Finding a job is hard.
It’s not as easy as filling out a few applications and doing some interviews.
It’s actually kind of like marketing and selling a product. No. It’s EXACTLY like marketing and selling a product. And you’re the product.
I’ve applied for jobs before, but this time I decided to really take to heart the idea of “marketing myself as a product” to other companies. And it paid off. I found a job – my dream job actually – within 30 days.
Want some quick stats about my job search process?
- 50 jobs applied for
- 29 personal responses from each company (not an automated email)
- 14 jobs asked for interviews
- 2 offers
- 1 dream job
This isn’t for the light at heart. It’s not easy. If you think you can spend an hour a day looking for a job, it won’t happen. I spent an average of 4 hours each evening (and even more on the weekends) looking for jobs, filling out applications, following up, and preparing for interviews.
Also, I’m not going to talk about figuring out what kind of job you want… I’m assuming you know that. There’s plenty of other blog posts out there that can help you with that if you haven’t already figured it out. For this point, let’s assume you have an idea of what you want and the type of company you want to work for. You’ll apply for a bunch of jobs, but you’ll be able to get clear and more picky as you interview with them. That’s when you’ll really figure out what you want to do and get excited about!
It’s not easy, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll likely get traction and find a job just like I did.
Here’s how I found a job, and how Trello helped me.
I started by setting up “prospects” in Trello.
I created a Trello board that I used as my “CRM” to help me keep track of all my prospects- aka the companies i was applying to. Each card was a “Company – Job”.
Where did the prospects go? In lists on my Trello board! The goal was to move left to right from “To Apply” all the way to “Didn’t Work Out” or “Offer”.
Here’s what happens in each of the stages.
1. To Apply
I added a job to this list if it was something I would be interested in and was qualified for. I’m not incredibly picky at this stage. You can’t afford to be!
(Pro tip: Some great places to look for jobs are Monster, Indeed, and LinkedIn jobs. If you’re looking for a remote job, WeWorkRemotely and Remote OK are amazing, but just Google search “remote job boards” and you’ll find tons more.)
Once I added the job, I include a link to apply in the description and then I used Trello’s labels to indicate what’s required for the application and how much work it will be. Do I need a cover letter? Do I have to answer a lot of questions?
I created a custom resume and custom cover letter for each job I applied to. It makes a huge difference when you don’t just copy and paste something and when everything is tailored to that specific company and position.
Use your cover letter to say 3 things: how you heard about the job, why you want to work for the company, and why you’d be a good fit for this position/what you can bring to the table.
By using a custom resume, you can highlight the skills that are most relevant to the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a marketing analytics job, you can focus on more of your marketing analytics skills rather than including irrelevant skills, like social media.
After I applied for a position, I moved the card to this stage.
This is where the party began. Applying was easy, but following up and getting a response? That was a whole new ballpark.
I tried a few different things to get people to respond. Trello’s checklists were incredibly helpful for this.
Here’s what they looked like.
Before starting my follow up, I did some research to figure out who might be involved in the hiring decision (looking for recruiters and marketing leads… if I couldn’t find them, I just listed anyone that seemed like a relevant person or I looked for C-suites or founders).
Once I decided who those people were, I looked up their email address with a tool called Hunter.io. Then, I added their names, email, and LinkedIn to the description of the card on Trello.
How did I follow up?
I started by sending a LinkedIn connection request to these people, and clicked “Add a note” and used that note to say …
“Hi ________, I just applied for the ______ position with ______ and wanted to introduce myself! I have experience with ______ and I think we might be a good fit for each other. Would love to talk about it!”
After that, I tried one of the following things, waited a week, and tried another if there was no response.
- Email with resume –> I took my cover letter and made it the body of my email and attached my resume to the email. Pretty basic, but I figured the hiring department wouldn’t be sending this out to everyone so I wanted to get in front of more people and ask for an opportunity to connect.
- The video intro –> I recorded a short video of myself with my webcam just introducing myself and telling a little about the position and why I was interested and would be a good fit. Basically a video version of my cover letter… short sweet and to the point, only lasted about 1 min and 30 seconds on average.
- The strategy –> Depending on the position, I’d do a little research and put together some ideas or recommendations for them based on the position. For example, if it was a Social Media Director position, I’d review their social media and create a few recommendations of things I could help them with and how I could improve their social media.
