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Hit The Ground Running

How To Bypass The Job Application And Get Straight To An Interview

One writer puts it bluntly: "Being awesome and waiting around for recruiters to notice isn’t enough." Here's what to do instead.

[Source photo: Peter Milne, Motion Picture Directing; The Facts and Theories of the Newest Art via Wikimedia Commons]

Ever wonder how some people seem to be swimming in interviews and job offers, even though you never hear about them talking about pounding the job-hunt pavement?

It’s totally annoying, right?

I’ll let you in on their secret: They’re still hustling, just not in the "here’s my resume and cover letter" way everybody else does. When you see a friend steeped in opportunities, it’s safe to assume she’s been doing some creative behind-the-scenes work to get noticed by people who can help her build her career.

If you’re tired of sending out resumes and hoping for the best, try one of these approaches on for size.

1. Make Some Noise With Great Content

Establishing yourself as a voice in your field is an awesome way to be noticed by influential companies (and people) in your industry. Call it thought leadership; call it "authority marketing." Positioning yourself as someone who has incredibly useful ideas—and is ready to share them—is a surefire way to attract interest.

And don’t worry, you don’t have to be a writer to make this trick work for you. Many people with published articles or interesting blogs aren’t operating alone. They bounce ideas off more experienced friends or team up with freelance editors to make sure their stuff is top quality. Sneaky? Some might say so, but others would probably call that very smart—look where it gets them!

Once you have a few pieces of content you love, load them onto your personal website’s blog or publish them on your LinkedIn profile to establish a track record. Then, if you want bonus points, start pitching your best ideas to relevant press outlets. Shoot for publications favored by leaders in your industry. Before too long, you’ll have a growing reputation and the emails requesting chats over coffee will start trickling in.

Hint: Making noise for yourself with great content works especially well when you want to branch out into new industries. It’s the perfect chance to build your credibility and show that you’re not a one-trick pony.

2. Stop Waiting For Recruiters To Notice You

I’ve always loved Steve Martin’s advice: "Be so good they can’t ignore you." His words totally capture the way you should be thinking if you want to avoid soul-crushing job application portals. That’s because polishing up the elements of your brand, like your LinkedIn profile, is only half the battle. Translation: Being awesome and waiting around for recruiters to notice isn’t enough.

Think of it this way: Would you rather attempt to stand out from a list of 10 candidates within a recruiter’s LinkedIn search results, or get a decision-maker to focus on you alone so you can wow him or from there?

Stop being passive and reach out to top recruiters in your industry. Seriously! Try a note like this:

Hi Herman,

I’m looking to use my 10 years of experience managing agencies and building digital products for brands like Carmex, Sharpie, and Scotch with a local company when I move to Dallas this fall.

Teams like those at BuzzShift, JDM Digital, and Boxcar Creative stand out to me because of their approach to translating data into creative campaigns for their clients.

If my current direction and the experience on the attached resume align with the needs of one of your clients, I’d love the chance to connect over the phone to share more about my background.

Best,
Lois

Remember: It’s all about initiating a conversation. You’ve already got the whole "can’t ignore you" part on lockdown with a strong personal brand, so you’re sure to get some responses that don’t involve clicking a "Submit Applicant" button in no time.

3. Get Noticed With A Little "Wink Marketing"

Confession: When I wanted to write for The Muse, I didn’t pitch the editorial team outright. Instead, I tried to put myself on their radar before reaching out with my first article idea. I shared, liked, and commented on the content they’d written or ideas they tweeted.

My actions were small and nuanced, like the wink of an eye, but after a few weeks, a member of the team actually reached out to me before I’d had a chance to submit my first article idea. She said she loved my blog (see? Great content works!), and asked if I’d consider penning an article?

The rest is history.

Wink marketing is a killer way to build relationships in the digital realm. It’s also the happy medium between waiting around and the direct outreach method I outlined above.

Let’s say there is a recruiter you weren’t comfortable contacting directly. You could follow her on Twitter one day, share one of her job postings with your LinkedIn network later that week, and comment on her posts the next. Before too long, she’ll be curious about you and unable to resist poking around your knock ’em dead web presence. Once she does, it’s prime time to officially introduce yourself.

You can wink market yourself to just about anyone you’re hoping to have a chat with: Potential mentors, professionals with the job title you crave, and decision-makers of all kinds. Just bear in mind that the more noteworthy the person or company, the harder they might be to connect with.

These approaches take a little time. They’re the "long game" as far as job hunting goes. But when you add up the time you might spend applying to a zillion online openings and hearing nothing back, backdoor approaches to landing interviews actually save you time in the long run. Start creating interesting things and drawing attention to them today so that there are opportunities waiting for you when you’re ready for your next career pivot.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Muse and is reprinted with permission.

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