Looking for new job opportunities can be as exhausting as working a full-time job. It is stressful, takes time, and can feel incredibly intimidating. But don’t worry! This blog post will kick off your job hunt in the right direction. The following three steps will help you stand out from the crowd and maximize your chances of landing your dream job.

1. Figure out what you want

Looking for jobs is all about knowing what you’re looking for. If you just apply to every single opening out there without truly knowing what you want, you will set yourself up for failure.

1a. Make a list

Take some time to think about what makes you happy and what you enjoy doing. Write those things on a list. Once you’re done, your list might be 50 bullet points long. Read through everything and find common patterns between those points, until you’ve condensed everything down to about 5 topics.

Here’s the list I made for my job hunt before joining Smartcar:

  1. Company located near Milpitas, CA: This is where I live, and commuting in the Bay Area is a nightmare.
  2. Company under 50 employees: I want to wear multiple hats, make an impact, get insight into other departments, and avoid politics.
  3. Be the first recruiter: I want the challenge of building a whole function from scratch.
  4. Host events: I love hosting events and I want to have the opportunity to host recruiting events a few times a year.
  5. Work with genuinely nice people: Work culture is really important to me. I want to work in an inclusive environment where everyone works as a team and succeeds and fails together.

1b. Think about compensation

I did not include salary expectations in my list, because I trusted that the companies I applied to would offer fair compensation based on the current market rate. However, it’s always a good idea to calculate your expected compensation range before you start your first job interviews.

Calculate your expected minimum salary, which would permit you to keep the same (or a similar) lifestyle. Then, define your stretch goal, which is the “dream” compensation you would ideally be looking for.

With this compensation range in mind, you will go into job interviews a lot more prepared and confident. If a certain job pays a lot less than your expected minimum, you will be able to rule it out early on in the process.

2. Be organized

2a. Know where to look

Now you know exactly which kinds of positions and companies you are looking for, and it's time to start your search. Most people use Glassdoor and LinkedIn for their job hunt. Both are great tools, but their filtering functionalities are quite limited.

If you want to get more granular and find jobs by more than just the location, company, and job title, there are lots of other websites you can use. For example, Angellist, Crunchbase, and Apollo.io let you find jobs by a specific industry, company size, amount of funding, and revenue. To learn more about those tools and how to use them, check out my blog post about 3 powerful tools for your job search.

2b. Keep track of your progress

Before you start applying for the first few roles, create a spreadsheet to keep track of what you're doing. Document exactly which company you've applied to, which positions, who your point of contact is, and so on. You can also take detailed notes about the conversations you had with the team and what the next steps in the interview process are.

Being organized is the key to a successful job search. You will likely apply to 20+ companies. You will be surprised by how little detail the human brain can remember when there are a lot of things happening at the same time! You also don’t want to be that person who applies to the same role three times in a row, because they've forgotten that they have already applied.

This is what your spreadsheet might look like:

3. Apply and follow up

Now you know what you want, how to find interesting roles, and how to organize your job search. It’s time to start applying! But wait - don’t just apply to one position and move on to the next one. You aren’t going to stand out if you just send your resume out into the black hole called “the internet." Be proactive! Here’s how.

3a. Find out who is responsible

After applying to a specific company, find out who the recruiter or the hiring manager is. You can simply use LinkedIn to do this. Let’s say you are applying to Smartcar. You can just type “Smartcar recruiter” into the LinkedIn search bar, and my profile should appear:

3b. Reach out via LinkedIn and email

Send the recruiter or hiring manager an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Add a note that says something along the lines of:

Hi Mathilde, I just applied for the Back-End Engineer role! I would love to have the opportunity to chat with you about the opening. What time works best for you on Tuesday this week?

If you don’t hear back within a couple of days, you can follow up by email and ask whether they had a chance to see your message. Your email might look similar to this:

Hi Mathilde,
I just wanted to follow up on my LinkedIn connect message. I’m sure you get a lot of messages on there every day. To recap my message, I applied for the Back-End Engineer role and I would love to have the opportunity to chat with you about the opening.
Are you free on Thursday at 3 pm to connect?
I’ve attached my resume below for you to review as well.
Thank you so much!
[Your name]

3c. Know how to find people’s emails

By now, you are probably thinking: “Mathilde! How am I supposed to find someone’s email when I know only their name and their LinkedIn profile?” Don’t worry. There is a tool for that.

Dorbell is a great website because it lets you enter a person’s name and company, and it will return all of their possible work emails and whether they are valid. You can try it with me to see how it works:

  • First Name: Mathilde
  • Last Name: Patmon
  • Domain: Smartcar
  • Suffix: com

After clicking the “Ring the bell!” button and waiting for the page to load, you should see a lot of invalid emails, as well as two valid ones: mathilde@smartcar.com and mathilde.patmon@smartcar.com.

If the Dorbell site doesn’t work for a specific person, there is something else you can do. Companies typically follow one of three formats for their emails:

  • first-name.last-name@company.com
  • first-letter-of-first-name-followed-by-last-name@company.com
  • first-name@company.com

Try emailing those addresses one after the other, until one of them sends successfully.

3d. Choose the right timing

Last but not least, you should think about the timing of your LinkedIn message and email to make sure the recruiter or hiring manager will open it and answer you.

If you email someone on a Friday night, the likelihood of getting a fast response is very low. They are probably having dinner and trying to enjoy the start of their weekend. Emailing someone on a Monday morning isn't ideal either because they just returned to work after the weekend and are probably playing catch up.

The best times to reach out to a recruiter or hiring manager are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7:30 am. This way, your message or email will be right at the top of the person’s inbox when they get into the office.

Now that you’ve used all these tips and landed the job interview you wanted, it’s time to ace it! Feel free to check out this blog post on how to avoid the 3 most common job interview mistakes.

If you have any questions or just want to let me know your thoughts, feel free to email me or reach out to me on LinkedIn!