What’s Your Blurb?

by Katie Hughes, Talent Partner

As the talent partner at DFJ, I spend a considerable amount of time getting to know operators inside tech companies. We meet through a warm intro or recommendation by way of DFJ’s network. When I talk to people interested in advising or joining a venture-backed company — whether it’s their first or their eighth startup — I ask them to send me a few paragraphs I can share with our portfolio companies introducing themselves. This is the “blurb.”

I receive a wide variety of blurbs. Some are too long and detailed while others are generic and irrelevant to the reader. Many miss the point.

Here are what founders, recruiters, executives, hiring managers, and investors want in see in your blurb:

The blurb should highlight your background, your interest in the problem they are solving, and the reason why you might be the right person to help them at this inflection point in their growth. If you’re interested in multiple companies, tailor your blurb, and send something fresh and relevant for each company.

What’s the context?

Assume I haven’t heard of the companies you’ve worked for and can’t infer what you did for them based on your job title alone. Present the context for who you are, and where you’ve been making an impact in the world, so that you can clearly differentiate yourself and stand apart from anyone else. Jump off the screen, and come alive to the person reading your blurb.

Do you have experience solving a problem similar to the one this company faces?

Identify the problem the company or industry is trying to solve and how you relate to it. Be specific and real. If the company is building tools for developers, and you are not a developer and have never built or marketed a developer tool to developers, why is this interesting for you? It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply, it just means that you need to sell your interest and connection.

Why you?

What are two to three ways you can contribute? What do you bring to the table? It’s important to not repeat your resume here. Talk specifically about how your most recent role was defined. Answer these questions: What was the scope of it? What are a few significant accomplishments you achieved? How did you impact the broader business? What skills can you offer? What are the areas where you want to continue to grow and develop?

Why now?

If you’re opportunistically networking with a company and don’t know that they have a relevant role available today, you may want to mention why your background and experience is a good fit for the company given their current stage. If you’re a lawyer and don’t see a general counsel position listed on their website or LinkedIn page, yet you find the company has opened up offices internationally and has many enterprise company logos on their website, it may be time for them to hire someone like you.

Other items to reflect in your blurb: What roles are you open to? What’s your timeline to interview and find a new opportunity? Do you want your application kept confidential? Is there anyone you know who is involved with the company who would vouch for you? Answer these questions, and wrap it up with your resume and a LinkedIn hyperlink to your public page.

The blurb extends beyond a candidate applying for a job. These are some best practices for any networking email inquiry about potential partnership opportunities. Keep your blurb short, contextual, and relevant to the reader.

If you have a great blurb, I’d love to see it.

Katie Hughes is the talent partner at DFJ