FOWA: How One Person Talked His Way into a Job at Digg


Would you like a job at Digg? Matt Van Horn wanted to, but he wasn’t a developer or designer, but he did get hired. How?

He began by pursuing then Digg CEO Jay Adelson. At first Van Horn was blown off, but he wasn’t deterred. He kept pursuing, sending newspaper clippings and interesting e-mails. “I’m going to be the most passionate employee you’ll ever have, you need to hire me,” Van Horn told Adelson.

Eventually co-founder Kevin Rose and Adelson replied, “OK, make a proposal for yourself and we’ll think about it.”

So he did and they hired him.

What did Van Horn do that came off as being a hustler instead of a stalker? Van Horn says the biggest factor was he added value when he communicated. Don’t be fake, he says. Be authentic. Always be thinking “What value can I add?”

At the Future of Web Apps conference, Van Horn and I talked about some other networking tips. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Take advantage of friending people on Facebook. It’s a more personal version of LinkedIn.
  • Always follow up within 48 hours. Write three-line e-mails, not essays. Put a lot of information in the subject line.
  • If you want to reach someone at a company, simply try to guess their e-mail address as a means to get through to them.
  • Most importantly, try. It’s the most important thing you can do. You have to show that you’re willing to make the effort.

No Responses to “FOWA: How One Person Talked His Way into a Job at Digg”

  1. Meh, nice anecdotal story and good on Matt for getting his job with Digg, but most firms (large & small) are not receptive to job seekers who stalk in this matter. I speak from experience by doing the same thing (finding Director, CEO, VP email & phone #s) and was summarily warned by all of them that they didn’t appreciate this method and referred me to their HR department (of course).

    • James:

      There is definitely a fine line between being dogmatic and stalking, and in the interview I asked that question of Matt. He said the difference is you’re providing value, and not pestering.

      The difference is this:
      Constantly sending messages saying, “Just checking in.” – Stalking
      Saw this, and thought it would be useful for you – Providing value (only if it truly is).

      But it’s really easy to cross the line and some people are more sensitive than others. And some actually appreciate the dogmatic approach. In your situation, I don’t know what you did, but you definitely rubbed someone the wrong way. Also, sometimes there’s no way to win even when you do everything right. You just need to move on or think of another entry point.