In the summer of 2018, I visited a number of Dutch higher institutions at which I gave a workshop titled "Powerful growth hacking tools to land a job in the Netherlands". The collection of insights that I shared with the international audience of ambitious first-year Bachelor’s & Master’s students was knowledge that I acquired while building College Life from the ground up.
These lessons, presented as direct tactics, taught the students a hands-on approach to getting a job offer. A straight-to-the-point, no BS workshop that would give them the exact set of tools they needed to get the job [done]. It’s about time that I share the contents of this workshop with you.
There are two goals that this article will help you achieve.
- Accelerate & scale your networking. Most of you probably have only 1 to 3 years in the Netherlands to create meaningful, professional relationships that will support you once you start your post-graduate career. Frankly, that’s not a lot of time. In this article, you’ll learn how to do more, with less.
- Get a job offer. Duh.
As a fresh high-school graduate in 2013, I commenced my journey as a bachelor student in Rotterdam. Since I had to fund my own studies, I did some research on how difficult it would be to find a part-time job and combine it with a state-funded grant. From my research, I made two assumptions:
- Getting a job would be easy. Everyone in the Netherlands speaks English. Plus, I already had some relevant work experience.
- Getting financing would be easy. The Ministry of Culture & Education really makes the student finance requirements and the application process seem like a walk in the park.
Both my assumptions were wrong. Completely wrong.
To get financing, I had to work a set number of hours per month. To work those hours, I needed an employer willing to provide me with those hours.
It took me about 2 months to find my first part-time job. During these months, I was literally handing out CVs to every bar & restaurant in the city of Rotterdam. I’m pretty sure that I used up more print credits at my university than any other student during that time. The results? 0 interviews. No one was willing to hire me since I didn’t speak a single word of Dutch.
Working as the head of sales for the Czech market of Housing Anywhere was fantastic. Unfortunately, however, the commission-based model of remuneration didn’t work in my favour. I wasn’t able to close a single deal, and thus, I ended up earning nothing via commission.
Hollister was the first retail job I ever had. And I really wasn’t great at my job. Luckily, the day I got fired I received an offer from a B2B eCommerce giant — ISM eCompany. I finally got the chance to do what I was good at — Business Development.
Once I had a comfortable cash flow, it was time to start helping other international students struggling with job hunting & student finance applications in the Netherlands. It was time to start my first company — Study Financing Netherlands. In the summer of 2017, Study Financing Netherlands was rebranded to College Life, which now is a hub for international students & graduates.
During this one year, we closed deals with the following companies.
We also initiated direct partnerships with these public institutions.
All of this was achieved using the growth hacking tools that you’ll learn to use in this article. But first — let’s define what growth hacking is.
Business growth is one way to utilize growth hacking. But what’s so great about growth hacking is that it can be applied to almost anything, for instance job hunting.
I’ve subdivided job hunting strategies into two categories: Traditional and disruptive. Let’s dive into the disruptive strategy:
As you’ve probably guessed, this article isn’t about a one-fit-all, get-a-job-quick strategy. It’s about creating a meaningful, contextual conversation that will maximize your chances at landing a job.
First off, the final decision maker is the individual that is most likely to make the final call about your application. Now, why is it important to find the final decision maker? Imagine this scenario: You send your well-crafted email to Bob, the HR intern at the company “J&J”. Bob is extremely enthusiastic about your email, especially given the fact that he spends most of his internship refreshing his email inbox, eagerly waiting for new tasks to pop up. Bob then goes and pitches your email to his supervisor, who’s likely the final decision maker.
What’s the issue here? Bob takes your pitch, paraphrases it and delivers it to his supervisor. And you? You’ve just lost your one shot at making a good first impression. Why? No one can do a better job at pitching yourself than you. Let me write that again:
No one can do a better job at pitching yourself than you.
Second, use LinkedIn to your advantage. The Netherlands has the 2nd highest penetration of LinkedIn usage in the world. Through LinkedIn, you're more likely to start a conversation with the final decision maker. More grounds on lesser-known LinkedIn strategies that you must know are covered in this youtube video.
Have you ever sent an email to a generic email address? Don’t do it. You’ll likely never hear back from the company. Instead, find the right contact person’s email using an app such as Hunter.io, or a browser extension like ContactOut and contact them directly.
Now it’s your time to shine. Follow these 5 tips and craft the perfect email. Here’s an example of an email I sent the final decision maker at Booking.com. The first name of this person that follows after the “Hi” is hidden for privacy reasons.
Now, go back to step #3. Can you see these points put into context?
Unfortunately, I received no reply from this email. So a couple weeks later, I decided to follow up with an even more concise email.
A day later, I received a brief follow up from another decision maker. Turns out, he was the right one to speak to. Sometimes, this turns out to be the case. After a couple back and forth emails within a span of a couple days, we sealed the deal.
Use automation to dramatically boost your efficiency while still maintaining effectiveness (i.e. growth hacking). Hubspot Sales is the perfect tool that’ll help you achieve that, free of charge.
And last? Take a different approach. Use a LinkedIn invitation as an additional channel through which you reach out to the final decision maker. Never forget to add a message ! Your message should capture attention and trigger action. By asking a question at the end of your message, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of receiving a reply.
Now it’s your turn. Go get that dream job you’ve been waiting for.
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