Sometimes, I receive questions via my contact form from people who are not interested in a quote for a resume transformation or coaching services. Some people just have a job search question and want an answer! Since I cannot respond to each inquiry individually, I decided to start answering some of the questions that are of general interest here. You are welcome to submit a question via my contact form, and please note that I am more likely to be able to respond via the blog if the question is relevant to many job seekers and is not a totally unique situation.
Here is a question that is useful for most job seekers:
I recently applied to a job at ( —–) and I am extremely interested in the position. However, I do not have any contacts and keep thinking this is the best way to land a job, or even an interview. Do you think it would be okay to do a search on LinkedIn and then proceed to message someone at the location who specializes in (my industry)? If so, what is the best way to go about communicating with them that I applied for a job there recently and would love an opportunity to launch my career there? Thanks for your help!
This is a great question and raises an important point about networking. When I coach my clients, I explain that it is important to look for a company instead of a job. What does that mean? You want to network and ask for informational meetings for informal chit-chat before a job ever becomes available. The goal is to share your ideas and credentials with people at your targeted organizations so you are the first person they think of when a job does come up. This helps you take advantage of what is generally labeled the hidden job market, and gives you a leg up when it comes to applying. Think about it — if you are the one who comes to mind when they visualize the job, clearly, you have a much better chance of landing the opportunity.
That said, you want to use every tool at your disposal to follow up after you have applied for a job. If you can find people via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or any other social networking tool who are connected to an organization where you have applied for a position, absolutely reach out to them.
What is the best way to approach these contacts? First of all, make sure you do not make the interaction about you and your goals. (So, focusing in on the fact that you would love to launch your career at the company is a misstep.) Don’t ever make your networking strictly about YOU!
It is important that you make a point to illustrate why you are a good match and what you offer. Research the organization as much as possible. Identify their successes and where their problems may lie. Think about how your skills and experiences may be able to help them solve a problem or overcome a hurdle. What do you offer that makes you special and uniquely suited to the job? (This may seem like a difficult assignment, but if you do not know, how will you be able to convince them that you are the best one for the job?)
Don’t be surprised if you find potential contacts unwilling to talk to you under these circumstances. The fact is, it may feel to them like cheating — speaking to an applicant about a currently open position…However, you may find that your pitch resonates with someone. If they like what you say, you may be lucky (actually, you may have created some luck for yourself) — and have an opportunity to both share what you have to offer and learn something about the organization at the same time!
photo by purplemattfish