By Art Reisman, CTO, http://www.netequalizer.com
As the CEO of a tech company and former employee of large stifling unimaginative telecom company here is the advice I recently provided a former colleague on how to land the job at a smaller tech firm.
Contrary to popular media belief very few (if any employers) care about your age and race when hiring for a tech job ; however if your former company was large and stifling, that will create serious baggage with a more progressive company.
Nobody ever takes the blame for being part of the problem at a sputtering old line company. The fact is if you worked there for a long time, then you were part of the problem. Even if you had a million great ideas on how the company should run itself and the bureaucracy held you down. You will be viewed as complicit by association.
Perhaps it was the high salary that kept you there, or the lack of other opportunity in your region. It does not matter , the smaller start up company will view your past with suspicion.
I meet with several CEOs of other tech companies once a quarter and the consensus is that people with ambition go someplace where they can make an impact.
The perception on the street is that your old company is still sputtering off its legacy channel left over from what it retained from days past, and that all the abuse and mind games it uses to stifle employees leaves permanent scars on ingenuity etc.
The kind of people that settled for climbing the ladder in a larger organization are not what new tech companies are looking for.
You can break that mold by saying hey look how confident I am that I can help you , I am an go getter stuck in an “old company” body type of thing.
So how do you compete and break out?
I’d throw out any expectation of a salary based on your previous compensation. The company you previously worked for likely paid you very well. High pay creates a false sense of market value. You’ll notice when times got tough they had to cut massive staff to make ends meet. So evidentally, the high paying jobs were more of retainer in a good job market rather than a measure against your productivity. Please don’t misconstrue the point I am making, you do have the potential to make a difference and perhaps make millions, its just that your drive and creativity has been misdirected toward internal corporate games and must be revitalized.
For example, if you are comfortable doing technical sales support and really like a new company then:
Approach the CEO (hiring manager) of an established small tech company:
Note: the following specific advice was geared toward an individual and company he was approaching.
Offer to work for $10 an hour with conditions:
A Large upside commission and a future salary based on some measurable metric.
I would only make this type of offer to somebody with integrity that would follow through. Yes there are people with integrity out there , the media plays up the slime balls but most businesses do not function that way at the top.
He (the CEO) has long complicated sales cycles with large Fortune 1000 clients. A mature person who could explain the technology, demonstrate value, could be a huge benefit to his business; but in this market, he would not want the risk of hiring you unless you had skin in the game . On the other hand he might not be able to do something like that because it would be upsetting to his other sales staff who knows ? I am sure it would get his wheels turning as to how he could make it a win win.
This approach also allows you to have some control of where and what you do rather than just take the rescue job that some VP musters at your current company.
My experience in the real world is that you have to scrap down in the dreggs to get anything going and over time work your way up. For example when we first got started there were quite a few super star sales people from the likes of XXXX and XXXX that I would run into and put to work on commission. They were completely and totally useless to a small tech startup. Yes they were nice people but without a ready made channel and customer base who calls them wanting a bake off between them and the competition they were lost. So we developed a model of guerilla web marketing and slowly built my oour own direct channel very slowly , but it cost very little and now has very little overhead.