people. I know that tech is where I want to spend the rest of my career. Like there’s no other industry for me. Most of my friends work in tech. So, I’m constantly in this environment with the same kind of people thinking the same way and I wanted to make sure that I had some time in my career to take a step back and be exposed to different positions. So, I’m at Rice University in Houston, Texas where the tech scene isn’t super large. It’s not like here in Seattle, there are people who don’t think that your crowd is like the coolest thing in the world and like it’s humbling because it’s like you can be so immersed in this field that everyone wants to go into.
So, having the time to kind of step back, meet people from different backgrounds and then develop as much for myself as a leader I thought was worthwhile for two years. But for some people it may not make sense. And at the end of the day in tech, you don’t necessarily need an MBA. Sometimes you don’t even need a bachelor’s degree to even like doing the job. It’s definitely going in that direction of less formal education. So, I would say there is no standard answer like yes, you need an MBA or no, you don’t. The answer probably would’ve been different a couple years ago, but moving forward so just really take a look at your career and your journey, what makes sense to you?
So, if someone’s on the fence about getting an MBA, what would you say is the deciding factor to get one? Is it more so if you want to pivot from like you recruiting to actually being a marketing manager or is it to grow within the same position that you’re in?
Lizzie Ann: Honestly, the big factor for a lot of people is the cost of an MBA. It is extremely expensive. So, I think that the biggest thing is like are you going to get the ROI that you’re looking for by taking a step back and going to this group versus can you supplement getting a certification or just networking? So, I would say cost is like a pretty big factor for a lot of people to be perfectly honest. I know that’s not like the super sexy answer, but that’s usually what it comes down to for most people.
And it’s interesting how you know the way that you understood why you want to get an MBA is actually through your own company, right? Heylizzieann.com, and I have actually used this resource before. It’s an amazing platform and I love the page for the free resources and you mentioned podcasts, you mentioned different influential speakers on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to just collect more resources and also use you as a resource if we have any questions. So, why did you start this platform and what’s your mission behind it?
Lizzie Ann: It was very unintentional. So, when I started working in recruiting, I began posting job search tips on LinkedIn because there was a lot that I was learning as a recruiter that I didn’t know and I wish I would’ve known as a graduating college student. And then unintentionally, I attracted a pretty large following for the career tips and content and then it went beyond two people just not wanting content, but wanting to work with me to help them in their career. So, because there was that need for a modern-day career coach for people who maybe are a little bit more on the underdog side, that’s why I decided to start a business out of it. It’s been awesome to be able to be with people on a one-on-one journey in terms of helping them pivot into tech or like graduate from college and get a role in tech. It’s the things that I did in my path, but I’m helping people get there a little bit faster hopefully with a little bit less stress and it’s been a really awesome journey so far.
I love the mission behind it and especially your focus on helping early tech professionals and obviously your expertise is just something where it’s an asset. I think it’s something that’s so needed today because a lot of people are struggling, whether it’s something with Covid or whether it’s something with getting a job rescinded or getting laid off, fired, whatever it is. But I think that it’s really interesting because I saw one of your posts on LinkedIn and that you were discussing that you had experienced a medical issue and going through the process of overcoming that you were very vulnerable on LinkedIn. You were talking about every step that you took to get from where you were. It was a very dark time, not where you are today. So, can you walk us through what your mindset was to get you through those darker times? Because as much as I’d love to talk about the sunshine and rainbows that’s going on. There are a lot of people out there that are so stressed and they’re struggling whether that’s with recruiting or anything with Covid.
Lizzie Ann: Yeah, that’s a great question. I’m glad that you asked. So, in the past I posted on LinkedIn, kind of like the triumph stories that I was the first gen and then I went to college. I had a non-tech background, then I got into tech, you know, the kind of afterlife and a lot of people like seeing the person after they’ve overcome the struggle. And then this past summer, I had a medical incident that impaired my speech for a little bit and it was right before I was going to be a keynote speaker at a women in tech conference and my whole goal for that, then the 2020 was that I would hopefully be invited to do a TED talk and then losing my ability to speak coherently and like not even knowing if that was ever going to come back again was really scary. I knew that I had to make a choice, either just sit back and be scared and kind of deal with this on my own or just confront it head on so that this won’t hurt me. And so, that’s why I decided to make a video and share my journey.
It wasn’t after I had gotten better and I can tell that happy story was like, right in the thick of it, and I think another part that kind of led to this, which was the fact that we were in 2020, it was such a weird year and it was so weird that not a lot of people were sharing their struggles on social media. I think more people should do that. And when I shared that story, so many people reached out to me sharing their personal stories of injuries or illnesses at the workplace and feeling like they had to hide it because people might judge them or think that they’re not as capable. So, seeing how that empowered people, well that was also empowering myself was an incredible thing. So, it’s something that I’m trying to lean into more as I go further in my career because I know that there are people out there who probably had similar stories to me that want to be seen, but unless I’m using my platform to share that, even if it’s uncomfortable for me, I’m not going to be able to uplift those people that I know I have the power to.