- The testimonial graphic –> I collected some quotes people had about working with me (from emails and LinkedIn recommendations) and had one of my friends turn it into a cool looking graphic.
All of these except the testimonial graphic were CUSTOM for each job I applied for. Each video, each strategy ideas… totally custom for that company and that position.
<b<Lot of work? Yes. Did I land a job? Yes. Worth it? For sure.
I followed up via LinkedIn if they accepted my connection request by sending them links to the above.
I used Trello’s due dates feature to set reminders for me about when I needed to follow up again with another piece of material from my reservoir.
When I got a response from someone, I labeled the card “Got a response”, and if it was positive/wanted to continue the conversation, then I moved the card to the next stage. If it was something along the lines of “thanks I’ll pass this on”, then I stopped reaching out to that person, but continued to follow up with others.
3. Responded But Not Interviewed Yet
When someone responded but an interview hadn’t been set up yet, the card moved to this stage.
In this stage, there was less follow up because I already had their attention. It was mostly handling logistics and discussing available times for interviews, and in some cases it was answering more questions that they had for me.
It also included people who said things like “We need a few more weeks to discuss this” or “We’re interested, but don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
4. Interview Process
A card made it to this list once an interview had been officially set up.
I would sometimes include another checklist for interview prep if there were specific tasks for that.
Here’s how I prepared for interviews.
- Research the company’s website, product reviews, Glassdoors reviews… make sure I can answer the question “how would you describe what we do?” and “why do you want to work here?”
- Come up with a few recommendations for the company based on the position (ie, if they ask “What are some things you would start to work on if you got this Content Strategist position?)
- Look through job description and prepare for a question about each line item. I wrote out a question for each one, including “tell us about a specific time when you were successful with x”.
- Come up with 5 or more thought provoking questions I had for them. (See below.)
- Write out the answers to all of these questions and review them at least 3 times before the interview so I knew the answers by heart.
After an interview, I used card comments to note anything specific that came up and what next steps were. Then I’d add items to the checklist and a due date if there was a project involved or any other moving pieces. If there was no project or anything else waiting on me, I still set up a due date for no more than a week later to remind me to follow up with them post-interview.
PS – I ALWAYS sent a thank-you email after an interview – to every person I spoke with! Sounds cliche, but it works!
BONUS – Want to know the questions that I asked that make for great interview questions from YOU to a potential employer? In nearly every single interview I had, I was complimented on these questions and told that they were really great questions to ask, so feel free to use them.
- Where do you see the company in three years? Where do you see me/this role in the company in three years?
- What do you think will be my biggest challenge in this role?
- If I could solve one problem in [position’s department] that would help you sleep better at night, what would that be?
- What’s your management style? How much do you want to communicate, what happens when we disagree, etc.
- Do you desperately need someone for this role, or is it more of a “nice to have”?
5. Didn’t Work Out
Ah yes, the sad grave yard of “no’s”.
Don’t worry, I got a lot of those. But every time you have to drag a card over here, just remember – you only need one of these to work out. You don’t need every job to turn into an offer. Just one!
I labeled a card with “Interviewed” if I interviewed with the company, just so I could see how many didn’t work out post-interview.
Here’s the good news. Not all of the jobs that landed over here were “no’s” from the employer. Some were no’s from me… just finding out things that didn’t work out. (Like if they didn’t offer health insurance. Can anyone say “deal breaker”?)
Also, I found that only 3 out 27 of the companies in my “Didn’t Work Out” column were ones that I had interviewed with, and 1 of those was one that I said no! This helped me to see that if I could get an interview, then that was the hard part! So I just needed to focus on getting the interviews! So take courage!
I only had two cards end up in there, but one of them was basically my dream job with an amazing position for an awesome company and great pay and benefits. Really was everything I wanted!
By this point, it was really easy to say yes, because I had closely examined all the companies I was talking to and had taken copious notes and included them in my Trello cards. I knew exactly what I wanted and where each company ranked in my list.
And It Worked!
Like I said, I found my dream job in less than 30 days by using Trello to manage my process and by doing some pretty detailed follow up to applications and preparation for each interview.
I know a lot of other people looking for jobs right now and my hope is that this post can help and inspire those people as well! It’s a lot of work, but it’s possible. Don’t give up hope. Just keep moving forward and remember – you only need one to work out and all the work will be worth it!
Best of luck on your job search!