Nerd Journey 013: The Sniper Approach to Job Hunting with Tom Delicati

Welcome to episode 13 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode, we have part 1 of a 2-part interview with Tom Delicati, founder of Lead Technology Solutions. We’re focusing this week on Tom’s IT career before starting Lead. What emerges is a surprising job-search tactic which neither of us had heard before.

Original recording date: 2018-10-03

Topics

1:15 – Tom Delicati Interview

  • Tom’s position today is Lead Technology Solutions Founder.  The company began in 2016, and its primary focus is to help customers get the most of their ERP software investments.  Some areas of customer success have come in the realm of:
    • Implementations & upgrades
    • Product development
    • Application customization
  • Tom on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/tdelicati
  • Tom on Twitter – @tomdelicati
  • Tom’s tech origins: He became interested in technology starting from a young age
  • Helped build their family’s first PC
  • In the late 1990s he dove into web development with Geocities
  • Attended college at Western Michigan for Information Systems with a focus in Telecom Management
  • Information Systems was in the College of Business, so he got some business background
  • He achieved a CCNA but was fascinated with server infrastructure as well
  • Systems and Sysadmin roles

7:35 – First Role managing an Enterprise App

  • Moved to Indiana and took a role overseeing Epicor Vantage (now Epicor ERP), first experience with an enterprise multi-tier app
  • Asked to become the expert at the back-end
  • Also needed to learn about business processes (manufacturing, QA, Pick/Pack/Ship, Invoicing)
  • Integration with physical manufacturing equipment
  • Troubleshooting not just the technology, but the business

13:35 – Tom weighs in on the move from Indiana to Texas

  • Marrying manufacturing theory and technology had become something he really enjoyed
  • He and his wife had a chance to make a career change.  Characteristics of a new place were influenced by the desire to start a family, finding a position for his wife first, and finding a position for him as a secondary item.

15:56 – Tom recounts landing a new job in Texas

  • Wife accepted a job in Dallas-Fort Worth
  • Looked for Epicor users in DFW
  • Sent networking letters with resume
  • Got an interview
  • Grilled for 4 hours of interviews
  • Company extended an offer the next week
  • John labels Tom’s approach as unconventional.
    • Got in-depth knowledge into a specialized system
    • Got involved in the user community
    • Leveraged user community to send blind resumes

19:07 – Nick remembers BBigford’s Spiceworks post on searching door to door

  • John thinks that’s more a shotgun approach
  • John labels Tom as a job hunting sniper
  • Tom peels back the onion on his role in Indiana.
    • He fell in love with manufacturing, despite no formal education in it
    • First few positions were beneficial, but not a source of passion
    • The passion he developed spawned getting involved in the user community and sharing the passion
    • Desire to become a Subject Matter Expert
    • Learn to think like a problem solver
  • Tom leveraged the Epicor Users Group for information on companies using Epicor software in Dallas / Fort Worth.
    • He researched 10 companies and narrowed the list 4 that would be a good fit, making those part of a first wave
    • His wife works in the career services department for a college, so he had a built-in advisor
    • She drove the methodology behind finding a place to work and seeing if there was a fit for someone like Tom
    • The employer who hired Tom had no posted position at the time
  • John wouldn’t think to apply at a place without a listed position, but would advise his clients to have a process to grab rare talent on short notice if it’s available
  • Tom gives full credit to his wife for developing the methodology for the job search

26:07 – Identifying Prospective Employers

  • John digs into the idea of looking for a place you would like to work.  What were the criteria used to narrow down to 4 companies as a first pass, and how did you come up with it?
  • Some of the criteria were…
    • Type of business
    • Process and product were interesting
    • Environment intriguing
    • Wouldn’t feel bored or stale after a while there
    • Geography – location that could compliment wife’s job location
    • In like with his passion
    • There were not as many online reviews of companies in 2008.
    • The goal was to start with a small initial group to be able to show he’d done deep research about them
  • Two of four companies responded
  • Once he got some responses, he didn’t pursue the other two
  • 50% yield on blind submissions!
  • Tom says “they weren’t looking for me.   I was looking for them.”

31:44 – Nick’s Recollection of Tom joining the organization

  • Nick tells his version of the story of when Tom started
  • Tom gives his take on stepping into a role with no real job description
    • Two execs offloaded their responsibilities
    • They were new to Epicor and saw an opportunity to bring in a subject matter expert
    • This turned into a collaboration with the business
    • This morphed into the birth of the IT department
  • What do you think it took for those executives to take a chance?
  • Have you learned any lessons from this?
  • Tom discusses reasons executives took a chance on him through his entrepreneurial lens.
    • Find a way to take a chance on talent when you find it
    • Serious vetting
    • What is the risk to hire, what’s the upside
    • Can the candidate contribute to the overall goal of the business?
    • Trust is a big factor
    • Trust feeds into management style
  • Shoot from the hip and flexibility, but very invested in great outcomes
  • Be flexible while ensuring employees / end customers are getting the best return

38:55 – Closing Thoughts

image sources

  • archery-concentration-aim-goal-660632: Pixabay

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