I found your site via browsing Ramit Sethi's Delicious bookmarks. Love it. I know I'm not offering a whole lot of value, but I resonate quite a bit with your writing and was hoping you could share some insight about what you'd do in this situation:
Throughout college, I played online poker professionally and operated a coaching and staking business. I continued playing until recently, and am currently two years out of school. I devoted so much time to poker that my skills in other areas are lacking. However, I have been studying HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL and have landed two clients for basic web design. I don't want to draw into my savings any further, so I am looking to work at a company where I can build my skills and work with passion.
I'm unsure how I can expect any company to hire me based on a two year resume gap filled with a career that many people would consider "pure luck." Resumes typically don't matter if you can demonstrate a great level of skill in an area, but as my best skill is currently still exploiting tendencies in a game of Heads Up Texas Holdem, I'm a bit stuck for ideas.
Any advice would be greatly appreciate. Thanks in advance for spending your time even reading this email.
Hey K -
Thanks for reaching out and good skillset you've got.
My take - look, no one cares about your resume. They really don't. What they care about is, can he achieve what we want him to for the job? People don't hire for credentials or positions or resume - they hire because they think those indicate someone is going to do well in a particular role.
The big question, then, is how you can demonstrate to an employer (or someone hiring a contractor, or whatever) that you can get the job done. There's lots of ways you could do that - any tangible, real world achieve that show you put in effort, solved it, and got something usable out the door will help.
Did you ever see Jason Zimdars's application to 37Signals?
I think it's the best application to a job I've ever seen -
Particularly, look at his redesigns -
Does that take a lot of work? Yes.
But if you did similar amounts for only a few companies you really admired, I think you'd be very likely to get a job.
Honestly, I don't know how you'd patch up your resume. You probably could somehow, especially if the boss was a poker player. I played some poker for money, and I learned a lot from it, so if you had a good knowledge of EV, and solid play and could read people, and you'd read Skalansky and Caro and things like that, and you had a solid emotional steadfastness to avoid tilt, and you knew your hourly rate - well, then I'd admire the hell out of all of those characteristics. And "Professional Poker Player" probably sounds cool on your resume - or at least makes you stand out.
But beyond that, I don't know anything about resumes really. I've never had one. It's much more important to have people like you, and to show you can get things done. If you targeted just a few companies specifically, worked on showing them you really like them, you're a cool guy to work with, and you can achieve what they're looking for - that'd definitely land you a job if they have positions at all available. And if they don't have positions available, they'll still remember you and be willing to speak well of you, and maybe even stay in touch and become friends. It's a significant amount of work, but then again, most things in life worth doing are.
I also told K I'd put a copy of this up if anyone is looking to hire or contract someone for some HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL, and web design who happens to be a skilled poker player as well. Feel free to leave your contact info in the comments, or email me and I'll forward it to K.