It is undoubtedly inspiring to learn about women who are out in the world creating amazing products and launching amazing startups. But what about how we get there? What about recent college graduates and those of us who are interns, hoping for more? I had the chance to speak with Jes Osrow – the dynamic, enthusiastic consultant with a wealth of knowledge in all things business. I always try to take the tech angle when I speak with interviewees, and she immediately informed me that the career she has now (a little bit of tech, a little bit of business, and a little crossover between the two) was anything but planned. In fact, she attended a liberal arts college, majoring in Theatre Arts and Spanish. Now, she works 9-5 for Hired, a company that helps recruiters find applicants that best suit their needs, and applicants find jobs they love. Then, from 5-9, she works for her own consulting firm: Josrow.
She started Josrow out of pure boredom. She shared that she was working five hours a week at a firm that didn’t value her work. Her friends suggested she start her own business consulting firm, because she already had a knack for advising them on their resumes, etc. And, let me tell you, after a 25 minute phone conversation with her, it is clear that consulting is where she should be. She was full of creative advice that I had never considered before, and I’m excited to share it with you.
ON PERSONAL BRANDING
Nowadays, personal branding is everything. She urges that it’s not about the product; it’s about you. It’s about how you’d like to represent yourself and the values you stand for. For example, she brands herself by being present and enthusiastic, and says that if that’s communicated, she knows she did her job (and that was absolutely communicated to me during our phone conversation). Your personal brand is an “ever-evolving” subject matter, and there’s no right way to do it.
I had seen an article on re-branding ourselves earlier in the day, so I asked for her take on that. How are we supposed to know when it’s better to rebrand ourselves? She advises that we should commit to annual evaluations of our brand, to make sure everything is still aligned with our core mission statement. Doing it once a year is much easier than realizing three years down the road that something needed to change five years ago. The backtrack game is exhausting.
Jes shared that every single woman she has ever encountered felt discouraged in their entrepreneurial or tech related pursuits. Her advice? To own that fear or that emotion, and believe it’s okay. Once you own it, it’s easier to move on. Also, take solace in knowing that everyone goes through it…everyone. Some people may not share their struggles, but feeling discouraged is universal and inevitable. A way to own it: After something didn’t work out, write a piece about what you learned from the experience. Turn that trial into a triumph.
Rely on the women in your life for support as well. She has noticed such a radical difference between how men support one another and how women support one another. When women come together, it’s powerful. I say this all the time, and I still get chills when someone else repeats it. It may feel vulnerable to admit you are feeling discouraged, but because everyone has been there, the women in your life can help you hold your head higher and boost your confidence. She noticed there’s more transparency and authenticity between women. Utilize it.
ON YOUR JOB APPLICATION
I asked how an applicant should tailor her application to the respective firm or company she’s applying to, and she informed me that it should be tailored to the point of contact. So, even if that’s the secretary, stalk them on LinkedIn and do some background research. You have, at max, two email paragraphs to make an impression. Say something relevant to them. (She actually prefers cover emails to cover letters).
ON SCORING THE DREAM JOB
In addition to your Internet snooping for your point of contact, you have to be methodical about achieving your dream job. Say the CEO of the company is giving a talk at an event. Attend! Then, come to them afterwards to commend them for their expertise. Use specific examples. Once you’ve proved that you’re committed, hit your pitch, which may sound something like this:
“I’m Haley, and I want a job working for your company. I know I could do a great job for you. Is there a time next week that I could buy you coffee?”
Jes advises that you have to find your own version and get comfortable with it, because that introductory pitch can be very intimidating. But, it’s very important that you establish that in-person contact. That goes further than a phone call, and a phone call goes further than an email. Another personal touch is sending handwritten notes. So, follow up with the same CEO on Monday, sending a handwritten note to the office once again stating how much you enjoyed listening to her talk and that you’re available at her earliest convenience for that quick coffee.
But you must be mindful of their time. Convey that you are aware of how busy they are, and make it clear that you will accommodate their schedule. They are doing you a favor by agreeing to meet with you, so act accordingly.
ON CONTACTS AND FOLLOWING UP
I had to know what her take was on business cards, because I never seem to have a good experience with them. No one ever seems to contact me from the information on my business card when they can just google my name or my company. “Let me give you my card,” or “Can I have your card?” seems like more of a formality. She seemed to agree – they tend to get lost! A better alternative is pulling out your phone and asking to connect on LinkedIn. It’s the perfect place to store all your professional contacts, and then you can easily facilitate an email through there.
Of course – back to being mindful about how busy someone is – I inquired how the follow up process should look. She said you should wait one week to get in contact once again. If still nothing, then follow up one more time – but only one more time. Two follow ups, max. Got it? That second follow up should be an inquiry for scheduling something a few months out.
When I asked if there was anything else she’d like to share, she said the first step is just to DO IT. Whatever you’ve been planning or wishing to do, just do it. She used to blog, and shared that her friends would tell her to put it out there, even if it’s bad. Because it will get better. She would always say, “I’ll publish it when it’s perfect,” but just like everything else in life, it will never be perfect. So just go for it.
She also said to surround yourself with advisors who don’t always agree with you, but who always have your back. If you trust them, you’ll listen to them when they say the things you don’t want to hear. They’ll want to make you better. And if you have those people in your life, she says, you can do anything.