Unless you’re going through a recruitment consultant, the best way to ensure your CV or resume is seen by a hiring manager is by networking your way into the company. Networking is one of the most important job search activities. In fact, it’s been estimated that over 60% of all jobs have been found through networking. The job search process has evolved, and you need to take an entrepreneurial, targeted approach to landing your dream job.
As earlier mentioned, over half of candidates that are successful at getting interviews today tend to be referrals, and for many top jobs, the only way to get in is by knowing someone on the inside who wants to help you. If a mutual contact recommended you apply, it is important to include their name in your cover letter because this will carry a lot of weight and your application is much more likely to generate an interview.
If you don’t know anyone in the organization you’re interested in, you’ll need to leverage your LinkedIn network to establish a connection with a company employee prior to submitting your job application. Note that this strategy will require you to reach out to a complete stranger via a LinkedIn message or email, followed by a phone call from you.
Start with the organization’s LinkedIn Company Page. All of the company’s current employees will automatically show up on that Company Page’s landing page. See if you can identify any of the employees. Any 1st degree connections will show up first, which means you are directly connected to that person and can reach out to him or her directly for advice on applying for the position.
If the prospect is in your 2nd degree network, it means you are connected to that person through a 1st degree connection, and will have to send an introduction request to that connection to get connected to the company employee.
When you find a connection, it is important to handle this strategically. You’re not going to ask them for a job. Rather, you’re going to have a short, general discussion about what working at the company.is like. If you approach these contacts in the right way, they are much more likely to agree to help you by offering useful information. If you get on really well, you can even persuade them to let you use their name in your cover letter.
Follow these steps to request an introduction from a first-degree contact:
When asking for an introduction, avoid using generic introduction requests such as:
Can you introduce me to john smith?
This type of generic message is likely to be ignored. Rather, take the time to include a more detailed, personal message, providing some context so that the person you forward the introduction request to will have some way of describing you in a way they would be comfortable with. Provide specific details of why you would like to be introduced to the other person.
May I ask you for a big favor?
I noticed you’re connected with Patrick Koshoni, a graphic designer with Virgin Media. As you may now, I specialize in digital marketing and Virgin Media are currently looking for an experienced digital marketer. I would like to speak to Patrick to learn more about working with Virgin Media.
Would you be willing to introduce us?
I realize this is a huge favor. If you don’t feel comfortable introducing us, I understand. Regardless, I hope we stay in touch. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.
Note that if you have a Basic LinkedIn account, you can have up to five outstanding introductions open at one time.
Once you get introduced to the company employee, you’ll need to engage with them and get them to like and trust you. Your ultimate goal should be to persuade that person to let you use your name in your job application. Start with a message.
My name’s Abiye, and I’m a network engineer in London. I noticed that you work for Virgin Media. I’d love to chat about what it’s like working at Virgin Media.
Could we set up a time to talk this over on the phone?
Looking forward to staying connected!
If you’re trying to reach out to 2nd degree connections you’ve never actually met, their first impression of you will be based on the message you send to them as well as your LinkedIn profile. This is why your profile needs to be stellar, and present you as a likeable, top-notch candidate that people would want to help.
An effective way to increase your likability is to list any volunteer or non-profit organizations you’re currently involved with. Most people will be more inclined to help those who are already helping others as well. Note that you may need to send out a number of cold emails until you get the right response, but it will be well worth the effort.