When you’re looking for your first job, you have dreams of working in a company that you’re familiar with. A product you’ve used, a logo you can recognize, a place where your friends and family will immediately hear about and go OOOOOHH AHHH.

“He’s a real go-getter, that one, working at XYX company that everybody knows.”

If it’s cosmetics you think L’Oreal, if it’s transportation you think Tesla, if it’s retail you think Zara.

‘How cool would it be to work at Facebook, Google or Amazon,’ you daydream.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to work at cool companies. You may or may not really care about the brand, and you may truly be inspired by the mission of a company. I’m not blaming you for going on a huge ego trip.

But you’re largely regurgitating what you already know. You’re carefully “selecting” a company, not from a massive database of options, but out of the limited options that you’re aware of.

This tendency to only consider what’s presently available in your limited-list is called availability bias, when in fact there can be dozens or hundreds of options you haven’t discovered. It’s amplified if you’ve recently heard about that company or frequently use their service — the recency bias.

It’s easy to imagine yourself — or so you think — working at these places. Not because you know anything about actually working there, but because you know the brand or product. It feels like you know them.

In reality, you know very little about the companies out there. The few companies that you have any knowledge of are nothing but tiny trees in a massive forest.

This is Facebook. A single, lonely tree.

This is the job market.

A massive forest, teaming with opportunity, but largely undiscovered.


 

Practically speaking, I’ve found that many people don’t consider business-to-business (B2B) companies, either because they have never heard of them or because their products are difficult to understand as a consumer (and not something you would probably ever use as an individual).

Expand your horizons by researching into industries that you’re not totally familiar with, a business that you don’t really understand or a product you have never used. Once you learn more about them and possibly talk to some ex-employees (perhaps reach out to them on LinkedIn), you will increase your options and thus probability of success in the job market. (Check out CB insights for breakdowns and flow charts of various industries)

When considering job opportunities — whether you’re a new graduate or even if it’s your fifth job change — look across industries, across b2c and b2b and always keep flexible on job titles.

Don’t mistake the trees for the forest.

Tell me what's on your mind!

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