Job boards have an irresistible draw to them. They have a ton of jobs posted. All of which are sitting on the vine, just ripe for the picking. Yet, reeling in one of these jobs is almost an insurmountable task. You submit your resume and wait. There is no real connection between you and the company. This is a critical flaw in the system. Companies don’t fill the positions. People hire people. In fact, people influence the people who hire the people. In this post, I’ll tell you how to capture any job, whether it’s listed or not, by engaging people in your quest.
For many of us, we have to see a job listing on a website before we make any contact with the company. Before jobs are listed on any website, someone inside of the hiring organization knows that there is a need for another employee. Most likely, many people know about it, such as the manager, team members, HR and even consultants. The key for your success in getting one of these positions is to connect to the people in the know before the job is posted on a job board or a website. Once it hits the web, the competition grows exponentially, reducing your chances.
In an online recruiting forum I follow, I came across an exchange between recruiters that illuminated how many companies fill their positions. The discussion surrounded the hierarchy of resources each company used to find candidates. While job boards were listed as a resource, the number one resource was “existing” employees in the company. Potential candidates that are referred by employees get the first crack at consideration for the job. This is a key point. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the position but it does guarantee you’ll be considered. Sending a resume through a job board doesn’t guarantee anything.
The best way to find an unlisted job is to first understand who you would like to work for. You can create this list of companies by finding organizations that do what you do best. There are some good methods for defining this list but they won’t be covered in this post. Assuming you have your list of desired companies, you need to focus on finding contacts within them. Notice that I didn’t suggest looking on job boards to see if these companies have opening. That’s because they may not have them posted yet. Hiring their next employee could just be a discussion among managers, not involving HR yet. If you get your information to them in time, the job may never get posted.
Finding people to contact isn’t as difficult as you might think. Let’s say you wanted to work for Google as software programmer. You could go to a couple of sites and generate a big list of people to contact. LinkedIn and Facebook are great sources for such information. You can use LinkedIn to provide you a free list of 100 people, searched by position and location. In looking for a programming position, you may search for programmers and software managers (since they hire programmers). Put all of these names in a spreadsheet in a single column. Then, create a column for their email address, which we’ll find shortly.
The list you just developed will be the employees inside of the organization you want to work for, and are the same individuals that will recommend you to the hiring manager or HR. We just have to contact them and convince them to help you. We do this through email and social networking websites.
Finding email addresses for each contact isn’t too hard. Most companies use a specific format for email addresses, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you know the format, add the addresses in the column on your spreadsheet. If you’re having difficulty finding the format, you can use free software programs to help with this effort, such as those provided by Lencom. They have a program called The Fast Email Extractor, which will allow you to put in the URL of the company’s website so it can search the whole site for email addresses. It will list them so you can find the format the company uses. Now, you can fill in the email addresses for your list of contacts.
When contacting the individuals on your list, you need to follow a few guidelines to get the most effective use of this method. First, don’t send your resume first. Instead, send them a short introduction email defining 4 or 5 key skills you possess that they may be interested in. Ask about opportunities within their company and any potential fit your skills may have. Make each message you send unique. They should be since you are asking people at different levels to help you so there are only certain things they can do. Second, make frequent contact with them (say about every week) if they are responsive. If they say “stop sending email,” stop sending it. Frequent contact is required to build the relationship. It can take 12 to 14 interactions before they become comfortable supporting you. Third, get them to refer you to the hiring manager. This is the person who has the greatest influence on filling the job opening. At the very least, ask them to send your resume to their HR department. Lastly, continue the process until you get the results you need. You may have to find new contacts in the company and continue sending your introduction emails.
Finding a job in today’s market is at an all-time competitive high. Gaining a competitive advantage is necessary. Some years ago a couple of college professors performed an experiment on posting resumes. They developed ten perfect resumes for a job listing and submitted them to the company with the job opening. This experiment was done several times. They found that roughly 9 out of 10 resumes were never seen by an individual in the company. Remember, people are doing the hiring. If you want to improve your chances for getting hired, you have to work with people. To do that, you have to reach out to them and engage them in your efforts. As with any job search, it takes a lot of effort. This process, however, is easy and should allow you to reach many people everyday.
Todd Rhoad, MSEE, MBA is Director at BT Consulting, a career consulting firm in Altanta, and author of “Blitz The Ladder.” He can be reached at email@example.com.