Pedigree and Networking

There are many considerations to take into account when looking for a new job – location, compensation, the type of work you’d be doing, etc. One thing you should also keep in mind is how the new job will set you up for opportunities you’re interested in later down the line.

One direct way a job can open the door for others is by providing pedigree. Having well-known companies on your resume portrays you as a capable individual by proxy. For example, if I see that an engineer has worked at Google, I know that they are probably quite smart, since Google is known to have a high bar when it comes to engineering. Whether you’re applying for a job at a company (outbound) or recruiters are looking for talent to join them (inbound), pedigree makes you a more attractive candidate. If you feel that your pedigree doesn’t do your skills justice, it’s up to you to make up for it another way.

Another sometimes more effective way is by growing and strengthening your network. Though it’s certainly common for both applicants to find a job via online application and for recruiters to find talent through cold emails, reaching out cold usually has a poor success rate. It’s much easier to get connected with someone if you have a mutual friend. I’ve been fortunate to find opportunities through people from organizations I was part of in college, project partners from classes, and old coworkers.

One reason that applying for jobs through your network is effective is that the presence of an advocate provides validation for both parties. Applicants have an reasonably unbiased avenue to learn more about the opportunity, as well as inherent knowledge that this opportunity was both exciting and fitting enough for this person to bring it up to you. Recruiters know that someone can vouch for the applicant. Altogether, it’s a better experience for both sides.

Your network can also help you find fantastic opportunities that you might have not even known existed. For example, I probably wouldn’t have heard about Color if it weren’t for Gilad, a former coworker, nor would I have gotten in touch with then if it weren’t for Justin, a friend from college who referred me as part of a company source jam.

Others far more interesting than me have made similar comments. Mark Andreeson notes that opportunity is is a consequence of being in the right place at the right time, and that a lot of these opportunities are come from the people you know. Elad Gil notes that Silicon Valley is actually rather small, and that networks of the people tend to work together on multiple occasions. The people you’ll work with – from employees to founders to investors – will be the ones you get to know, and they may have an enormous impact on your career.

Therefore, when considering a new opportunity from this lens, keep in mind not only how it will look on your resume for later on, but also who you might meet. A large part of building great products is great people, so try your best to find them.

I’ve found Breakout List to be a great resource to find well-connected, strong growth startups.