I Hacked My Way to a Job and so Can You
The term “hacker” has changed its meaning over the years. While it started off as a way to describe individuals trying to circumvent computer security, today, the term is frequently used to describe non-traditional approaches in other specialties and industries. “Growth Hacker, Life Hacker, Design Hacker” are some of the more commonly known terms.. Let me introduce you to a new one: “Job Hacker”.
In times where you apply to as many jobs as possible just to end up in a pile of hundreds of CVs, you need to use more unconventional approaches to stand out from the crowd. From creating an Airbnb style CV to running Google ads to promote yourself, there are countless ways to do things differently.
Here’s how I hacked my way to a job that I hope helps you succeed too.
Set your priorities
Instead of applying to hundreds of companies, narrow in on five companies with products or roles you’re obsessed with. Even if they’re not hiring at the moment (or looking for someone with your background), they should be on your radar.
Craft your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
If you’ve worked for a couple of years, you know (and can show) where your strengths lie. If this is your first job, show how you can add value to the company. Is the company based in a different country? Maybe you can help them expand to a new market with your knowledge of the local language and culture. Think the company needs a new website and know how to create one? You’ve got your EVP right in front of you.
When I was looking for a job, the company I was really interested in wasn’t hiring. I researched the company, figured out who was managing the team and then, I reached out directly to the person. After countless LinkedIn messages and emails (always follow up!), my fifth email got a response. My persistence was apparent, but I needed to show that I really wanted to pursue this opportunity. So I invested a few hours into a presentation, outlining my take on the company’s challenges and how I could help solve it (EVP).
Looking back, the content wasn’t novel, but it was enough to convince the manager of my commitment, as well as the value I could bring to the team. She mentioned that I was the first person to put in so much effort into an application and ultimately extended an offer.
Having hired for different roles over the past years, I’m still surprised to see how little effort people put into reaching out to companies. As the “first impression counts”, I’d even make the case that nailing your initial outreach is more important than preparing for the subsequent interviews.
So, go out there and hack yourself to your dream job.
Jason is a co-founder of TalentSpace, where he keeps himself up at night thinking of new and innovative ways to make recruiting an enjoyable and fruitful experience for everyone. He's worked on the international expansion of US-startups, Casper and HotelTonight (acquired by Airbnb), and was also on the Value Creation team of Google Chairman Eric Schmidt's VC, Innovation Endeavors. He graduated from Bocconi University.