After having written a recent post for The Undercover Recruiter (How NOT to Contact Recruiters on LinkedIn), I received a lot of requests for advice on how jobseekers SHOULD reach out to recruiters. It reminded me of a recent InMail message in my LinkedIn inbox and I thought I would share my response since it details some of the many ways that jobseekers can (and should!) approach recruiters on LinkedIn as well as other forms of social media.
In my opinion, the following advice is the MOST important step that a jobseeker can make because it turns a reactive process (applying online and waiting / hoping to hear back) into a proactive one (reaching out to recruiters / hiring managers online and starting a two-way dialogue that gets your resume reviewed / considered for the role). Anything a jobseeker can do to stand out from the pack (in a good way, of course) and beat others to the punch will help them land that coveted offer. Remember, there is no 2nd place when applying for that dream position. That 1st place candidate gets the job and the dozens (or hundreds!) of others do not. What are YOU doing to differentiate yourself in this tough job market?
Here’s the original email (identifying details changed for privacy):
I recently found your blog as I have been trying to find the best tactics to land my next position. I have my heart set on a marketing job at XYZ Company in Washington D.C. but I am from Massachusetts and have no connections there. Do you have any advice?
Thanks for reaching out. Great question! Here’s my advice…
1. First things first. Go to XYZ’s company website and apply online for any position(s) of interest that match well with your skill set and experience.
2. Next, it’s time to leverage LinkedIn and the power of networking. I just searched my network and I have 956 total connections currently working at XYZ Company in the DC area. 109 of them are 1st or 2nd level connections, so once we’re linked, they’ll be in your network too (as 2nd or 3rd level connections).
Once we’re connected, do a LinkedIn search and identify two or three of those contacts that you would like to contact. I’d recommend Recruiters, hiring managers – Manager/Director/VP of Marketing in your case, peers who hold the same title that you desire, etc. We can identify additional contacts later, if need be.
3. Send introduction requests through LinkedIn to those people. Introduce yourself, let them know that you’ve applied online via their careers page and you’d like to follow up directly to reiterate your strong interest. Be specific about which position(s) you’re referencing, not just a general “I really want to work for your company” message. Important: Highlight how you match their requirements and can contribute in the role (i.e., how you can help THE TEAM), not just why you’re interested and how great a fit it is for YOU. If this person is not the decision maker, then he/she will need to go to bat for you so make their job easier (and more effective) by giving them some concrete details to work with.
Since you’re not local, explain that you already have a place to stay in DC (even if it would just be a hotel at first… shhh) and are available to interview at their convenience. If they ask when you’ll next be in the area, tell them next week (and be ready to book a flight). Be willing to fly there and/or relocate on your dime, if this company really is your first choice and you’re confident in the fit. Chances are, they’ll fly you in to interview if you’re a strong match (and relocate you if there’s budget), but you may want to keep all options open in this tight job market.
4. See what happens next. Worst case, they’ll look at your profile and decide to pass. They may even respond back to let you know. (Hey, at least your info got reviewed, which is more than many applicants can say, right?) Even better, they might forward your info to the appropriate hiring manager and/or recruiter. That person will then consider your resume and, if not a match at this time, at least they’ll have it on file and hopefully keep you in mind for future openings. A good recruiter will follow up to close the loop with you. Again, it’s still better than entering that “black hole” that frustrates many jobseekers. Best case, they’ll be interested in interviewing you and you’ll hear back accordingly. Whichever the case, this proactive approach is so much better than the apply-with-fingers-crossed-while-waiting-patiently-never-to-hear-back method used by most jobseekers!
No matter what, don’t give up! Get creative and keep reaching out. Consider some of the following options:
- See if anyone you know happens to know someone who works there (or used to work there). LinkedIn is perfect for this type of sleuthing / networking.
- Join their XYZ Careers group on LinkedIn (and any other LinkedIn groups where XYZ employees might be members) and interact with recruiters and/or marketing employees there. (Did you know that you can contact fellow LinkedIn group members for free? How perfect is that?!)
- See if the company has a Twitter account and reach out there. I’d bet you ANYTHING that they’ll respond back that way and/or put you in touch with the right person.
- Comment on their Facebook Company or Careers Page. Show your interest and enthusiasm for the company. Ask the best way to follow up about employment.
- Look for Meetup marketing groups in DC and network with their members. They might know of a fabulous position at XYZ or elsewhere. Gain insights into which local companies are employers of choice.
Be assertive and enthusiastic while being careful not to come across as aggressive or stalkerish. Use your judgment.
Of course, if it doesn’t work out this time, use this same method to apply for other openings and/or other companies. As mom used to say, there are other fish in the sea. And the next fish, er, company, might just be the perfect fit. And if you follow these steps, I doubt you’ll be a jobseeker for very long!