How to land a job with one email

How to land a job with one email

Kevin Makra|

I don’t normally consider many articles a ‘must read’ – especially when I’ve compiled the information myself. However, I came across this story (albeit from a while ago) and felt absolutely compelled to write about it.

A story surfaced about a Stanford student landing a great job at the company Foursquare after sending an impassioned email to its co-founders. His name was Tristan Walker and he sent an email to co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai. He went on to not only work for the company, but become the company’s Director of Business Development.

On his two-year anniversary with Foursquare he posted on his blog the actual email that started the chain of events getting him the job. Here is the original email from his blog:

    Hey Dennis and Naveen

    How’s it going? Hope all is well!

    My name is Tristan Walker and I’m a first year student (going into my second year) at Stanford Business School (originally from New York). I’m a huge fan of what you both have built and excited about what you guys have planned for FourSquare. It is an awesome, awesome service.

    I would love to chat with you guys at some point, if you’re available, about FourSquare. This year, I’m looking to help out and work extremely hard for a startup with guys I can learn a ton from. Dennis, with your experience at Google and the Dodgeball product, and Naveen, with your experience at Sun and engineering in general, I know I could learn a great deal from you both!

    Before business school, I was an oil trader on Wall Street for about two years and hated it! Moved out to the Bay/Stanford to pursue my passion for entrepreneurship and the startup world. This past spring I had the opportunity to work for Twitter as an intern and learned a ton. Solidified my commitment to working at a startup that I’m passionate about, and FourSquare is one of those startups that I believe in.

    I know you guys are probably getting inundated with internship-type requests, but thought it’d be worth a shot! I can assure you I’m humble and I’m hungry! Let me know if you’d be interested in chatting further. I definitely look forward to hearing from you.

    Stay awesome!

The story continues that this was the first of eight emails he sent to Dennis and Naveen. After the eighth one he got a reply:

    “you know what, i just may take you up on some of this, are you ever in nyc?”

The interesting part is that Tristan was in LA! He had no plans to be in NYC, but wrote the following reply to Dennis:

    “hey dennis, yeh I was planning on being in ny tomorrow how about we meet up live at your offices?”

Tristan booked a flight that night to fly out the following morning. He met up with Dennis and Naveen and got to know them over a week. After one month he was hired for a full time position at Foursquare.
As they say, the rest is history.

You can read the full article on

I found this story fascinating. There is much debate as to whether Tristan just ‘got lucky’ in his approach, or really did what the job search calls for – went above and beyond to impress the Foursquare co-founders. What was most impressive to me was the amount of passion and commitment that Tristan displayed in his quest. He went to great lengths (literally travelling all the way from LA to NYC on a long shot play) to try and land a job in a company he truly desired to work.

At first glance, this may seem like an unlikely story that ‘could never happen to me’, but there are some key inspirational lessons that job seekers can take away from Tristan’s experiences:

    You can never have too much passion – Many employers, especially start-up companies, are looking for candidates that are hungry! Hungry to be part of something exciting and new! If you are truly passionate about a company, go to great lengths to let them know about it.

    Separate yourself from other candidates – The job search is about getting noticed. Had Tristan sent in his resume through normal channels, would he be where he is today? Always think about how you can stand out from others.

    It doesn’t hurt to try – Tristan’s approach is not for everyone, nor something that may even work with many companies, but what did he have to lose? In the worst case scenario, he would have not landed the job and had to look elsewhere. If you feel strongly enough about a company, then go for it!

If nothing else Tristan is an inspiration to job seekers everywhere. Combined with proper planning, effective networking and hard work, passion is truly the secret ingredient to achieving your goals.

Good luck!

Kevin Makra is the President of Sentor Media Inc., and founder of He can be reached at

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Category: Job Search Strategies
  • Marisa Baratta

    “It doesn’t hurt to try” is the advice that’s so hard to take because people are scared of turning someone off. Good points you bring up to back it up.

    I’ve heard most of this advice from someone I trust in the working industry; it seems that it is a good idea to “push” after all. Having passion is important and it’s always a good idea to be your genuine self, I believe. Your passion will come through!

  • Meme McGee

    This is actually how to land a job with the right experience, attitude, ***8*** emails, & a Hail Mary transcontinental flight that most people can’t afford. Good story, Bro.Headlines are suppose to draw in a reader, NOT lie.

    • therimisrolled

      “& a Hail Mary transcontinental flight that most people can’t afford.” … especially only more so when the flight is booked within less than a day..

