How I got 73 interviews in 3 months.

May 11, 2022

This is the story of how I managed to get 73 interviews with 50 different companies in a matter of only 3 months. I’m hoping this will be an inspiration to others as I know many are struggling to find a job and land those interviews.

Finding a job in today's environment need not be as tricky as one imagines. I’ll share my tactics of how I went about my search as it's definitely not the standard advice that one receives.

Working for a startup is always risky

This story starts when I was working as a product manager for a small startup. When I took the job 6 months earlier there was the euphoria of having just raised capital but during my time there I quickly realised that they weren't actually making any money. When my boss asked for a private call I suddenly got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I got the unfortunate news that we were burning through our runway way faster than planned and in order to lengthen it they were cutting back on the non essential employees. It was bad news but I knew I had to suck it up and start applying for a new job immediately. They gave me a couple of months of notice so at least I had some breathing room. I don't know if it's irrational but I have a real fear of looking for jobs when I'm out of work. The whole interview process is hard enough without having to explain why you were laid off even if it was absolutely not your fault. For that reason I wanted to start right away while I still technically had a job.

Tactics - first step of job hunting.

The first step to finding a job is asking yourself “What job do I actually want?” When I say “what job” I really mean what is the title of the job that you want to do.

This seems like a ridiculously obvious point but it is not as easy as it might seem. You don't have to describe what you want to do. You have to give it a name. The secret is finding a job title that is widely used but specific enough to line up with your experience. This makes searching for a job 100 times easier. To understand this better I'll give you a personal example. A couple of years ago my title was something like “Business Development” but in fact I didn’t really do that so any jobs I found I was very unlikely to get. I could have made up all sorts of fancy management titles but again it doesn't really reflect my exact job. During my time there we brought on agile methodologies and my title changed to "Product Manager" or "Product Owner" this was fantastic as it's a widely used term in many companies for an extremely transferable skill. If you can't get something really specific and transferable like this you might have to narrow your search by industry but what your goal should be is to have a search term and filters so that the majority of the jobs that come up you can apply for without having to read through and filter each one manually.

At the time I was living in Spain, a country known for it’s high unemployment and lack of job opportunities. If a job here could be found inevitably the salaries were terrible. This used to be a big hurdle but the new paradigm of COVID brought the possibility of remote jobs. For me this was the game changer. As I knew that I wanted to stay in Madrid I “narrowed” my search to only remote jobs in the whole of Europe. What used to be a handful of jobs a week that I could apply to literally ballooned to thousands a day. I could have even extended this search to the Americas or Asia but I didn't like the idea of working in the middle of the night and in any case my pool of potential jobs was already large. A word of advice though, just because a job advertised as fully remote doesn't necessarily mean that they are willing to hire people from other countries due to many reasons such as taxes, language or even just the ease and cost of occasional in person meetings.

Job hunting advice that no one else agrees with

This is where my advice starts to differ from what the experts say. Most will advise you to customise every CV and cover letter. To search through all of your connections and try to reconnect. To attend networking events and pass your business card around. All this advice comes because 70% of jobs are found through connections, a widely stated statistic that I wholeheartedly believe is completely made up. Also it could very well be that these jobs through connections are found when you're not actively looking for a job. In my case I was and finding one was urgent.

So in my opinion, it's a numbers game. Cast that net far and wide. I applied to at least 20 jobs a day. From the huge selection that I had by opening my search to the whole of Europe it was easy to find that quantity of jobs. You might say that you don't have time for that but don't forget what I said earlier about getting the job title and filters right. If you get this part right most of the jobs that come up you can apply for so you are not wasting time. The other strategy I used was to spend a lot of time initially making my CV stand out but not to customise for every job. This obviously only works if you get that title right. If your last job title matches what they are advertising you have that advantage. What about cover letters. We'll 90% of the jobs didn't ask for one so I didn't give them one. If I did it was just a boilerplate one that I used changing only a few words. All in all this took me about 2h a day and I feel that it's impossible to do it everyday, not least because it's much easier to search if you filter for last 24h. That way you at least know that the jobs are new. I would do this even on the weekend but to be honest the amount of jobs advertised on the weekend was far less than during the week.

In summary

  1. Get your filters and search terms correct on Linkedin
  2. Make a great CV but don't customise it for each job
  3. Spend 2 hours a day every day
  4. Apply to many jobs
  5. Watch the interviews come in

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