How to hack the job hunt

Looking for a job is tough, time consuming, and often an endless wormhole of acronyms and buzzwords. Looking for a job in a startup is all of that, and then some. It’s about cultural fit.

That’s where personalised job applications come in handy.

Sometimes, though, even this doesn’t cut it. Take me for example. I’m a still fairly “junior” on paper, so I have still got to prove myself to stand out.

In a pile of CV’s it’s hard to stand out or even be seen, so get creative and let limitations guide you to creative solutions. Which brings me to the following steps that I used to hack the first barriers to any job hunt. The research and discovery phase, and getting an interview.

How I job hunt, the hacker way

Most job opportunities in high growth companies are found through one’s network and common references. However there are a lot of job boards in the startup community listing new offers, as well as the companies’ career pages. Nonetheless it can be incredibly time consuming to go on each website and look to see if they have a position that might suit you.

A typical job search

So I came up with an idea to make things easier for me. What if I was able to see all the positions in the companies I would like to work for, in just one tab? Thanks to the amazing SEO community, I came across a guide on how to build agile tools using Google Drive.

So I built my idea: a personal job board.

My personal job board — Click to zoom

It’s scrappy but it works. With this spreadsheet, I am able to see all the available jobs in the companies I am interested in. I can also see the job trends in the London startup community.

The beauty of the IMPORTXML formula is that the content is refreshed each time I open the spreadsheet.

Now that the job research is automated, it’s time to hack the job application.

How I hustle, the hacker way

Startups often don’t really care about your studies, your side projects or what you did before. They care about what you can actually do for them. You must prove that you can be ready from Day 1. But you can not do that via a standard job application.

What a typical job application looks like — Source:

So I came up with the idea of applying for jobs through Facebook Ads, using the custom audiences’ features. It is an under-utilised and powerful way to show your ad to the people you already know (i.e. people that gave you their email addresses and telephone number).

Thankfully, I’m really good at stalking people’s emails addresses — I have to admit, I enjoy it. But it’s time consuming to manually find the one linked to a Facebook account.

But there is another solution.

You are probably not aware of the fact that if you have a Facebook account, you have an email address Matthew Barby wrote an excellent post on how to collect Facebook emails using Facebook Open Graph. It’s creepy but it works well.

First, I stalk the full names on LinkedIn, and play with the Facebook Graph Search. I usually target less than 20 account from the companies, from the founders to the hiring manager and other people. I also add about 30 fake or inactive accounts that I’ve found to get my custom audience accepted by the platform.

Now that I’ve got the accounts, it’s time to create the ad.

How I create a click-worthy Facebook Ad

A not so click-worthy mustache

Despite my belle moustache, a picture of my face in not click-worthy. Indeed, my targets don’t care about me or my moustache. They care about themselves. Going through the Startup Institute programme made me realise that co-founders and their employees are obsessed by their company. With this in mind, to grab their attention it’s as easy as to put the logo of their company in front of their nose. Click & Whirr.

Click & Whirr

My hypothesis was that with an ad like this one, my click through rate would be high. So, the most difficult part would be to reach the target, the cheapest way possible.

The answer? Bid for impressions. It means that I’ll be charged each time my ad is served. To be sure that my ad is served in the most effective way possible, I bid high. Very high.

In this example, I told Facebook I was ready to pay €125 for 1,000 impressions. Thus, I outranked all the other ads and mine was served in priority by the platform.

But remember, I used custom audience, with 20 to 30 REAL accounts.

The results? The frequency is high, as well as the number of clicks on the ad. But the cost is really low.

For less than €3 per campaign, I’m able to get right in front of recruiters, drive them to my website and show them that I can be creative with a tool used in the day to day life of an internet marketer.

The feedback and answers from the hiring managers were really positive.

And so on.

This is the way I secure a job interview and am top of the hiring manager’s mind, sometimes without even sending in a formal application.

That’s the job hunt and application covered. Last part is the interview. I’m still working on this one, so let me know if you have any tips and tricks.

Thank to @jonbstrong and @GeorgeJurgens for their inputs, as well as the awesome @StartupInstLON community.

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