    • Dave Stanley

      Judging by his experience was a oil trader, hated it so just left, tried to find start ups to work for, I would assume that he has a very very rich family helping him out along the way………Something not so many of us can have

  • Dmitry

    I’ve landed a job in the same way (although experience was short and not-that-pleasant)… Just dropped a line to CEO and suggested a course of action with expansion to Russia. He emailed back saying they have no plans to expand to Russia but he was curious why I think so. A short presentation and a week later I was in Stockholm at the board meeting with the same show. In a month got an offer…

  • Ernest Burden

    So to be absolutely correct, I must agree with Meme McGee.
    “How to land a job with 8 emails…”
    Have to give him credit. I would never have sent 8 emails without getting any response to the previous 7. Wouldn’t have known what to say, “So, How’s it going today, this is email X, I’m going to keep emailing you until you answer…”

    • Guest

      They probably just gave him a job cz they got fed up of his emails lol

  • Tony Chung

    Well, I guess you could say he landed the job after 1 email… sent after warming the Foursquare awesomes up with 7. And then there’s the coast-to-coast flight and a lot of smooth talking. Tristan must have made a killing in the oil industry to be able to afford the time off to do that.

    The one takeaway is to declare your own awesomeness. I mean, really: If Foursquare couldn’t see what was right in front of them, I’m sure Hootsuite or Twitter would love to have a chat.

  • Rhood64

    SYNOPSIS was that this person had passion. This may be a part of it, but what I see more is the research and simple compliments along with the discrete abilities that caught the attention as well as persistence. The first point was the most significant in the company and personal knowledge. The kiss -up can go either way. The persistence can also go either way. This was an old trick used by Charlie Sheen in “Wallstreet”.
    The bottom line was it got Tristan in the door. Now she had to put up or go home. Apparently she did what it took to get a job.
    The hardest part of any job search is getting the interview.

    • Lee Miller

      Rhood64. Re SYNOPSIS. Tristan (of male gender BTW) did show “passion” (like “appetite” who knows exactly what these adjectives really mean?) he also showed he’s a smooth operator ( “I can assure you Im humble
      and Im hungry!” ” & “To celebrate the two year anniversary of the email, Tristan just published it on his personal blog, along with some notes:”) + a well-rehearsed photo of himself. He is also evidently well connected & well funded to spend 2 yrs as an oil trader on Wall St., enrolling in Stanford long enough to bail out on a moment’s notice. Not to mention the $ needed to rent, live, own all the latest electronic gadgets & purchase air flights again on a moment’s notice. Has anyone noticed in the past 2 years how many Tristan-like young men have shown up in Reuter’s front page as cheats, callous cynical liers, self-aggrandizers and “well regarded in the business”? There’s more to this story that what we’re being told – and I am once again disappointed in Workopolis for essentially giving Tristan more free advertising. This article’s title is misleading and its contents apply to an infinitesimal percentage unemployed Canadians. Pull up your socks Kevin Makra, and give us genuine information next time, not predigested pap.

  • Matt

    I can say this is most definitely not luck! If I ran FourSquare, and was looking to expand the team, I would probably hire Tristan in a heartbeat. As an employer, I not only want but NEED passionate, dedicated employees. As a startup, it’s so critical to find people who you can use to grow the business. You can’t afford the demotivated unproductive employees which exist at a lot of large companies today. If someone took a flight across the country to come see me, I’d have a lot of respect for them regardless, because it literally shows they will fly across the country for me! I don’t see why anyone is surprised. Conventional ways to get hired are very poor. You NEED to talk to the person who can hire you. The best way is to find jobs through people you already know. There are a lot of small businesses, and you have a lot more connections than you realize, and if you don’t, you have a lot of ways to make new friends! Hope I motivated someone.

    • vandana amin23

      You definitely motivated me. It is very inspiriting to see Tristan’s success as well. Can you please elaborate how I Can make new friends and connections? Thanks in advance

    • Rafael Tavares

      Be sure you did!

  • vandana amin23

    The best way to get job in Canada is some kind of skill update. When I can to Canada in 2006 First thing I did was updated my skills and worked part- time jobs to pay for the fees. I had a good job in accounting until I was laid of. Got a few interviews since, and 3-4 offers as well however could not take them as they were paying lower than my previous jobs.. My

  • Babul

    Nice story..but the screen play should have been better…

  • stephen

    hope one day i will be like him,good luck

    • IvanRider

      It’s getting harder and harder to do. Especially with a government in Washington that punishes success everywhere it finds it.