Most job seekers conduct their search by sitting at home and checking job boards. If they see a posting that interests them, they might apply. More often than not, they receive no response from that employer.
I don’t understand why so many people use this passive route to find a job. It rarely works.
To improve your chances, you have to identify and target specific organizations that interest you—even if there are no known job openings there right now—and make a connection with them.
Ideally, you have someone who can ‘open the door’ for you. But if not, you must take it upon yourself to make the first contact.
Many people believe that large employers have the most jobs. While this may be true, many are also going through downsizing to control costs and are not adding staff.
Don’t overlook small to mid-sized employers. Although not as well known, these companies may be a much better source of employment for you.
Before reaching out, do a little homework. Good research will help you develop a better understanding of the “pain points” facing the company.
Remember, most companies’ pain points fall under one of these categories:
- Customer service
You should know this information to customize your letter and prepare for the face-to-face meeting you are hoping to have.
In the meeting
Keep in mind that your primary goal is to obtain advice from that employer. As tempting as it might be, refrain from asking for a job or if any openings are coming up.
That could be a big turnoff to someone who has agreed to spend time with you.
You should come to the meeting armed with specific questions. Here are a few examples:
Does my approach to job search make sense to you?
What do you see as the future trends in your industry?
What other companies or people might you suggest I contact?
Is it okay if I mention your name?
Can you look at my resume and offer me some feedback?
Do you know the names of any recruiters who specialize in my field?
How might my skills transfer to other industries or types of jobs?
Having a list of focused questions will highlight your seriousness and professionalism and help you obtain valuable information for your job search.
And, never overstay your welcome. Always be respectful of the employer’s time.
After the meeting
Think about how you might build a long-term mutually-beneficial relationship with this person.
Consider what you can offer the other person, not just what you stand to gain.
Following the meeting, follow up with a thank you note, one of the most under-utilized tools in job search. Even if the information you got wasn’t helpful, you must show your appreciation for their time.
It is also wise to keep that person in the loop by e-mailing them after you’ve met with one of their referrals or after you’ve gotten a job. It will certainly make them feel good if some of the advice they shared has paid off.