The new way to get hired Matt 21 Feb 2006

29 comments Latest by Will Pate

How do you land that job you’ve always wanted? One approach: Write (well) about the company you want to work for and hope the people there notice. It worked for Chris Mohney who was hired to helm Gridskipper, a Gawker site, after launching a blog that discussed Gawker.

Many correctly guessed that Gawkerist was a stunt to attract attention and finagle work through nontraditional channels. What I didn’t necessarily expect was that the first people to guess this (on day 2 actually) would be everyone at Gawker Media.

Now a similar tale comes from Cameron Moll. He didn’t write Good Designers Redesign, Great Designers Realign with the intention of being noticed by Apple. But the ALA article, which discussed iLife’s packaging design, made the rounds in Cupertino. Soon Apple wanted to talk with him about working there.

Working at Apple…a dream gig for most designers, right? But after interviewing and deliberating, he decided to take a pass (he didn’t want to give up his current low cost of living and flexibility of schedule).

While work is going quite well and showing no signs of slowing, I don’t know that I’ll bring in more revenue freelancing this year than I would have at Apple. But increased time to be with family, pursue hobbies, and live a life a bit less hectic isn’t exactly something you can pin a dollar amount to.

29 comments so far (Jump to latest)

RS 21 Feb 06

Btw, the idea of “realigning” in Cameron’s excellent article reminds me very much of Christopher Alexander’s “structure-preserving transformations”.

The idea is that you start with a roughly good design. Then each change you make clarifies and intensifes the best parts of the existing design. Step by step, you add and take away, and all the time you clarify and improve your design without making big jumps and sudden leaps. The result is a smooth progression from version to version.

Cameron’s illustrations in the article are beautiful.

Danno 21 Feb 06

RJ: That sounds a lot like a hill climbing search algorithm from classical AI.

They should probablly do something more like simulated annealing, where in the initial phases they iterate wildly and as they find a rough design that works better than others, they start making the changes smaller and smaller until they find the best possible local maxima (since a UI design is an infinite space).

Since (presumably) you’re keeping a schedule for the design process, it *should* produce a better result than simple hill climbing in the same amount of time.

Benjy 21 Feb 06 is available….

Kyle Posey 21 Feb 06

Dude gave up a job at Apple to maintain his flexible lifestyle… gotta respect that. It’s good to hear that not everyone is motivated by wealth and prestige (or at least prestige).

Kendall 21 Feb 06

I agree Kyle. I think it takes a lot of courage and discipline to hold onto the things you hold most dearly when there is a really REALLY tempting carrot hanging out in front of you.

Mark 21 Feb 06

“…Dude gave up a job at Apple to maintain his flexible lifestyle…”

I didn’t get that message at all from his post. What I got was that the stability, “prestige”, steady paycheck…when measured against the costs of giving up certain aspects of his life and freelance opportunities, the cost of living in Cupertino compared to where he is now, the cost of moving his family, pulling up stakes and most likely living in a much smaller house with a wife and 4 children was not worth what Apple was offering him.

I don’t want to speak for Cameron, of course, but I didn’t get the impression that if Apple offered him the same job, and allowed him to stay in Utah, or by some great imagination, compensated for the change in cost of living so he could maintain or improve his current lifestyle, that he would have absolutely said no to dah man.

Kendall 21 Feb 06

I don’t think that’s what he was saying either. I don’t know Cameron personally but it seems that time with his family and ability to participate in activities he enjoys (listed in his post: blogging, speaking, etc.) are more important to him than his “job”. IE. His life is more important than his job. And I think that that is very admirable and a balance that is very hard to come to. When you have an opportunity to pursue a “dream-job” and choose to pursue his own life, that take courage. And I applaud that. That’s all that i was saying.

Mark 21 Feb 06

Kendall -

I dig all that. I’m married with a couple of kids, myself. I cherish every minute I can get with my family. As I designer, I’ve done the fulltime gig + freelance at night thing. It’s all good when you’re single. However, when you get into the family game, it’s not cool anymore. You start missing those Kodak moments and soon come to one of those points where a decision has to be made. Obviously, if one is talented enough to support their family on there own efforts, then the decision to say “no” to a corporate offer is to be admired (I guess).

However, to say “no” when one is living feast / famine month after month (which is they typical situation for freelancers) with a family to support is pure stupidity.

Generally speaking (removing Cameron from the situation), giving up stability for flexibility is not smart.

