How to Outsource your Job Hunt using Virtual Assistants

so that you can focus on writing cover letters, filling out applications, and working a full time job…

The other day someone asked me “I have a full time job, and looking for a new job is a very time consuming process. How do you suggest that I handle looking for a job while working full time?”

My suggestion to her? Outsource it.

People often say “looking for a job is a full time job”, and that shouldn’t be the case. It doesn’t have to be this painful of a process.

While businesses and solopreneurs often leverage outsourcing and Virtual Assistants, I rarely see an individual use a VA to make their life easier and free up their time.

If you have the money for it, why not send your easy but tedious work to someone else? Outsourcing the tedious research gives you more time to focus on things like cover letters and answering application questions/challenges.

By outsourcing the work you don’t enjoy you can focus on doing what matters most to land a job. You also have a higher likelihood of generating several offers, that way you’re not only finding A job, but the RIGHT job. I think it’s worth the investment.

With that in mind, I am going to detail exactly how you can outsource your job hunt. Try to think of what I outline as a buffet, where you can pick and choose what you want and ditch the rest.

The principles used to outsource a job have many applications, so I encourage you think of how this can apply to your life, even if you’re not looking for a job.

Before we get started, a few caveats…

Costs: I suggest starting out small to get an idea of how long the task takes before you dive deep and spend a bunch of money. Get a feel for assigning small research tasks and then build upwards from there. Once you understand how long a task takes, you can spend more once they have the process down. I went a bit overboard to show that even if you go crazy you still won’t spend as much as you think.

Detailed instructions: People often ask me about communication barriers and how good the English is of the assistants you will be working with. From my experience, I’ve found that as long as I’m thorough in explaining the task and clearly describe exactly what I want them to do, it goes well. When there is an issue, it’s usually because I didn’t describe the task properly. These are also great lessons in effective management and setting clear expectations.

Ever see the video of the dad following instructions from his kids for how to make a PBJ? If you write instructions like that, you will get the frustration of his children.

This is long: Feel free to skim wherever needed, especially over the long email snippets. Feel free to give this a quick pass to understand the underlying principles first, and then go back once you actually begin implementing these processes.

Step 1: Finding the right Virtual Assistant

If you’re new to working with Virtual Assistants and haven’t ever gone through the process before, don’t worry. Here are some websites that I have used successfully and I personally recommend.

My personal favorite: Supahands — They are a young company, backed by 500 Startups, based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. They have excellent communication, and are very flexible with requests that seem outlandish. I have been using them for the last six months and they are better than anyone I’ve ever used. You normally have to commit to 100 hours upfront ($700 or so), so I recommend using them once you know you have enough work for them to do for you.

Habiliss — I love the pricing flexibility of Habiliss, because they allow for you to pay per task, rather than on a project basis. For less than $100 you can get 10 hours of work. I used them for a long time and they were my go-to before discovering Supahands.

Here are some others you can use as well:

http://blog.hubstaff.com/virtual-assistant-companies-in-india/

http://tim.blog/4-hour-workweek-tools/ (search the page for “virtual assistant” or scroll down to chapter 8)

Step 2) Finding the right companies

One of the most time consuming parts of finding a job is discovering new companies. If I were to look for a job right now, I could list 5–10 companies I would work for, but if I were to dig around, that list would expand quickly.

I can dig around on my own for endless hours, but the question is, do I really want to take the time to research all of these on my own? How many times can you type “Top 10 _________ Companies” and copy paste into a spreadsheet before you feel like shooting yourself in the face? Looking for interesting companies to work with is easy, but it takes a ton of time.

So what can we do instead? Send the grunt work to someone else!

Here’s how I would do it.

Example email :

“I’m looking for a job and would appreciate your assistance researching a handful of companies for me. Below I will outline some categories and processes to follow for creating a spreadsheet of company names and information. Please let me know if you have any questions before you get started.

Please create a list of 25 companies in New York, NY in each of the following categories:

1) Alternative Education + Education-Technology (Ed-Tech)

Online learning or E-Learning platforms

Alternative learning/education

Ed-Tech of all kinds!

For example, I recently discovered the word “democratic schools”. I had no idea these existed and didn’t know to search for these 10 days ago. Do some digging to see if there are other approaches to learning you might be ignorant of. Try to find keywords like democratic schools, and then put them in here accordingly.

