Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso grew her clothing shop from a single eBay store into an online retail powerhouse with more than 350 employees . In an excerpt from her new book, #GIRLBOSS, she gives you strategies for getting hired and, from there, having higher-ups think you're the best employee they've ever brought in. Her first piece of advice? Competition for jobs is stiff—particularly in a tight job market and tough economy—so you had better romance the hell out of potential employers. Here's how.
The Necessary Evil
It's your first chance to make an impression on your future boss, so watch out for these two missteps.
Mistake 1: Making It All About What You Want
When I go through hundreds of applications from people who all have very similar-sounding experience, cover letters are the only glimpse I have into a person's personality. Nasty Gal gets so many that detail a "passion for fashion" and then proceed to talk about how this job will help the applicant pursue her interests, gain more experience, and explore new avenues. I usually hit the delete button after reading the first couple of sentences. Why? Because I don't care about what a job will do for you and your personal development. I know that sounds harsh, but the fact is, I want to know what you can do for me. It's as simple as that.
Mistake 2: Giving So-Called Constructive Criticism—Without Being Asked
When I'm interviewing people, I'll often ask what they think Nasty Gal could be doing better, and I am genuinely interested to hear what they have to say. But detailing the ways that you think a company needs to improve in a cover letter is like meeting someone for the first time and telling her that you think she'd be so much cuter if she lost five pounds. It's distasteful.
Not Just a Bunch of Mumbo Jumbo
But Also Be Straightforward I like real words on a resume—that means I want to understand it. If you had a job as a marketing manager, be very direct about what you did. "Built brand relationships within the creative community"—really, what does that mean? "Curated artwork, booked bands, secured beverage sponsors, and oversaw the budget for an ongoing series of monthly art exhibits." Now, that makes sense.
Don't Blow It
Even the best of us can suffer sweaty armpits and a dry mouth during an interview. Take a breath and use these pointers.
Become familiar with the role you're pursuing and educate yourself.
Research the company and the job itself, and spend some time thinking about what you, personally, can bring to the table.
Have smart answers to smart questions—but also smart answers to dumb questions.
Someone will likely ask you, "What do you like to do in your free time?" The more interesting your answer is, the better, because as much as your potential employer wants you to be a total rock star at your job, she is also considering you as someone with whom she'll be spending eight-plus hours a day.
Be honest when asked, "What do you think your biggest weakness is?"
Do not answer this question by disguising one of your strengths as a weakness. When people answer with "My biggest weakness is that I'm a perfectionist," or "I'm always early to meetings," I just groan and figure they aren't really being honest with themselves. You know where you excel and where you could use some work. Think ahead of time about how to present that.
Be up-front about what you want.
Employment is a two-way agreement. If you are looking for a job that doesn't include certain factors, speak up. That way you won't arrive on day one and discover that the job you thought you wanted was, in fact, not it at all.
So You Got a Job? Awesome!
Now Excel at It
Once you've landed a spot, you can start to rise up the office ranks by following these five pointers. Go ahead: Begin today.
Never say, "That's not my job."
Even in a creative field, it isn't just about being creative, but about doing the work that needs to get done. The employee who is willing to do a job that is below her is the one who stands out.
But don't be afraid to stretch.
Sometimes you'll get the chance to step in when your boss is swamped. You're as smart as she is, anyway, so figure it out as you go and make it look like child's play.
Be nice—to everyone.
If you're a terror to work with, no one will want to keep you around. And the worst kind of mean is selective mean—people who are nice to their boss and superiors but rude to their peers or subordinates. If you are a bitch to the receptionist or security guard, that news will make its way up the chain, and those at the top of the chain ain't gonna like it.
Know your boundaries.
Your boss is not your friend, and if you're the boss, your employees aren't your friends. At informal companies, the managerial lines can get blurry. If you treat your staff like your peers, your team won't respect you. I'll go for drinks with people, I'll dance at parties, but people know that when I give someone a deadline, it's not up for discussion.
Realize you are not a special snowflake.
From one speed demon to another, let me be straight with you: Slow your roll. You need to get your hands dirty and spend time proving yourself before you ask for a raise or a promotion. Four months is not enough, and neither is eight. At the bare minimum, you need to be in your position for a year before you ask for a raise or title change. Even then, that's if and only if you've been going above and beyond, doing work that's outside your job description, and generally making yourself indispensable.