How To Land A Job Before It Gets Posted

So many job positions get filled before a posting ever goes up. Here’s how to get yourself into that racket.

How To Land A Job Before It Gets Posted
[Image: Flickr user Paul Hart]

I went to work for a startup where the job I took was never posted,” John Gannon writes at the Daily Muse. “I interviewed with the CEO of one of the most successful open source software startups–for a job that didn’t technically exist yet.”


How does such surreptitious serendipity happen?

Because there’s a “hidden startup job market,” Gannon says. From what we can surmise, this is the result of two conflating factors: friends hiring friends is the norm and the roles within startups are constantly emerging. The hustling jobseeker, then, finds ways to get close to those rapidly growing companies.

To do that, we’ll need to follow Gannon’s advice on how to get the scoop get in good with the folks that are getting big.

1. Know where the money is moving

Hiring people costs money. Startups don’t have much–unless they’re flush from a fresh round of financing. As Gannon says, if you spot a startup that’s raised money you can safely assume that they’re going to be bringing people aboard.

But knowing who’s getting money doesn’t require you to be tethered to every tech blog (though you should be to Fast Company, natch) looking to find who landed a Series A. Like many endeavors, you can automate that labor away: Gannon’s set up a Twitter bot and an RSS feed to round up the news in funding. Which you can subsequently jump on.

2. Get to know who’s getting the funding

As we said above, people hire people they know. The task, then, is knowing the right people. We don’t need to call it “networking“; let’s go with “relationship building.”


How, then, do we form bonds with some of the most insanely busy people in the world–venture capitalists and the entrepreneurs that love them? A few ideas:

3. Show the breadth and depth of your strengths

People in startups tend to wear many hats, for there will be naturally more needs than fit inside the confines of a job description. So you need to show expertise as well as flexibility. As Gannon says:

Maybe you’re a salesperson who recently ran some successful marketing programs. Or you’re a developer who has lots of experience evangelizing platforms. Show that off, and share how you could chip in across all different areas of the business.

This broad-and-deep tension isn’t only in the startup world. Valve, the epically successful game company, looks to hire “T-shaped” people. As they say in their employee handbook, they want you to be a generalist (“highly skilled in a broad set of valuable things”) and an expert (“among the best in their field in a narrow discipline”).

If you fit them to a T, as it were, it will be because they see that you can contribute to lots of different projects in a few different ways. At least that’s how hyper-successful, happiness-optimized companies like GitHub do it.

Add that to the list of reasons to keep feeding your brain new experiences.

Hat tip: the Daily Muse


About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.