2) Clean Water and Water Availability — Companies that are helping people obtain access to clean drinking water. New technologies for cleaning water and making it drinkable. I already know of Charitywater and water.org. Companies like this are interesting to me.

3) Agricultural Technology and Ag-Tech — I don’t know anything about this, but I like the idea of agricultural technology to improve other people’s lives.

4) Medical Technology and Med-Tech — Medical devices, wearable technology aimed at improving health (I wear a fitbit, I like this stuff!), Innovative medical technologies.

5) Impact Investing — What are some Impact Investment firms that are in the NYC area? Not only would I like to work with one of these firms, but we can find new companies by looking at the companies that they have invested in 😉 (to do this, make sure that you click on their “portfolio” or dig around to see if you can find any of their companies).

For each company, provide me with the following information:

1) Company description

2) Funding information — How much money have they raised? You can use websites like crunchbase.com for this information.

3) Careers page from the website — copy/paste the URL into the spreadsheet

4) Founder information? Who started the company? What is their background? You can usually pull this information off of Angel List or crunchbase if they are on there.

Please compile all of this information into a spreadsheet and let me know when you have finished. To get you started, I have created a sample spreadsheet with the format that I would like to see. You can find this ***(here)***

Please start out with 5 companies and tell me when you have finished so I can let you know if you are on the right track. I can review and we can tweak accordingly depending on what is going right/wrong.

Note: Please be thorough in your research and do some digging. If you’re struggling to find new organizations, spend some time digging around to find interesting companies. The more thorough you are, and the more time you spend understanding what I am looking for, the less back and forth we will have.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions and I’m happy to help.”

_________

Keep in mind that the less digging you have done on your own, and the more broad you are in what you ask, the more time it will take them to do the research, and the more money you will spend. If you don’t know what you want yourself, it’s hard for them to know what you want. As a general rule of thumb with VA’s, the more specific you can be, the more guesswork and confusion you remove from the equation.

I was very broad due to my lack of industry knowledge, but sometimes there are others who are very specific about what they need/are looking for. If you know what you want, be detailed in your criteria.

What do you look for in a company? Is it team size? Cool founders? Cool mission? The more you detail your criteria and thought process for how you evaluate a company, the better off you will be.

For example you could say, “Find me companies using 3D printing for medical purposes, in NYC, who are seed funded, have teams of 5–25 people, and are looking for a sales manager or similar role.”

As they do their initial research you might also learn more about what you want, and you can expand in certain areas. For example in Ag-Tech you might discover “Drip Technology” and be like “ooooh I want more companies like this!!!”

Estimated costs: Using Angelist, 1 company = 5 minutes * 125 companies = 625 minutes = ~10.4 hours x $7/hour = ~$73 for a list of 125 companies…not a bad deal eh?!

***Basing this off Supahands rate of ~$7/hour

Step 3) JD’s first, Companies After

Don’t care about the company mission and want to find a list of companies hiring for your role? This works too.

Easiest way to do this is to 1) Provide them with a list of websites to search for jobs on and 2) Tell them the title/type of position that you are looking for. They can then use this information to create a spreadsheet of opportunities for you.

Here’s a list of the most common websites that you can use:

1) Linkedin

2) Indeed

3) Monster

4) Career Builder

5) Glassdoor

Some lesser-known (but awesome) job websites

1) Angel List

2) Career Sushi

3) The Muse

4) Hired.com

5) Ziprecruiter.com

I recommend going through the Search/Bookmark jobs process by yourself to get some familiarity with these websites so that you can better explain to your VA what you would like for them to do. Different websites will have similar but different ways of finding a JD and then pasting the URL into a spreadsheet. Doing the first few on your own from each website will also provide them with the guidance that they need to make sure that they do it correctly. (If you can take a video of the process, even better).

For example, on linkedin in order to get the UID for the position, you will need to chop off most of the URL you have in your browser. Instead of something like this: (https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/199643876?trkInfo=searchKeywordString%3ASales%2CsearchLocationString%3A%252C%2BGreater%2BNew%2BYork%2BCity%2BArea%2Cvertical%3Ajobs%2CpageNum%3A1%2Cposition%3A3%2CMSRPsearchId%3A15084922_1475045838145&refId=15084922_1475045838145&trk=jobs_jserp_job_listing_text), all you really need is this: https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/199643876.

