How to use your Internet savvy stalking skills to meet the right people.
We’ve all experienced it. You send your perfectly crafted resume out to 100 companies, all addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Every time the telephone rings you jump, and you hope against hope that somehow the recruiter at your dream company is going to pick you out of the hundreds of other recent graduates desperate for their first start. After a while, you begin feeling anxious, and pretty soon the self-loathing kicks in. Maybe you’re just not good enough for the job? Maybe you’re not smart enough, not qualified enough, not experienced enough? Sometimes these fears are actually the case, but most of the time, it’s just that you didn’t know the right people, and your resume never made it into the inbox of an actual decision maker. It takes a little bit of guts, and a lot of self confidence, but your networking skills can help narrow the gap between you, the unemployed graduate, and them, those shiny beautiful people with the careers.
Where to begin though?
I think the term “networking” scares a lot of young of people because it conjures up the image of someone slithering their way through an event that they weren’t invited to and making a fool of themselves. Fear not though! You can actually network from the safety of your laptop – although it never hurts to man up and attend those events either!
Choose your primary targets.
Narrow your time and efforts to about 10 companies that you know are hiring right now and are a part of an industry that you’re interested in. Learn everything you possibly can about these companies. Read their blogs, press reports, newspaper clippings and anything else you can possibly gather to level the playing field. Remember that when you step into that job interview, you should be able to speak like an insider, already well vested in the inner workings of the company.
Start interacting with your future peers.
Market yourself by joining some social media sites like Twitter or LinkedIn, maybe even start a blog. Whatever you do, make sure it’s a clear consistent message streaming across all fronts, and a genuine one at that. Don’t lie on these profiles. You will come off looking very fake if you do, and employers can smell this kind of insincerity from a mile away. Put some thought into it, and think of your profiles on these sites as a virtual extension of your resume. It’s so easy to say that you have great communication skills, but putting the time and effort into showcasing them to employers demonstrates that your passion for your particular industry exceeds that of the regular 9-5'er.
Put your creeping skills into play.
It still amazes me how much information companies are willing to give away about themselves on LinkedIn. You can look at a company’s website and see absolutely nothing about the hierarchy of people who work there, but go on to LinkedIn and there is a good chance you can find the HR manager, the president, the vice president, and everybody in between. Some people are even posting jobs on LinkedIn these days!
In order to see a large majority of the profiles on LinkedIn, you need to start adding people. Be bold! If you would like to add someone who you truly don’t know, it never hurts to attach a little message along the lines of, “Hi, my name is Amy and I just graduated from Lancaster University. I am very interested in working in publishing, and would love to learn some more about your company. If you would ever be interested in maybe going out for a coffee for an informational interview, I would be delighted! Cheers, and thanks for your time.” This gives your potential network connection a reason to add you back, and there’s a possibility an of ally within the company if you hit it off.
Keep your chin up.
If you don’t hear back from said person, don’t take it personally. Most working professionals are extremely busy, and heck, maybe they just felt like watching Dexter that night instead. Never be embarrassed about asking though. It’s a universal truth: everyone started somewhere, no matter how big and powerful they are now.
Another universal truth is that people LOVE talking about themselves, and sometimes the best way to get quality information out of people is to ask them how they got their start in their company or industry. It’s a question that absolutely everyone can relate to, and it’s usually an ego boost. No matter what happens, be sure to trip over yourself thanking them for their time, and send a well written thank you card to their office afterwards.
With your LinkedIn connections multiplying, its time to man the Twitter! Make sure your tweets are thoughtful insights on what’s happening in the industry, or comments on the companies who are doing things that you find inspiring. Don’t post anything terribly personal, and keep in mind that the etiquette for adding people on Twitter is much more low key than LinkedIn. You don’t need to know the person or send them a message to start following their tweets. What you can do is retweet with them, and maybe start a dialogue on something industry related that’s of interest to both of you. A bit of healthy debate perchance!
Get in touch. Get noticed.
Sometimes the biggest hindrance to your job search can be as simple as not having the right e-mail to send your resume to, and the difference between sending your e-mail into the hands of an electronic database versus reaching out personally to a living breathing recruiter can make a world of difference in terms of getting noticed. However, you must tread lightly here, young grasshopper. This tactic is probably the most bold of all, and it’s important not to abuse the power of your internet stalking skills or you’ll come off actually looking like a stalker as opposed to a savvy, resourceful grad.
So you’ve gathered all these names from LinkedIn and Twitter but you don’t have your contacts' actual company e-mail addresses to send your resume to. The simplest option of course is just to come forward and ask your LinkedIn pal if they are responsible for hiring the particular position that you’re interested in, and if they would be able to provide a company email for you to send your resume to.
If you’re feeling shy and would like to bypass this option, the first thing you should do is tool around the company’s website and get an idea of the e-mail format typically used at that company. Maybe they do email@example.com, maybe it’s all one word. Figure it out somehow; try phoning in and speaking to the receptionist. Tell her you have been trying to email your contact but the email has been bouncing back. A little white lie, and a tactic that’s been used by the sales industry for years! The receptionist may ask you what this is in regards to. Try not to use to many “ummmms” and confidently tell them it’s in regards to a particular position you are applying to. It’s never a good idea to lie here, and remember that receptionists can usually smell fear! If they don’t think it’s a legitimate reason to give out the e-mail address, you have to respect that.
If you do get the correct address, compose an e-mail cover letter explaining why you’re interested in this position, why you’re reaching out to this person in particular, and attach a resume. This can be a bit of a gamble if you’re not a 100 percent sure you’ve reached the decision maker for the position you interested in, but that’s the risk you take in this scenario.
Face the facts.
If you don’t hear back from a recruiter at this point, it’s game over. They are just not that into you, and no amount of e-mails, phone calls, or pleading will change this. If you do hear back from them, the recruiter is probably impressed that you had the smarts to track them down. Instead of taking the passive route and throwing your resume into some database, never to be seen again, you took control of the situation and reached out to the company personally. It shows confidence and resourcefulness, and has marked you as a smart jobseeker whose commitment to finding a career knows no bounds. So happy creeping, jobseekers!