2 Tech Hacks To Make Job-Hunting Online Easier And Less Frustrating

A couple of pieces of software can make the process of looking for a job, or acquiring new clients, vastly easier

For the past month or so, I’ve been dipping my toes into the world of remote work — checking out what’s “out there” and building up my client base.

More and more companies are becoming open to the idea of working with remote talent on both part-time and full-time bases. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned remote worker, it’s an exciting time to be exploring the field.

In the past, I’ve experimented with different approaches to landing clients and finding work for myself. With three years of full-time self-employment and three more years of side-hustling under my belt, it’s a skill that I’ve drawn upon whenever I’ve needed to.

My first crude attempts (I say this as I blush): crudely-targeted mass-communications attempts to get my foot in the door. Impolite description: spamming. My favorite way to describe that: it works. But even the successes aren’t pretty.

Over time, I would like to think that my methodologies have become a lot more refined and, often, more effective. While I (increasingly) think that in a saturated online environment, offline networking (who you know) is the key to standing out, equally, it almost never makes sense to cut off the online world entirely, particularly when you’re trying to source opportunity in other countries.

Unfortunately, job hunting is also really time-consuming and (frequently) a rather thankless endeavor. Which is why I think that a few processes can take that process and make it more palatable. Here are a couple of the shortcuts I’ve been using.

Using A Keyboard Macro Tool To Put Commonly Accessed Links (Like Your Resume) At The Press Of A Button

As a longtime user of Ubuntu Linux, Autokey is the program I reach for whenever I want to set up a few keyboard macros to put key pieces of information within one button’s reach.

AutoKey is an incredibly easy but powerful tool for configuring keyboard macros on Ubuntu Linux. Screenshot: author.

Here’s one of my job-hunting aspirations: never to send out an application or cover letter structured around a template again (like ever).

The best and most authentic cover letters and applications are going to be those that you write completely from scratch. Every single time. Getting across the extent of your enthusiasm for a role is always going to be challenging if you’re doing so with a stock letter that’s been sent to many other companies. Originality is key.

I use Autokey to take the links that I commonly need when job hunting, and a couple of rough cover letter skeletons, and assign them to hotkeys on my numeric keypad that I rarely touch in the course of actual typing.

I have configured text inserts for:

  • A link to my Linktree
  • A link to my resume
  • A skeleton cover letter for tech-related positions

The advantage of putting your job-hunting shortcuts at this level of the operating system is that it’s very powerful and the links can be used wherever there’s room to insert text into a computer program (but most typically a web browser).

If you’re having a direct message exchange with a prospective client or employer on LinkedIn for instance, you could quickly use one of your keyboard macros to drop your resume or a link to your writing portfolio into the conversation.

The downside of this approach is that keyboard macros are tied to an individual computer. If you’re doing job-hunting from, say, a computer in a hotel business center, or from multiple computers at once, then things are going to get kind of complicated.

I compute for the most part from a desktop so haven’t looked into this. But perhaps some macro editors exist that include the functionality to sync updates to hotkeys across computers (although different keyboard layouts would pose a problem here). But if you just need these hotkeys on one computer — say, whichever one you use for job-hunting — then you should be set.

Setting Up A CRM For The Purpose Of Job-Hunting

A slightly more elaborate approach is to set up your templates and text snippets for job hunting in a CRM.

Naturally, setting up a CRM is more complicated. But also more powerful.

Additional functionality this approach will give you that may come in handy during the job search:

  • The ability to track opening and clickthrough rates to receive valuable clues about prospective employers’ level of engagement. (Personally I’m not a fan of email tracking and find it privacy-invasive, but I know that many are enthusiastic about its powers).
  • Being able to keep a careful log of all inbound communication received from a job lead.

Hubspot’s free CRM is a great option if you’re just looking for a quick and easy tool to get going with job-hunting. It integrates easily with common email platforms and if you’re looking to do something more advanced — like use separate mailservers for SMTP and IMAP — you can configure that also.

The two important components from the job-hunter’s perspective:

  • The template manager where you can create and save templates for sending to prospective clients/employers.
  • The snippet editor where you can easily create and edit text snippets for inserting into cover letters.
Preparing a template to use in Hubspot. Screenshot: author.

To really take advantage of the functionality that Hubspot offers, it’s worth creating custom fields that you can then use in your templates.

The snippet editor in Hubspot. Screenshot: author

Creating snippets can also be a great way to make the process of inserting commonly-accessed links, like links to resumes and Linktrees, that much quicker. You can insert them by referencing hashtags or manually select them in the email editor view in Hubspot.

The above are two methodologies that can speed up your job-hunting process.

They can be useful whether you’re looking to land a remote gig, a part-time (in person) job, or simply looking to pitch new potential clients on your freelance/consulting services.

Daytime: tech-focused MarCom. Night-time: somewhat regular musings here. Or the other way round. Likes: Linux, tech, beer. https://www.danielrosehill.com