Some websites also offer more/less flexibility in your search depending on what you’re looking for. For example on linkedin you can search by Industry or Experience Level, on Career Builder you can search by pay range, and on Angel List you can search by company size, funding status, and when they were last active. If any of these aspects help you to narrow down your search, tell this to the VA so that they can isolate the right type of companies, or make sure that they copy this information into your spreadsheet to help you make the right decision.

Example email :

I am currently looking for a Sales job in New York City, and need help compiling a list of open positions relevant to what I am looking for. Please go through the following websites and create a list of available opportunities, and compile it into a spreadsheet for me.

In the spreadsheet I would like to see the following:

1) Name of the company

2) Website

3) Title of Position

4) Link to the position

I have started a sample spreadsheet you can find ***here***, with a few examples from each website. This should help you get started with the format that I would like to see.

Here is the list of websites I would like for you to use in your search. On all of these websites, search for “Sales Manager, Sales, Account Executive, Account Manager”, and other similar jobs in New York and copy down the top 50 positions that you see.

1) Linkedin

2) Indeed

3) Monster

4) Career Builder

5) Glassdoor

6) Angel List

7) Career Sushi

8) The Muse

9) Hired.com

10) Ziprecruiter.com

Please start out with 5 job descriptions and I will let you know if you’re on the right track. From here we can evaluate and see if we continue to do things as started, or change it up based on what I’m seeing.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to ask.

_______

Keep in mind that this was a very broad description of the types of positions that I am looking for. If you have more clarity around what you are looking for (including the type of companies you are/are not interested in), detail as much as you humanly can. This is meant to give you an idea and how to get started, more-so than a full proof template meant to send straight away. The more personalized you can make this, the better.

Estimated Costs: 1 position = 2 minutes* 500 (50 jobs x 10 websites) = 1000 mins = ~$116 for a list of nearly 500 jobs delivered to your doorstep

Step 4) Combining the Above Two Approaches:

Many people I speak with already have clarity around 1) The type of company they want to work with and 2) The type of role they are looking for. If this is the case, I fully encourage you to combine the first two approaches and tell your VA to create a list of companies that fit the criteria of both the type of company and the role they have available.

If this is the case, I think that starting from #2 is much more effective. First, get the list of companies, and then delete the ones that aren’t interesting to you. This is the more effective way to find the companies that are looking for people like you, and have the right type of focus.

However, I’ve seen people have success with reaching out to companies and pitching themselves. Although the company might not be hiring, you can still get your foot in the door by hustling and reaching out to the right people. Don’t be discouraged from applying to a company just because they aren’t hiring right now, throw yourself into the applicant pool and they might reach out to you one day in the future when a new opportunity opens up.

Step 5) Get your VA to apply for you.

Regardless of the technique you used above, at this point you should now have a spreadsheet with a list of positions that are suitable for you to apply to.

This is where the time consuming part comes in — creating a profile on these websites and applying, or applying individually to each of these roles.

Provide them with your resume and linkedin account, and have them create an account for you on each of these websites. Once you have created an account, you can have them apply for you.

If you already have an account on any/all of these websites, provide them with your login details so that they can access the job boards for you. If your resume/profile needs updating, tell them what needs to be updated so that they can edit it accordingly.

Given the professional nature of the job search, I always recommend you check through their work afterwards to make sure that they didn’t mess anything up.

Example Email:

I would like for you to create a profile on a variety of careers websites (outlined below), upload my resume, and update my profile.

1) Linkedin

2) Indeed

3) Monster

4) Career Builder

5) Glassdoor

6) Angel List

7) Career Sushi

8) The Muse

9) Hired.com

10) Ziprecruiter.com

I already have an account on Linkedin, Indeed, Monster, and Career Builder. The login details for these websites are as follows:

troy@helloworld.com

password: ************

For the websites that I don’t have an account already, I would like for you to create an account for me, and then fill in the profile information with my previous work experience. I have attached my up to date resume, and my linkedin profile can be found ***here***. Using this information, fill in aspects of the profile wherever necessary. If you have any questions throughout the process or need any additional information, please don’t hesitate to ask me and I’m happy to help.

