How I got hired: a lesson in never giving up

Looks like all the job hacking has finally paid off – I start a new full-time job next week! I won’t go into the details here (you can creep my LinkedIn profile if you’re really interested), but I’m glad to say it’s a great position in the Marketing & Communications department of a non-profit career and employment services agency. As you can imagine, I’m very excited and relieved. This has also given me some time to reflect on my job search since I was laid off, and analyze what went wrong and what went right with my job search technique and methodology.

I’m always curious as to how people with great jobs get hired, because it seems like such a one in a million chance. The answer is usually not as detailed as I’d like (“Oh, I just applied and they called me for an interview…”), so allow me to sperg out and explain to you, in excruciating detail, how I got hired. If you can learn from what I did right, and avoid what I did wrong, perhaps this will help you in your own job search, or at least make you feel more confident that you’re on the right path. For those who just want to jump straight to the point, skip down to my chart where I list what I did right, and where I went wrong.

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Send fewer resumes, get more interviews

Conventional job search wisdom tells us that we need to apply for as many jobs as possible in order to increase our chances of getting an interview. The job market is flooded with people looking for work, companies can afford to choose only the most highly qualified candidates, and job seekers need to pump out as many applications as possible to stay afloat in the murky waters of competition.

What if I had evidence that this conventional job wisdom was wrong? What if I told you that it’s possible to send out fewer resumes, and get more interviews? It may sound like a paradox, but fortunately I have some data from my own job search to back this up. This blog post will discuss the golden ratio of job applications (it exists, trust me…), and suggests an optimized job search methodology that will get you hired faster.

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What I’ve learned from 30 days of job hacking

I started this blog just over a month ago today. Since then, I’ve really pushed myself to use all of the methods I’ve shared to improve my own job search in the hopes of starting the new year with lots of employment leads and interviews. So far, I’d have to say it’s been a success. Lets review the main ideas of job hacking, and see what I’ve learned from each:

1. Creating an online portfolio to showcase your work – I’ve had a portfolio for a while, but writing this blog encouraged me to kick things up a notch and go the extra mile with SEO optimization and tweaking my HTML and CSS code to make the site look and feel smooth and professional. Since my website is one page, I also added a Google Analytics event tracker that reports every time someone clicks a work sample on my portfolio. This was to offset the high bounce rate (% of people who leave page immediately) I was getting for all visitors, which is a common problem with one page websites or blogs. Most web analytics services rely on internal link clicks to track time on page, and since there are no internal links on a one page website when visitors exit the page the platform has no way of knowing how long the visit lasted. I’ll talk more about common issues with web analytics reporting and metrics in the future, but for now just know that a high bounce rate isn’t always indicative of visitors leaving your site immediately (a very bad thing indeed).

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Behold, the guts of my portfolio

2. Using UTM codes to track employer interest in your resume – This has been the most helpful and rewarding thing I’ve done, since I can now see exactly who is visiting my website. While not all visits result in an interview request, just knowing that my work is being considered is a huge psychological boost. Sending out applications and never hearing a thing back is one of the most frustrating things to deal with, and often leads to people feeling helpless and trapped. If you have any kind of online presence, start doing this already!

3. Segmenting your data to uncover job search insights – This has been the second most helpful technique I’ve learned, and has resulted in a greater understanding an appreciation of my Google Analytics dashboard and custom reporting. I’ve uncovered all kinds of weird tidbits of data, like the fact that I have a very dedicated fan in one of the international offices of a company that I applied to (but no call as of yet – don’t be shy anonymous fan!), or that most of my search traffic comes from the phrase “Ian Barnard design”, who is actually another dude in the UK who does amazing typography work. If I were selling a product, knowing the keywords that people were using to search for my website (even those that were sending bad traffic) would be a huge advantage. Sadly, the only product I’m only selling here is my skills…

4. Using A/B testing to perfect your resume and cover letter – The most difficult by far, mainly due to incomplete data. I can rig my applications to the hilt with UTM trackers, but it won’t stop someone who is reading my resume from just typing my URL directly into their browser, which will be logged as a direct visit. I have no way of knowing how many visitors are doing this, and it results in an incomplete data set which makes getting a sample size large enough to be statistically significant difficult. I still really like this idea though, and will work on ways to improve this – if anyone has any suggestions or tips, I’m all ears!


All in all, I’m very pleased with the results. I’m happy to report I’ve had interest and received calls from some great employers, and that these methods have proven to be a great way of showcasing my skills. Wish me luck for the coming weeks, and if you have any questions or want to chat about how these methods can help you in your job search, leave a comment or use the contact info on my portfolio.

I’d also like a give a quick thank-you to all the visitors and WordPress followers who’ve come to the blog in the past month! As of today (January 9, 2014) Job Hacking has had just under 150 visitors and 240 views, which is amazing. I’ve got some cool ideas to share in the near future, and I hope you continue to find the articles interesting and useful!

Introduction: what this blog will teach us

What do you do when you reach 30, realize you hate your job and decide to pursue a career change?

What if said change involves leaving a cushy (but boring) engineering field, and taking a leap into the wild and confusing jungles of digital communications?

Naturally, you start a blog.

Some years ago I realized my interest in civil engineering wasn’t as strong as my high-school self thought it would be. The promise of steady promotions, increasing salaries, and guaranteed work wasn’t enough to shake the nagging feeling that I’d wake up one day in later life realizing that I produced very little that excited me, with only a Porsche, a fancy condo and three weeks of yearly vacation for comfort. The Porsche is an older 911 model, and the vacations are split between exotic destinations paid through a lucrative airmiles card, and a time-share someplace warm.

Um… is it too late to change my mind?

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This would have been my car. In my vacation home. In the Bahamas.

Truthfully, it would take a lot more than a year-round tan and a flash car to make me go back. I don’t even likes cars that much. This blog is about how I went from knowing next to nothing about social media, web design, SEO and online marketing to being a digital communications specialist.

Want to know what skills you need to make it? Want to become a growth hacker extraordinaire, a social media guru and marketing whiz? Me too. Lets find out together.

Read on to find out what job hacking is, and how it can help you find your own dream job!