Landing your next gig

I recently went through a job transition and some friends have since asked me how I found my next job. In sharing with friends the process I used to land my job offers and ultimately my next gig, I realized that there are some tips I have that can benefit everyone, no matter what kind of role you’re looking to land next. Here are some thoughts in case you too are contemplating a move.

First and foremost, I’ll start out by saying that this process should be driven by you. Don’t wait for folks to reach out and contact you about your next gig. While that too can be a great way to learn about potential opportunities, you need to be the one selecting which companies to spend your valuable time talking to and interviewing with.

This is likely where you’re going to spend your next 4+ years so take control like you would with any other major life decision.

So how do you initiate the process? Start by making a list of the companies that you want to talk to, in priority order. In coming up with that list, you should think about the criteria that’s important to you. For me, location of the company wasn’t critical (I was willing to relocate for the right opportunity); I cared more about the company’s growth trajectory and vision. For coming up with the companies to go on that list, talk to friends, look at VC firm’s websites that list all of their investments, and think about products you use and love and could imagine working on every day to make better.

Now that you have your prioritized list, draw a cut line (for your own sanity, I’d recommend not having more than 7-10 companies above your cut line). Everything above the cut line is your “tier 1”. The nice thing about this process is you don’t have to reach out to your “tier 2” and below quite yet. Those companies will still be around if all your tier 1 companies fall through. It’s most important that you focus on really preparing and understanding these tier 1 companies first to maximize your chances of getting a great offer.

Now that you have a list, try to figure out who you know who can help connect you with each tier 1 company. One way to do this is by sending the list to any friends who are VCs or just otherwise well connected (huge thank you to my friends who helped me out in this process). LinkedIn is also a really great tool for this. Try searching on LinkedIn for people who work at your target company, and then see if you’re connected to any of them either directly or through someone you know. If you really can’t find anyone to connect you, only then should you apply via the company’s jobs site. I had to do this for one of my companies and they ended up contacting me anyway, so it’s not a black hole, but it is more of a crapshoot that way.

Alright. Now you have your list, it’s prioritized, and you have contacts to help connect you with all your tier 1 companies. Great! Now be very very disciplined. I used a spreadsheet to track the status of my conversations with each company. Each company moves at their own speed so it’s up to you to help control the pace of these conversations so that all your offers can land at approximately the same time. Once you do get an offer, you won’t have forever to make a decision on it, so it’s a good idea to try to time the process so that you’re at the same stage with as many of your tier 1 companies simultaneously. Finally, for each company I had a doc where I kept my own ideas, notes about the company, and information I learned as I interviewed. This ended up being super helpful because I was talking to several companies at the same time and it was difficult to keep everything straight.

One final word of wisdom. The best way to find a new job is when you have a job. It can be incredibly challenging to balance work and interviewing, but you don’t want to be spending 30 minutes of every interview explaining why you don’t have a job.

Let me know how this process works for you and if I can be of any assistance. Best of luck!