Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ryan’s Guide to Job Search Strategy: Assets

#1) Assets: Skills, Credentials & Experience

Goal: To enumerate our assets, vis-à-vis our skills, credentials and experience.
Assets: The attributes and abilities you bring to the table to get a job done.
Learn: How to use shotgunning, expansion and clustering to build skills clusters of your assets.

You've seen the big picture, now it’s time for the hardtack of reducing our newfound mental model to practice. For convenience, we’re going to work in linear order, starting with Assets. Here’s a mental model, native loop model on the top, and the linearization on the bottom.

Shotgun --> Expand --> Cluster


A visible expression of an asset is a concrete skill, such as computer programming. This skill can be supported by credentials, e.g. a University degree in computer science, or experience, e.g. a software development internship with Amazon. Great, you’ve loads of credentials and experience. Following your broken mental model, you’ll list your credentials and experience on a resume, highlight them in a cover letter and force fit them to job posting. And you’ll get nowhere.   

The problem with simply listing your credentials and experience, which is what we were taught to do under our broken mental model, is that no one cares. No one cares that you have a PhD from Harvard. No one cares that you've volunteered with an after-school program.

People care about what you can do for them, about your skills that are useful to them. They care about your credentials and experience, only in so far as they present credible evidence of your skills, and only in so far as those skills that are useful to them.

We need a way of taking our credentials and experience and decomposing them into skills, skills that people and companies may find of use.

Our new mental model has the answer in three simple steps: Shotgun, Expand and Cluster.

1.1) Shotgun

Start by enumerating any skill, credential or experience you can think of. You can use your resume as a starting point, or work through the exercise with a friend.


I've grouped skills, credentials and experiences separately, but there is no need for structure at this point. You want to think as expansively as possible. If structuring helps, great. If a scatter plot works, also great.

1.2) Expand

Great, I've 9x solid items, 3x for each of skills, experiences and credentials. Let’s pick a few of these items and expand. Think about related items and write them down. Here’s mine:


I've chosen to expand a related experience and skill: NaturalMotion, a game middleware and free-to-play game company I interned with last summer, and computer programming, a skill I used extensively as an R&D intern building prototypes for NaturalMotion.

1.3) Cluster

Now that we've generated many skills and experiences, it’s time to cluster and connect them.


Think about the words and ideas that connect your varied activities. For clarity, I've colored connecting ideas in red, skills in dark blue and experiences in light blue. Ideas and skills are connected with lines. Related skills are connected with dashed lines. 

Things to think about:
  • What is related?
    • Python is related to Django, it's a web development framework.
  • Where have I employed a particular skill?
    • I wrote an integration test suite in Python
  • What experiences did I have while earning my credential?
    • I've written and presented loads of technical material during the course of my PhD

All paths should eventually end in a skill; however, it’s just fine to end with experience and cluster the skills elsewhere. This helps keep your clusters organized, which will be useful in the next step, putting your skills in the context for Mr. Market!


Tool Tip

draw.io is a wonderful tool for quickly making simple figures. Built-in integration with Google Drive and Dropbox allows it to easily tie-in with your existing workflow.

Guide Navigation
Previous: A More Effective Mental Model
Next: Mr. Market

3 comments:

Ginger Sanches said...

As it turned out in practice, http://resume-service.org/blog/page/2 not everything is as easy as we thought and some difficulties arise with the creation.

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