Founder of Virtus Career Consulting, speaker and author of the career empowerment book
Applying for jobs online can be frustrating. Job-seekers often tell me they feel they’re submitting their resume into a black hole, and wonder if anyone even received it.
At a career workshop, I was facilitating today, a participant told me she’d applied for a job and it was eight weeks before she heard confirmation her application was received. When you’re looking for a job, waiting two months for initial contact is not ideal.
On average, a company with 1,000 employees receives 100,000 employment applications annually. Adding your resume to the pile is not your best approach.
A friend of mine was job searching using a conventional online search and application process. After a month, and more than 17 applications with custom cover letters submitted, not a single response was received.
I suggested using the approach I’m about to share with you, and, on the same day she tried it, she received three emails from people in companies she was targeting. She ended up meeting for lunch with one of those people, who then passed her information along deeper into the company, and she’s now a finalist for the position she was targeting.
As a sidebar, the person she had lunch with told her his company wouldn’t have likely contacted her, because they don’t hire people without an inside connection.
Here is one way to approach this process:
Step 1: Research and Target Companies
Research companies that have the type of role you’re interested in. For example, I might use the career exploration tool O*net Online. If you’re an IT Project Manager, search “IT Project Manager” and then click a job title in the search results, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Find Jobs” to see companies in your desired area that are hiring. If you already know the companies you’re targeting, skip this step.
In my example search result, there are currently 581 IT Project Manager jobs posted in North Carolina. I can narrow and expand my search for a target location.
Step 2: Assess Your Connections
Let’s say Microsoft is a company of interest for an IT Project Manager role.
Go to the LinkedIn home page and enter “Microsoft” in the search box and click “People who work at Microsoft.”
In the search results, check if you have any 1st connections that currently work at Microsoft (you can also check for additional 1st connections by selecting people who used to work at Microsoft, as a back up).
If you do have a 1st connection and you are acquainted with them, send them a Message and ask if they’re willing to connect you with others they know within Microsoft that would know people in Project Management.
You’d be surprised how people within the target company will continue forwarding your information along until you end up in the right place.
If you don’t have 1st connections, look at your 2nd connections and expand the shared connections hyperlink (shown below) to see who you know that is connected to each 2nd connection you have.
The search results show how many 2nd connections you have (second red arrow). In the screenshot below, you can see I have 758 2nd connections and one 1st connection to Microsoft. Ideally, you want to identify 2nd connections that are most closely related to the department or business unit you’re seeking and the person who connects you to this person is someone who has a favorable opinion of you.
Step 3: Write a Network Blurb and Ask Your Connection to Share it
Ask your 1st connection to contact the person they are connected with to ask them if they’d be willing to have an exploratory conversation with you. Make it easy for your contact by providing them with a networking blurb about you so they don’t have to conjure something to say about you.
Using the Microsoft example, I’ve written a networking blurb that states:
- The type of role I’m seeking
- Why I want to work at their company
- What I’m asking of them to do for me
“I am currently seeking to join the Microsoft team as an IT Project Manager. I have 7+ years of experience in managing large IT projects such as a company-wide CRM platform upgrade which was installed on time and within budget. I am interested in working at Microsoft because of the strong commitment to continuous learning and growth of its associates. Would you be willing to have a 30-minute networking conversation with me about your experience working for Microsoft?”
You’d be surprised at the high percentage of people who say yes to this request. I network my clients regularly and I have not been declined yet. Keep in mind:
- I don’t refer people who are low potential or a poor fit for a position. Don’t ask this of people if you aren’t qualified.
- I don’t refer people I can’t reasonably vouch for
- I’m careful not to ask the same person repeatedly, or frequently
You increase your chances of landing a position by 42 times when networking.
If you have a great networking story using this method, I’d love to hear it!
All the best to you!