This is my next …

Today was my last day at Cisco WebEx – the stay here for me was short (16 months) but it was one of my sweetest and most fruitful in terms of work and achievement.

I am joining YouSendit (YSI) as the Director of Product Management for Enterprise starting from next week.

So, the obvious question is why am I leaving? – so, here are some thoughts that were in my mind when i made this decision:

  • Growth was probably the most important reason to make this leap. When the YSI folks approached me regarding this opportunity around a month ago, I was initially not 100% sure about it. But then the more I talked to them – the hiring manager/team, the more due diligence I did about the company, the more interested i became about the role. For one, it gave me a chance to take more product leadership in a hot and happening company.
  • YSI is currently a 180 people company but they are growing like crazy. There was a distinct buzz in that place when I talked to them – everybody was enthusiastic about the company and its growth prospects. I have always wanted to go back to start ups – but wasn’t sure to make the leap. But after talking to the team and knowing more about the role, I was sold on the decision to make the move. Besides, after working in a big company (Yahoo!) and an even bigger company (Cisco), I thought it was time for me to go back to a ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ kinda role.
  • There is no good time ever to leave a company – but one thing that I learned from leaving my job at Yahoo! was that I didn’t want to be a in a situation where I was willing to accept another role that was similar in nature. Since there was no compulsion to leave here (+ they were keeping me well), I only looked at opportunities that represented a bump in my career.
  • Document collaboration is hot – you probably know that by now considering the crazy valuations that the companies are getting. So, yeah – i am probably walking into a tech bubble – but i don’t mind that. In the worst case, the bubble may burst, but I think the experience that I will gain from this gig will be invaluable (at least, that is what I think :)).
  • Lastly, YSI plans to go IPO soon – but of course, i did not take that into the equation 🙂 #Kidding
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My tips for finding a new job

Alright – let us first start with the good part – I managed to find a new job even in this job market 🙂

The bad part – it took me close to 4 months (Feb – May) and countless interviews to finally land this job. True, I was being picky on the type and nature of the job – but there is no overlooking the fact that this is a tough economy and good jobs are just hard to come by.

Anyway, this post is not about the economy. Rather, this is about sharing some of my tips that I learned over the past few months and which I thought were quite relevant for finding a new job.  Most of these were very handy tools for me while job searching and the more tools you have, the better positioned you are in this economy.

So, here are some tips in no particular order:

(1). Update your LinkedIn profile – this is just no-brainer in today’s economy. It does not matter whether you are in technology or in manufacturing or in liberal arts, make sure you have a LinkedIn profile with your most recent experience updated. If possible, try to get a couple of recommendations from people who matter most. It is no secret that potential employers today do take a look at the candidate’s LinkedIn profile. Consider that to be your online resume.

(2). Keep your resume up-to date and crisp (if possible have a .doc and .txt format – even now, there is no consistency from employers!). In my interview experience, I rarely found employers talk about my experience past the 1st page. So, keep it short (2 pages) and keep it crisp. Highlight the skills that you think would be super essential for the job that you are applying. If you really want to, make multiple copies of the resume – one for every industry that you are applying for. For example, I had 1 resume for Mobile, 1 for Internet Advertising, 1 for Social, 1 for VoIP etc.

(3). Ditto for Cover Letters.

(4). If you have the time, then invest in having a web site to highlight your professional expertise. If you want to take the easy way out, then you could have a Blog where you could write about (professional) things that you are passionate about. Believe it or not, this had helped me in one of my interviews @ Yahoo! 🙂

(5). Meet / talk to people outside your company – in other words, Network. I was always lax in doing this before – but my experiences this time have shown how valuable a tool this is. It is through many of my friends that I managed to get my foot into the door of many companies that would typically not even want to talk to me on just seeing my resume. Also – some of my ex-colleagues gave me valuable tips and insights into what was going on in the industry. In short – this helps!- also, the important thing is to maintain this trend even after you have found the job.This also helps you from becoming a frog-in-the-well and helps you to understand what is happening around you.

