How I landed my dream job in a dream startup
One year ago I joined Evernote, a young startup with acres of ambition. It has been an incredible journey. Everyday, I have the chance to be surrounded and to work with brilliant people. I am meeting, talking and sharing ideas and events with fantastic people and users from across the world. Each day, I learn something new. I am really thankful for this. During this year, many friends, and new people that I have met have been asking me how I got my job. I thought that it was the right time to tell a little bit more of this story here.
From 2009 to 2012, I was working in Indonesia. I landed there straight away after finishing my Masters Degree in Paris. It was my first experience of Asia. It was very exciting but also pretty scary. I was 21 when I arrived and I already had a lot of responsibility. I also had some fears regarding the culture, people and I didn’t know what to expect there. But finally, I adapted quickly and I quickly started to enjoy it.
This period of my life was an exceptional learning experience, both on professional and a personal level. I had the chance to travel across Asia, meeting fantastic people. But after three years there, I knew that I had to change something in my life - it was time for me to start a new adventure, maybe to leave this country that welcomed me so well three years ago. It was tough. There was incessant back and forth in my mind. But deep in my heart, I knew that I needed to leave.
I was young, yet I had someone working for me 8 hours a day in my flat; cleaning it, cooking my breakfast and my dinner, washing my clothes..etc I had three swimming pools in my apartment block. When I was telling this to my friends, usually their eyes were shinning, they envied my life. For them, it looked like the dream life.
But I knew that I was too young for this. Not too young because of my age but because of what I had accomplished so far in my career. I was feeling kind of guilty. It was not the real world. It was not me. I didn’t deserve all of this — at least not at that time. I guess that it’s due to my education and the values that my parents gave me. My parents have worked hard all of their life. They have everything they want and most importantly they are happy. But they have worked hard all their lives to make this happen. For years they have cared for my brother, my sister and me to make sure we had everything we needed before thinking about themselves. We were their priority. Living this life in Asia was sort of disrespecting them. I knew that I was not on the right path. I remember that I organized a farewell party sometime with my friends there in a restaurant in Jakarta. It was a Wednesday and I was supposed to leave on the Saturday; it was the end. Nobody believed it, me neither. I hadn’t bought my ticket home at this point. I’m pretty sure I’d organized the party to convince me to leave Jakarta. But once I’d bought the ticket, my choice was made and I was not able to go back. I needed to leave, start a new story. It turns out that it was the best decision I made in my life to date.
In November 2011, I spent some time in New York. I had already been to New York a couple of times before. I love the energy there and the great vibe that you can’t find in many other places. In New York, I spent much of my time in the General Assembly where I met a lot of entrepreneurs. The month and a half spent there convinced me that my next experience should be in the startup world. I started to think I wanted to become an entrepreneur at that time. I loved the energy, I loved the fact that everyone was in the same boat with everything. We all just had a desire to do something great, the desire to change the world.
I decided to come back to France in March 2012 and figure out what I wanted to do next. I was really nervous, worried even, as it was the first time in my life that I had some time to think about myself and really work out what I wanted to do. It was scary. Sometimes I felt very lonely. But I was free to do whatever I wanted; to follow my heart, my dreams. I strongly believe our generation is living in a world where we can fly everywhere pretty easily, we can learn anything we want online, we can do the job we really want to do, start a company, for instance, and most importantly, we have the chance to change the world if we want to. That’s a unique chance that previous generations didn’t have.
But I didn’t last long in France. I’d lived there all my life and I wasn’t ready to spend more time there. I had the travel bug from my time in Asia. I wanted to live away from home again. I was ready for my next adventure.
I also knew I wanted to work in a startup that I really believed in, and most importantly, I wanted to work in a startup that wanted to help make better. A startup that I can be proud of when waking up every morning. So, I started writing down a list of the top 5 startups that I wanted to work for and decided that I will focus my search on these startups and do everything I can to get a job at one of them. Evernote was on the top of that list. I had already been a heavy Evernote user for a couple of years. I really believed in the product but not only that. I really believed in the vision of the company and it’s certainly due to its charismatic CEO, Phil Libin. At that time, I hadn’t had the chance to meet him but I watched a number of his keynotes and I was inspired by each and every one. I knew from that point that I wanted to join his company and I was prepared to do anything and everything to make it happen!
