In the beginning, there was the newspaper ad.
You, the “job seeker”, were expected to seek out new opportunities when you were “actively looking”.
You were expected to “apply to jobs”.
When web 1.0 came along—think Craigslist, Indeed, Monster, HotJobs—all they did was put the newspaper ads online, and then add rudimentary search and filter capabilities.
Resumes, cover letters, applying—all that remained.
This was all job search 1.0, the old paradigm.
Then, some people had the idea of “job matchmaking”. Doing for jobs what Match, eharmony, etc. had done for dating. Structured data on both sides. Preferences, filters, etc. Swipe right, swipe left.
Various companies have tried this, to varying degrees of success.
But it was all very hedgy. Companies talked about doing what was best for the candidate and then created assessments to serve the companies. You still had to manually search for jobs on the platform, apply or write cover letters. The “5 minute onboarding” turned into “5 hours of work.”
This was job search 2.0, the dysfunctional current paradigm.
But there is a new way, and it is predicated on two axioms:
These theses function together to produce job matching 3.0.
Let’s say you’re a software engineer at Twitter. You’re at the top of the market, in high demand, and your inbox (both email and LI messages) is full of mostly recruiter spam.
If you wanted to explore new opportunities, you (formerly) had three not-so-great options:
Let’s explore why each one is sub-optimal:
Applying to jobs is active, takes time, is inefficient, and limits your options
You’re a software engineer. You’re not a professional job applier. Resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles—optimizing these all suck your energy. Lengthy and vague hiring processes, unclear information about companies and roles, etc. make you exhausted from day one. Not to mention not knowing whether you’ll be asked to do a whiteboard interview that asks you theoretical CS 101 questions you could Google in 5 minutes.
Even if your probability of landing an interview is high—because of your impressive resume—you necessarily limit the denominator (the number of options you’re considering) because you have to go out and actively find all the jobs you are going to apply to.
In order to save time and the pain of applying to jobs, many in-demand software engineers lazily rely on strategy two.
Networking for jobs through referrals severely limits your options
You have a friend at a cool startup and you want to interview there. You can likely get the interview with the group manager or CTO, that’s not the problem. The problem is, lazily relying on networking means you only consider opportunities you already know about.
You’re not a market researcher. You’re not a tech startup analyst. Everyone—no matter how well-connected—only knows a small number of companies, especially around the world in a global, remote market.
When you rely on networking, your denominator is a local maximum. You may land a cool job, but you’ll lose out on free optionality, as well as the leverage that comes from having multiple interview processes (and offers) in play at once.
Replying to recruiter messages will slowly erode your sanity
Manually replying to recruiter messages increases your denominator (options) because you are now considering all your (inbound) opportunities, but the cost is huge. You’ll pay for it in time, incoherence, back and forth messaging that takes days and often leads to ghosting and dead-ends, and painful and waste-of-time screening calls. At the end of this rainbow may be a better opportunity than you would have found from applying to jobs or networking, but that is just a function of volume, not of quality (signal).
No wonder top engineers are in a quandary. Turn off “open to work” or InMail to block recruiter messages, and miss out on (potential) opportunities. Apply to jobs and be forced to do something you hate that often leads to wasted time and null outcomes. Or, do what most top engineers do: Network and increase signal-to-noise ratio, but severely (and arbitrarily) limit your options.
What we needed was a way to increase your denominator (options) while increasing your ‘hit rate’ (signal) at the same time.
The equation was something like this:
[(# of relevant job opportunities / # of jobs sent to you) * # of jobs sent to you] / [time * effort]
Say 100 jobs ‘apply to you’, and all are relevant. That’s a 100% on the far left side of the equation (re-weighting the volume by quality).
Now, say 100 jobs applied to you overall. We now have “100 points” on the left side: 100% * 100 jobs.
Divide that by the time and effort you have to put in, with 1 representing ‘none’ (totally passive—sit back and go to the beach while we do all the work).
The ideal state is to have as high a number of points as possible in your ‘passive job search’. This is your goal, always—whether you’re “actively looking” or not. Because there’s no reason to not be collecting inbound opportunities for the future—just in case you get laid off, so you can have another job/lead lined up in advance. To give you leverage, for negotiating a raise in your current job or in your next job. To give you salary transparency, to gauge the market. To see what it would be like to switch roles, stacks, industries, company sizes (enterprise to startup), etc.
In a system like this, there is literally no downside to always being passively ‘open’ to inbound opportunities—as long as they come in in a structured format, give you all the information you need up front, don’t waste your time, and require no ‘work’ from you (no bait-and-switch applications, resumes, or cover letters down the road).
The vision is: You go to the beach, while the process runs in the background, always.
The ultimate job daemon.
It didn’t before. Now it does.
The first step in creating this new paradigm—people-first job matching 3.0, designed for top software engineers—is to create a mechanism for jobs to apply to you in a structured format.
That is what Reverse Apply is.
If you’re comfortable with the public seeing that you’re considering offers, you can put the link to your “recruiter application form” on your LinkedIn profile, personal website, GitHub, etc.
If you want to use the link as a ‘spam filter’, to force recruiters to structure their applications to you to avoid all the chaos of unstructured back-and-forth messages, you can set it up as your auto-reply to recruiters in email and LinkedIn messages, etc.
Either way, the point is to have recruiters and hiring managers apply to you in a structured format (increasing signal) without decreasing opportunities (denominator).
Since any recruiter worth a grain of salt will be happy to apply to you in a structured format (it takes 5 minutes)—and if they’re not, they either don’t know anything about the job, are wasting your time, or spamming you (playing a “numbers game”)—you will not lose out on any opportunities by setting up this recruiter filter.
You will only gain signal (clarity)—there is no downside.
Even more important, Reverse Apply allows you to not have to make that deal with the devil, where you have to decide whether to ignore/turn off or read/reply to recruiter messages.
You can sit back and let it do the top-of-funnel ‘filtering’ for you, ostensibly leading to you reviewing more offers over time (increasing the denominator), since you never need to turn it off or ignore it, because it never produces noise.
You now have a sustainable ‘passive inbound machine’ for jobs to apply to you, that requires no work on your part. You’re increasing volume and signal at the same time, while reducing time and effort to minimum. You are at 100% efficiency—this is the new global maximum.
There’s more coming. Reverse Apply is a harbinger for an entirely new process where you have an operating system for all jobs to apply to you. All jobs, from across the internet, come into a single inbox, all structured in the same format, so you can compare apples to apples. Click “yes” and schedule your interview at a good time (it’s on your time, not theirs). Know who you’re talking to, and what the interview process is after that. No whiteboard interviews? Just tell the system and we’ll exclude those opportunities—they won’t even hit your inbox.
All signal, no noise, no work. A totally passive system for you to go to the beach while jobs apply to you, 24/7/365. You never need to turn it on or off, because you’ll always want to see what your options are—whether you’re happy in your current job, unhappy, or somewhere in between.
Knowledge and options are power and leverage. In people-first job matching—job matching 3.0—the system does the work for you. So now, you can focus on coding. Or going to the beach. Or both at the same time.