Getting your dream job without a cover letter and resume – Interview with David Polte

Hi David, nice of you to take the time for this interview. And also to give readers a quick introduction as to why we came together here:

We were both at the wevent in Berlin at the end of November and I sat in your session called “without resume and cover letter to the dream job”. For me, such standard application procedures have always been terrible. Both for the applicant and for the employer – who then only gets standard employees. But well, that’s why I was very curious about what you would tell in the session. And I was so enthusiastic about your story and your path afterwards that I decided to ask you for an interview so that a lot of people could read it.

Bianka: Describe briefly, from which situation you have come on your way?

David: Sure. After studying art history and media theory, I wanted to work in business and thought project management or marketing might be something for me. But I didn’t have a specific idea about that.

Accordingly, no one wanted to hire me. That was quite a shock.

I was very convinced of myself, but my potential could not be seen on my resume, apparently. There were even many people who wanted to help me find a first job. And they all asked me: What exactly do you want? But unfortunately I couldn’t answer that precisely enough. In the end, I started as a sales consultant in a bicycle store. After all, bikes are my hobby (smiles). But I now knew that I had to find an answer to the question of what I wanted. And that’s when my search for myself began.

Bianka: Did you know if you wanted employment or freelance work in general?

David: No. Actually, most of the time I knew what I didn’t know or wanted rather than having a clear goal. That only changed after I quit my job in January 2017. Because of that, I was less distracted and could follow this question with an increasingly calm mind.

Bianka: What exactly did you do to figure that out?

David: Oh, I could give you a long answer to this question. First of all, there was a motivation for the step into uncertainty, i.e. to quit without having something new.

I simply want my daughter to do in life what her heart tells her to do. And my duty is to model that for her. And so I have to finish what I’m doing. Because in the job I had before, I was very unhappy.

Staying true to myself and my ideals gave me a lot of strength.

When I was finally unemployed, I went back to what I had learned about myself in the years before. From then on, after the shock of starting my career, I spent both time and money on coaching and introspection to figure out what I like to do and when things work out well. And so I knew that if I was looking for a new job now, it wouldn’t be at home on the computer but talking to other people. I knew that I wanted to visit people and make phone calls, go to events, contact interesting people via Xing, but not sit at the computer and send PDFs.

Bianka: Why? Wouldn’t that be the usual procedure?

David: Yes, but when I sit at the computer and fill out an online form, I can literally feel the energy and love of life flowing out of me.

When I’m talking to exciting people who are doing the job or activity that I’m striving for or want to get to know, I’m 100% awake and fully present. I think if you can observe yourself there and then consciously strengthen the things that charge you and bypass the things that suck you dry, you’ve already put into use a powerful life hack.

Bianka: You say you didn’t fill out any online forms?

David: It was like this: I was already 3 months without a job and then I sat in front of such an unspeakable applicant portal.  I felt so bad about it that I decided: No, I don’t want to do this and I can’t apply like that. It’s useless and pointless. After this decision I felt better. Decisions may sometimes be difficult. But not making them and living with the ambiguity is much, much worse.

After that, I filled out online forms only when I could already be pretty sure that I would be invited. So when it was just a matter of serving the process after verbal agreement had been reached.

Bianka: And instead you made a phone call? Can you explain in more detail how you approached this?

David: Yes, I simply felt that this standardized path didn’t suit me. I had to find my own. Then I thought about the following aspects, which I have really internalized from the so-called WorkLifePlaning:

If I know roughly where I want to go, then I have to talk to people who are already there.

This way, I learn a lot about the area, build up real expertise, and in addition, I build up a network in the sector where I want to go.

Bianka: What did that look like specifically?

David: The rough direction I wanted to go to was Scrum Master. That’s kind of a coach for software development teams. Yes, and then I made about 8 phone calls per week. In those phone calls, I asked the people I was talking to, for example, what makes a Scrum Master a good Scrum Master? Everyone found this question funny and challenging, because it is not that easy to answer. Then I asked what is the best way to get such a position. And I asked how you got to the position where you are today. Another question that worked very well was where they think agility is headed. And finally, I always asked who do you think I should call to get further along my journey.

It’s really a great process. I met so many great people and got so much insider knowledge about the agile industry.

I also often didn’t even ask directly where jobs were, instead I explained why I wanted to become a Scrum Master. That way, people could connect with me. There is simply nothing better than knowing from someone why they do what they do.

