Networking your way into a job

They say networking is everything, but unfortunately no one you know is going to simply hand you a job! But with a little finesse, you can work your way into an interview. Here’s how to get an interview at a larger company where you know no one.

1. Create a LinkedIn profile and completely fill out your profile. Make sure it’s polished, you have a good professional photo, and a succinct summary.

2. In the LinkedIn search bar, type in your goal company’s name. It should show you a list of people working at that company. If needed, filter the search results for your specific location. Go though this list, opening each one in a new tab.

3. (a) Check out their profiles to see if you have anything in common with them, such as alma mater or sports/hobbies.

Send them an invite with a note that says something like this:

“Hi [First Name], I saw that you worked at [ABC LLC] and was a fellow [Undergraduate University alumna/alumnus] / [Sports team fan] and wanted to reach out to ask your insight on the company.”

(b) If there’s nothing in common, you’ll just be doing the same cold-calling. Send them an invite with a note saying:

“Hi [First Name], I saw that you worked at [ABC LLC] and I’m applying to the company. I was wondering if you could share with me your thoughts on the company so far.”

4. Often times they will not respond to you, either because they don’t want to help, or because they don’t use LinkedIn. This is why I recommend sending connection requests by the dozens. Once someone accepts your connection request, chat them up saying “Thanks for connecting with me, [Name]! I’m looking into working for [ABC LLC] and wanted to know [your question here]. I don’t mind chatting through LinkedIn, but I’m also open to a phone call or over some coffee if either is better for you.”

I would suggest getting a phone call, because it’s just more personable while not taking away time from their day. As for the question to ask, it’s up to you. I personally will start off with asking about the company culture, what management is like, and if the recall their own interviews, what questions they were asked.

5. (a) If your job application has a spot for employee references, ask your most influential connection who you have developed a positive relationship with if you could drop their name for that section of the application. Usually they’ll say yes if you’ve made a good impression on them. If they say no, it’s a sign you need to work on how you speak to others, or develop your skills.

(b) If there is no spot for references, try to include in your cover letter something like “Especially after speaking to some acquaintances who work at [ABC LLC] in the [IT/Finance/Operations department], I am eager to be a part of the [fast-paced office environment/ global growth/ innovation and leading technology development] they have told me about.” If they don’t have a space for cover letter, you will need to wait and hope for an interview first.

6. At this point, it is assumed you have the initial first screening interview. When asked why you want to work there, or really at any best opportunity, try to name drop. Say you know the employees there, and that you know there are definitely great people working there and it’s a company culture you’d thrive in. This is likely to work in your favor with the interviewer, especially if that person is a good employee.

Of course, all throughout these steps, be sure to put your best foot forward, and be genuine. People can tell when they are being used, and especially people who are more experienced will not like you if you don’t consider their own feelings. Be nice, and honestly ask for information about their thoughts on the company. Do not ask a stranger to hook you up with an interview, especially if they’re someone with influence in the hiring process. If you’re not certain in your social skills, make sure that when you’re sending connection requests in step 2 that you avoid long-time employees in the exact division you’re applying to.

With a little legwork, you can stand out as a candidate. Because after all, the interviewers are also looking for someone who would work well with the other people at the company.

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