You've got about 11 tabs open in your browser window right now, and they're for different job postings. You're flipping back and forth, trying to decide which ones you should apply for. Some you're not even sure you're that excited about, but you figure it couldn't hurt to try, right?
You've sent out at least 49 applications.
You haven't received any responses yet, but you know that your resume and cover letter are on point because you've had someone look them over for you.
You're beginning to feel frustrated and debilitated with the process, and "waiting to hear back" is all you seem to be doing these days.
You've had enough.
When is something going to give?
Good news: There are other ways. Here are three of them:
1. Turn strangers into allies in your job hunt:
If you're restricting your job search to the job boards, your odds are only slighter better than playing a scratch card. In other words, the odds of you winning are very low, but you could get lucky; for some jobs you could quite easily be one of more than 1,000 applicants.
Which means that it's nothing personal that you're not getting replies—because it doesn't really have anything to do with you. Your application likely reads very similarly to the other ones, and it's hard for the person reading them to see that you're awesome. Possibly there isn't even a human reading the resumes, and they're being sorted by keywords.
So what should you do instead?
When reaching out to hiring managers (or people who can connect you to them) over LinkedIn or via email, tests show that on average, one in 10 people will reply to you, if you do it right. Even better, if you're reaching out to college alumni, one in three are likely to contact you back.
Which odds do you like better?
Another common misconception is that contacting everyone in your existing network and asking them to "Let you know if they hear of anything" is enough.
The problem with that is if you had someone in your existing network who happened to be a hiring manager (or knew the hiring manager) for your dream job, that would be great! But most people don't, so you need to reach out to strangers or acquaintances that you don't know that well, and that's where most people panic.
The trick is to be able to contact new people without sounding needy, sleazy or desperate. Here's a template:
- Tell them how you found them ("I found you when I was researching project management.")
- A respectful check-in ("I hope you don't mind me reaching out to you.")
- A sincere compliment ("I found your experience to be so inspiring for x reason." Mention something specific you admire about them.)
- Your current status ("I myself am working towards my degree in x, and I'm so excited for what my future has in store for me.")
- Make your request ("I was so inspired by you that I thought I'd ask if you had time for a quick coffee or phone call.")
- Attach your resume ("Attached is my resume so that you can have an idea of my background.")
That's it. Pretty cool, right?
2. The Blurb Method
When my sister and I lost our jobs several years ago (we worked for the same company that went under), we both tried a bunch of different things. We tried job boards first and quickly realized we weren't getting the results. We needed to change it up.
While my tactic was to go for coffee with everyone under the sun (using the script above), my more introverted sister used a slight variation to this approach that also worked well. From her efforts, she got 11 meetings in two weeks, and even now (years later), she's kept in touch with some great company owners and hiring managers who call upon her for advice, offer her contract work, and sometimes even now, full-time job offers. Here's the blurb she used to get these results. You can adapt it to your industry and situation, of course.
Her approach was contacting companies through their website with a similar message:
Subject line: Quick Question
My name is _____, and I'm a digital marketer. I hope you don't mind me reaching out to you. I am passionate about topics such as email marketing, landing page optimization, and Google AdWords. I read your website and was inspired by what your company is doing and how far you've come. It's the people who create the culture and the environment, which is where the ideas grow and great things happen.
If you think you might need someone like me in your organization, I would love to hear from you.
Attached is my resume.
(include your phone number)
3. The Free Pitch Method
If you can afford to do so, you can offer to work for free at the beginning. This is an especially viable option at smaller companies, where there is often a need to hire someone before there is money to pay them. If you can get a foot in the door and do a good job, then it's reasonable to assume that the job will already be yours when the revenue rolls in to start supporting more salaries. And bonus: you may be able to negotiate for stock options in lieu of a salary.
This is also an approach to consider if you're looking to gain experience in your chosen field, or to test out a potential career path.
Here's one way to approach the offer:
Hi, my name is ______. I hope you don't mind me contacting you. I noticed that on your website you have some videos that are x and y. I would like to offer my help in producing videos that will not only be x but help you do y and get more z. If you're interested in talking about these improvements, I'd be happy to help you out with this at no cost. Let's have a chat.
Attached is a copy of my resume so you can get an idea of how my skills can help you.
(Include your phone number)
That being said, I've had clients use a variation of the scripts talked about above and still apply through the job boards and had a lot more success. It goes to show you can get through the clutter with the power of authentic, sincere words.
You're now free to start getting connected and playing the game right. Armed with this new information, you'll be unstoppable and ready to make your competition irrelevant!
Natalie Fisher is an enthusiastic HR Generalist who loves her job! She's been on over 50 interviews and received 48 job offers. Download her Free Guide: How to Nail an Interview You're Unqualified For.
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