Dan D Kim

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The Better Way to Get an Interview

2020-06-01 Dan D. Kimjob search

“I would have loved nothing more than to pay my rent by simply giving them a referral link.”

Whenever I was looking for a new job, I did it the inefficient way. I would look up job listings, set up email & app alerts, browse through said listings during the day, save the ones I am interested in, and spend around 30 minutes to an hour during the evenings applying to each one of them. Sometimes, I would apply to over 40 positions on a given day.

I would track each one of my applications on a spreadsheet. And I would be proud of myself for having more than a 15% interview success rate from my cold applications. Not bad, right? Well, this is just survivorship bias telling me that I must be doing something good because my results are good.

After a bunch of lessons learned, stories traded over networking, and various conversations had with other people, I came to realize that there are a small number of outliers that stand out differently from others in their job application process. And their results are fantastic. I want to talk about them.


The outliers never look at the traditional approach of applying online with your resume as the standard way of getting an interview. Instead, they leverage their connections. They know that getting a referral for a job is like getting the express pass at an amusement park. You skip the line and get ahead of others.

Understand the Incentive

A lot of people shy away from asking around too much, feeling like they are begging for help from strangers. But this is usually not the case.

One thing to note is that a lot of companies have internal incentives for referrals. Meaning, if Bob from Ubisoft refers you and you eventually get hired, Bob would receive a small bonus for having referred you. It’s a win-win situation.

Both of the companies I worked at had internal referral incentives, and I would have loved nothing more than to pay my rent by simply giving people a referral link.

So in these companies, it’s likely that people will actually want to refer you! Knowing this changes the game for a lot of job-seekers.

Go beyond your primary network

In a lot of cases, you may not know anyone at the company you want to work at. But you might know someone that does. Outliers will look at their primary connections, and if that doesn’t work, they will look for secondary connections.

Most of the people I know never go outside of their immediate network of people, so this is a lesson I think we can all learn.

Cold message

Cold messaging isn’t something only outliers do. I know a lot of us have tried cold messaging at one point or another. (And if you haven’t done it yet, it’s okay. It’s very easy).

The difference is that the ones who stand out will always confidently do it. If an outlier doesn’t know anyone that knows someone working at Google, they would start finding LinkedIn profiles of those that do and hit them up with a message.

On LinkedIn, they would send a message being pretty clear about their intentions. Keep it professional and honest. Depending on who you are messaging, your message will be entirely different (Hiring Manager versus a Software Engineer).

Generally, think about something along the lines of:

“Hi, I found your profile while browsing the page of [your company] on LinkedIn. I am [someone with this much experience] and I really want to work at [your company]. I have these [skills and experiences] and think I would be a good fit for the [position]. I would like to ask if there is an internal referral process at [your company] and if so, would you be willing to consider my profile as a potential candidate?

You can take a look at my other post where someone reached out to me regarding their interest in Ubisoft.

Build leverage via the cold message

One important thing I noticed these “outliers” doing is that they will usually build rapport by mentioning other companies that they have interviews with. They will put in something like:

”… I’m currently in the interview process with [other companies] but am really interested in an opportunity at [your company]

By mentioning the other companies that are already considering them as a potential candidate, it raises the other person’s interest and builds some rapport into the candidacy of their profile.

This works extremely well when you mention the company’s competitors, for obvious reasons.

Of course, you can’t do this if you don’t actually have any other interviews going on. So the steps would be like:

  1. Get the first interview process started with some company
  2. Mention that you have ongoing interviews with some company when you cold-message.
  3. Get more interviews going.
  4. Mention those other companies when you cold-message.
  5. Repeat as needed.

Hope this helps! Happy interviewing!

Until next week.