Proactively seeking opportunities means you have to identify companies who are likely to hire someone who does what you do. Your goal is to reach out and build connections inside the company BEFORE there is a job opening.
If you want to learn how to find target companies, this is my HOW TO create a target list post.
If you are hesitant or doubtful about why this works, just read this New York Times article that explains the power of employee referrals.
“Referred candidates are twice as likely to land an interview as other applicants, according to a new study of one large company by three economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. For those who make it to the interview stage, the referred candidates had a 40 percent better chance of being hired than other applicants.”
Ready to increase your odds? Here’s what you need to do.
You need to track down names of people who work inside your target companies. This has become easier today, so I don’t want to hear the “I don’t know anyone who works at any of these companies” excuse. We’re going to fix that.
Scenario One: You Find a Job Posting
There are too many people blasting their resumes at any job posting that looks remotely close. (You certainly aren’t one of them) To ensure your application doesn’t end up in a black hole, when you find a job you want to apply to, you must do more than just submit your resume and cross your fingers.
Take the bull by the horns and find someone inside the company to share what they know or better yet, ask them if they will present you as a candidate for the job. These three posts will help with the details and logic.
A more proactive approach is to find people to meet with BEFORE there is a job posting.
Good hiring managers will often meet with people even if they don’t have any current openings. They do this because they are always scouting for good talent. Will they be willing to meet with you? You have to give them a reason to! But first…
HOW TO: Find People’s Names at Target Companies
Tap the People You Know (All of them)
The best contacts are the ones that you have some connection with. These are either past colleagues, friends, family, neighbors. You have a direct relationship with these people and they are more likely to help you. In order to tap into your immediate network, you need to reach out to them and ask for the information you are missing.
One by one, (not in an email blast please) reach out to each individual you know well and ask them who they know that works in the target companies you have listed. No name is a bad name. Your job is to follow up with every name given and request a short informational meeting to learn about the company (NEVER TO FIND A JOB!)
HOW TO: Use Social Networks to Connect
If you aren’t on LinkedIn yet, jump in! Learn the etiquette! And begin your research.
1. Find and Follow Your Target Companies on LinkedIn.
2. Look for the strongest/best connection (someone you know well, or is in the department/area you want to work in).
3. You may not have any 1st-degree connections. If this is the case, you probably have 2nd-degree connections, people who know company insiders. This is what that looks like. There are 34 people I know that can introduce me to the Product Marketing Manager. I just need to pick the person who I know best to ask for an introduction.
4. Also, I share 4 groups with the Product Marketing Manager. This is one more way I could interact with the person. Visit the groups and look for active conversations the person may be participating in. I could get on his/her radar that way too!
When you share a group on LinkedIn, you can usually invite them to connect without sending an InMail (you would need a paid membership to send InMail.)
No Connections, No Problem- Meet Them
If you still come up empty-handed, there are some other workarounds.
Use Social Networks
Find people who work inside your target companies using Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Your mission is to find and follow people across as many of these platforms as possible. Watch them, see what they are doing and share their good news (give to get!) Once you have established some dialogue, ask if you can contact them offline either via phone, Skype, or email.
- Before you start following every profile, review each one and ask yourself why you would want to follow them and what you expect to learn from them.
- Human Resources and recruiters can make a good point of entry, but don’t stop there. Find people who head up the department or division you want to work in too! Remember, HR, Recruiters and Hiring Managers All Have Different Roles.
- You may want to add “employee” and/or “works at” in your search criteria to pare down the results if there are too many.
Search for People on Twitter
Go back to the person’s LinkedIn profile and look at the “Contact and Personal Info” part of their profile. They may lead you to a personal website, Twitter account or some other site you can connect with them
If you have a Twitter account, use the search bar at the top to search for the person you are interested in connecting with.
Or you can try searching just Twitter bio information by using FollowerWonk.
Search Facebook by Employer
Sure, you can use the search bar in Google+ too.
It doesn’t matter if you are a college student, dissatisfied with your job, or unemployed. Anyone can reach out to people and ask for an informational meeting. And by the way, have you checked out LinkedIn’s See Alumni function?
Ask people who do similar work for their advice. Remember, the companies on your list do NOT need to have available jobs at this time. You want to think about what future opportunities you can be first in line for!