The job search is lonely. While your friends are out at happy hours, you’re stuck in front of your computer, submitting your resume to people who might never even read them. I know the feeling.

But I also have an idea to help fix that situation. (And no, it’s not to say, “Forget this cover letter!” and sprint to the bar.) Your friends are a goldmine of connections and job leads, and they want to see you land a great job. The challenge is engaging your friends in your job search in ways that are fun(ish) for them and productive for you.

When I first tapped a few of my good friends for job search assistance, I received emails recommending this position or that one. I wondered: Would these people consider helping me in real time? Short answer: Yes.

This was the launch point for an event I like to call my “Find-a-Dave-a-Job-a-Thon.” Ok, so I didn’t actually land a job by the end of this event, but afterwards, I walked away with a list of 25 job opportunities I could apply for immediately, in addition to some other perks.

Want to host your own event? Here’s how.


Step One: Get Ready


Figure Out What You Want

You need to start here when organizing a Job-a-Thon (and really for your job search in general). Before you go any further, you need to figure out what you want to do. Create a list of search parameters: deal breakers, keywords, geographic constraints, companies you’ve been looking at—anything that will help your friends find the best possible leads.


Set a Date, Time, and Location

Two hours on a Sunday evening was a good time for my crew, and we met in my living room. If you live in a tiny studio apartment or aren’t able to host in your home otherwise, you might scope out a local coffee shop or find a chill bar with Wi-Fi. Just remember, if you host elsewhere, at least a round of refreshments should be on you.


Recruit the Team

Who’s been sending you job postings? Who’s in your career group? With whom have you had deep conversations about your passions, fears, and goals? Who has lots of connections? Invite them all! In terms of numbers, my Job-a-Thon had 10 attendees who kept me moving and thinking non-stop.


Finalize

When you send out your invitation, include your list of parameters, your resume, and your ideal job titles. Make sure your crew knows to bring their laptops, tablets, or phones—really anything that can connect to the internet will do.


Create the Materials

Last but not least, share a Google Doc to record job opportunities—mine had the following column headings: position title, company, link to the posting, and name of the person who found it. Anything you can fill in beforehand, you should. For example, if you found a marketing position at Google that looks perfect, pop that in. Then, when your friends arrive, they can glance over this sheet and fill it out with any leads, connections, or insight they might have.


Step Two: Run the Show

The big day is here! Bring your A-game, prepare some snacks, beverages, and comfy places to sit. If you’re hosting at home, music’s not a bad idea. Remember you want to make this as fun as possible for your friends so they have even more reason to show up and stay—at least a few will ask you why this can’t just be done over email and you want a good answer. (So we can hang out together! So you can try out this new cookie recipe I’m working on! So we can watch the first season of Friends together in the background!)


Explain the Process

Share the Google Doc and ask them to go through their LinkedIn connections, any career groups they’re a part of, or even their Facebook or Twitter feeds to search for possible leads. Anyone (or thing) that they’d feel comfortable connecting you to should go on the list. While you provided the parameters, remember that they may know about awesome companies that you’ve never even heard of—so keep an open mind.


Incentivize

As I mentioned earlier, your friends are doing you a big favor. So you’re going to want to throw in some incentives. Just for showing up, you should make sure those snacks and drinks I talked about are ample. If someone gets you a lead, take him or her out to coffee. (And splurge on something fancy, like a flavored latte.) And if someone lands you a job—well that deserves a nice dinner. My team almost convinced me to sign over my first paycheck as a reward, but generosity does have its limits.


Step Three: Follow Up

Congratulations! You have crowdsourced a fantastic list of job opportunities and leads ready for your attention. Now, you can reorder the list, prioritizing by your level of interest, closing date, and anything else that is important. And remember, this list is timely. If you end up with a large one, some of the positions may close before you have a chance to apply.

Finally, thank your team! A lot! Keep them posted on your job search, especially on any productive leads.



The truth is a Job-a-Thon takes investment and commitment from both you and your friends, but I found it absolutely worthwhile and the most fun part of my job search so far. Not only did I end up with a great list of leads, but I also learned how my friends viewed my skill set and professional experience. They found companies and positions for me that I never would’ve considered for myself. So, please give it a try, and tweet me with your experience and any suggestions for improvement. You can do it!


Photo of friends courtesy of Shutterstock.