What would you consider the most important factor for success when seeking a new job? A great resume? Relevant qualifications that match the job description? An MBA or other educational achievements?
Actually, the most important factor for job search success and your overall career advancement is the quality of your communication. And, fundamentally, the first step in quality communications is engaging people who have the authority to hire you for the job(s) you desire.
But, we all know that the current hiring system is designed to insulate job seekers from the true decision makers. Online job postings are the most extreme example. Many require that you blindly complete an application and provide various additional information, not knowing if any human will actually see your information. This is a source of great frustration, which is understandable.
In contrast to online applications and other ineffective activities, you know that your best bet is to cut out the “middle men” (recruiters, resume screeners, etc.) and connect directly with decision makers who have the authority to hire you. After doing the research and identifying companies of interest, consider the following actions that provide far higher odds of reaching people who can hire you:
– Take the time to research your companies of interest and identify the specific person or people who would most likely be your boss. Various online tools are available, most notably LinkedIn. These are your “targets”.
– Take a mental inventory to determine who you know in the companies of interest, if anyone. Review your LinkedIn contacts, in case you have casual connections that you have forgotten. Where appropriate, reach out to them. Call if you have a phone number. If not, email if you have their direct email address. Last choice, send them an InMail message.
– Make a list of your best networking contacts and ask them blindly for introductions to your targets. This is a low probability option that is, next to going to networking meetings and passing out business cards (good luck with that), the most common thing that people do in the name of networking. Coach your contacts regarding how to make the introductions so they make them effectively.
– Go beyond the previous step of asking for blind introductions and do thorough research on LinkedIn by reviewing all the first level contacts of your best networking contacts. Identify those people you most want to engage (second level connections for you) and ask for introductions. Again, coach your contacts to maximize the effectiveness of their introductions.
– For those targets that cannot be reached through the previous methods, research to identify as many phone numbers and emails as you can. If you cannot find the direct number, you can most likely find a main/listed number for the company. Call those for which you have phone numbers. Use email as a follow up to phone messages. Make your voicemails and emails as compelling as possible. Answer the questions “What’s in it for them? and Why should they respond back to you?”.
– Consider upgrading to one of the paid account choices on LinkedIn. This will provide you a “last resort” electronic option to send your remaining targets a direct InMail.
– A “last resort” action is to show up at the office location and ask to speak with your target. This has a low probability of success, but what else can you do? If you truly want to work for the company, this will demonstrate your passion and interest (NOT desperation) by doing what no one else will do.
– If it is not practical to show up physically at the office location because they are in another city, write a concise and compelling note to your target and ask for 5 or 10 minutes to speak with them by phone.
What else? What other methods have you used successfully to reach your targets?
For most job seekers, engaging decision makers is a huge challenge. I hope you will try some of these suggestions and that they will increase your ability to reach anyone. Improving your ability to engage strategic business contacts and deliver compelling messages will greatly increase your future odds of success in your job searches as well as in your overall career.
This post has only covered how to make initial contact with your targets. To truly engage them, you must prepare and deliver concise and compelling self-presentations. I hope to discuss that topic in a future post.
Good luck and best wishes for the new year!