It was 2:02 in the morning, and Robert Cohen was in Costa Rica, interviewing for a job in Europe. He’d kept his calendar open–it said he was available 24/7–and he always tried to see if he could make the interview process easier for the interviewer by taking the initiative to set up the calendar meeting himself.
The job hunt is hard–and it was no different for Robert. Competition is high; companies interview tons of people. They didn’t always see his application or respond.
So he figured out a hack.
“When it comes down to it, the job hunt is like doing sales. If you reach out to a thousand people, and you’re very broad, you might get some response. You might get an interview–maybe one here, one there. But if you’re very specific with your whole approach, or you include some personal details in that sales approach, that’s going to get your attention a whole lot more than, ‘Hey, um, I’d like to work for you.’”
So Robert made his applications at least one percent more personal than other applicants–and it worked. He also ran it like a sales process—complete with Calendly and providing value upfront and sending email sequences. And because of it, this time on the job hunt, he had more than thirty interviews.
It’s no secret Robert would crush it in sales.
But not long after that two a.m. interview, when he found an opening for a sales role that really stood out to him, Robert thought, I’m not sure if they’re going to hire me because they’re kind of a big company.
It felt daunting. But he decided to push past the doubt and see if they’d bite.
How Robert Pitched Himself
“I saw the job posting on AngelList. I was very excited. I saw they were looking for a business development representative, and I was like, okay, I can do this. I’m going to send out an application.”
He made a pitch and sent it. And when the CEO of the company saw Robert already understood a specific industry one of his company’s clients worked in, he got excited, too.
So they got an interview set up. During the call, Robert was able to answer detailed questions about that client’s industry. The CEO was impressed–not only would Robert make a great business development representative, but he’d be able to strengthen relationships with their customers.
So they hired him.
After Robert got the offer and took it, more offers came in (remember those thirty-plus interviews? They were still bringing returns). A month before, Robert felt hopeless. Now he had tons of interviews and multiple offers.
Robert crushed his job hunt–and he’s got a lot of tips for anyone ready to stand out to the companies they’re applying to. So if you want to get into entry-level sales, or even if you just want to get a response after sending out an application, check out Robert’s tips for the job hunt below.
Robert’s Tips for the Job Hunt
- Keep asking yourself, “What can I do for a company?” That’s what hiring managers are asking when they’re on the hunt for a new hire–“What can they do for my company?” So frame yourself in that light. Remember, it’s about them.
- Reach out to an actual person at the company, just like you would in sales. They might be busy, so connecting with a real employee will make your application more personal to them.
- Apply to the jobs you actually want. Instead of just applying everywhere–if you are very specific and you apply to the jobs you want–there’s a big chance you’re going to get a response, and then you can move forward from there.
- Make sure you stay on top of emails. If you’re heading into sales, having an email sequence and format for those emails is really important in keeping your communication professional from the get-go. And make sure to answer people right away (within twenty-four hours)!
- Companies aren’t always looking at applications on different platforms, so try sending a LinkedIn message–that has helped me set up an interview.
- Prepare for interviews by studying the company. Learn about them. It’s not about being a robot and just answering the question–it’s about a conversation.
- The interview process can take some time–so expect to have at least three interviews before a decision is made.
- Put yourself out there. Don’t wait around–during a time of less responses, you could be expanding your outreach or creating tailored pitches.
- Make sure you’re checking in, following-up. Show you’re interested in this position at this company.
- Be personalized and specific with your whole approach.
- Ask for feedback. The one thing that really did the trick for me after I did all these things was ask for feedback. I narrowed down everything I was doing, I showed Isaac Morehouse–I made a video for him–and I told him, ‘This is what I’m doing.’” And he was very direct with me, and I took his feedback. That’s when, I think a week later, I got this job.
- Create value, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Do side projects for companies.
- After you win that job, keep blowing your employer away. If you really do go above and beyond during the job-hunting and interviewing process, don’t stop. Keep learning. Keep making it about them. Keep asking good questions. Give 100%.
Some Tools Robert Used on His Job Hunt
- AngelList–good for communicating with leads, finding startups, for sales reps to reach out to other companies
- Product Hunt
- Crash (hey, that’s us!)
- We Work Remotely–a remote jobs community and board
- Job hunt email templates–figuring out how to approach email formatting can get a bit confusing, so this is a collection of email templates you can copy and use when you’re treating the job hunt like a sales process
- A guide to finding the hiring manager at any company
- A step-by-step resource on how to find the email addresses of any employee
“The one thing that really stuck out to me was you normally kind of wait around, wait for responses. You send out your resume, waiting around for people to answer you. Crash really showed me that you can take a proactive approach and really master your domain when it comes to making yourself seen. I posted a video on LinkedIn, and I got three people that said, ‘Let’s set up a meeting.’
“If you’re at least one percent different from everybody else applying, that can make a huge difference.”
Thinking about breaking into sales at a startup? Visit our sales resource page to learn why it’s a great role to gain valuable, real-world experience and develop skills that’ll help you get a head-start professionally.