Forget the Networking: 3 Contrarian Steps to Quickly Getting Job Interviews
Searching for a job? You’ve been applying endlessly online with little to show and have read all the advice giving articles. For results, the most commonly touted strategy is networking…..networking with colleagues, family, friends, contacts, in person, through social media, writing, speaking, teaching, etc., etc., etc. Networking can obviously be effective…but it is not for everyone. It works best for those who are well liked, have great in-person interactional skills, are charismatic, have strong reputations in their work, and/or have advanced skills in the nuances of using social media. For those who are less social, reticent to ask for help from others, have less stellar reputations or uniform likeability, or have less propensity toward social media, networking can be more difficult, less effective, or even destructive. Finally networking is very time intensive. The bottom line….don’t get sucked into the “networking is everything” hype if you are not the networking type. Limiting networking only to your most trusted connections could work to your advantage and allow you to spend your job search time more productively than those on the all-out network bandwagon.
Getting to the stage of first interviews is often the most challenging part of the job search. However, when the competition is strong, you can easily distinguish yourself from the pack by focusing on a low network-dependent, very direct strategy. Although the last step of this process may be uncomfortable at first, it is one of the highest yield methods both for interviews and getting jobs. Here are the steps:
1. Target Jobs – First, it’s important to determine the type of job you want, as specifically as possible. Select several jobs if necessary, rather than targeting one general field. For example, if you are newly entering or reentering the workforce, rather than targeting a general field like human resources, narrow to benefits manager and/or training specialist. Try also, to target the industry in which you would like to work, like insurance or medical services.
2. Target Employers – You’ll want to find employers in your area that hire people in the jobs you targeted. Accessible public career information now makes this easy. Go to http://www.careerinfonet.org/EmployerLocator/emp_loc_industry1.asp?nodeid=18&action=occupation then follow the sequence to locate employers, phone numbers, and contact persons.
3. Get in the Door – Many of the employers you find through targeting won’t have open jobs posted. They may not even have a current opening. However, your strategy will be to get in the door, assess your fit to the environment, and talk to someone who has authority to make a hiring decision before job openings or potential job openings get publicized. Here are some ways to do that:
Focus on the smaller companies first. Use the internet to do some preparatory research about organizations you target.
If possible, find someone inside the company who can help with an introduction or a suggestion about how to make contact with a hiring official. If you don’t personally know an insider, you can speak with the listed company contact person or you can try using a social networking source such as Linkedin.
One “soft” strategy is to ask for a meeting to find out more about the field or jobs in which you have interest, not for the purpose of getting a job. Some people are flattered that you are asking for their knowledge and will be happy to help. Sometimes these “informational interviews” can lead to a job because it gives you a chance to make a good impression on someone who can help you, without putting any pressure on them.
The boldest strategy is to just walk into the company without an appointment and see if a manager is available to talk to you. Take along a resume. Once you’re inside and make a connection with someone, you can decide whether to frame your visit in terms of an informational interview or a search for a specific job. In very small companies the first person you see may be the hiring person, so you won’t even have to get by a “gatekeeper”. In my company, when someone walks in the door, looks professional, and wants information or is looking for a job that I hire, I’m eager to talk to them right away. It may save me a lot of recruitment time now, or later when I’m ready to hire. Walking into the company is a high success probability strategy because you can often get there when the timing is right to pique the employer’s interest.
The above is essentially a contrarian approach to what the rest of the pack is doing. Focusing your search on direct contacts may be uncomfortable at first and you’ll need to be persistent. However, in the job hunting business being acceptably bold and different makes you stand out, exactly what you need most in a crowded field of competition.
Steve Simon, Ph.D.
President, CEO, and Career Consultant
Human Services Outcomes, Inc.
Please visit http:/hsoutcomes.blogspot.com if you would like to share or pose questions to the author regarding this topic. An option to comment anonymously is provided if you prefer.