Bianka: Sounds pretty exciting? Did you also get rejecting reactions?

David: No. And if, then I have already forgotten them :-D. Often I contacted people via Xing and wrote, with a phone call of just 15 minutes you would help me a lot. And now I ask you: could you say no, if someone wants nothing else but 15 minutes of support, asking for your opinion and experience? Yes, almost everyone took their time. Even high executives and general managers.

Bianka: Were there any other activities you did regularly to achieve your goal?

David: Yes, so many in fact that it would go beyond the scope here. The most important ones were probably that I started writing a journal. My coach, friend and mentor Holger Hagen recommended Matthew Mockridge’s podcast to me and that’s where I came across Matthew’s journal and then immediately just did it 1-to-1 like him. The effect was incredible. I would like to explain briefly why: The journal contains specific questions that you answer every day for yourself and that make you happy and confident because you direct your consciousness to the positive at the beginning and end of the day. His readers can also read about it directly on Matthew’s blog. Insanely powerful hack.

And, also inspired by the podcast, I started meditating with the Headspace app. Meditation, for me, is the best quality of life booster I know.

And then I did something else very strange: I created a spreadsheet for myself where I recorded how I was doing after every interview – not just as part of the application process. There were 5 colors. Red was: totally down. Green was: totally energized. Now I simply contacted the people who cost me energy rather less in the future and instead strengthened the contact with the people who always filled me up with confidence with their good mood and their eye for solutions. The effect has been fabulous. You may already guess that among the people who dragged me down were close friends. That was not such a nice realization.

As I said, I could go on endlessly here. Instead, I plan to make the many techniques digitally accessible in the future.

Bianka: Did you then also meet your current employer through a telephone contact?

David: Yes.

Bianka: And they didn’t want an application from you then?

D: No.

Bianka: How did that work then? Do you have a specific procedure for hiring employees even without these documents?

David: Yes. You do a 3-day get-to-know-you format with people who seem to be a good fit for you, with about 12 participants. The format is designed in such a way that sooner or later everyone shows themselves as they really are from the bottom of their heart and then you can also decide well if and how you want to get into cooperation with that person.

Bianka: I see. But isn’t what you’re describing the absolute exception?


The exception, yes, but not the absolute. In fact, there are many more employers than we think who are very interested in why someone wants to do what they want to do. In other words, what drives you.

The clearer you are able to articulate what (activities) you want to do, why (motivation, purpose, goals) you want to do it, and how (talents, skills, experience) you want to do it, the easier it becomes for others to see if that’s what they need.

In a job interview, I was once told very directly that I shouldn’t act, but that the people I was talking to really wanted to know who I was. Not skills and experience. But personality, rough edges, convictions, way of life. Since I didn’t know that at the time, but thought the company was great, it changed my whole mindset once and for all and I put even more focus on being completely honest with myself and admitting what I want out of life.

Bianka: Great. Were there any other experiences like that that changed your way of thinking?

David: Countless. Really. I could write a book about it. Two of the most important were probably my stay at a Vipassana meditation center. 10 days of silence. No cell phone, no books, nothing to write, no eye contact with others. Instead, turning my gaze inward and meditating for hours, really over 8 hours a day. This has changed me. (silent and looking out the window).

Another mindshift was the video courses by Alex Fischer and his book “Richer than the Geissens”. The book is not so much about real estate as some people think and despite the lurid title, it has an extreme quality. It made me realize that I need to exercise every mental muscle in me that helps me care about my peers instead of myself.

When are companies successful? When they care about their customers, their employees, their suppliers, society and the environment instead of themselves. Always for others.

How can I deliver value to others? How do I learn to look through someone else’s lens? How do I learn to understand what others need? How can I make others feel good? Give encouragement to others? Help others without expecting anything in return? What have others experienced that makes them act the way they do today? These questions determine my life today. They didn’t in the past. You have to exercise these muscles. But when they become stronger, happiness in life also increases. Guaranteed.

Bianka: Really good! Thank you so much for the interview! How can our readers get in touch with you?


Actually, through all the usual channels. I am very happy to hear about the stories and experiences of others! And by the way, I’m still looking for support in making the many life hacks I’ve used digitally available. So if any of your readers want to help out, I’d love to! Then call or write a message right away! 🙂

Here are all my contact details. You can find me everywhere and I’m happy if you write me!