Kudos to you again for being able to share that story. I think that same philosophy of having a strong mindset in getting through the darker times, a lot of people out there who are listening to this podcast and are still searching for internships or jobs, they keep seeing on LinkedIn, that it says, “I’m happy to announce,” or “I’m so excited or thrilled to say that I got this job at Google or Facebook or Microsoft,” whatever it is, right? And they’re in a dark mindset because all you see is everyone else getting something and you’re not getting anything, maybe you’re getting constant rejection. So, what would you say to those students and professionals out there who keep seeing those posts but have to continue to fight through it because maybe the opportunity is just waiting for them the following day?
Lizzie Ann: That is so tough, and that’s why I create the content that I do. It’s not always those types of posts because I understand how that affects someone. The job search process is really tough and it’s so vulnerable at times. So, to go on this platform where you’re trying to find resources and then it’s kind of in your face, other people succeeding and you want to be happy for them. But at the same time, it sucks for you, like that’s such a real feeling. What I would say to those people is one, give yourself a little bit of grace. It’s already hard enough. Don’t put yourself down for feeling that way about those posts and you’re not the only person who feels that way. Even those people who are making those announcements, they probably felt the same way that you do right now. I would say that in terms of a career, it kind of is like a Ferris wheel.
There are times where you feel like you’re at the bottom, but you have to understand that you are going to get up again. There’s no alternative in terms of the job search process. It’s not like you’re never going to find a job for the rest of your life. That’s not going to happen. So, I would say one, is to just understand that objective truth that you will find that opportunity in your future, in your path and then two, be honest with what you need at this point. If you find those types of posts motivating and it kind of pushes you a little bit then by all means, keep checking LinkedIn and keep following those things. If you feel like it’s just making you feel a little bit down then maybe try following some company pages or some hashtags on LinkedIn or other topics within your industry, things that are really useful for you to learn. So, your news feed isn’t just people who like announcing different things. You can have a little bit of a balance there.
Accepted vs. Rejected Applicants
And I think another great analogy about recruiting is like being on a Ferris wheel and sometimes you look up and you see people on the top of the Ferris wheel and you’re on the bottom. But if you just are patient and you do everything that you need to do to maximize your chances as in tailoring your resumes and networking, reaching out to recruiters, reaching out to hiring managers before you know it, once the Ferris wheel turns on again, it moves up and you’re on the top. So, I do think that it’s a waiting game. It’s a numbers game, but you have to still be confident and just know that your time will come. What would you say is the main difference between someone who gets a job and someone who gets rejected?
Lizzie Ann: If we’re saying that these two people are kind of the same job, they have the same qualifications. I would say that big difference, a small difference is honestly a little bit of luck. I say that because people take their job search process so personally sometimes. Obviously, you want to be constructive, understand feedback on how you want to get better, but then there are some things that happened behind the scene, whether it’s an internal candidate who interviewed for the role or someone who interviewed in the past that got it or the type of recruiter who was on the rec who knows as much of the position as someone else. There are little things that go in the administrative backend process that you have absolutely no control of and sometimes that’s just like the difference in that situation. So, I would say be honest with yourself in terms of trying to get your resume better, trying to get your mock interviews better. But then also again give yourself a little bit of grace because sometimes that is like an inch of a difference. It’s just something that’s truly outside of your hands and that doesn’t have to do with anything about you as a person or your abilities as a professional.
I want to take a quick pause and tell you about Career Coaching Company. Are you still searching for your dream internship or job but are having trouble landing an offer? Career Coaching Company offers one-on-one live tailored coaching from recent grads who now work at top companies like the ones you’re applying to. Be sure to check out their website @careercoachingcompany.com to see how their team of coaches can help you land your dream job. Now let’s jump back into the ring. How much does a unique story come into play when recruiting candidates? And again, going back to one of your posts and I quote, you said that your favorite stories are the idiosyncratic narratives lived by people. I think everyone has a unique story, whether they believe it or not, but it’s hard to articulate that story in a way that is easy to understand. Do you think that when you’re recruiting for candidates, you’re looking for someone who can not only articulate their story, but has a good narrative to discuss?
Lizzie Ann: I think it’s about one, just being honest with your narrative and communicating that well. It’s not a bad thing if you started computer science and you become a software developer. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. I think it’s just interesting when people are upfront about things that maybe seem a little bit outside of the box in terms of their job search. So, when I talk to tech people and we’re just kind of small talking at the start of the phone interview and they say they’re passionate about things like playing guitar or cooking. It’s not just like I like to be on Github after work. Sometimes people feel like they have to be in this box and they have to communicate themselves in a way where all they do is just deep breath like whatever their job is and that’s not always the case. So, when people are honest about that and open about it, whether it’s small talk in an interview or just sharing some of your side passions on LinkedIn, that’s really cool to see because it really humanizes the applicant and that’s a lot easier to remember than being the type of person who’s like, “Okay. This is a technical role. I need to tell them that like outside of work like I just like to learn new programming languages and code all day.” If that’s not authentic to you, then don’t try to be someone that you’re not.
