Why Getting the Job Actually Has Nothing to do With Your Resume

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Not according to Xero's Trent Innes.

Close up of business attire details by Kristen Curette Hines for Stocksy United
“I am not an entrepreneur,” Trent Innes, Xero’s charismatic MD admitted during his Melbourne Kick. Start. Smart presentation. “I like to come in at ‘Person 30’ and build the company from there.”

In a room full of entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and future start-up stars, Trent’s messages to the crowd were important: he touched on how there is no one right way to be a leader and the fact that when you’re in the hot seat for a job interview, make sure you pay attention to the coffee cup.

Trent has interviewed over 300 people in the last couple of years as Managing Director of Xero and, as you’d expect, he’s learnt a few things. Here are our favourite takeaways from his interviewer insights:


Your ‘skills’ are only one side of the story.
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Your CV should include the things you’ve done and what you know – it’s the interview that should dig up the more interesting stuff, says Trent.
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“I don’t interview them about their skills generally. I figure if they’ve gotten this far, someone has checked that they can program or sell stuff. What I’m looking for at that point in time is attitude and purpose.”

Pay attention to the coffee cup.
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“I do 6-8 interviews every week, and I almost force everyone I interview out to the kitchen area,” Trent says, offering them a glass of water or a cup of tea. “And then we go and sit in a room and have a bit of a chat. It’s always interesting to see who offers to take back their empty cup to the kitchen. About 70-80% do.”
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A good rule of thumb: always pick up your own glass.
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Own up to your own journey.
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You’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to work so it’s about time you start paying attention to the road.
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“You own your career. It may take a while to work out what your journey is or what you want to be, but it’s really important to understand that you own your journey yourself. No one else is going to do it.”

Regardless of your resume, get yourself a mentor.
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“One of the biggest mistakes I made in my career is that I left mentoring too late,” Trent admitted. “You are three times more likely to become a top performer if you have a mentor. You’re five times more likely to get promoted, and you’re 20% more likely to get a pay rise.”
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But who should you look for? His number one piece of advice is to track down someone who shares your values. “You also want someone who is a great role model. They need to inspire and motivate you. And you want a good listener who you can talk to and confide in.”
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And then, getting them to agree to coffee with you – what’s the best way to securing a mentoring date?
“The number one way is ask. You’ll never know if you don’t ask. The worst thing they can say is “no”, and even then, they may be able to point you in the direction of someone who can help you. It’s so easy to meet people these days.”

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