When most people try to get a new job; they search for a listing, then they apply, and then they wait.
Search… apply… wait…. over and over again.
This approach is all wrong.
Hunting for a new job can feel daunting, and believe me, I’ve been there, but I promise you that there is a right and wrong way to go about finding a job.
The method I’m going to outline doesn’t just apply to finding a job. It works in sales, operations, and even in fundraising. I’ve actually used this same technique to raise over $100 million for my businesses.
The problem is, few people approach the job hunt in a systematic way. Instead, they spend hours and months trying to find the right job.
First, they start searching around for job postings, casually bouncing between websites until they find something that looks interesting. They read the post and see if they could qualify. Usually, the job description is extremely long and vague, with dozens of qualifications that sometimes contradict one another.
Then, after they find something that looks good, they fill out an application and start to wait. If they don’t hear back, they start to look for another job listing. This process is extremely slow.
Then, even after they’ve applied, they have to wait through several rounds of phone screens and interviews to even find out if they got the job.
I see people doing this all the time, and it takes them forever to land a new job. This can be dangerous because many human resource departments filter out candidates with “resume gaps” - meaning that more than a few months passed between jobs.
Following this process of search -> apply -> interview is terrible and can lead to a downward spiral where it gets harder the longer you work. But there’s a much better way.
Essentially, instead of doing one step after another, you want to do everything in parallel. That means instead of just searching for a single job posting, you need to collect hundreds of postings before you fill out a single application.
Getting a job is just like selling a product; it’s impossible to have a 100% conversion rate, so you need to acknowledge that upfront. Apple has one of the best brands in the world and some great marketing to push their products, but not every Apple advertisement will lead to a customer purchase, so they spread their bets out and market their products broadly.
Let’s break the entire job-hunting process down into three key steps, which can be done one week at a time.
Step 1: Research And Development
First up is what I call research and development, which happens before you apply to a single job posting. This whole process is about being as efficient as possible, so it’s important to do all of your research in parallel. Your goal here is to build a massive list of prospects that you can reach out to in step 2, so organization is key.
Instead of searching for job postings in this stage, you need to search for companies and, more specifically, individual people who have the authority to hire you. Start by listing out every company that operates in whatever industry you were just working in.
Then expand out based on your specific skill set. So if you’ve been working in marketing at an electronics company, start by finding as many electronics companies as possible, then broadening out to any company with a growing marketing department.
Don’t try and filter too much at this stage, instead just focus on gathering as much information as possible and compiling everything in a spreadsheet. If you’re used to using a tool like Notion or Airtable, you can use those, but Google Sheets is fine too. Just make sure to note the companies name and how big they are.
Working for a small company can be dramatically different than working for a large corporation, so it’s worthwhile to keep size in mind. You can usually find out how many employees a particular company has by searching LinkedIn or just Google.
Applying for jobs is really a sales process, and not every lead is going to convert into a job offer, so you want to maximize your “top of funnel” leads by collecting as many potential opportunities as possible.
It’s not crazy to compile a list of over a hundred potential companies before you start applying. If you spend 5 minutes researching each company, you should be able to compile a list of 100 companies in just one day.
Once you have these companies listed out, start developing your leads. This is where you start to find job listings and contact information for managers who hire people with your skills. You should be adding information to each row in your spreadsheet, so you wind up with names and contact information for every target company.
This is also an excellent time to start developing your personal elevator pitch. As you research these companies and start seeing patterns in what they are hiring for, try to imagine how you would fit into the organization. There is often a big mismatch between the title of the job and the description below.
At Google, a software engineer might be expected to have a computer science degree and really understand algorithms, whereas a small company outside the tech industry might still be hiring a software engineer but just need someone who can build a simple website. You want to figure out what skills you have and what skills are immediately adjacent to your experience.
