How to apply for a job in public
Three steps to apply for a job in public, plus my own CV in a FREE Notion template for you to download and customize for your use.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ UPDATE: I got the job! ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I did something last week. I’d been thinking about applying for a job at On Deck, and I thought it would be interesting to do it in public, in the spirit of ‘building in public’. In this edition, I’ll tell you how I applied for a job in public.
Applying in public has been one of the most stressful experiences of my life. I have to confess that it wasn’t easy to put myself out there. After all, I was sharing my intention with the world at large to apply for a job that I might end up not getting, and also sharing my portfolio, CV, and my job application for everyone to see. But my announcement was met positively, and I received plenty of support from my circles, and within 48 hours, I received an invite to interview at On Deck! (Update: I went through the application and interview process and got an offer from them)
I’ll keep you updated on what happens with my job application (here’s the final update!) but in the meantime, I’m sharing how I went about applying to the job in public.
1️⃣ Share Your Announcement: Declare Your Intention
The first step when you’re building anything in public is to declare your intention publicly, and building a job application in public is no different. I composed a tweet announcing my intention of applying for a job at On Deck, tagged the company, and also specified the role I was interested in.
To this tweet, I also added a short thread of four reasons that outline why I was applying for the job and why I was interested in working at the company. This contextualized my interest and gave me a chance to show my passion for the role.
I have to admit that I was extremely stressed the hour before and after I put up the tweet since everything was uncertain, and I had no idea of knowing how it would be received. But almost immediately I had an epiphany: I was going to be happy no matter how this ended. I thought if I would be okay with updating this thread if I was rejected, and immediately realized that I would be just as happy to post such an announcement. I was just grateful for the chance to put myself through such a rollercoaster. And I would do it all over again, no matter how it ended.
2️⃣ Own Your Story: Share Your Application
This might be the most nerve-racking step of applying in public, but I can promise you that it is the most important one. An integral component of building in public is building a narrative and showing all your cards.
Why do you do what you do? Why are you the best person to do it? This is the opportunity to answer these questions. Why are you applying for the job? Why are you the best fit for it? Why should people believe you? Don’t just tell, but show everything you have to support your answers.
For this purpose, I designed four documents: the first was my CV (I didn’t have one until two days before I made the Twitter announcement!), the second was a portfolio document outlining my experience in the field of education, a spotlight document outlining my most recent projects, and finally, a backgrounder document making a case for why someone might be interested in supporting my application for this role.
All three were Notion documents, and I took two days to compile content and design them. When I made my announcement on Twitter, I also shared all three documents publicly. If you’re worried about sharing your CV publicly, ask yourself: what are you hiding? Isn’t Linkedin a CV too? Is there a way to design your CV document in a way you’re proud to show it to the world?
Here’s a FREE Notion template of my own CV which you can duplicate and modify for your own use:
3️⃣ Build Community Support: Build a Social Proof CV
This is the final step of your apply-in-public process. After announcing your intention and owning your narrative, you want to gather support from your close circles and people who will be able to vouch for your candidature. These are like recommendations, but are public and might be more informal in nature than formal letters of recommendation. So ensure that you reach out to people who know you well, and have seen your work from close quarters.
The ideal kind of response from a supporter will be clear and specific and will outline exactly how they have seen you display qualities required for the job. While it’s fun to also have messages that are more vague and generic, it really helps to have at least a few recommendations about your fit for the role, illustrated by their own experiences knowing you.
I am fortunate to be part of one of the most fiercely supportive communities in the world at On Deck’s No Code Fellowship. The members of my cohort are an incredible combination of both exceptional talent and boundless kindness and generosity. They supported my application with love and showed their confidence in me. I will always be grateful for them.
If you don’t have a community yet, you can start by sending a message to some of your close friends, family, and acquaintances with a link to your announcement, requesting their support. The goal is not to make your post go viral, but to simply find social proof to support your application.
Finally, curate all your messages of love and support in one place so it is clear just how much social proof you have for your work and experience. The best tool for this purpose is ShoutOut, a platform that lets you curate all the love your receive on Twitter to build a wall of social proof. I built a ShoutOut wall filled with recommendations received from my circles and submitted a link to this wall in my application while also adding it to my CV.
So there you have it. To apply for a job in public, first share your announcement, then own your story, and finally build community support for your candidature. I got an interview with On Deck by following these steps, and I’ll keep you updated on how it all goes! (Update: I got the job!)
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