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Q: What is your best advice for getting noticed for a job interview if you don't have any CS experience, but you've set up your resume to reflect transferable skills and you have done your homework in CS?
A: The job market is a little tough right now as there are double the amount of candidates with experience applying for the same jobs, making it particularly difficult to break in.
Here is what I would recommend:
- Apply to the right jobs: If you are breaking into a new industry, you need to accept that you’ll not be starting at the same level you were previously. I’ve seen VPs from other disciplines apply for VP of Customer Success roles because they were a VP previously, but they don’t have any Customer Success experience. Start at the right level with the right expectations; this is not a set back this is an opportunity to learn something new while applying skills you have.
- Customize your resume: Read the job description thoroughly and make sure your resume speaks to each role you are applying to. It is not enough to update your resume once and use that for every role. In this market, you need to ensure that you appear to be the perfect candidate for every role you apply to.
- Network: Make sure to build your network and focus on the network that will help you most in the roles you are applying to. Follow the company on LinkedIn and engage with the content; follow the employees relevant to the role and engage with them and their content. Build relationships with the people who can help you get the interview.
- Immerse yourself in the community: Learning is never done, and there are a ton of active webinars, office hours, and events you can attend to connect with practitioners and experts to help you learn and help you land your first role.
- Follow the instructions: Many job candidates miss important details. Read the job description carefully and make sure to adhere to all requirements.
- Follow up: Don’t just apply and pray; keep track of all the roles you are applying to and follow up and express your interest, enthusiasm, and expertise and how you are the best qualified for the position. Don’t leave matters to the ATS systems.
At the end of the day, you need to find one role, one company, and one opportunity to gain the experience that will change your future and the opportunities available to you. Remember, the devil is in the details; how you manage the application process and approach your job search makes all the difference.
Q: I was a CSM for only 6 months before a layoff. I've heard in CSM interviews that I don't have enough experience for the role. After an associate/entry-level interview, I was told I had too much experience for the role. Is it possible to be stuck in the middle? What do you aim for in this case?
A: It’s a tough spot to be in when you feel like you have too much experience or not enough and I think there can be a middle that exists for folks that likely have more experience than you do.
I don’t believe six months of experience is enough to say you don’t qualify for an associate/entry-level role. Here is my advice, make sure to appropriately update your resume to best position yourself for every role you’re applying for, and then make sure you are saying the right things in your interview.
If you are interviewing for an entry-level role, make sure to talk about what you’ve learned on the job but also anchor on how excited you are to learn and grow in the part. Make sure not to oversell your experience and keep it in line with what they need and are looking for. Don’t let one or two rejections dissuade you and I recommend you continue to apply for entry-level roles as you have under a year of experience.
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Q: How do you build a CSM Team and Strategy from scratch at a brand-new startup?
A: Building a Customer Success team and strategy looks very different at every company - I often say Customer Success is not a one-size-fits-all or even a one-size-fits-most approach and can not be templated from one business to another.
So while I cannot offer you a Customer Success Blueprint, I can provide you with a few places to start.
- Start with your customers: Get as much data about your customers as possible: Who are your customers? What do they need and expect from your product and services? Which customers are successful and why? Which customers struggle or churn and why? Who is using your product as intended? What makes them different from customers who struggle? How many customers do you have? How many customers do you plan to bring on board? You need to know what you have to build, why you're building it, how to measure what you build, and the impact on your customers.
- Define your Process: Imagine a world where you have all of the resources, technology, and people required to make all of your customers wildly successful - what does that look like? What does the engagement look like, and what role do your customers have to play? Map this out and then apply reality back into a way you can execute as close to this as possible within your current means.
- Follow with people: What does your current team or resources look like today, how are they being utilized, and do they have the skill and will to successfully do the work that needs to be done? Assembling the right people to execute will be essential.
- Measure what matters: Define the metrics you can measure and track to understand if your efforts are driving the right outcomes. Remember to focus on leading indicators, not lagging indicators.
- Assets to scale: You’ll need to compile a list of resources your team will need to be successful and work on this. It could be a knowledge base, video content, webinars, documents, decks, etc. Anything that will help your team be efficient, effective, and consistent will make a massive difference for your customers.
Start with these five steps, and you’ll be on your way to designing a Customer Success strategy that will work for you and your business.