Sending out 300, 400, 600, or more resumes and hearing nothing back, or maybe only a few interviews. Hand-crafting cover letters over and over until ChatGPT has nothing on you because you’ve practiced so much. Getting ghosted after interviews. Spending day after day, week after week searching for job listings, writing cover letters, and sending off applications (including re-entering the resume details in proprietary systems), all with the hope that someone, somewhere, will offer you a chance.

The truth is that we’ve entered a dystopia. Humans will never read most job applications - they’ll be caught in the applicant tracking system, screened by a computer program tasked with finding specific keywords, and discarded. This is especially true at larger companies, which, perversely, are more likely to have entry-level roles than small companies. Add to this the ever-increasing amount of experience required for “entry-level” roles, and we’ve created a perfect storm for job seekers looking to break into the industry. An AI arms race, where application screening technology is rejecting most applications in search of the “perfect candidate,” and candidates are submitting more and more applications in the hopes that playing the numbers harder will get them through the door.

Insanity is famously defined as doing the same thing repeatedly and continually expecting a different result!

Fundamentally, the vast majority of hiring decisions are human decisions. Companies don’t decide to hire someone - the people who work there do. Corporations don’t have opinions - their CEOs do. Applicant tracking systems don’t make job offers - hiring managers do. So, what does that mean? It means there’s a better way. One that doesn’t involve spending hours, weeks, months, sending in application after application and hoping irrationally for someone to reach out and invite you for a cold phone call, then decide in 30 minutes that you’re worth something and pass you on to the following interview instead of judging and ghosting you. Humans are designed to crave and build connections, but the system we’ve built for hiring people couldn’t be better constructed to avoid creating those connections. What’s the solution?

Opt out of the resume game insanity!

What if I told you that in 15 years in tech, averaging one new job every two years, I’ve only ever sent in one cold job application? That every job I’ve gotten has been something I was invited to apply to? You might say that I was well-connected or headhunted due to an incredible degree from a top-tier school, but none of that is true. I started with a degree in Classical Cello from a music conservatory. I’ve had no formal CS training, and my network started as effectively zero because I grew up in a small town in Maine.

You can do the same thing. You can stop applying, and you can get a job. I’m going to tell you how to do it. It’s pretty simple. You need to

Build Human Connections

Ahhh! Gahhh! Scary! That sounds like another way to say networking, and I don’t like networking! It feels slimy and fake! It won’t work because I’m introverted and can’t stand talking about the weather repeatedly at mixers with sad drinks and name tags for all the people I don’t know.

Nope. That’s not what we’re doing. We’re building human connections. We’re not networking. We will show up as our authentic selves, speak the truth, talk about what we need and want, and help others with what they need and want.

Where do we start? With our friends. If your friend likes someone, you’re more likely to like them, too, right? You’ll reach out to some of your friends, tell them what you want and need, and ask them who they think you should talk to about it. That’s what’s called a warm intro. We’re going to get you some warm intros. So, without further ado, here’s how we’ll start the work to get a job in 5 steps:

5 Steps to Finding Human Connection

  1. Take a 1-hour break from sending out applications.
  2. Pull up your friends list. You might have a list of friends on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, or in your phone contact list.
  3. Choose five people you think will write back and might either have a lot of friends or be connected somehow to what you want to do. If you’re not sure, try them anyway! It’s hard to remember what everyone’s high school sweetheart’s third cousin does. Write down your friends’ names.
  4. Fill in this template: “Hey {friend’s name}, I hope you’re having a good day! I’m looking for a job. It might be cool to {describe the job you want}. I’m interested in talking to people in {target} industry to ask questions and learn more. Do you know anyone who might be connected to that somehow who I could chat with?”
  5. Send a version of that template to each person you wrote down in step 3. See who will write back and talk to them! If your friend offers an introduction, say yes! Now, start working on finding a time to chat with them.

Was that weird? You’re just writing to your friends and asking if they know anyone. The truth is, this is how most jobs are found - through human connections. I bet some (not all) of them wrote back. I bet you got at least one introduction you wouldn’t have otherwise. If not, no big deal, you’re building the muscle!

Congratulations on taking the first step. Stay tuned. Subscribe to the email notifications. Over the next few weeks, I’ll lay out a series of practices to help you land a tech job without so much pain.