So, there is a human side to recruiting as in sharing your things, your hobbies, your interests outside of work, and sharing why you’re really passionate about it. Don’t just say what the other person wants to hear is in, “Yeah, I code on the weekends. Yeah, I read strategy books.” No, it’s actually what you do that makes you tick when you’re not at work.
Lizzie Ann: Honestly, recruiting is a little bit like dating. So, if you come up on the first date and you lie about everything you like and then you get into a relationship, it’s probably not going to work out, right? So, you want to present your best self obviously, but then your authentic self because you want to make sure it’s a two-way street and it’s a match on both sides.
Knowing your Strengths and Weaknesses
I saw that on your linked in profile, you have your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and I feel like having that you’re basically telling everyone what your strengths and weaknesses are and it’s really good to understand who you can work well with and who you potentially can have a conflict with. I think this is very similar to recruiting in that you need to know and a common question is what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Do you think maybe taking this test or just doing a deeper dive into your strengths and weaknesses could be an asset going into this competitive recruitment process?
Lizzie Ann: The reason why I got into taking a personality test is that my job when I was a recruiter is to find the strength and weaknesses of other people, but if I can’t accurately assess that on myself, like how am I supposed to find out in other people? So, that’s kind of where it started off. I think it’s so important to know that about yourself when you are job searching. People underestimate the self-reflection piece at the beginning of a job search and that is the most important thing because if you don’t have a really clear idea of who you are, your strengths, your weaknesses, what types of tasks give you energy, what types of tasks are draining, then it just makes it harder for you to find a role that will be completely fulfilling. People oftentimes when the job search typically when they’re a little stressed, they’re either trying to run away from an opportunity or like they’re kind of up against a deadline and I know that’s so hard and so stressful, but don’t just like apply to a certain role type because everyone else is doing it or because you saw some BuzzFeed list that it’s really cool to do and just like the one track mind on that role unless you’ve taken some time to reflect if that’s actually a really good fit for you.
To understand what would be a good fit for you, you really have to understand who you are as a professional, like what really makes you fulfilled in a job and it might not always be what looks good on paper. So, I took the Myers-Briggs. That’s not the only personality test out there. There’s plenty of one’s online and I think playing around with that a little bit and doing just a little bit of reflection in the beginning can pay off at the end when you finally get that offer and you start in a position.
So, let’s say that you take one of those personality tests or you do some self-reflecting or you ask your friends to offer some of what they think is your strengths and weaknesses and you learn more that you’re more of an individual person and let’s say you’re more introverted. I feel like most people would think that that’s a weakness going into the recruiting process because it’s harder to put yourself out there and network and apply than if you weren’t introverted. But I understand that you think that being introverted is a strength. Why is that?
Lizzie Ann: Yeah. I think it’s my most powerful strength, to be honest. I think there’s a false narrative about introverts being quiet and passive, but it’s just that if you’re an introvert you get your energy differently from other people who get their energy from talking to other people. So, as an introvert for example, with networking, I just can’t surface the conversation for small talk for too long, that drives me crazy. I really want to get into the crux of who this person is and why they are the way they are, that is really what makes me happy. So, when I go into networking conversations, for example, I’m definitely the type of person that will be able to discover really in-depth things about a professional beyond like what they do in their job and their career path.
At the end of the conversations, we’re always talking about our passion and like why we think tech is the way that it is where it’s going in the future and like people have really appreciated that, that I don’t just ask surface level questions. As an introvert, I’m someone who really values really deep relationships. So, I don’t send out a coffee chat request unless I really see them as someone who could be a potential professional friend. I’m never just grabbing 30 minutes of someone’s time just to get their time. I really follow up with people. I remember little things and communicate that to people long after the coffee chat. So, those are just a couple ways being an introvert has helped me a lot in the job search. That doesn’t mean that if you’re an extrovert, you can’t do those things too. It just means that introverts are built differently and there are different strengths that we have and instead of thinking that being introvert is a weakness, think about the ways that you find energy and give you life and apply that to how you’re going about your job search process.
