Once you’re armed with a resume that reflects your best professional self, what’s the next step? Most candidates will explore the online job boards to see what opportunities are posted there. They’ll continue to apply to jobs that aren’t an ideal fit in a vague hope that they will be selected for an interview.
Hoping that someone will find you from among the hundreds or thousands that apply for a job posting isn’t a strategy, it’s a gamble. Jobs have become amazingly complex; the chances that you’ll find something exactly like what you’ve already done are remote. You can dramatically increase your chances of obtaining an interview through a different approach.
Speak with the people in your circle of influence: friends, neighbors, relatives, service providers, professional colleagues, former co-workers, etc. Ask them where they work, what they do and whether or not they enjoy their workplace culture and consider their colleagues and supervisors to be supportive.
If your contacts speak well of their workplace environments and their employers, research their companies to identify the specific challenges and advantages they have in their industries and markets. What are these companies’ specific needs and long-term prospects?
Based on the level of work you do, it may be necessary to drill down to the specific needs in the departments in which your contacts work and/or the areas in which you would expect to contribute.
Once you’re armed with this information, you can determine how your unique strengths will add value, either in terms of solving problems, overcoming challenges or intensifying competitive advantage. Now the time is ripe to ask for another contact (ideally a hiring manager) that you might speak with regarding your interest in the company. This strategy works if you’re a warehouse supervisor, administrative assistant, business analyst, mid-level manager or CEO.
What are the benefits to this approach?
- You’ll secure access to jobs that haven’t yet been posted and (may never be) if you’re a strong candidate.
- You’ll gain firsthand knowledge regarding which employers deserve to reap the benefit of your expertise, hard work and loyalty.
- Assuming that you’re asking someone who knows you and likes you, you’ll have a ready-made ally when it comes to obtaining an invaluable employee referral/recommendation.
- Of the 5 candidates that most employers will interview for any position, 3 will be employee referrals . . . and of those 5 candidates that win interviews, the most likely to land the job will be one of those 3 employee referrals!
- Once you’re on the job, you’ll already know someone inside who is heavily invested in helping you succeed.
Ellie Vargo, MRW, CCMC