In some instances, these websites will have an optional text box where you can input answers to questions like “Why are you a good fit for this job”. Ex) Angel List has a box that says “Optional — Note to company”. I suggest that you write out a canned response for these types of questions that can be applied to any of the companies.

If you prefer to write this on your own for each role, I suggest that you answer the following questions to make your profile stand out 1) Why am I interested in your company? 2) Why am I a good fit for this role?

Depending on what you have done in the earlier stages of this process, this can be easy or difficult to templatize. If you are mission focused, it will be much easier because if you have 10 companies working on solar technology, your reasons for applying to each of them are probably the same. In either case, focus on your skills and what you can contribute to the company. It’s great to have passion, but companies want to see your results.

A note on providing login credentials: People often express concern about providing passwords and other sensitive information to a Virtual Assistant. You shouldn’t be concerned. These are firms that specialize in helping people like yourself. If the VA’s were going around selling your passwords and data to people, the firm wouldn’t be in business very long. Don’t worry, you will be fine. I have been doing this for years and I’ve never had any issues, nor has anyone else that I know.

Estimated Costs: 20 mins per job board = 200 mins = ~$24

Step 6) Finding 5 people from each organization:

Now we’re getting into my personal favorite part of the hunt ☺

Part 1:

A great way to get your foot in the door of any organization is to directly reach out to the Founders/Hiring managers. We’re going to have the VA find 5 people from each organization, add them on linkedin, crack their email, and put their information into a spreadsheet for your use (I usually start with 5, but you can get as many contacts as you would like to). After they finish with the spreadsheet, they will then email all of these people using a tool called Streak.

I use this technique in everything from finding candidates, to finding companies to recruit from, to connecting with people of influence that seem interesting. This is an amazing way to connect with insanely high volumes of people without spending hours scouring through linkedin and finding the relevant people.

Sample Email:

Now that we have a list of companies I am interested in applying to, I would like to find ways to connect with people who currently work at these organizations.

Here’s the list of companies I would like to target:

(insert companies)

Using linkedin, I would like for you to find 5 points of contact from each of these organizations. Ideally, I would like for you to find 1–2 Founders, 1–2 Hiring Managers, and then people who currently work there that are in Senior Level Sales positions. Please create a spreadsheet with the names of these people (First name and last name in separate columns), their current title, a link to their linkedin profile, and their email address.

For finding their email address, I would like for you to use a program called “SellHack”. I have uploaded 150 credits onto this website, which should provide us with around 150 contacts. Only include email addresses that come back with over 80% confidence. If the email returned is less than this, please leave the cell blank.

For the remainder of email addresses, please use websites listed in this article: http://www.yesware.com/blog/find-email-addresses/

I would also like for you to add all of these people on linkedin when you find them. When you do the search, simply click “connect” on the right-hand side of the person’s listing. You shouldn’t need to send a message to these people.

Part 2:

Monitoring linkedin:

A big part of the Linkedin approach is to make sure that you monitor who has added you back, and then send them messages after they have connected with you. Once someone has added you, you can also pull their email address from their profile and email them your CV/Cover letter.

Once again, we’re going to have a VA handle this time consuming process.

Sample email:

Since you have been adding people on linkedin for me, I would like for you to login to my linkedin account every day, and see who has added me back. You can do this by clicking on “my network” on the top navigation bar. From there you will click the number of connections that I have in the top left. You will then see the people who have recently added me. After that please go to their profile, click on the “contact info” tab, and copy down their email address into the spreadsheet we have created above.

_______________

STREAK:

This is personally my favorite tool that I have ever used. It’s a CRM built into your Gmail that allows you to upload a spreadsheet of leads, creating a brand new sales funnel. You can then use their “mail merge” feature to send personalized emails, and track the stage of each conversation in the same way that you would use SalesForce.

Have your VA upload the spreadsheet of contacts you have created from the last exercise into Streak, and then write out an email template you would like to send. This email can act in the same way that a cover letter does. It should explain why you’re interested in the company, why you believe you would be a good fit for their organization, and what makes you unique. My recommendation is to keep it short and concise. The more concise your message is, the more powerful it will be (maybe I should take this lesson as I write a blog post that’s entirely too long :P).