Kyle Posey 21 Feb 06

No, giving up stability for flexibility is risky, and that *can* be rewarding (financially, and in other ways).

Also, I disagree with the statement “to say ‘no’ when one is living feast / famine month after month (which is they typical situation for freelancers) with a family to support is pure stupidity.” That’s like saying people should get paid in short time intervals, because that means the money is more consistent. If you know how to manage your money, then you should know how to ration a paycheck the same way regardless of the interval in which you receive it.

Dan Boland 21 Feb 06

However, to say �no� when one is living feast / famine month after month (which is they typical situation for freelancers) with a family to support is pure stupidity.

Yeah, but Cameron Moll isn’t your average freelancer.

And I totally respect his decision not to take the job as well. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side — money really is only one very small part of life (unless you don’t have any).

Mark 21 Feb 06

I know he’s not. He’s no doubtly on talented mofo — that’s why I removed him from the situation I presented.

And Dan, don’t be fooled. Money is a very large part of life. Pursuing flexibility to the discounting of money is just as haphazard and irresponsible to one and his family as disounting life in the pursuit of money is.

Money is not the root of all evil — the love of it is.

Mark 21 Feb 06

“…If you know how to manage your money, then you should know how to ration a paycheck the same way regardless of the interval in which you receive it…”

That works in theory better than practice most times.

Remember Kyle, we’re dealing with family situations here. Anytime you increase the number of people for whom your money is responsible, you increase 10 fold* for each instance the potential for unexpected, surprise expenses to come up.

* This is not scientific — just seems to be the way it works out
(the more you have = the more that will break at any given moment and need to be fixed immediately)

Dan Boland 21 Feb 06

And Dan, don�t be fooled. Money is a very large part of life.

Thanks for telling me how to live my life, Dad. Sheesh…

Mark 21 Feb 06

haha, Dan -


Rabbit 21 Feb 06

If I blog super nice things about the Getting Real book, will it come any faster?? =D

Ethan Kaplan 21 Feb 06

I partially landed my job (at a record company as Director of Technology) by running a high profile fansite about one of their biggest bands for 9 years prior. My name was already known in the company (in a positive light), which didn’t hurt my chances of getting it. Also I interviewed well and am damn good :)

Mathew Patterson 21 Feb 06

It’s always been true that the easiest jobs to get are the ones where someone already knows you. The web offers a new way of getting attention and some awareness out there. It cuts both ways though - I’ve found out some information about potential hires through a quick google that they probably wouldn’t mention in an interview.

Good on Cameron for putting his family first in his decision making process.

Dale Cruse 21 Feb 06

“Dude” (Cameron Moll) DIDN’T give up a job at Apple. In fact, if you read his post all the way through, a job at Apple was never offered to him.

However, the point that writing about a firm and then getting the interview still stands.

August 21 Feb 06

I got some freelance work as a book critic at the Globe and Mail for saying scathing things about one of their reviews on my website. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to complain either.

Danny Cohen 21 Feb 06

I am surprised no one is talking about potential employers checking up on people on their social network profiles, such as

Tony 21 Feb 06

Danny Cohen,
There was an article about just that on the front page of the Jobs section of the Washington Post on Sunday.

Chuck Dauer 21 Feb 06

I have to try this - although if an offer ever came my way I would have to think long and hard too.

I like Cameron’s site - seems like he is dedicated to the family as much or more than the work.

His posts about his family and personal life are as interesting as the others, if not more.

I too wonder about blogging about the book, like Rabbit.


iTodd 22 Feb 06

Interesting — does anyone remember those 37betterFedEx, 37betterGoogle… site redesigns that used to be around here somewhere?

Did any of those companies ever hire 37s for redesign/usability work? Just curious

Peter Cooper 22 Feb 06

Uh oh, get ready for or something :-)

I’ve done this in a more generic way.. that is, I floated the idea of doing the first Rails training in the UK, and within a few weeks I was teaching a group of 7 people for a few days, things like that.. but I don’t know I’d want to go actually work for someone else, even if it was Apple! (If Google or Yahoo! had a hip, happening technology campus in the UK like they do in the valley I’d consider it.. but that’s pretty unlikely ;-))

Travis Schmeisser 23 Feb 06

I second Joey above - he starts next week - and all because he spoke up and showed what he could do. Our friendly tutorial trade turned into a job.

I started here similarly by just stopping in, making friends, talking shop and about why I liked them. We saw parallels and how I could lend a hand and now I’m a partner!

Writing or showing whatever it is you can do definitely can get you in.