Where it all began.
In June 2012, I was supposed to go at LeWeb in London. It was the first time that Loic Le Meur and his team were organizing the conference there. Unfortunately at last minute I was not able to go.
The Classic Path and The Luck.
I was stuck having to follow the conference on Youtube and Twitter. The Evernote team and Phil was there as he was doing a keynote. During the conference, a tweet caught my eye. Someone from Evernote that was at Le Web was tweeting about a job offer. I checked out the job description and thought that I was the perfect fit. I wrote my cover letter, polished my resume and quickly applied online. It was a first step, but I knew that was not enough. I needed to do something else to get their attention.I knew my resume would be drowned with plenty of other resumes.
During my trip to New York in November 2011, I had the idea to shoot a video there. It was in Central Park. The goal of the video was simple, just introduce myself in 30 seconds through the medium of strangers. I ended up stopping strangers in Central Park explaining the concept of the video to them. It was a lot of fun. Many people declined my offer but the ones that accepted where pretty fun. I had the footage of this video. So I made a couple of other shots in France that were missing and edited it.
I ended up sending this video with a short message on LinkedIn to the CEO of Evernote saying that I had just applied for the job and that I really want to get it. I was not excepting any response from him. I didn’t get any. (And if you’re interested, you can watch the full video here)
The less traditional path.
I knew that I had to “fight” with plenty of other candidates that were eager to get this job too. I needed to do something else, something different. I didn’t want to bother anyone, I just wanted to raise my hands high enough for someone to see them.
So, I started to figure out what was possible. I am not a developer but I had some basic knowledges of HTML and I ended up drafting a website. I wanted something clean, professional and nice. Nothing fancy. I just wanted to arouse the curiosity of someone there and have the chance to convince them to organize an interview. I took a long time deciding on the perfect URL. That was something essential for me. I ended up with the URL http//evernote.hire.pe (N.B.my first name is Pierre-Emmanuel, so PE).
I tweeted the website to the CEO of the Company, the VP International and the person who tweeted the job offer in the first place with a short message “Evernote, I want this job”. It was a Thursday. But I didn’t get a reply. I knew people in the Valley read the website, Hacker News. So, on Saturday I decided to post the website there. I was not expecting anything to come of it, but I was impressed by the reactions. It was the first time that I posted something on Hacker News and in the next two hours I got thousands of visits to my website. My LinkedIn profile was seen by hundreds of people. I got lots of emails from people encouraging and wishing me good luck to get the job. But still no news from Evernote.
Best Monday of my life
I still didn’t have any news from someone at Evernote and it was the Monday by now. I just wanted some news, either a “yes” or “no” at least. I remember this Monday like it was yesterday. My best Monday ever. Suddenly an email popped up in my inbox. The email started like this:
Ok, you got my attention! I liked your website (very creative) and your Tweets (persistent) and that you contacted our PR agency in the UK… you’ve certainly shown that you’re motivated!”
The first call —Unexpected
We quickly set up a call with the person that sent me this e-mail but the call didn’t start as I expected. The person told me quickly “I have another call scheduled with a candidate this afternoon and I think it will be the right candidate. However, I have an opportunity that may match perfectly for you so if you are interested we can start talking about that?” She told me more about this and I accepted. And then I had a couple of other interviews online and face to face and I started on August 20, 2012. The rest, as they say, is history.
If I had gone to London at Le Web maybe I would have never seen this tweet. If I didn’t go to New York I would maybe never have met such great entrepreneurs that convinced me it was the right path to take. If I didn’t go to Indonesia, I would maybe have never had the passion to live abroad.
Don’t be scared to leave things sometimes if they just don’t feel right. Figure out your end goal before working out how you’re going to get there. At the end of the day, everything is possible, so if you want to achieve your dream job in your dream company, let nothing get in your way.