12 of our best answers to career questions on Quora.
There’s a lot of career advice out there. With all the noise, whose advice do you take?
Crash is a startup with a big mission: we’re helping people launch their careers–without credentials, without boring resumes. We’ve learned a lot (by mistakes, by wins), and we want to share as much as we can.
So we took on a challenge: for thirty days, we’ll each answer thirty Quora questions (it’ll probably continue after that because we’re enjoying it so much). This post is a collective effort from the Crash team to share a curated list of some of our favorite answers.
1. What tool would replace your resume?
This one’s easy.
(You’re right on track when you say “A resume is boring, static, and fabricated.” That’s exactly the sentiment of my boss Isaac Morehouse, who wrote “Burn Your Resume, Show Your Work” on the Crash blog recently.)
If you want a simple replacement that is easily customizable to each company you apply to, try a pitch deck. It’s basically a slide presentation that lists your work experience, top skills, and the ways you can create value for the company specifically.
It’s pretty simple actually. Just make an individual one for each company you’re applying for.
BUT you can take it a step further.
Enter the value proposition.
Here’s how you create one:
- Research the company.
- Find some way you can create value for them.
- Complete a small project for the company (enough to get your foot in the door.)
- Send that project over with your pitch deck, explaining that you could continue creating value for the company when they hire you.
2. What are a few unique pieces of career advice nobody ever mentions?
I didn’t intentionally set out to establish a track record of doing good work, of being reliable, or being the go-to guy. I set out to prove I could be a quick study and deliver value in whatever seat the business needed me in.
But when you do that, people take notice. Not just those around you. Other people, outside your company, as well.
The work I did and the reputation I built led to many job offers. Most I turned down.
Until the right time and the right opportunity came along.
For me, that was the convergence of my next big personal challenge and my own personal calling to help people other people build meaningful lives.
I didn’t go out hunting for opportunities. Instead, I focused on working hard, delivering results, and continuously learning.
The opportunities always found me.
3. How do you prepare for an interview without sounding fake or over-prepared?
It was a late evening a few months ago. I checked my email. I’d been creating a few projects to get noticed by startups because I was ready to get a job. I hadn’t heard from anyone yet, though.
But that night, I got the email.
The founders of a startup wanted to interview me.
I was incredibly excited.
I was incredibly nervous.
This was my first interview in months.
That night, a mentor advised me to spend some time on their website, find something I liked about it, and remember to mention it in the interview the next day. I also should spend some time checking out the founders’ LinkedIn profiles, their company’s values, the job description itself. I also needed to write down some questions so I could ask several when that question came (by the way, always have questions ready!).
He reminded me interviewers are just my peers. They’ve got a bigger job title, but they’re not above me, and I’m not above them.
4. What does it mean to create value?
I think it’s easy to get caught up thinking of “creating value” as something difficult. As something that only a special kind of person doing a special kind of thing can achieve.
But that’s not true.
Everyone can create value. Everywhere you go. At any moment.
In the big moments in life when everyone is watching. And in the small moments when no one’s watching.
We are surrounded by opportunities to create value in our own lives and the lives of people around us each and every day. And the thing is, you never know just how valuable the interactions you choose to take advantage of will become to another person.
Value creation could be catching a mouse for a neighbor. It could be listening to someone who needs to talk. It could be helping a friend or someone with their groceries.
Value creation can feel intangible or unreachable in many ways.
But it doesn’t have to. It can be simple. Just do something for someone else. Or do something for yourself that helps you grow.
5. What were the best things you learned on your first job?
It was my first week at Chick-fil-A. I was new on the registers. This older gentleman comes in. Says, “I’d like a Chick-fil-A sandwich, no pickles.”
There was a lot I didn’t know yet about how everything worked, so it took longer than necessary for me to input something as simple as a Chick-fil-A sandwich.
I fumble around, try to create his order while nodding so he knows I heard him.
“Make sure I get a senior discount,” he grunts.
Do we have that? “Yes, sir.” Hit the button to finalize the transaction. I tell him the total. “$3.49.”
He’s already slid his card. It’s charged.
“Where’s my senior discount? There’s no senior discount.”
He’s not happy.
6. What is some good general career advice?
Focus on what you can control.
In life and your career alike, you’re going to encounter a load of things that are outside of your control.
These are easy to get hung up on, but don’t. At best they’re distractions, and at worst they’ll sap positive energy and life out of you. The things outside of your control are fool’s errands.