Having said this, here are some resources that should help you out…

https://80000hours.org/articles/email-scripts/

And here is an awesome story of a girl who has done this incredibly well.

Once you have crafted your email, use the mail-merge feature and blast that shit out. I recommend doing 50 at a time (max) so that you don’t set off spam filters and you make sure that people actually receive your emails. This also allows for you to A/B test messaging (if you would like) and experiment with different subject lines, different emails, different resumes, etc.

Once the email has been sent out, Streak has a great feature known as “Snooze”. Go to your sent folder, select all of the emails you have send out, and snooze them for one week.

Measure Your Response:

At this point you have compiled a list of companies and positions you’re interested in, applied to the ones you liked best, reached out to hiring managers through linkedin, and sent emails to the people you wanted to connect with. You should be getting responses to the positions you have applied to and the emails that you have sent out. If you haven’t, examine your messaging and see where you might be able to switch up your approach.

Follow-Up:

When the snoozed emails have come back into your inbox, this means that people didn’t reply, and it’s time to follow up with them. My follow-up email usually looks something like this.

“Hope all is well since my previous email. I wanted to follow up and see how we might be able to take this conversation forwards.

Working with (insert company) has always been a dream of mine, and if you could kindly take the time to speak with me it would mean the world to me. I know that I can deliver a lot of value to your organization and I believe that if given the right opportunity, I will contribute for years to come.

I understand you are very busy and might not get the time to reply, but any feedback is appreciated and I hope we can connect soon.

Best,

Troy”

Feel free to pepper in a more thorough follow-up that expresses how you’re incredibly interested in their organization and would appreciate a 5 minute call to show them why you’re awesome. Feel free to get as creative as you would like to here.

I usually only follow up once. If the company hasn’t responded by then, your tactics probably aren’t working. Any additional emails and you’re now risking becoming annoying and can hurt future chances at applying through different channels.

Estimated Costs: 100 Companies x 5 people = 500 connections = 2 min to find profile + 2 min per email address = 4000 mins = ~$466

Follow up emails (400 emails) — 30 seconds/email = 200 mins = ~$25

Now, I understand this part of the process might seem a bit expensive, but keep in mind you’re paying $500 to have someone handle your entire job search for you. Think about how much time you save if you were to try and do this on your own. This is literally MONTHS of work if you did this alone while working a full time job. You also don’t have to add as many companies that I did in this exercise, you can bite off less and test the results of your experiments.

Talking to people in the organization:

Assuming that you’re now in the interview process and things are going well, the best way to find out what a day in the life is like at that company, is to reach out to people who currently work there. Similarly to how we found Founders/Hiring managers on linkedin, we’re going to do the same thing but for people who already work there. Ask your VA to find 10 people from the company, crack their email, and put it into a spreadsheet so that you can reach out to them.

You should also have your VA add people on linkedin who currently work at that organization. Now that we already have the VA monitoring linkedin to see who has added you back, as people add you, you’re going to message them on linkedin and send them an email.

The email/linkedin message should be something along the lines of

“My name is Troy Erstling, and I am currently interviewing for a Sales Manager role at (insert company). Given that you currently work there, I’d like to better understand your experience, and if you would be willing to provide me with any feedback on what a day in the life looks like. If you could kindly take the time to speak with me for 30 minutes, I would sincerely appreciate it. Thanks for your time, and I look forward to speaking soon.”

People are generally receptive to these emails, especially if they genuinely enjoy working there.

Some tools I recommend for scheduling calls with people and avoiding back and forth:

Calendly, Youcanbook.me, Amy (x.ai)

Estimated Costs — 10 people — 2 min per email — 20 mins — $3

General Tips:

Searching for a Job Through Personal Networks:

The most popular way to find a job is still through personal networks and referrals. I know that many of my friends have found the job they are currently at through a friend, family member, or 2nd degree connection of some kind. It’s a tried and true method, and when a friend recommends you to a boss, you’re already pre-vetted. Companies still report that the most popular form of recruitment is through referrals, and I know it’s how I’ve personally hired every one of my team members.

Although this might seem like it requires a personal touch, I believe there are simple tactics you can use to not waste time and get things done quickly.

