Do (Be) Something Different

Let me ask you a question.  If you were applying to a job – which is intrinsically about standing out as optimal for a given role – why would you intentionally sabotage yourself through looking the same as everyone else.  In other words, why on earth are you still using a resume?

I’ve been advocating this for nearly two years now.  But the problem had never been more apparent when I spent many hours combing through >100 resumes in my duties as a TA for the Chicago Booth PE/VC Lab.  Perhaps the problem is compounded at Chicago Booth – where all students are expected to utilize an identical template – but despite a couple of surprise companies or connections here and there people seemed pretty darn similar.  That’s the way it goes when you attend a school with 1,000 other brilliant people.

And it’s why I never voluntarily send resumes anymore.  True, you gotta have a resume, applications request them all the time.  But in the startup or VC world where so much of your job is outbound, an e-mailed resume, unless specifically requested will very frequently hit the trash.

After a recent trek to Silicon Valley where myself and eight other Booth students met with a variety of VCs, I followed up with below infographic:

An important point is that everyone needs to do something that reflects themselves.  My goal was to communicate that I’m planning on staying in Chicago, that I’m not asking for a job, but that I am an expert on all things Startup/VC in the Chicagoland area.  And that if I send them a deal in the future, they will know it’s not the first thing I’ve seen.  Or if they get invited to Chicago, maybe they’ll give me a call.

You need to figure out what your goals are and do something extremely creative that represents yourself.  That doesn’t mean a 15 page research report, nor does it mean a 15 minute video.  Do something simple – one pager.  Pique interest.  If your goals are a job, prove you’re an expert in an area that matters to them.  If your goals are a relationship, prove you’re worthy of a 30 minute coffee.  These principles apply both to in-demand VC jobs and in-demand startup jobs.

About the author

Ezra Galston
Ezra Galston

Consumer focused hustling @Chicago Ventures, Young Entrepreneur @Foundation Capital, Class 18 @Kauffman Fellow, and Chicago Booth MBA. Former professional poker player, with 4 years experience doing marketing/biz dev in the online gaming industry. Launched a "poker hedge fund" in 2011, a record label in College, and produced a festival screened short film in 2006.

  • Great post—awesome infographic

  • Hey Ezra,

    Recently stumbled onto your blog. Great stuff, your candidness is a breath of fresh air for those also trying to break into VC.


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