So you want a job, like… really bad?

Whether you are looking for a change or looking for a first job position, we can all agree that looking for a job is a pain. There are too many/few offers, nobody replies or you always end up not being hired. Luckily, job search can be optimized and I have some hacks for you! What about jobs coming to you instead of you having to look for them?

Job search is like dating: it’s all a matter of perception. Taking advantage of that by being everywhere recruiters go is a must-do. That means your personal branding plays a huge role in yreour quest for a job.

This blog post features many of my proven job search growth hacking techniques as well as a case study of Mateo De La Vega, a friend of mine who used online ads to land his dream internship.

Let’s get to it!


1. Know what you want & hustle

This might seem elementary but I’m always shocked at the number of person who just look for a “job in their industry”. That’s too vague. You’ll want to be more precise and have a mid- and long-term vision of where you see yourself in a few years.

As my dad who is an executive coach puts it, a job that’s optimal for you is a combination of three things:

  • Motivates you: is a set of activities you love doing
  • Is in demand: companies are ready to pay the high price for it
  • Is something you excel at

The Hedgehog concept

Now that you know what you want to do as a job, you should also question yourself in what kind of company you’d like to do it. A big company that offers a lot of benefits? A hip startup? An agency? Or maybe you’ll realize you should just sell your services…

For the new graduates out there (and the not-so graduates), I highly recommend the Recession Proof Graduate (free) audiobook by Charlie Hoehn. Basic concepts in there are finding a mentor/star in your industry who will take you under his wing while you volunteer for them aka hustle.

That’s actually what I did when I interned at Now In Store for Charles Brun right after my bachelor’s degree. That’s during that experience I first came in contact with Growth Hacking and more generally about lead generation, Saas (software as a service) and when I started to get involved with MTL+ECOMMERCE. If you chose this path, the rest of this articles is still very relevant for you!


2. Create & grow your brand: the basics

I’m a huge fan and believer in Personal Branding if you haven’t noticed. I have already talked about this at large during a podcast episode and in my blog posts if you’re interested in the topic.

Without stating the obvious, here are key elements of your brand:

  • A personal website where you blog
  • An up-to-date LinkedIn profile
  • An up-to-date Twitter profile (here is how to grow it)
  • Have a resume that fits with your personal brand and where you focus and achievements. If you’re targeting different jobs, adapt it to have different versions. Great resources to build an online resume here (+ tools).
  • Have a cover letter structure you will adapt to the job & company you’re applying at: focus on what you can do for them
  • Make sure you have unique picture of you on you different professional platforms
  • Creating a logo and identity (I use mine on my website, business cards, resume, emails, etc.)
  • Having a branded email signature

If you’re not sure you’re all set, start there!


3. Find Job Offers & Stay Alert(ed)

Now that you know what you are looking for, it’s time you set notifications for jobs types you’re interested in. There are a few ways you can set those up:

  • Google Alerts let you create alerts based on specific terms that send you alerts via email as soon as they’re triggered. Be smart and set up some alerts for job titles or even companies you want, and why not your name!

Google Alert Job

  • Job alerts websites are also a go-to for alerts. Many websites will allow you to create tailored alerts based on job titles & companies.
  • Some Facebook Groups are also made for recruiters to post job offers. For instance, I created a Facebook group for Ecommerce jobs offers in Montreal.
  • Twitter accounts specialize in job offers, here is one for Growth Hackers. Just follow them and activate notifications to get notified when they post.
  • Your local communities/events will also have a jobs page you can check like we did for MTL+ECOMMERCE for Ecommerce Jobs in Montreal.
  • Be sure to let your network know you’re looking for a job!
  • LinkedIn has a nifty “job search feature” that recommends jobs based on your experience, interests and location. It also allows you to search LinkedIn jobs database, check it out!


4. Get LinkedIn Premium – Job Seeker (30 days free)

Speaking about LinkedIn, one if its premium plan is made for job seekers like you. It’s free for 30 days and allows you to unlock powerful features like:

  • Full search options & filters
  • Get access to InMail (LinkedIn’s internal messaging feature)
  • See who checked your profile
  • Keyword suggestions
  • And much more


5. Uncover the “hidden” job market & take shortcuts

Did you know that most (60%) job offers are unadvertised? Hopefully, there are many to crack this “hidden” job market and take shortcuts. You could even “create” your job.

  • Activate your network and let them know you’re on the market. You don’t want to put the classic “Looking for new opportunities” on your LinkedIn profile but talk openly about it. Explore your LinkedIn connections and ask the relevant people if they are hiring or if they know someone who is.
  • Network & build new connections. Chances are meetup about your industry and even your job position happen every month in your city. Check and Eventbrite to find your tribe. You will get to meet people who not only are relevant for you but might know someone who knows someone… If they’re open to it, volunteer as this will give you more visibility and credibility!
  • Reach out to companies you’d like to work at. Since you know for which companies you want to work, reach out to them. What better way of proving your motivation? When it comes to how to do it, most of the classic outreach guidelines still apply.

