How to dramatically improve your job search

By Jorik Boot

How to dramatically improve your job search

Are you currently looking for a job or an internship? Then this article is for you. I will explain how I applied different tactics and went from no responses on my emails to 100% response rates, ultimately landing an internship here at Zooma.

Set the foundation for your job search

I started back in the summer by compiling a list of companies I would like to work for, along with contact persons, contact details and following their company on social media to learn more about their values and motivations. I also decided to increase my chances by using both a marketing approach and a sales approach. For the marketing part, I created a video and posted it on social media and in industry-specific groups. I also used word-of-mouth by asking if any of my contacts might have a network in Sweden.

Then I reached out to the people on my list.


This step was important, as you always need some sort of strategy and structure. My contact list served as a very basic CRM system.

After posting the video and receiving feedback on it, it became clear that I had put too much focus on who I am and what I’ve done and there was not enough focus on why anyone would be interested in hiring me. I came to the same conclusion with my outreach project, which resulted in 0 responses.

This is what many businesses are doing when they try to build a relationship with consumers through their blog or social media channels, only posting why the product or service is so unique (and about their events or awards won). Clearly, this is not effective.

Step into their shoes

Unfortunately, the video could not be adjusted, but the outreach strategy could. It became apparent that I needed to step into the shoes of the decision-makers at the companies where I wanted to work. I created a list of reasons why anyone would be interested in hiring a foreign intern (unique buying reasons) and another list of skills and knowledge I possessed (unique selling points) - and tried to find ways to connect them for a compelling message.

Then I sat down and tried to find information about what the professional lives of these HR managers and CEO’s look like and what challenges they are facing. My hypothesis from this was, the decision-makers are most likely very busy, so the goal should become to reduce friction for them. They needed to understand immediately what my message was about and what they got out of it. I just wanted to get a foot in the door with this first point of contact, and if they were interested, we could move from there.

I realised later that this is the monumental change in thinking that is needed to get meaningful communication going. The more you know your target audience, the more relevant your content will be, and the more engagement you will receive.

Test your emails

To test the subject lines of my emails, I needed a way to track the emails and see the open rates. This way, I could judge the effectiveness. I used HubSpot for this, as I had worked with it before, and the free version has this functionality. The effectiveness of the email content would, of course, be measured through response rates. Now I had a way to measure my KPI’s.

Unfortunately, I did not track my emails before, but I had gotten no responses so we can only assume that the open rates were low and/or the messages not effective. Once I started tracking my emails, and I changed the subject line to follow my new strategy, the open rates were 100%.

Here is the example that I sent to Zooma: “Internship: How can Zooma reduce friction for their clients in their transformation to data-driven personalisation?”

This subject line explains what the email is about, an internship, and why it could be interesting, helping clients go data-driven. In the case of Zooma, I knew the value proposition would be compelling as they posted on their social media that they were at INBOUND 2019 a few weeks earlier. After watching the video from the main keynote, I concluded that one of the main subjects was data-driven personalisation.

Get to the point

As for the message in the email itself, I would acknowledge that I valued the reader’s time, followed by a short reason for my email and why I thought the company would be a good match. I also added bullet points stating what could be gained from the internship, backed by facts that related to my work experience and knowledge. For every sentence in the email, I asked: ‘so what?’, to make sure it served a purpose.

After that, a call to action and kind greetings. I specifically added no resume, because nobody has time for that, but just a link to my LinkedIn.

Response rates skyrocketed to 100%.

So, as you can see, it is quite interesting that a 5-month internship search ended up following the same path as a company during onlinification. And although I would love to say that I planned this out as a use case, I must admit that it just turned into this through a learn-as-you-go process.

Hopefully, you found this an interesting perspective on job searching and business communication!

Jorik Boot
Zooma's former resident Dutchman and intern from February - July 2020.
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