Want to get hired? Show momentum!

Corné van Straten
May 2020

Before I left the company I used to work for, we went through the process of hiring three new entry-level employees. And it was really interesting to experience the hiring process from the employer’s side, for a change. Here’s what I learned.

First of all, remember that to get hired, you only have to be able to do two things:

  1. Create value for the company
  2. Convince the company that you can do #1

Of course, most people use their previous work experience as a way to show that they can create value.

But maybe you’re applying for an entry-level position and you don’t have any relevant previous work experience. Or maybe you’re applying for a really competitive position and you want to stand out, so you need more than just experience.

In that case, you may be happy to learn that there is actually something other than work experience that you can bring to the table. Indeed, something way more convincing: momentum.

The best way to think of momentum (in the metaphorical sense) is that you have things going on. There is energy in you that needs to go into some creative endeavor. You’re driven. You’re going places. You make things happen.

The reason this drive, this momentum, is so attractive is simple:

An unskilled, but driven person can learn almost any skill, but an unmotivated person cannot be taught to have momentum, no matter how skilled they are.

So, how do you show momentum?

The good news is that it’s really easy to stand out in this way, because nobody ever does anything. 😉

The only thing you have to do, is to be working on something. Anything.

Choose a project that you’re passionate about and go build it. Or build yourself, by going out and learning that thing you’ve always wanted to learn; documenting your progress by learning out loud.

If you do this you will make yourself so much more attractive as an employee.

Because, as your future colleague, I would love to hear about that project you’re working on in the interview, even if it’s completely unrelated to the job. As I see you come alive while you talk about it, I will be able to taste the energy and the drive and the passion behind what you’re doing.

And I will think:  

“Wow, this is a high-energy individual with a ton of momentum – going above and beyond. I want that momentum to be directed towards our goals. I want to get this person on my team!”

On the other hand; if you don’t have anything you’re working on and you just present yourself as is—as a finished product with a degree and some extracurriculars on your resumé, you will appear stagnant.

As Newton’s first law states: an object at rest will stay at rest.

So I will think:

“This is a person who does what they have to do, and nothing more. So I’m going to have to put my own energy and momentum behind this person to get them to do anything.”

That is not a very attractive prospect. I would only suggest hiring such a person if we have no other options.

In fact, I would rather hire a lower or unskilled person with a ton of momentum, than a very experienced professional who’s stagnant.

Remember: skills can be taught. Momentum can not.

And not only that, but momentum is also contagious. A high-energy individual who’s creative, has ideas to improve our business, initiates new projects and gets things done; such a person will drag the rest of the team along with their momentum and give it a very welcome energy boost.

So go create that momentum.

Because nothing opens doors, quite like the wrecking ball of momentum.

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