Going through this approach has much more benefits than just uncovering the “hidden” job market, it will also significantly ease the recruitment process for you and the recruiter, especially if you get referred. Heck, you could even create your position if you have a connection that works at the company you target like it happened for me at Yellow Pages. One 30-minutes informal interview and I was hired, talk about taking shortcuts!


6. Email smart with mail merge

Rather than sending your resume & cover letter one by one to each prospect recruiter, automate it with a mail merge! A mail merge speeds up the process of sending mass personalized emails while using your Gmail or Outlook. It’s composed of:

  • A standard text and subject line where you will put placeholders that will be filled dynamically for each recipient.
  • An excel spreadsheet where you’ll have one column for each personalized placeholder (including email) you want to include, each row being one recipient. This is where you’ll spend the most time.
  • An email client like Gmail or Outlook.

When you hit send, an email for each contact will be prepared with each row’s information and they will think you wrote it a mano. In the case of a job search, you’ll want to include the company’s name, the position you’re applying for, an intro paragraph for this specific company. You might also want to include personalized attachments to your emails such as your resume and cover letter.

A great chrome extension if you use Gmail is Yet Another Mail Merge which free version will allow you to send 50 emails per day. Here is how the full guide on how to use it!

Here again, emailing and outreach basic principles apply. A trick to easily link find email addresses the classic way.

If you’re hardcore, you could try to message your target recruiters on Facebook messenger or other messaging platforms.


7. Run some smart ads on a budget

Time to get serious and run some ads promoting yourself. It’s a) cheap b) insanely effective. Think about it: it proves your future employer that you’re a hustler and it’s a way to train with online ads if you’re not familiar with them!

To run such ads, I’d recommend three platforms:

  • Facebook ads: you will have to pay but it’s worth it!
  • Google AdWords: you can get 75$ of free ad budget if you spend 25$ (info here)
  • LinkedIn: you can get 50$ of free advertising here

I would recommend those 3 strategies:

  • Target audience, few ideas
    • By keywords on Adwords
    • By interests or job title on Facebook
    • By HRs our your future boss’ name so that when they google their name (everybody does), you’ll be there!
  • Custom audiences. Remember back in paragraph #6 when you gathered emails of prospect recruiters? Well, you can also use them to target recruiters
    • directly in Facebook (20 emails minimum)
    • AdWords has the same feature but sadly there’s a minimum of 1000 email addresses, so you won’t be able to use it. Unless…
  • Retargeting your visitors (Facebook & Google AdWords) can amplify the reach of your campaign since people who visited your website will see you everywhere they go! For this you will have to place Facebook and Google pixels (code) on your website and set up retargeting ads on both platforms.

Now let’s see this in practice with Mateo De La Vega. We met in 2011 at HEC Montréal (and even played in the same music band) I can safely say we’re both deep into Marketing. Even if Mateo chose to work in digital agencies, he is a true pirate and proved it by how he got his first internship after graduating. He built a website and ran some ads featuring, well… himself. Be like Mateo, be smart. Let’ jump into it!


Case study: Enter Mateo

During my last year at HEC Montreal, I decided to specialize in digital marketing. In order to learn the basics of website programming, I easily created the website (french) which would be the french equivalent of in English. I used Squarespace and my website was ready a few hours of drag-and-drop, HTML and copywriting.

To qualify for the jobs I was targeting, I passed the Google Adwords and Google Analytics Certifications. Since I had learned the basic theory, I wanted to attempt launching my own campaign with a budget of 50$ over 2 days, and why not get a job!

My objective was to get noticed by the Montreal agencies I was interested in. To do so I created an Adwords campaign targeting the agencies names. This allowed me talk to them directly with a personalized ad in 1st position (before the agencies websites). This is what it looked like if you typed the name of any agency I was targeting in Google.

Advertising cossette touché adviso

In order to increase the reach of my AdWords campaign, I created a campaign on Facebook and Instagram, targeting by employer and by job title.


Finally, I retargeted all my website visitors with the Facebook and Instagram campaign and with a Display campaign.

The results were better than I expected. Less than an hour after launching the campaign, two people from iPropspect contacted me to talk about a potential offer. Two weeks after that I was offered and ultimately accepted a six-month internship in digital marketing there.

As I like to say “Always think outside the box… but remember once in a while to think inside the box”, happy job search hacking!


Job search can and should be hacked. In fact, once you realize the proportion that represents the “hidden” market and how to batch your applications while making an impression with personal branding and ads it becomes way less terrifying!

Here are the tactics we saw:

  • Make sure you know what you want to be able to target effectively
  • Take care of your brand, it’ll increase your chances
  • Know where to look & stay in the know
  • Use LinkedIn to its full potential
  • Uncover the “hidden” job market
  • Batch-apply to jobs with personalized mail merge emails
  • Run some ads for cheap
  • Mateo’s success story with a personal website & online ads

Job interviews might be the topic of another blog post. In the meantime, make sure you ace them by researching the company & interviewer with Charlieapp.

What techniques have you used to find your dream job?


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