Instead, pour your energy into managing the things you can control.
If you’re unhappy, you have the power to change it. If you want to make a move in your career, you have the power to change it.
This list varies as you enter different stages in your life, but the core ideas are the same. Control what you can. Don’t get tripped up by what you can’t.
7. What are the most visually-creative resumes you’ve seen?
Not exactly a résumé, but did you see the girl that landed a job by dressing up as the Fearless Girl statue?
She was trying to get her first job in advertising.
So she emailed the company McCann Bristol, telling them that she’d be standing outside their building dressed as the fearless girl.
She held a sign that said, “Know the power of women in advertising.”
Basically what she did was create a campaign advertising herself.
She stood there for two hours, and it worked!
They gave her a 1-month trial, after which (as far as I know) she was hired full-time.
Goes to show that there are so many great ways to get a job that expand outside the confines of the résumé.
8. My 18-year-old son wants to drop out of college to be a YouTuber. He only has 62 thousand subscribers and thinks he’ll make it big. How do I tell him that college is best for him?
What is college going to do for him, specifically? What clear goal does he have that cannot be achieved without it?
For what it’s worth, I’d hire someone who figured out how to get 62k YouTube subscribers over someone who paid 62k for a piece of paper any day. He’s done something rarer and harder than college already.
Let him take a chance on himself. Let him define success and the next steps to get there.
9. What has been your best career decision(s)?
Deep down, I was terrified and didn’t have a plan.
That’s when a stranger asked me the most profound question I’ve ever heard.
“What makes you come alive?”
The question caught me off guard. I was used to viewing my world within the context of a traditional, boring career path. And I didn’t have a script for this.
I was ready for questions like:
- What’s your major?
- What did you study?
- Where are you from?
- Where do you work?
- And on and on…
I found myself embarrassed by an inability to answer the stranger’s question. So I went back to the drawing board.
I began by thinking about all the things I enjoy doing. Then I made a short list of the things I was good at. I thought of the work experience I had to date.
What excited me most from all of these things was being in the mix solving problems and rapidly learning new things.
10. Are job interviews really an effective way to hire people?
As much as they’re time-consuming, stiff, and pretty awkward, they’re also a lot like a first date (which are also time-consuming, stiff, and pretty awkward sometimes). But they’re also alike in a good way. And it’s hard to always find a way to physically, in-person, show how good you are at say, customer service, without the perfect person seeing you do it.
An interview is about figuring out if the interviewee is going to be a nice person to work with. What much better way is there than to sit down, ask questions, hear the other person’s story, talk about the work itself, and make a decision after that? It’s structured. Not all interviews will be the same, but the basic idea is there.
This is also why the best interviews are conversations. If you can drop interesting things in your story that they’ll want to ask about, you’re initiating a conversation. If you can get the interviewer talking about their personal life, they’re letting you into their world, and they’re beginning to see you as a real person who’s interesting and fun to be around. Interviewers love that. That’s what they want. They want to work with real people.
11. What is the single greatest piece of career advice, and why?
Whatever you’re working on, there will always be more to do, and it will always be there waiting for you tomorrow. You have to make time for yourself. You have to prioritize your relationships and the things you love doing that make you who you are as a human being.
But if the work you’re doing is not adding joy to your life, you need to make a change.
Sometimes that means taking a little time off or reducing your hours. Sometimes it means reevaluating your responsibilities or changing roles. And sometimes that change means leaving the company.
There are infinite options for making money. There are countless problems waiting to be solved and endless to do-lists. You don’t have to toil away on the brink of burn out, sacrificing the best years of your life under some false obligation that you’re paying your dues.
Focus on why you fell in love with your work. Don’t take yourself so seriously. And remember to have a little fun.
12. What is the single most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your professional life that you will never forget?
Almost everybody has an opinion about your life and what you should do with it. Most of them suck.
It’s pretty easy to get caught up worrying about other people’s opinions, too. Especially when you’re young and starting out and don’t have a great idea of what you want to become. But that’s the most critical time to tuck tail and run the other way.
If you enjoy doing something, do it. If you don’t enjoy doing something, stop doing it. Don’t let anyone take your power away and don’t let them choose your life for you.
You have more power to design the kind of life you want than the world wants you to believe. The more your vision for yourself clashes with other peoples’ visions for you, the more they’ll fight to take it away from you or convince you to abandon it.
Don’t let ‘em take it.
Have a question about careers? Ask us, and we’ll see if we can answer!