If you feel like you lack a specific skill, now is a great opportunity to go and learn more. If you’ve been programming for a few years, but don’t really have any experience with design, take time before your job search fully gets going to try and get up to speed with the basics of that discipline. You can’t become an expert, but it never hurts to be more well-rounded.
Step 2: Parallel Outreach
HR departments are notoriously slow to process job applications, and you never want to be in a position where you’re waiting to hear back about a job and have nothing to do.
In a great scenario, maybe 10% of job applications are going to turn into interviews, so you need to fill up your leads spreadsheet before you start reaching out.
The goal is to only go through this process once and then just decide between multiple job offers at the end, but you can repeat the cycle if need be. The key is to keep the top of the funnel as big as possible, so every stage has the maximum chance of converting.
Applying to multiple jobs can be daunting, and it’s not uncommon to think you should focus all your energy on a single posting and spend an entire week preparing for that, but that’s a huge mistake.
The first stage of any hiring process is basically just a filter. You might be the perfect candidate for a position and spend weeks preparing an amazing application, only to find out that they hired someone a week ago and just forgot to close out the job listing.
So, you need to standardize your process for applying. You don’t want to spam people, but a little bit of process optimization can go a long way here. After all, if you’re serious about applying to a hundred jobs in one go, you can’t spend much time on each one. So, you need to create a workflow for efficiency.
You can use a tool like MailMerge to automatically fill out personalized emails, but sometimes this can backfire. Even if you add personal details like the name of the person you’re emailing, it can still feel like a marketing email, where there were clearly just a few holes that got filled in automatically.
Instead, you should have a few lines of boilerplate about yourself and then customize the rest. In your spreadsheet, you should have the name of the company and the name of the person you’re reaching out to, which is a good starting point.
If you have time, be sure to add in a few details about the position and why you want to work for the company. This is a great place to show that you did some research by mentioning a recent announcement by the company that you couldn’t have possibly auto-filled.
The key here is to stick to a schedule. If your target is to apply to a hundred companies in a single week, you shouldn’t spend more than 25 minutes per company. That should be plenty of time if you’re well organized and have all your supporting materials like a resume and links to relevant work experience in one place.
As you’re applying, try and figure out what steps you have to repeat over and over again so you can automate them. Tools like AutoHotKey and TextExpander can create macros to keep you from typing the same sentence over and over again. Regardless of whether you use Mac or PC, there are great options to help speed up your process.
Step 3: Targeted Interviewing
It’s easy to treat every interview the same way and put your maximum effort into one, but that’s a common error. Interviewing for a new job should be as much about you deciding whether or not you want the job as the company decided whether or not they want to hire you.
Job postings can be very misleading, and that’s not always the companies fault. The hiring manager could be using an old template, or the company's goals could have shifted since they put up the job req.
Either way, you can’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to see every interview process to the end. Far too many managers would love to hire someone who’s a bit overqualified, and you don’t want to end up being that someone.
It’s important to validate early on in the interview process precisely what you will be doing and assess whether that’s a fit for you. You might have done a particular job a few years ago and hated it, so even though you’re technically qualified, you need to filter out any companies that want you to do that old job.
There are two added benefits to this more aggressive approach. First, taking an active interest in the position and digging in to see if it’s what you want to be doing for the next few years shows a lot of initiative, which looks good in interviews.
Second, declining to advance to the next round after a phone screen reveals that a job isn’t quite right for you to build confidence. If you followed the first two steps properly, you should have plenty of interviews going on simultaneously and never feel like you have to take a job because it’s the only opportunity available.
This strategy is all about parallelism, and if you do it right, you’ll wind up in a great situation where you can decide between multiple job offers and weigh the pros and cons of each. You might even be able to negotiate for a higher salary at the most interesting company because you have some real leverage.
Even though human resources are legally limited in what they can ask you about your job search, most managers can sense when a candidate they want to hire has multiple offers, even if you don’t say it explicitly. So use this to your advantage.
This post is also available as a YouTube video: