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by Nitin Agrawal, founder of Interstride | March 04, 2020

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In many of the world’s largest economies, including the U.S. and Canada, the labor force is aging. And some of the traditional hiring formalities are fading away, as many fast-growing companies are looking to fill positions to fuel their growth. As a result, talented workers have an advantage right now. And one of the best ways to use your advantage is to follow a tried-and-true strategy to informally network your way to an interview with a thriving company.

Here’s what I mean. 

1. Shortlist companies on TechCrunch’s Unicorn Leaderboard

The TechCrunch Crunchbase Unicorn Leaderboard is a list of the world’s fastest growing startups. More specifically, it identifies private companies with post-money valuations of $1 billion or more. You can use the leaderboard’s search features to pinpoint a company in a country and in a market (industry) that interest you. For example, you could find the fastest growing artificial intelligence company in the U.S., or the fastest growing energy company in the world. 

Now it’s time to see if that company is hiring. 

2. Search for jobs within that company

Next, search for jobs within that company. One way to do that is to go directly to the company’s career page and examine its open positions. Another way is to go to the Crunchboard, the official job board for TechCrunch, and type the company’s name into the search field. 

The company may not be hiring. Or it may be hiring but not in your specific area of work. If either is the case, return to the Unicorn Leaderboard, identify another company, and start over. 

If they are hiring, that’s great. Bookmark that job listing. 

Next, you’re going to need to do a little social media detective work. 

3. Find professional connections on LinkedIn

Now your goal is to make a personal connection. More specifically, you want to find a person inside that company whom you know or who shares your alma mater. Fortunately, this is exactly what LinkedIn is useful for. So log into your LinkedIn account. Use LinkedIn’s search function to navigate your way to that company’s profile page. From that profile page, click on the “See all employees on LinkedIn” link.

This link will take you to a page that’s a list of LinkedIn personal profiles. From this list, you want to find people that you have a connection to. In that page, click on “Connections” at the top. Check the box for 1st Connects.

A 1st Connect is someone you already know. This is LinkedIn’s version of a Facebook Friend. A 2nd Connect is like a friend of a friend. For job search purposes, it’s best to focus on 1st Connects.

If you have a 1st Connect with someone at the company already, advance to Step 4. Otherwise, return to the list of employees on LinkedIn and use the filter tool to identify workers who attended the same university or college as you. Send that person a Connect request. Once he or she has approved it, move to Step 4.

4. Send a message through LinkedIn

Now it’s time to introduce yourself. Or re-introduce yourself, depending on what the situation calls for. You can do this through LinkedIn’s messaging system. Follow these steps to craft a great introductory message. 

  • Identify yourself if necessary. 
  • Tell the person you’re looking for work and are interested in learning more about the company they work for. 
  • Talk about your strengths and work experience. 

Think of this step as a process where you’re trying to generate leads. You might have to reach out to a few people.

5. Apply for the job. 

Return to the bookmarked job and apply online.  

6. Circle back and ask for an internal referral 

After you’ve applied, touch base with the person again. This time, ask the person if he or she would be willing to provide you with an internal referral for the position. Importantly, provide a link to that job listing in this second message. 

Most likely, the person will agree.

It’s that easy. 

Nitin Agrawal, like many international students, had to overcome many obstacles. This led to the creation of Interstride in 2015 with co-founder Christian Eder. Interstride is a technology-based platform to help students navigate foreign environments, empowering them in their academic and professional endeavors. 

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