Hacker Career Advice

How to Look for a New Job, Part 2

Last time, we talked about how to start your job search, figure out what you want to do, and prospect companies & opportunities. Today, we’re going to talk about applying to jobs.

Network your way in

Online job applications and Applicant Tracking Systems are a black hole. You will almost certainly not find a job this way.

I 💯% believe that, the best way to apply for a job in 2019 is via a referral. That means finding a human who can email the hiring manager and say “Hey, Neal is a good fit for this job. I know him from X, Y, and Z. Take a look at his resume.”

Referrals or “warm intros” will usually get you a phone screen and can sometimes get you directly to an interview. Even if a company isn’t hiring right now, a referral can put you on their radar. Who knows, maybe after talking to you, they’ll realize they need you.

LinkedIn is my go to resource for finding referrals. Load up the company’s LI page and see if you’re connected to any current employees. See if you know any past employees. See if any of your contacts know any current employees.

Ideally, you’re looking for recruiters and HR people – the people who control the hiring process. If you can find the hiring manager for a particular job, that’s even better.

Once you’ve identified a target, figure out how you’ll connect. If it’s a first degree connection and you think they’ll remember you, email them directly:

“Hi Eddie, hope you’ve been well. I noticed that Stripe is hiring engineers in NYC and I’m interested in learning more about positions like this one: https://some/job/post.

I’ve been working on X, Y, and Z at FooBar Inc. and think Stripe would be a really great fit for me.

Do you have a few minutes to chat (anytime 11-4 ET Tues & Weds) next week? Thanks!”

If your target is a second degree connection, you’ll need to ask your shared contact for an intro:

“Hi Veronica, hope you’re well. I saw on LinkedIn that you’re connected to Eddie Gonzalez at Stripe. Would you be comfortable introducing us?

Stripe is hiring in NYC and I’m really interested in working on their ACH & Crypto payment teams. Here’s a link to my résumé: https://foo.bar/resume. Thanks!!”

You can also network by going to meetups, asking your friends if they know anyone at Company X, or going to conferences. It’s not rocket science, networking is mostly active listening.

Write a new résumé & cover letter for each job

Yeah, you read that right. Every job has different requirements, even if they are both for front-end devs. And every company has different values, even if they are both YC unicorns.

To improve your chances of getting an interview, tailor your application every time.

To make this easier, create a master spreadsheet of bullet points for each line item on your resume. By playing with the phrasing, you can spin one accomplishment 3 or 4 ways. If you’ve been cataloging regularly, you should already have a huge list of bullets.

Cover letters are unpopular, but they have two purposes:

Write a Minimum Viable Cover Letter: 2–4 sentences about why you want this job, why you’re interested in this company, and how you’d approach the role. If you can’t do this, maybe this isn’t the right job for you.

Applications are just the beginning

If you make it past the filter, you’ll probably have a phone screen with HR, a phone interview, and then maybe an onsite interview day with technical & culture fit interviews.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how to nail your interview, but I can give you some good ammo:

Don’t get discouraged if you blow an interview or if a company passes on you. There are always more opportunities.