Leveraging LinkedIn: Jesse Friedman’s Job Search Success Story
We all know the importance of having a well-built LinkedIn page. But did you know that recruiters use LinkedIn to reach out to people who haven’t applied for jobs, but who seem to be a great fit for a position they’re looking to fill? On this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job, Jesse Friedman tells us why (and how) he was contacted for a job he didn’t even know about. Jesse also shares how to build a rich and fully-developed page on LinkedIn, and why it matters. Learn more about Jesse’s career history below in this installment of our Success Stories series.
Find Your Dream Job, Bonus Episode 61:
Leveraging LinkedIn: Jesse Friedman’s Job Search Success Story
Airdate: February 6, 2023
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.
I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.
One of the best ways to get good at job hunting is to talk to people who do it well.
That’s why once a month, I interview a Mac’s List reader who found a job they love.
Our guest today is Jesse Friedman. He’s the director of product marketing at Tremendous. It’s an online platform that allows organizations to pay people around the world.
Jesse Friedman believes in the power of LinkedIn.
In a story you can find on the Mac’s List website, Jesse says that his current employer found him using an AI bot.
Jesse credits his richly detailed LinkedIn profile with making this connection happen.
Why do you love your job, Jesse?
You know, I’m getting more done in less time than ever before in any other job I’ve had, and I think it’s, in large part, because we write a lot, we don’t meet a lot, and everyone just trust each other to get their job done, and they do it. So, it’s a very high-performing environment which is both fulfilling and also freeing.
You didn’t apply for this job, and in your article for us, you said the employer reached out to you. Tell us how that happened, Jesse.
Yeah, I mean, from my perspective, it was totally out of the blue. Now that I’ve, you know, been on the company’s side, I see what had happened. But from my perspective, I was at a job that, you know, was a pretty good job, but I had a few complaints. The company I was with was based in Australia, but there was also a lot of business in Europe, so I was being pulled on both ends of the calendars because also they were a very meeting-heavy culture, and I just felt like it was taking a long time to get things done. Too many people had to, you know, have their approvals and feel like they were involved even if, you know, other people were more of the subject matter experts.
But I wasn’t really eager to look for another job because I’d been through two pandemic job searches already. My wife was about four months pregnant with our second child. Not really the time or circumstance to look for something new. But then, all of a sudden, a few days after Christmas, I got this note; can’t even remember if it was an email or an inmail, whichever, that said, you know, we’d like to learn more about the work that you’ve done. You know, can we talk to you? And it seemed pretty genuine and interesting, and it turns out that I had heard about Tremendous before from a previous job that had actually been a customer of theirs.
So, I reached out, and the rest is history. It was a really great fit. I got the job offer within a week and a half of that initial email, which was incredibly fast, and I’ve been there almost a year now.
There are a lot of spam bots out there that send out emails making offers that sometimes can sound too good to be true. How did you know this was a legitimate offer? And how did the company come to contact you? What was it that made that connection happen?
Right. So, what I know now is that it was a bot from a company called Dover, I believe, which we don’t even use anymore. But it is so good, it even snared- one of our recruiters got recruited by a bot, and she didn’t recognize it either.
But a couple things about it that worked: one, it was sent in the name of the COO. So, I could look him up and be like, oh yeah, he’s legit. I looked up the CEO; it turned out that we had friends in common because I grew up in Oakland, he grew up in Berkley. So, there was enough legitimacy that I could derive from it. Plus, also, I was interested in something new. I was willing to take a risk that, you know, I have a good, you know, meter for this sort of thing, and if it really did look like it was junk, I would’ve just dropped it, but it was worth my time.
Also, it was over the holidays. I had nothing much else demanding my time. So, it was worth taking the risk.
Why did Tremendous contact you? What was it that made this connection happen through the bot?
So, from what I understand, and, first of all, we’re not even a hundred percent sure it was truly a bot. You know, a lot of these things that call themselves AI do tend to have some human interaction in the backend. But, anyway, what they probably were looking for was people with certain types of experience and job titles. Definitely having worked at particular companies; probably that bot would not have reached out to me if I did not have a long tenure at Google.
And that’s where, you know, my evangelism around a really good LinkedIn profile comes from. I have a lot of content in mine. I have hundreds of words talking about things I’ve done, accomplishments I’ve had, people I’ve worked with, links to all sorts of things that I’ve done, and that all gives, whether it’s a human or a bot, a lot more to go on to see, oh yeah, this person might have what we’re looking for.
How did you learn how to write your LinkedIn profile in that way? To make it so richly detailed?
I think a lot of it, well, first of all, it starts from resume writing, and anybody who’s looked for jobs has gone through the agony and ecstasy of that, and in fact, I’d even paid someone to write my resume for the prior job hunt. Simply because I recognized that, you know, I’m a marketer, I know how to use words. But, A, marketing yourself is the hardest thing ever, and B, it’s a very specific thing that you’re trying to accomplish, and there are practitioners who spend their whole life doing that. So, I would definitely, as an aside, I think, you know, the couple hundred dollars you spend on someone to work on your resume is likely worth it.
But that said, because this other person had worked on my resume, I had this energy freed up to, you know, try to translate what was on my resume to more LinkedIn, and I feel like that format suits me better. It can be a little more conversational. It’s a little more free-form. LinkedIn creates the structure, but you kind of get to fill it in with whatever you want. And so, I did a combination of kind of, you know, some free-form text, you know, sentences that began with I, and, you know, plenty of adjectives, and whatnot, and also some bullet points. Pointing to things I had done, accomplishments I had made, you know, whenever possible, throwing in numbers.