(6). Read about the companies / industries that matter to you most on a daily basis – this is super easy today with the growth of RSS readers. My morning coffee is incomplete without getting a dose of techmeme or techcrunch 🙂 – it really shows in the interviews that you care not only about this company but also about the industry and are genuinely interested in the work that is going on. Talking about Techmeme, there is a good article in NYT about its usefulness – i cannot agree more.

(7). Most employers will give you the names of the interviewers before hand – so, it helps if you do a quick background info check about them (using LinkedIn of course). This helps you to get an idea of the type of questions that the interviewer is likely to ask – if it does not work out in that way, you can always steer the discussion to a topic that you think will reverberate with the interviewer … anything to earn brownie points!

(8). Don’t be late for interviews – if possible try to arrive ~ 15 minutes early. It gives you time to adjust to the surroundings  and also take a rest room break before you start off. The more your mind is at calm, the better your chances of doing well.

(9). At the end of the interview, make sure you know what the next steps are – typically the hiring manager will say that (s)he will follow up within a week’s time. If that does not happen, it is perfectly normal to follow up and ask about the status. This also shows to the employer that you are really interested in the job. Also, don’t forget to get the email address of each interviewer so that you could send a thank you email to each of them.

(10). Salary negotiations – well, that is a topic for a different post 🙂 – but if you have reached this far, then you have done well in your interviews so far.  My only tip for Salary negotiations is neither appear too greedy nor too satisfied with is offered in the initially. Remember that it is an initial offer and employers expect that you would negotiate.

I am sure you all might have some other tips as well – feel free to add it to the comments section. Hope these are useful to all of you in some way or the other.

Good luck.

Checked out of Yahoo! today

Today was my last working day @ Yahoo! (read this) – so, at the end of the day, I had to return my laptop, my RSA key and lastly my very own badge:

Bye – bye Yahoo! – thanks for the great times and lovely memories.

Adios,

Thyaga

Moving on from Yahoo!

Last Friday, I gave my 2-week notice of resignation @ Yahoo! – it has been a fruitful 3.5 years at Yahoo!, where I have had the privilege of working with some of the smartest people I have ever met and launching products that I am incredibly proud of.

One of the best things of being a Product person in a company like Yahoo! is that the scale of adoption of products is not in thousands but in millions – so, you know VERY soon whether your product is a hit (e.g. Facebook Like) or needs some serious work (e.g. Google Buzz) . Also, since products are usually global in nature, one can also experience some unique situations where a product takes off in the US market but has very little or no traction in other markets (e.g. Y! Messenger in Europe) and vice-versa (e.g. Orkut in India/Brazil)

At Yahoo! Messenger, I have worked on some very interesting product features such as voice and video communications which I sincerely believe will shape the next wave of real-time communications in the future. In my new role at Cisco-Webex, I hope to extend my learning in the real-time communications space to the collaboration and conferencing space as well.

I am quite excited about this new opportunity at Cisco-Webex, also known as the Collaboration Software Group within Cisco. Communication, conferencing, collaboration and social over the cloud for enterprises is a fast-growing market. To understand more about Cisco’s collaboration cloud strategy, read this and this.

Although my last day of work @ Yahoo! is on May 28th, I am fairly certain that I will wear purple even after that. Before I take on my new gig, I am taking a couple of weeks off from work – I hope to unwind, listen to music, read some books, catch up on sleep (important :)), play with my little one – in summary, just chill during those 2 weeks.

The job-search / interview process was quite long and strenuous – I guess, the market is still not back to its best yet – add to it the countless people who are still in the market and looking for a job. For me, sleep in the last few months was indeed a luxury :). In the end, I would like to thank my countless friends/colleagues/ex-colleagues (you all know who you are) who have helped me in my job search in so many ways – I shall be incredibly grateful to you all.

Cheers,

Thyaga