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4 tactics that worked for me in my recent job search

Having just come off of a job search (I’m starting at AWS later this week!) I wanted to share some of the tactics that worked for me in scoring a job that I’m pretty darn excited about.

Let me know if you find these helpful and also if there are some tips that have worked well for you in past job searches.

1)  Focus your resume on accomplishments, not roles.

Your resume is going to set the tone for the discussions you have with recruiters and hiring managers.  Make sure it’s more than a list of job duties and functions.  This is your chance to tout measurable accomplishments that show how you stand out from the crowd.  Write about how you saved your last company $300,000 in CAPEX because you optimized an existing process, or how you ranked in the top 5% of your hiring class at your 1st job out of college.  Skip the stuff that’s generic (e.g. “Developed Java applications for large financial services company”) because it’s not going to help you get interviews or stand out from the rest of the pack.

2) If you’re looking for a more entrepreneurial work environment, check in with your friendly neighborhood venture capitalist.

VCs are often a great source of information about which companies in the tech startup ecosystem are hiring.  There are some nuances to identifying which startups and which VCs to approach in your job search, and David Biesel of NextView Ventures put together a great series of posts about this very topic.

VCs are also just super well connected inside and outside the startup world.  It’s quite possible they know some folks within larger companies (after all, the larger companies end up buying their smaller companies) who might have a bead on some interesting roles.

Personally, I think outreach to VCs is perhaps the best way to get yourself in front of hiring managers in the tech world.  My last 2 job searches were heavily influenced by awesome introductions provided by folks in the VC community, so I can’t say enough about this tip specifically.

3) Track your activities and follow up tasks in a systematic way.

I’m a firm believer that the job hunt is very much like a sales process, where you’re prospecting (finding potential opportunities), conducting a needs assessment (interviewing), following up, and closing (negotiating your compensation package and signing on the dotted line).  Any professional salesperson is using a CRM of some sort (even if it’s just a spreadsheet!) to track and plan their activities, and a professional job seeker should be doing the same.

For my most recent job search, I used Highrise from 37signals to track relevant contacts as well as specific tasks related to job opportunities.   Their system helped me stay disciplined about following up and staying on top of specific job opportunities.  (BTW, has anyone used the Highrise APIs to develop a job seeker focused app?  I think this would be really cool and useful.)

4) Avoid the front door, and use the back door when possible.

Job boards and company resume submission sites tend to be a road to nowhere when it comes to scoring an invitation to interview for a role.  You’re much better off using these systems to identify which companies may be hiring, and which jobs are available.  Then, you can use Google or various social networking sites (LinkedIn is great for this) to identify people you might know at the company who could potentially refer you to the hiring manager or the HR department.

If you don’t know anyone at the company, you can still use these tools to identify people who are in the group that’s doing the hiring, and maybe develop some sort of a pitch (which you could deliver via a well written email, or a phone call) with which you can use to get your foot in the door.  I know this might seem a little pushy, but if you’re relying on job board or company website submissions otherwise, I don’t think you have much to lose by a more aggressive approach.

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Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: careers, jobs, networking

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More Stories By John Gannon

John Gannon is an Associate at L Capital Partners, a $165-million fund looking to advance companies with the potential to take groundbreaking products to market. He blogs at http://johngannonblog.com. Prior to joining L Capital Partners, John worked with Highland Capital Partners and Chart Venture Partners to identify and evaluate new opportunities in the enterprise IT sector. He also served as a consultant advising startup companies on business development, product strategy and venture capital fundraising. He currently sit on the board of advisers of VAlign Software.

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