I recently accepted a job offer to join a healthcare technology start-up called Medivo. This concluded my 4 months job search. It was actually the first time I had to find a job after since graduating from college. Before this, I ran my own tech start-up called Fleetbit. Compared to my experience applying for internships as a student, I found that I had to work much harder to get that initial interview. In hindsight, this made sense. In college, the pool of competition is much smaller and the firms have a mandate to hire young talent every year through campus recruitment. Those rules don’t apply anymore once I am out of school.
Looking for jobs is hard!
During the first month of my job search, I had very limited success. I mostly applied online. Out of the 10 jobs I applied to, only 1 of them got back to me for an interview. Despite several iterations of improvement on my resume and cover letter, the conversion rate did not improve at all. After a month, I concluded that my resume was not the issue. Instead, I needed a different way to get the employer’s attention and establish credibility. Going through the regular recruitment channel was not a good option.
Having started Fleetbit, I knew I had a unique and compelling story to tell. My hypothesis was that if I can make my case directly to the decision maker instead of going through the recruiter, my success rate will dramatically improve.
To put my theory to test, I decided to ignored the online application process and focused exclusively on reaching the hiring managers (or someone who is familiar with the opening) directly. To actually get in touch with those people, I used LinkedIn and Rapportive. With the help of those tools, I was able to get in touch with 90% of the people on my contact list. There were 3 main steps in this process:
1. Identify relevant contacts at the company
LinkedIn is an amazing tool for this. I just simply searched the company and went through the employee profiles. I used the advance search to filter the list of employees by keywords. For me, the keywords were product manager or director of product. From there, I compiled a list of people I would like to contact at the company.
2. Find contacts’ company email addresses
Once I have the contact’s full name, I used Rapportive to find their company emails. Rapportive is a Gmail plugin that allows you to see people’s social network information based on their email addresses. Once I have the contact’s name, I can simply guess a few common email formats with the company’s domain name using the tool. The one that shows the contact’s profile is the right one! Here is a video that explains exactly how it is used. Once you have confirmed the right email format for one employee, you can even use the format to generate emails for all other employees at that company!
3. Make contact
Once I have a list of emails, I can contact them directly. During the search process, I experimented with various messaging and format. Overtime, I found the following structure worked the best. Below is a sample email I sent to a tech startup (the investor and company names have been changed). With that said, I would urge you to tryout different formats and see what works better for you. The key is to figure out a way to best tell your story concisely.
Once I got the process figured out, I saw dramatic increase in my response rate. After I changed my approach, I reached out to people at 15 other companies and got a response back from 11 of them, typically all within 24 hours. Most of those initial conversations turned into follow-up interviews. 3 months later, I was able to secure 3 competing job offers, all at fast growing technology companies with significant backing.
The job market is more competitive than ever. In order to be successful, you have to be entrepreneurial and resourceful. If you can demonstrate those qualities, you will automatically have a leg up against the competition.