Job referral funnel
beachshoes
A morning run on Plum Island to clear my head.

Yesterday I joined Drafted, to tackle our shared mission of creating the world’s best referral network. As employee No. 7, I’ll be scaling marketing and connecting great companies with great candidates through the the power of their networks.

Before I joined, I spent time on vacation preparing for my new adventure: I read books by tech visionaries, fished with my family, and took early morning runs along the beach in solitude.

I needed that breather: For the 43 days prior, I had been in an all-out sprint to find a role that would define the next chapter of my marketing career. While my search was the exact length of the average job search, I was fortunate to stay below the 76-day average for my experience level because I could focus on my search full time. In this way I was given a window into the hiring practices of 20 different organizations, from the technology they used to the shortcomings of their process.

During my job search I had:

  • 32 “coffee meetings” (I was literally the most caffeinated person in Boston.)
  • 17 phone interviews
  • 21 in-person interviews
  • 6 networking events
  • 19 introductions from my network to people/companies I didn’t know
  • 14 direct referrals to job opportunities
  • 25 cold messages from recruiters/hiring managers

I took 124 pages of notes; sent 188 job-related emails; and used a CRM to track my contacts and job opportunity progress. While I was doing this, I collected hundreds of data points about how companies — from pre-seed startups to 1,000+ person publicly traded companies — are recruiting and hiring in 2016.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Your network is your single best lead source.

Literally every opportunity that I pursued came from an introduction or someone already in my network.

I did not pursue a single job opportunity unless it came from a trusted friend or the friend of a trusted friend.

And I’m not an outlier. It works both ways. Referrals are almost 4x more likely to be hired than job board candidates.Job referral funnel

While introductions led to interesting conversations, and several new friends in the Boston tech scene, direct referrals were the most efficient channel for landing my new gig. 78% of my referrals led to an in-person interview — meaning my network was 6.5x better at landing me an interview than if I had simply applied through a job board or career page.

2. Companies with the best tech will win the talent war.

While I searched for my next role I was surprised by the lack of process and the inefficiencies at most of the organizations that I worked with. Not only did I never know wtf was going on, but more often than not, neither did they.

The teams who handled the recruiting and hiring process like a process — and augmented it with technologies like scheduling tools and applicant tracking systems — were faster and far more effective at communicating our progress.

Other hiring managers and recruiters seemed to be in a constant state of confusion.I was surprised by this, after spending 3 years marketing a sales analytics product, and ridden the martech boom firsthand. Few businesses are treating recruiting and hiring like their sales and marketing counterparts: As repeatable processes that can be automated, augmented, analyzed and made more efficient through technology. In contrast, the average interview cycle has increased by 10 days over the past 5 years.

But there is hope: Big VCs like Accel, Sequoia, Bessemer, and LightSpeed are already investing in this $12.59B market that will rise to nearly $20B by 2021, and some great companies like Lever, Greenhouse and Workable have started paving the way for a new generation of recruiting and hiring technologies. Hiring managers and recruiters need help hiring the best talent, and a budding market of great recruiting and hiring technologies will become the key differentiator in winning the talent war over the next 5 years.

3. Building a great community is as important as building a great product.

During my search, I couldn’t shake the incredible feeling of support that I had received from the Boston tech community. From the countless walks, to food truck tacos, helpful texts, late-night strategy sessions, and even my introduction to Drafted, that unending support was a testament to the world-class tech community we’ve built together in Boston.

I’ve also experienced the tech communities in San Francisco, Austin, Atlanta, Chicago and Indianapolis, and came to realize that those networks of engineers, marketers, VCs, salespeople, CSMs, recruiters, and executives are far more than just the widgets, apps, and platforms that they are building. After all, while our careers, companies, products and technologies will always be changing (the average tech employee changes jobs every 3 years) the one thing that we can always work on is building a community of technologists that improve one another’s jobs and lives.

Ultimately, my decision came down the first conversation I had with Drafted CEO, Vinayak Ranade, when he explained, “We’re really only afforded the ability to work on 2 or 3 projects of significance in our lifetime, and you can’t build them alone. I founded Drafted so that people could use their networks to build the best teams possible, and the projects they believed in.”

I realized that Drafted gives me a unique chance to support and build my community, while enabling others to impact theirs worldwide. How could I say no to that?After all, it’s not just what you build — it’s who you know.

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