Have you ever been turned down for a gig at a dream company because you didn’t meet a particular requirement? Maybe it was years of experience, specific platform fluency, or a qualification. Chances are, you have.
One person who has experienced the disappointment of not landing a job at her dream company is Brianna Fitzpatrick. However, her journey at Mr Yum didn’t end there.
Mere months after unsuccessfully securing a role, Brianna not only pitched herself again, but pitched a brand new role. And you better believe she got it.
Brianna’s story proves just how important it is to invest in yourself and — on the other side of the hiring process — how valuable it can be to break out of the rigidity of specific role criteria.
Brianna long had her eye on Melbourne-based hospitality platform Mr Yum.
“My husband had been investing in startups for the past few years, and this is how I came across some really cool Aussie companies,” Brianna says.
“One of those was Mr Yum. Listening to founders talk about their mission, I wanted to help build something exciting that could transform an industry, just like Mr Yum does in hospitality. The global opportunity, the team culture and two female founders, were all reasons why I knew Mr Yum was for me.”
So, Brianna took to LinkedIn and reached out to Mr Yum’s Talent Acquisition Lead Sarah Hadj to discuss hiring opportunities.
“Having spent six years in management consulting, I’m a bit of a generalist, and didn’t quite know where I would fit into a startup technology company like Mr Yum,” Brianna says. “My plan was to chat to Sarah about their hiring needs and where my skills could be applied.”
Unfortunately for Brianna, Mr Yum wasn’t in a position to hire at the time. What Sarah could offer, however, was some advice that would later prove to be priceless.
“She recommended I look into Startmate's Women Fellowship to help translate my consulting skills into potential roles,” Brianna reflects.
When I asked Sarah about the interaction, she says: “I encouraged Brianna to go through the program as I knew joining a community of like-minded individuals, having a coach, and learning about what it takes to succeed in a startup, would help her realise that cutting through all the bullshit was what she needed to do.”
It was being surrounded by empowering and ambitious Women Fellows that helped Brianna identify the cultural and commercial value she could bring to Mr Yum.
“I started to apply the things I was learning during the program, and about halfway through felt I was ready to connect again with Sarah,” Brianna says.
“I’d done a lot of research on Mr Yum and worked with my coach, Amanda, to translate my experience into core skills. With these skills I pitched three potential roles based on what I thought Mr Yum needed and what I could do.”
So, how does Brianna’s journey to landing a position at her dream company end? We’ll let Sarah tell you.
“Brianna got back in touch with me a few months later with a pitch deck,” Sarah says.
“She broke down her experiences and what three roles she could bring to the table (articulating her core skillset), and how her skills could help Mr Yum reach its goal. I introduced her to our CEO, and we hired her soon after as our first Director of Commercial Strategy.”
According to Sarah, combing through resumes for buzzwords and big names is a sure-fire way to miss out on fresh talent. Instead, what you should be looking for is a hunger for growth and a passion for industry.
It pays to see the potential in people, not the experience they bring.
Sarah saw Brianna’s potential immediately, so instead of turning her away due to a lack of job vacancies, she gave Brianna the opportunity to create her own role.
“I loved her passion and drive for wanting to be in a startup”, Sarah says.
“She shared a lot of the values we look for at Mr Yum and she had great experience consulting with clients on things like go-to-market strategies.”
Sarah knew how costly it can be to pass on good talent simply because they don’t fit the rigid requirements set out in the position description. In fact, when asked how often companies lose out on great candidates because they don’t tick every box, Sarah’s answer is ‘all the time’.
“Biases exist everywhere and are especially prominent during a hiring process”, Sarah explains.
“When I worked in consulting, clients often said, ‘we only want to see people from X company’. However, my experience has shown me that just because someone worked at a successful company does not mean that individual will be a high performer.
“This bias puts our trust in other companies' hiring processes instead of our own.”
Sarah isn’t alone in identifying faults in the traditional application process.
As an applicant on the other side of the hiring process, Brianna also sees more benefit in demonstrating your value to the company, rather than your past experience at another.
“I think CVs that outline your linear experience should be a thing of the past. You can see that stuff on LinkedIn,” Brianna says.
“What’s more important is articulating what your transferable skills are to allow talent managers to see where you could fit.”
It’s here that we return to the question of whether it’s worth hiring people for specific roles, or instead, bringing an element of flexibility to the hiring process.
At Mr Yum, Sarah’s Talent Acquisition team brings a unique fluidity to the process.
“We are building roles or teams that we haven't hired for before, and a lot of learning comes with that,” Sarah says.
“The job description is the starting point, not necessarily the ending. Focus on the success factors of the role and how your skills can achieve that. If you can get that across during the hiring process you will have a higher probability of being considered for the role.
“When I'm interviewing people, I'm not just thinking about the individual's skills and ability to do the job, I'm also thinking about how their experience can add to the team and diversity is an important step for that.”