Step 1: Make a spreadsheet of people who you believe can help you in your hunt

Step 2: Upload that spreadsheet into Streak

Step 3: Craft an email about your current job search

Step 4: Mail merge the email to everyone

Step 5: Monitor/track conversations

Step 6: Follow up as needed.

This isn’t outsourcing here, but this method will save you a lot of time. After speaking with friends and asking them how they search for a job, they all said that they reach out to people individually, and although it’s through personal networks, it’s still a time consuming process/hustle. Moreover, monitoring who has/hasn’t responded to you is a painful process, and using a simple free CRM like Streak helps you to stay organized and make sure you follow up with the right people and give them an extra nudge as necessary.

Working with recruiters — why do the research on what recruiters work with your skill set? Get them to do it! Tell them, “Find me the top 10 recruiting agencies in New York that can find me {insert job title} jobs. Create a spreadsheet with the name of the company, link to their website, and contact information wherever possible. If they have the ability to on the website, create a profile with my information, and send them my resume.”

To build on this process, once you have the list of recruitment agencies, you can use the linkedin techniques mentioned earlier to find individual recruiters from these companies, and reach out to them to let them know that you’re actively looking for a new job. Recruiters love receiving CV’s of actively searching applicants, and they will welcome you with open arms.

Researching investment firms and looking at their portfolio companies:

As a part of the initial discovery process, this is a great way to discover new companies you might be interested in working with. Andreesen Horowitz, Sequoia, Y-Combinator, 500 Startups, and a lot of the prominent VC firms/incubators/accelerators all list of the companies that they have invested in. This is a phenomenal way to discover new interesting companies that are rapidly growing and looking for talent.

Glassdoor reviews

Once you have a list of companies you’re interested in, get the VA to do research on what people have to say about their experience working there. Although a company might appear great on the surface, you can often uncover some scary information about work-life at the company that will deter you from applying. Get the VA to do some research on companies and pull out positive and negative reviews so that you can make an educated decision on if you would like to actually work there.

A/B Testing Your Resume/Cover Letter

Given that you are applying in volumes, it makes sense to test out your resume and see which one works best. I typically suggest going with one resume that has some design to it, and another basic one. You can experiment with which resumes get you the best response, and if you find that one is working better than the other, update all of your profiles accordingly.

Same thing goes for your cover letter and emails that you are sending out. Experimenting with different subject lines, content in the email, etc, can help you to uncover the ways to paint yourself in the best light possible.

If you really want to get serious about this, it’s a great technique to find 50 companies you aren’t interested in working with, and test out your resume/emails before applying to the companies you are very serious about. This is a fantastic way to isolate what works best before reaching out to a company you would truly love to work with. Messaging and painting yourself in the best light possible is incredibly important, don’t prematurely reach out to your dream job if you haven’t isolated what works best for you.

_________

Conclusion: So what’s all of this going to cost me?!?!

Grant Total Costs and Expenditures: ~$700-$1000 depending on the virtual assistant you use and how overboard you go.

Considering that the average job hunt takes 7 months, if you can cut your time down to 1–3 months it’s well worth the money, because you will reduce the amount of time in-between paychecks or that awkward transition phase. I understand that these techniques aren’t for everyone, but if implemented properly can make a world of difference.

________

That’s all! I hope that this outline helps you to save time in your job hunt, and enables you to live a happier, more productive life, that takes some of the stress out of the job hunt. Looking for a job is a time consuming process, but by investing some money in the right places, you can be much more methodical in your approach, while still maintaining the quality of your work at your current job. If you’re unemployed and looking for a job, this will enable you to get more done in less time, and improve your chances of success. Implementing techniques like this will turn a 6-month job hunt into 2–3 months, and ensure you’re not just accepting any job, but the right job.

Try to think of this post as a buffet of options. You don’t have to do all of these, you can pick and choose which ones you like, and how much you’re willing to spend. I tried to lay out the most complicated version I could think of to give you a full picture of all the options that are out there for you.

Have any questions or concerns? Let me know! I’m happy to help anyone personally going through this process, and guide you through bottlenecks as you get stuck or frustrated. Feedback is also appreciated, and any way I can improve clarity around this approach will help me to help others do this more effectively.

Thanks for reading and I hope that this has improved your life in some way, shape, or form ☺

If you like the article please share it on Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget to follow me on Medium!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.