Pod Point CEO Erik Fairbairn's no-nonsense guide to getting a job at his low-carbon startup

career change resume & cover letter Sep 19, 2013

Here at Walk of Life, we are constantly telling our clients and blog readers to get to know the market and understand what an employer wants before starting a sustainability job search.

A big part of this involves tailoring your approach to the specific sector you want to work in - NGO, corporate, consultancy, government, social enterprise or SME. In today's blog, Erik Fairbairn - CEO of Pod Point, one of Europe's market-leading electric vehicle charging firms - sets out his no-nonsense guide to getting a job at his low-carbon startup. Here's his story:

"I’m not a recruitment guy. I’m an entrepreneur. I have to recruit. A lot. Plus, as founder and CEO, I have a few other responsibilities in addition to recruitment, so I rush it. This is how to get a job at one of my high growth companies:

1. Want to work for me, at my company, specifically

I’m not interested in people who want a job. I want someone who specifically wants this job, working for my company, working with me. If I phone and say I’m calling from Pod Point about the job you’ve applied for, and you say, “Which one is that?” you’re out. If, when I ask why you want the job, you forget to mention specifics of my company and the role – you're out. If the reason you want the job is to earn more money – you’re out. The only way you stay in is because you really, really, really want to work for my company, doing that specific role.

2. Fight to get noticed

I typically receive 50-100 applicants for a job. I’ve got two hours max to look at them. You need to help me. Call before you send in your CV. If you can’t get hold of me, ask to speak to the current person in that role, the immediate manager or the last person to join the company.

When you call, start with “I’m calling about the XYZ job. I am not a recruitment consultant” - otherwise you’ll get screened out. If you are a recruitment consultant, call someone else. I’m busy.

Learn about what we’re looking for: ask about our culture, ask about the company, ask anything you need to know, and if the answers you get don’t match your dream – don’t apply. Save us both some time. If everything is perfect, then apply: do what it says on the job advert, but also email me personally. You probably don’t have my email. Use your initiative. If you don’t hear back, then email the manager. You know their name because you called in before sending your CV, didn’t you? You probably don’t have their email either. Use your initiative.

If you get no response, arrange to be somewhere I am. Fight to meet me. Show me how much you want to work for my company – not any company – my company.

3. Get the basics right

The CV:

People write books on this stuff – I’ve not read any of them. Here is what I need:

  • Something memorable – stand out from the 67 other CVs on my desk. A picture of you, a picture of your last product, a screen grab of your website. Anything to stand out.
  • One page is great, two pages is too much – by all means tell me where to find more, but I’ve only got time to read one page.
  • I want to know what you did – not what your team did, not what your company did, not what your sector did. I want to know about you.
  • I know you work well in a team and also on your own as required – tell me something I don’t know.
  • No BS – talk straight. I’m human, so treat me accordingly. I don’t want this: 'Progressively reconceptualise multifunctional "outside the box" thinking through inexpensive methods of empowerment. Compellingly morph extensive niche markets with mission-critical ideas. Phosfluorescently deliver bricks-and-clicks strategic theme areas rather than scalable benefits'.

The interview:

  • Turn up on time and looking like you’ve made an effort. I don’t care if you're in a suit or jeans and t-shirt: wear whatever you want, but look like the day is important to you.
  • Bring stuff to show me. I’m a visual guy, so work out what you want to show me and talk me through it with examples – you know this, because you asked when you called.
  • Get out of your seat. Use the whiteboards, draw a diagram, engage with me in debate, disagree with me if you like. Show me what I’m going to get when you turn up for work.
  • Don’t run out of questions.
  • Ask if you can meet the team you’ll be working with.
  • Be balanced. Don’t pretend you can do everything, rather explain what you are good at and what you are not good at. I’m building a team – I’m as interested in the skill gaps as I'm interested in your strengths.
  • At the end of the interview, ask for immediate feedback. If the feedback is wrong, say so.

After the interview:

  • Follow up. Was there something you forgot to say? A better example you could have given? Follow up and show me how much you want the job.

So having gone through all of that, is every person I give a job to perfect? Er, no. My hit rate is about 33%. For the other 66%, that’s why we have a probation period."

About Erik

Erik is a serial entrepreneur. He has been building businesses for ten years – and that involved a lot of recruitment.

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