Getting hired at a great company is just like trying to acquire great customers -- if you use the classic inbound techniques of (1) creating great content and (2) nurturing your best relationships, you're bound to go far.
I applied these principles when I was in the process of getting hired at HubSpot, and they served me very well. While these strategies might not work for everyone, I think they're pretty broadly applicable in the tech field, where personal networks are so vital, and where what you produce is essentially your best possible calling card.
So, how did you end up at HubSpot?
I have been at HubSpot for a little over two months. I consider myself fortunate to be a part of something really big, and when I am not drinking from the firehose, getting $hit done or talking to wooster bot, I have been thinking about how I got here, and wanted to share what I have learned.
It all began when I sent an email to someone I knew (who didn't work at HubSpot) when I was looking for introductions (to people who didn't work at HubSpot), and I ended up getting hired for a position (that didn't actually exist at HubSpot).
Nurture Relationships & Create Great Content
I met HubSpot Chief Product Officer David Cancel at the Xconomy Cloud3 event when he was still with Performable, and developed a real respect for him, primarily based on his emphasis on listening to the customer and building products in an iterative, incremental manner. After this first meeting, we saw each other again at a number of events related to Lean Startups and Lifecycle Marketing. At the same time, we friended and followed each other on Twitter and LinkedIn.
We kept in touch with each other over Twitter about topics like measuring product value and data-driven startups. Here's an example of what those conversations looked like:
Incidentally, when I eventually did get a written offer from HubSpot, it was over a Twitter DM.
As a member of various teams that worked on Lifecycle Marketing, I learned important lessons about how to acquire leads, convert them into customers, and retain them over time. I summarized these lessons and posted them as a whitepaper on the Performable blog.
Performable, you remember, was founded by David Cancel and was later acquired by HubSpot.
I posted another, similar blog post at the KissMetrics Blog on how to increase conversion. Creating this content helped me establish some more credibility for my own blog on startups and product management, and also helped me to forge some more valuable professional relationships. In a lot of ways, content creation goes right hand in hand with relationship-building.
I'm also active on Quora, and try to regularly answer questions that are within my realm of expertise. My answer for What are the best interview questions for Product Managers is the top-voted answer in that thread, and I was able to weave this -- both my answer and its popularity -- into my various interviews at HubSpot.
The key lesson here is to contribute your knowledge and expertise to the wider world over time, so that you increase the chances of serendipitous discussion. If you code for a living, be sure to call out our your github link and brag about your StackOverflow reputation in your resume.
You do use GitHub and StackOverflow, right?
Sure you do.
Know Your Audience
Once I knew I was gunning for a job at HubSpot, I started researching the heck out of the company -- just like you would research your ideal customer as a marketer. The HubSpot culture is summed up by their acronym MATCHES, which you can learn more about via that link. I also checked them out on glassdoor.com, primarily to ask a few relevant questions and raise some concerns to see what kind of a response I got.
I got a good sense for HubSpot's culture from MATCHES, and even mocked up a "MATCHES Grader" in the spirit of the other HubSpot grader products. The idea is of this app is that you would simply provide your LinkedIn profile and the tool would grade you and decide how much you matched the MATCHES of HubSpot's culture.
As an aside, I was also working on a timeline-enabled version of my resume for Facebook, and a 140-character cover letter for Twitter. I am kind of glad I never had to use those.
Sweat The Details
• I obsessed over my resume font. After playing with a bunch of canned templates in Pages and MS Word, I decided on Book Antiqua, which is a popular font on book reader apps. This makes the resume much more readable.
• I included links in my resume, and was careful to make them trackable links by using a good URL shortener.
• I ordered special Moo Cards that used my Facebook timeline to use as my business cards.
• I sent a thank-you note to everyone that I met with, being sure to reference an interesting point from our discussion.
Get It Done
The parallels between acquiring customers and getting hired in a great position seem blindingly obvious. Nurture relationships and create great content while also leveraging social media and tailoring the message to your audience. There is something to this whole Inbound-y thing, that makes it work is several contexts. And I am so glad I am living it.
Anand Rajaram is a Product Manager at HubSpot, where he leads the company's mobile initiatives and gets away with claiming Angry Birds and Facebook as "work." He blogs at startupproductmanager.com and would love to continue this conversation with you on Twitter at @anandrajaram.
Image by Fracking