Exploration-Personalization-Connection. My Method for Finding a Great Job.
A proven method from an experienced job-search mentor. With the Covid-19 outbreak sending so many talented people home, now is the perfect time to share it.
This is not a post about acing job interviews or writing an impressive CV. It surely isn’t a post about how to be great at your job. I assume you are already great. I assume the only thing standing between you and your dream job is that you don’t know where it exists. The goal of this post is to overcome precisely that.
You might ask yourselves — why should I put such effort into finding a job? There are recruitment companies for that, and even emerging technologies. Indeed, you are likely to get an OK job by merely sitting on your couch. However, when such an important matter is on the line, I prefer to go the extra mile or ten, to make sure I find a great job.
Accordingly, the method we are going to cover in this post is based on one basic principle:
Be Proactive, Not Reactive.
This method is composed of three actions: Exploration, Personalization, and Connection. Each action is a practical answer to one of three fundamental questions of your job search:
- Now that the Yellow Pages are out of style 👉🏿 how can I discover companies/organizations to apply to? Exploration.
- Since there are so many possibilities out there 👉🏿 how can I filter out the noise and focus on companies most relevant for me? Personalization.
- A personal reference is the best way to apply for a job 👉🏿 what can I do if I don’t know anyone who can pass along my CV? Connection.
There is no one order to apply these actions. You can incorporate all or some of them into your job search routine, and act upon them interchangeably, depending on your mood/muse.
The goal of this action is to discover relevant companies that you could potentially work for. The larger your pool of potential companies, the more you optimize the greatness of your future job.
Here are three examples of sources for exploration:
- My favorite source is conferences and Meetups. You don’t need to physically attend those, especially as these days there aren’t any to attend. This is a pure online source. Google events by the category of your profession, or by a specific domain you are interested in, and browse the speakers and sponsors lists.
I am particularly fond of this source for three reasons: (i) it is focused on an area of interest; (ii) companies that encourage their employees to do public speaking are likely to have a culture that promotes self-development; (iii) these events are usually recorded, so you can see the people you are going to work with and learn what they are working on.
- A straightforward source of great companies to work for is PR lists such as “50 most promising startups…” or “Best places to work for in 2020…”.
- An abundant source that maps the options in a specific domain is logo posters, usually published by venture capitals. Search in Google photos for a combination of geography, product domain, or tech domain, and discover countless startups (Check out this search for example).
The goal of this action is to select companies that you will most likely be happy working for. You can achieve this goal by reading about the company on Linkedin, TechCrunch, the company’s website, or simply googling the company’s name to see what comes up. This way, you can learn about the company’s product and vision and discover technical details such as geographic location, company size, financial status, and, if available, employee reviews on Glassdoor.
Furthermore, I like looking for content created by the employees — I google blogs and talks/workshops by company name, or by names of employees I found on Linkedin, that have a similar profession to mine. By tuning in to employee-generated content, you can learn who are the people that work for this company and what are their actual jobs, beyond the title.
I’ve found this action to be most effective when we first do some soul searching to realize what features are most important to us. For example, I value company culture above all else, but also this feature can mean so many different things to different people… I strongly recommend putting in the time to think about any previous life experiences you had, what you liked, and what you would prefer to avoid in the future. The gist is — to find the perfect job, you first need to define the perfect features. Keep this list as a guiding light for an efficient search, and continue to the next action to learn how you can uncover these subtle features of a company.
The one thing.
That will NEVER exclude a company from my list.
Is whether they have any open positions.
Sometimes a company is about to publish the perfect position for you in the next few days, or they just closed a position that is going to reopen in a month. Perhaps they never considered hiring someone like you, but when you describe your potential contribution, it’s clear you could make a brilliant addition to the team! Occasionally, it’s just a small company that doesn’t have any “open positions” — only positions that are already filled and some extra resources in case someone great (you!) comes along.
Whichever it is, these concerns are not yours to overcome. If you want to work for this company, you do everything you can to get a foot in the door (read on to learn how!). Worst case, there will be no door to put your foot in. But you never know if you never try, right?
Be Proactive, Not Reactive.
The goal of this action is to get your foot in the door. We assume that by now you already know which door this is — you have crawled the internet and found a company you will likely want to work for; Unfortunately, you don’t know anyone in this company who can pass along your CV, and as mentioned earlier, probably no open positions to apply to….
The solution is a straightforward utilization of how social networks work:
directly reach out to someone from the company!
Send a connection request on Linkedin with a personalized note:
From my experience, most people are responsive and informative, and many are even remarkably helpful. Furthermore, connection requests are most successful when you approach someone who is likely to be a future colleague — someone of a similar position, similar seniority, similar level.
The goal of this connection is twofold — first, establish a personal relationship with someone who can supply inside information and help you understand if this company is a good match for you, personally and professionally. Then, if the answer is yes, this person can pass along your CV with a personal reference and can be your contact during the recruitment process.
If there is one thing you remember from this post, please let it be this one — talk to someone from the inside. Always. I usually make an effort to speak to at least two different people before I submit my CV.
I cannot stress this enough. Every hour you spend talking to a past/current employee is an hour you spend either filtering out places that are not right for you or increasing your chances of getting your foot in the door. This is an hour you will never regret spending.
A note for women and underrepresented minorities: reach out to someone from your sector. It will increase your chances of getting an honest insight into the company culture and how it might affect you.
Job seeking is hard. It requires so many skills and so many efforts invested in multiple directions. I wish someone could just tell me, “Here is the perfect job for you!” and save me all this trouble. But life isn’t Netflix, and I need to write my own script if I want my plot to advance. There are countless advice online on how to succeed in this process (I have linked to several myself in the intro), but I couldn’t find any that address the search process itself. I am certain that crawling the web, as described in this post, can vastly increase your chances of stumbling upon your dream job.
In the past few years, I have been a high-tech job seeker myself a couple of times, and have advised dozens of fellow job seekers. In some cases, it was a single conversation that jumpstarted their job hunt. For some, it was a continuous journey as part of a local community’s volunteer mentoring program. After giving repeated similar advice, I have come to realize that on top of specific personal needs, there are universal actions that everyone can take to optimize their job search. I hope you’ve found some of the advice in this post helpful towards the goal of finding the perfect job for you.
Your next dream job is out there, I assure you.
Now go and find it — I believe in you!