I think that’s a great way to think about it because you know on the surface it could look like a weakness, but if you actually work on flipping it, making it a strength, you can use it as your advantage. You said it’s the biggest strength of yours as being an introvert. In a very similar example is being a first-generation college student, yes, that could be a weakness because you don’t have parents that you can rely on to ask for help, but you know that your skin will be so much thicker over those four years because you’re going to have to learn everything on your own, you’re going to have to be as independent as you could be and that could be part of your story and your narrative. So, I think it’s so important to, is it really a weakness or can you flip it and make it a strength and be stronger? And kudos to you for being able to realize that and also do that. You briefly mentioned coffee chats. I know coffee chats, networking, introductory calls, it’s pretty confusing since they’re all more or less the same thing with some subtle differences. What would you say are a few of the best practices for coffee chats to make them super effective?
Lizzie Ann: I’ll do two. So, one is that you make sure you do enough research about the person that you have substantial questions to ask. Don’t ask questions that you can easily find on Google or on their LinkedIn profile because then what’s the point of talking to them if that information was out there. So, I would say make sure that you do your research on the person. In doing so, you’ll probably find that to have really good questions, it’ll be someone who has a lot in common with you. A lot of people think coffee chats should only be like with recruiters or someone who is hiring for a particular position, but if your only commonality with the person is that you really want a job and they can hopefully get your job, that’s not substantial enough. So, try to find people where you’re looking at their profile and they worked on projects that you’re interested in. They volunteer at places that you support, things that can go a little bit beneath the surface because you’ll be more prepared with better questions and you’ll probably hit it off a lot easier. And then the biggest thing is to follow up. Oftentimes, people will just do a coffee chat, have a good 30-minute conversation, never talk to that person again unless they need them for a job referral.
That’s not really building a connection or relationship. That’s really more just asking someone for a favor, which is not inherently bad, but that’s not really the point of networking. So, when you’re having these coffee chats with people, make sure that you actually follow up with them over time. If you learn something new, tell them that in the conversation. If they shared a podcast with you, mention that a few weeks later when you see that podcast advertisement come up. It’s kind of like having just professional friends. When you’re in a high school or college environment, it’s so easy to go up to your friends every single day. But then when you get to the workforce, it’s a lot harder. And you stay in touch by these micro interactions whether it’s just being Facebook friends or like liking people’s posts doesn’t mean that you’re like talking to them every day, but when they’re just kind of seeing you around in these micro communications, you feel more connected to them and LinkedIn and professional networking is just like that. So, I’d say the biggest takeaway for sure is making sure that you’re following up and building a relationship beyond the coffee chat.
I think those are two excellent points. Going back to the first one for a second, if you don’t research the person beforehand, I mean before you even reach out, you need to draw some similarities whether it’s from the same alma mater, whether it’s the same interests, whether that’s professional or outside of the workplace, it’s so important to build that rapport. Also, with the following up, if I have a coffee chat with you and I said that I’m really looking to break into tech and you’re like, “Oh, well check out this podcast.” It shouldn’t just end there, but a few days or a few weeks later, when I do check it out hopefully, I should reach back out and say, “Thank you so much, Lizzie Ann. It was a great podcast. Stay in touch.” And you continue that relationship versus being in a transaction. So, I absolutely love those two points. And everyone out there, make sure you follow up because if you don’t then you’re not going to be remembered and it’s just almost like a waste of both of your time because you’re not showing why you found that conversation to be valuable. And then I want to be respectful of your time, Lizzie Ann.
So, we’ll jump to the last question, the final question for today. What would you say is the best piece of advice that you can give to our audience to help them get past the final round interview and land the job offer?
Lizzie Ann: You want to make sure that you’re really present in the interview process. Sometimes people feel like they’re just kind of performing and they’re just trying to think of how they can present themselves the best and that’s important. But also make sure you’re having a conversation with the other person and really taking notes, mental notes about what they’re talking about because one thing that makes a difference at the end is the candidates who are able to send thank you notes that reference, very specific things that they heard the interview say in the interview, things that are like put out ideas about stuff that they talked about during the interview and it really shows that you’re really listening and it was a two-way conversation versus you were just kind of like putting on a performance. I know that sounds hard to do, like I’m interviewing and then like trying to listen at the same time, but preparation is key for that. So, making sure that you do all that preparation so that you’re putting yourself in a situation where you’re really taking in as much knowledge and information from the other person, so that you can be able to communicate that you’re really present and that you can really see yourself at the company and here’s why, because you have really good examples from when you were having a conversation with that person.
What an excellent way to finish off the show. Lizzie Ann, you’re an absolute inspiration. Your story is remarkable. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story, experience and insight with our listeners. We really appreciate it.
After hearing Lizzie speak about her experiences, would you have ever thought that she was an introvert? Lizzie shared with us the importance of a growth mindset. No matter how tough your life may be, whether it is getting rejected from a company or dealing with health issues. She taught us how to persevere past our challenges. If you enjoyed today’s episode and know of someone who is in the process of applying for internships or jobs. Please consider sharing our show. Until the next episode of the Final Round podcast. Keep fighting and I will see you in the ring.