And the other thing with LinkedIn is, you can keep tweaking it, you know, a hundred times a day if you want to. Whereas with a resume it has a sense of finality when you send it out; that kind of ups the stakes at any given moment. It’s kind of like the difference between printing a book versus writing a blog post.
Once you had your LinkedIn profile set, how else did you use your page? Did you make any changes or publish articles or share content?
You know, I’ve only gotten into more heavily sharing this year, now that I’ve been at the job, and I’m on the other side of the table and recruiting. I don’t think- I could’ve done a lot more with it now that I see what I’ve done. But what I did do at the time was make it really rich. I included lots of links to things I’d done in the past.
And another thing I did is I solicited a lot of recommendations. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s unlimited, and, you know, hopefully, if you’ve had a decent career, you’ll have people who are more than happy to spend ten minutes writing something nice about you that you then get to approve and put on there. And so, I’d say, I think I even did get a few recommendations while I was at this other job still just, you know, as I was idly thinking about what might be next, and, you know, couldn’t have hurt, and definitely was easy, and plus it just makes you feel good to like reach out to someone you used to work with and have them say something nice about you.
Tremendous is a virtual company. You’re in Portland, and your coworkers are all around the world. What was it like going through a virtual application and interviewing process?
First of all, it was- compared to many other companies, it was just a lot more streamlined, partly because it’s just a smaller company. There’s fewer people to be involved, and at that point, my hiring manager was a co-founder, so it’s not like things had to go any farther up the chain. But also, a lot of the work of the interview process at Tremendous is almost like a working interview to test out whether it’s a good fit.
So, my interview had two different working parts. There was take home part where I kind of analyzed some stuff that they sent me and wrote a document in response to that. And then, there was a live session where they gave me a prompt that was based on the work I’d done, and, in fact, they set up a separate Slack channel just for that moment. So, I was able to pin the guys down who hired me, as well as a few other people, to ask questions as I went along.
And the whole point was to see, can I work in this, what we call, semi-asynchronous environment? Where a lot of the work is on your own reading and writing. But some of the work is real-time. But none of it is in person.
And so the interview process itself helped both me and the company grow confident that we could work together in this way.
You mentioned earlier that you were working in another position that you had joined recently and, earlier in your career, had been at Google. But you changed a couple of times- positions in the last four years. Why did you consider switching positions one more time?
I just hadn’t hit the right thing, you know. A lot of my time at Google had been really good. So, you know, I was there during what I would call the good old days when, you know, it was just relatively smaller and had all the perks that it’s famous for without as much of the anguish and the extreme scrutiny in the public eye. And nothing I had found brought me back to that sort of feeling of being, you know, feeling that I was really enjoying my job, enjoying my coworkers, you know, feeling invested in the decisions we were making, and I just knew, through talking to other people who have what I would consider better jobs, and just kind of what’s out there, that something better could be out there, and that’s why I was open to trying once more.
And, in fact, one of the pieces of feedback I got from my then-hiring manager was we were kind of surprised to see where you had ended up after Google. It didn’t seem like the right fit for somebody like you. Which, to me, was all the more validating of feeling that it was worth one more go at it.
What was the biggest concern of your hiring manager at Tremendous when considering your application?
In fact, I think it was that, does this guy really know himself? Like how could he have gone from, you know, being at Google in a real place of strength and growth and all of this to these companies that didn’t really seem like a great fit for his talent? And part of the answer was, you know, being the parent of a young child in the pandemic. I was, you know, kind of optimizing a little bit more for stability than I was for a perfect fit, and thankfully, he was able to understand that and give me a chance, and it really turned out to be the right fit.
Well, finally, Jesse, what’s your number one job-hunting tip?
Well, won’t surprise you based on what I said before, and also, it’s in my article. Make the most of your LinkedIn. It’s free. You can hack at it as much or as little as you want any given day. But it really is the place where, you know, an employer, it’s the first place they’re gonna look. So many of your colleagues are on there, past and present and, perhaps, future. And it’s a great canvas for showing off in text, with links, with images, and also with whatever thoughts you want to share, who you are. And, you know, the extra bits that you can have there, such as recommendations, you can present a really rich idea of who you are and what you can offer.
And along with that, whenever you’re talking to someone about yourself, put your links to your LinkedIn there. Put it in the footer of your email. If you’re in a chat on Slack or some other social media with somebody, make it as easy as possible for someone to find their way to your LinkedIn, especially if you have a common name, and it would be very hard for them to find you otherwise.
As a hiring manager, I’m surprised by how many people get in touch with me but make me do the work of even finding the basics of who they are. I mean, also include the resume if you’ve got it, too. Just make it as easy as possible. But I still think that LinkedIn is, you know, the easiest, most commonly accepted, and, frankly, richest way to show who you are.
Well, thank you for sharing your story, Jesse. To learn more about Jesse Friedman’s job search, visit macslist.org/stories.
And check out the Mac’s List website for dozens of other success stories.
On the second Friday of every month, we add a new interview with a Mac’s List reader who has found a dream job. Go to macslist.org/stories.
In the meantime, thank you for listening to today’s bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job.
This show is produced by Mac’s List.
Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.
Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.
This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.