So today I wanted to share another piece of my life which I hope will help all those looking for a job and a prosperous career. This is the true story of how I created my own job in a big Telecoms firm back in the early nineties. Now even though times have changed, the principles that I used and will teach you in this article are in my view, timeless.
I graduated from college as an Electronics and Communications Engineer (E.C.E) and was raring to land my first job. As an E.C.E., the opportunities back then were either to venture into electronics (computers, chip design and manufacturing, etc.) or venture into the field of communications (phone companies, television, radio etc.) So like many of my batch mates, I applied and went for interviews with all the top companies in those fields. Now, believe it or not, I was not an ace student, my grades were average, BUT, I had an “edge” – I could really talk and communicate well, but most of all, I believed in myself.
At first, our career and placement office from my school helped arrange for interviews with several multinational companies. So off I went applying, testing and interviewing, and it was fun, exciting, and scary all at the same time. But after a few weeks, it was still a waiting game and I began to feel the pressure of the job hunt as my batch mates were one by one landing their “dream” jobs. So I tried another tactic – Cold calling. I picked up a “yellow pages” directory and started calling the companies that I wanted to work for. After a whole day of doing that, I could honestly say that I never knew how rude some people could be. “Hello, this is Mark, do you have a job opening?”, “Wala” Click. Not once did I feel welcome in any of those 100 calls I made that day, but no matter I told myself, it’s their loss. (In hindsight, Manila Bulletin would have been a better strategy) All the while, my mom would be constantly telling me “Mark why don’t you call up Tito Gigi, I’m sure he can help you.” And like most sons (well most males) I didn’t want to make that call because I wanted to prove to my parents that I could do it on my own.
A few more weeks went by and still nothing, so reluctantly, I swallowed my pride, and gave in to my mother’s wish and called Tito Gigi. You see, Tito Gigi was the best friend of my Godfather and they were very close. Tito Gigi is also very well connected—he is after all an Executive Head Hunter. However, it was not common for a Head Hunter to place new graduates, simply because new graduates have no experience, but for me he made an exception. “Come over to my office tomorrow afternoon at 4PM” he jovially told me over the phone. And so the next day there I was. This was the first time I’ve seen him since I was 5 years old so he looked at me from head to toe and asked me 2 simple questions – what course did I take, and what industry would I want to work in. I told him E.C.E. and Telecoms. With that he was on the phone talking to a Vice President of a big Telecoms firm in Makati and I could hear him say “Pare, I’m sending you this wonder kid, why don’t you interview him tomorrow, magaling ito!” and after he closed the phone, “Mark, go to this address tomorrow at 9AM sharp, oh and Mark, tell your mom I miss her Chocolate cake.” And with a wink and a nod from Tito Gigi, I had an interview with the head of the mobile (cellular) division of Islacom.
So before I talk about what happened with my interview, I wanted to share this first important lesson when finding a job: “Find your Tito Gigi” in other words, find someone who has connections and who can open doors for you. You will realize this soon enough, the first step in getting that job is to get noticed by a potential employer and to do that, it helps to get the endorsement of an influential person. Tito Gigi gave my potential employer a glowing endorsement which gave me immediate credibility and the opportunity to sell myself.
Now getting your foot in the door is just part of the equation, so let’s continue my story:
I was at the SGV building at 8:30AM and at exactly 9AM I was in front of the head of the mobile division. But unlike my short and easy meeting with Tito Gigi, this meeting would need me to really prove myself and work for it. He asked me first how I knew Tito Gigi, to which I told the truth, he was the best friend of my Godfather, then he asked “was?” not “is?” I said, yes because my Godfather passed away a few years back. Then he asked for my transcript of records, looked it over for a minute then looked back at me and said point blank “Mark, how can I hire you? Your grades suck.” At that point, I could feel that the interview was already going downhill. But as I mentioned earlier I had an “edge”, I could talk and I believed in myself. So before I let the interview go bad, I listened politely and waited for him to finish, and then with a little courage I asked, “Sir, are you assuming that I’m applying here as an engineer?”. He looked at me puzzled then looked at my resume again and said “Yes, aren’t you an E.C.E. graduate?” To which I replied: “Yes I am, but that’s not what I’m applying for” He looked even more puzzled and asked me to explain some more, which I did “Sir, I understand how engineers think, how they talk and how they work because I’ve been trained as one, but I am different from a typical engineer, I can communicate and translate the technical to the layman. I would assume that you have a marketing department?” He slowly said “Yes, we do”. “And sir does your marketing department have a hard time communicating with your engineers?” “Yes sadly, they do.”, “Well sir, the job that I am applying for is to translate your marketing programs to a language that engineers can understand. At the same time, translate what the engineers can do to a language your marketing department can comprehend.” Afterwards, there was a minute of utter silence which seemed like a lifetime to me. Then he said, “I can definitely see your point and you come across as someone who can speak his mind very clearly, I’ll have to seriously think about what you just said.”
With that we shook hands and I left with my head held high. I got a call from him a week later, he hired me and had created a brand new position in the company, I would start work the next Monday as Islacom’s first “Marketing Analyst”.
So here’s the more important lesson in closing the interview and getting that job, when you apply for a job, do not just apply for a position, you should apply as a ‘solution’ to the company’s problem. If you are able to properly articulate your ‘value’ on why the company should hire you, your chances of getting that “dream job” will be closer than you think. Good luck in your job hunt!
Mark So is a fervent businessman, forex trader and educator. He is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy—a business, finance and corporate training center. He is also the Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Manila. Mr. So Graduated and is a licensed ECE, however his passion has always been in this order – 1.) Love for his wife and family, 2.) Making Money; and 3.) Teaching others how to make money as well. To learn from Mark in person, attend his seminars. Visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com You may also email your comments and questions to: email@example.com