When Tier One People does advertise a role, we receive 150 – 200 applications on average. Couple that with a market search and on average you are competing against 300 plus potential candidates. How can you give yourself a competitive edge and ensure you are the one securing the dream move to Fintech?
I've been in the recruitment game for over twenty years. Over that period, I have given career advice to 25,000 plus people and helped thousands of people find a job. I've worked with hundreds of clients.
Putting all of this experience together I've developed a simple approach that helps people accelerate the job search and maximise their career options. The system in many ways follows the principles of Product/Market fit applied in Lean Startup methodology developed by Eric Ries. The distinction here is YOU are the PRODUCT/Service and a potential employer is a CUSTOMER.
Step 1. Start with ‘SO what and why should anyone care’
The most common mistake I believe people make when thinking about any career move is who they FOCUS on. When contemplating the next step, we have been conditioned to ask questions such as
‘What am I looking for?’, ‘What will make me happy?’ ‘Where do I want to be in 5 years-time?’
I see a big issue with this line of questioning. What you want is not the focus of a potential employer at this stage. What every employer is focussed on is solving their problems.
The first step of any job search is to ask yourself one simple question.
Step 2. Are You Solving A Real Problem?
This is a critical step. If you are solving problems Fintech’s don’t have or don’t see as a problem then the job search is going to become tough.
Typically, we see people moving out of a large corporate environment promoting their expertise in Innovation or Transformation. These problems are prevalent in big banks, but not such an issue in a Fintech startup.
The growing adoption of AI and rapid advancements in technology mean it's very easy for tasked based skills to be considered less important. And the focus is shifting to people's ability to make an impact and deliver outcomes.
Even if a FinTech needs your solution, will they use your service, or will they use someone else? There is a lot of competition out there. Are you as good as, if not better than your competitors?
If not, what areas need improvement to make your product the market leader?
Step 3. Define the benefits YOU bring.
In most instances’ businesses are experiencing one of three problems. Over the years we have come up with different terms, change, transformation, strategy, sales, product fit, disruption. But ultimately, most problems facing a FinTech founder can be distilled to the following:
REVENUE - Sales and Growth
SCALE - Operational efficiency
Ultimately your product (YOU) may have one or two benefits to a FinTech. You can demonstrate where you can GROW revenue and/or SCALE a business. People who demonstrate the ability to drive revenue and scale are naturally in the greatest demand because they will have the most IMPACT on a business.
A Fintech startup will usually hire the person they feel will make the greatest impact immediately.
Step 4. The VALUE CREATION exercise.
It surprises me how few people know or can estimate their value to a business. I often hear the term “Value Add” dropped in resumes and interviews. Yet when I ask how? I am met with a blank stare.
The Lean Startup talks about the Value Hypothesis Test which determines whether a product or service truly delivers value to customers. As you are the PRODUCT, I recommend a simple value creation exercise to determine the value you bring to a potential employer.
List your career achievements and attach a dollar value.
As an example, you may have automated a process, which resulted in a reduction of head count, saving costs. If you managed to reduce headcount by one and that person was on a salary of $100,000, over a five-year period, you have saved the business $500,000. In other words, you have created $500,000 worth of value.
Repeat this exercise for every notable contribution you have made to a business and total the amount.
You might be surprised how much value you can bring to a FinTech startup.
Step 5. Market Fit and Your Go to Market Strategy.
Most job seekers spend 100% of their time and energy with a go to market strategy that doesn’t fit the customer.
The typical job search mirrors a B2C marketing campaign. High volume, low touch.
You've applied to hundreds of jobs on line, you tick all the boxes, yet don’t even get a response. You meet multiple recruiters who said you were perfect for the job and you never hear back.
This high volume approach rarely works, especially when your are targeting the wrong person.
A job search should mirror a B2B marketing campaign, low volume, highly targeted with multiple touch points. You need to find a way to get in front of your customers and pitch your solution.
Evan Wong, CEO of Checkbox.ai (RegTech of the Year 2017 and 2018) has this advice:
I had to grow our network of Tier One clients from nothing. Coming straight out of University, I had no existing contacts or network in Corporate land. So, I started out by creating a general profile of people I thought that would be interested in the product. Through a combination of research, Google searches, reading articles, blog posts and LinkedIn profiles I built a target list of ideal customers.
Next, I’d reach out by email asking to set up a short call for feedback, not to sell anything! Just feedback on the Checkbox value proposition. The discussion would usually be followed up a few months later with an in-person demonstration of the product. At the end asking for recommendations or referrals to other contacts in their network.
Today most of our business comes from word of mouth and thought leadership marketing. Being active at industry events and conferences helps our profile a lot.
Step 6. Pivot or Persevere.
Moving straight out of corporate and into a FinTech startup is tough. Especially in this market. You are likely to face lots of rejection. Does this mean you should give up on a move into FinTech?
Don’t despair, this is where you might want to PIVOT or change your strategy. Feedback from interviews and meetings with potential employers can help form the basis of your Pivot.
It may be you need experience in a smaller business before a FinTech startup is comfortable hiring you. A credit union, mutual, or smaller bank undergoing digital transformation can be a great stepping stone to a FinTech.
Could there be opportunities in your current employer that will help you build your skills and experience?
A corporate venture fund?
An acquisition of a fintech startup?
Maybe you just need to PERSEVERE. The key here is to immerse yourself in the FinTech ecosystem. It is what I call Proximity. The more people see you around the FinTech scene the more likely they are to offer you a job.
Go to FinTech meetups, attend events, keep in contact with Founders, post relevant content on Linkedin and Twitter, start following the people who have a profile, look for opportunities to help and connect people.
Follow these steps and before long you will find your Tribe, doing game changing work with amazing people.
Founder of Tier One People and host of the Fintech Chatter Podcast.
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