I’ve never been one of those super-connected people with a Rolodex of contacts on speed dial. So, it has always bothered me when people would say getting a new job is all about who you know.
As a career coach who’s helped corporate professionals land interviews and roles at competitive companies like Google, Vogue, Deloitte, iHeartMedia, and an array of other companies in dozens of industries without any secret connections, I know that not having a huge network doesn’t have to exclude you from landing a great role at a competitive company.
But, when you don’t know anyone, you have to know how to approach your job search in a way that helps you skip the line and get ahead of the competition. Here are a few tips to help you get noticed by a competitive company, even when you don’t have a huge network.
Avoid application portals to bypass the competition
In 2019 alone, before unemployment surged last year, Amazon received more than 18 job applications per minute and more than 200,000 online applications for 30,000 open spots. That’s just one example of the number of applications rolling into competitive companies on any given day.
If your only strategy for getting noticed by a competitive company is applying online, then you are not giving yourself every opportunity to get noticed. Instead of sentencing yourself to the black hole of rejection, as I call it, you need to bypass the competition by reaching out to hiring managers directly. This will help you ensure that your application doesn’t get lost in the application portal and will help you get in front of other job candidates.
Get good at knowing why you’re good
It’s not enough to reach out to hiring managers directly, you also have to know exactly why you believe you’re the right person for the role you’re pursuing. Reaching out to the hiring manager without a clear pitch on why you’re the top candidate for the job can still cause your outreach to get tossed to the side.
To get good at knowing why you’re good, you need to take a step back to evaluate how your previous positions have prepared you for the next role you desire. You need to know the stories, accomplishments, results, and examples that showcase the value you can bring to the position. And, you need to be able to communicate those things as easily as you can tell someone your phone number.
Some of my clients have even gotten responses in less than 24 hours after reaching out directly to hiring managers because they mastered this, without any secret connections. When you study yourself just as much as you would study the job description, you’ll increase your chances of getting a response from hiring managers, without a referral.
Create the connections
Lastly, just because you don’t currently have connections doesn’t mean you can’t create them. But rather than feeling like you have to hit the connect button on LinkedIn 15 times a day or awkwardly send people your résumé when they didn’t ask for it, you can do things a different way.
Focus on building authentic relationships by thoughtfully reaching out to people you would genuinely like to get to know simply because they’re like-minded professionals you find interesting. Don’t focus on how they can help you when you’re establishing these relationships. Pay attention to how you can help them and learn from them instead.
Recently, one of my clients followed this approach and she found out about a position at a competitive company that wasn’t even available online yet. And the best part? She didn’t have to ask or beg for the person to put in a good word for her; the person offered on their own.
Getting noticed by a competitive company and landing a new role doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. When you’re willing to approach your job search strategically and thoughtfully, you can increase your chances of getting noticed and hired at a top company you love.
Adunola Adeshola coaches high achievers on how to take their careers to the next level and secure the positions they’ve been chasing.