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Landing a Kick-Ass Job in 2021

What we learned from 100+ conversations with recruiters.

I spent the past year speaking with 100+ recruiters across all industries to better understand what it takes to get hired these days. So much has changed. The latest shift to remote work has created in an explosion of new opportunities for job-seekers world-wide. While this is certainly a step forward for the world in general, many are now faced with a new challenge to navigate: more volume creates more competition. What does it take to land that kick-ass job in this fast-paced and noisy landscape? Here are the five key takeaways from my discussions:

#1 Show your work online

A resume is a promise. It's the candidate saying "I promise I can do X, Y and Z." A recruiter's job is to decide which of these promises are the most legit. The trouble is, with a single piece of paper, there's not much room to prove anything. This is when showing your work online really comes in handy. It provides evidence that you can walk the walk and not just talk the talk. It gives recruiters a reason to trust your promise.

For years now, software developers have shown their work by publishing their code to GitHub. Designers have uploaded their content to Behance. But what about the rest of us? How do you showcase "soft skills"? You do it by writing online with a blog.

Regardless of the subject matter, writing long-form content requires critical thinking and clear communication - two skills recruiters are constantly on the look out for. By providing evidence of these skills, you'll be giving recruiters more confidence that you can succeed at their company. (Plus there are loads of other benefits to publishing your work such as sharpening your thinking, expanding your knowledge, and building an audience)

#2 Conserve your energy

Job hunting can be an incredibly taxing activity. Depending on your exact approach, you might be spending dozens of hours on applications and outreach. So naturally, you'll get tired if you grind too hard. But it's important not to get tired. "Applicant fatigue" leads candidates to settle for opportunities they're not excited about. They toss in the towel because they can't bear to fill out one more mandatory cover letter. Avoid this outcome at all costs.

Think of the job-hunt as a marathon, not a sprint. Don't lose all your energy and confidence in the first 100 meters. Pick a sustainable pace and stick to it. If an application is too long, consider reaching out to a recruiter at the company first, they can help you decide if it's worth your time. And don't dwell on rejections, it happens to everyone.

#3 Talk to people

Companies don't hire people, people hire people. So spend at least as much time talking to people as you do filling out applications. Now, everyone has heard this generic tip a million times, so let me be more specific in my contribution to the conversation: make it a habit to talk to interesting people. Remember, the goal here to is build relationships, that's not going to happen if you're not genuinely interested in that person's story, so don't bother reaching out if you're going to have a robotic transactional phone call - that will get you no where.

Instead, train yourself to shoot an email to each interesting person you come across in your field. Just read an interesting blog post? Email the author. Saw an interesting tweet? Shoot them a DM. When it's coming from a place of genuine interest, the conversation will go a lot more smoothly, and you're more likely to build a strong relationships.

#4 Don't stop when you're hired

The work I've described here compounds over time, so don't stop doing it when you're hired, otherwise you'll have to build up your momentum all over again next time you're job hunting. And you should know that these activities don't just help you get the job, they also help you move upwards faster after you're in.  A few months of this work can land you an insanely awesome job. A few years of this work will fundamentally alter the trajectory of your career (and your life).

Thanks for reading!

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