How To Improve Your Job Search

I'm Chris Sotomayor, a career and executive coach, and I want to answer a question that's come up to me. I worked with a lot of clients, and still the recurring number one frustration that I hear from my clients is when they apply to many companies and they hear nothing back. They’re going on job boards, they might be applying through LinkedIn or Glassdoor or Indeed or Monster or any number of other job sites, and often they're even visiting the careers website of a particular company that they're interested in and they're applying, but they're not getting any kind of traction. They’re not getting any response, and they feel very frustrated, and they're wondering what they could do. So, what I want to do today is provide a suggestion of how you can dramatically improve your job search to get results faster because just applying online is really not going to work. It's not going to be enough because any firm that has a strong employer brand is inundated with candidates. They might get hundreds of applications for one job posting, and if they have a really strong employer brand, it wouldn't be unusual for them to get potentially thousands of applicants. So, I want to help you stand out.

First Check Your Network

If you're just applying as a stranger online, odds are your application is just going to be like going into a black hole. You're not going to hear anything, and your odds of getting invited to interview are very, very slim. On the other hand, what I recommend you do instead is when you're interested in a company, you can use job boards to understand where there might be additional career opportunities or where an organization is growing or recruiting, but instead of applying online, instead of going to the careers website and directly applying, I would recommend first figure out if you know anybody already working at that organization. Does somebody in your network already have a connection there? Can somebody in your network give you a warm introduction? Because that is going to dramatically improve your odds of being invited to interview. If somebody that's a trusted employee inside of an organization makes a referral, your odds of at least having an initial exploratory conversation are so much higher that compared to the amount of wasted time you might spend just applying online, I would recommend you really shift your focus to getting those warm referrals or warm introductions into a company, into a team, maybe directly to the hiring manager for the organization you're trying to join.

Risk Aversion

Think about it this way. We're living in a world where it's very difficult (sometimes) to figure out who to trust because a stranger applying online -- we don't really know much about them. We don't know much of their story. We don't know what their career history really has been. And so, there's always a great deal of risk involved when you're hiring somebody that nobody's ever met before. On the other hand, when you get a warm introduction when somebody who already knows you respects you may have worked with you before, can speak and vouch for you, when they introduce you, your odds of getting invited to interview are dramatically higher. You are a known quantity instead of an unknown quantity, and most of the time when there are openings at companies, the first thing that a hiring manager might do is go to his or her local team and ask: ‘Hey, do you know anybody who's good who could be a good fit for this role?’ They always ask for the advice of their trusted colleagues first before going outside of the organization and attempting to recruit a complete stranger.

Warm Introductions

So, as a job seeker, you want to use that to your advantage. So, there's a couple of ways that you can do that. One is if you have a very strong network and you already know people working at that company, maybe you can ask somebody: ‘Hey, would you be willing to introduce me or who do you recommend I speak with? And would you be willing to do a warm introduction for me to the head of the team?’ That's one great way that you can quickly get introduced to a role and get potentially considered for an interview.

Use LinkedIn to Find Connections

Another way is, if you don't know anybody in the company, maybe you could just go on LinkedIn and find somebody. Let's say that you're applying for a role, product manager of XYZ company. Well, you can go on LinkedIn, look under XYZ company. You can look under product managers. You can see who else might already be in that role. You could look at the head product manager. You could try to find the team lead for that team that you're trying to join. And you could directly introduce yourself on LinkedIn. You could send a LinkedIn request: ‘Hi, I'm doing research on opportunities in this market. I saw your background. You seem very impressive. I'd like to connect with you.’ If they accept your connection. You can follow up by saying: ‘I noticed that your company had an opening listed and I'm really interested in it. What advice or recognitions might you have? You know, I have a few questions for you. Would I be able to ask those questions to you?’ And what you really want to do is push as quickly as possible for a human touch. We already spend too much time in front of screens, and we don't spend enough time really getting that human touch. And so, if you can get it, you're going to be in a much better situation. And that could be just a brief phone call, or it could be even better if you can get an in person face to face meeting where you have an opportunity to introduce yourself and potentially tell the story about why you're a great fit for the role and why they should consider you as a candidate.

Spray and Pray Is Easy but Not Effective

Those approaches are just going to be so much more effective than what I call the spray and pray approach, where I've literally heard from some clients who told me that they have applied to in excess of 100 jobs without getting one single interview or interest in inviting them to even a phone screen. So, the meaning is that they're just sitting at their desk, they’re hitting send. It's so easy on the internet just to send off your resume or attach it is an email, but on the other hand, getting that human touch, having somebody who can vouch for you and recommend you and directly refer you or introduce you into a hiring manager, it's going to work out so much more in your favor.

The Importance of Networking

And this also goes back to why networking is really important, because if you're out meeting other people, maybe your network right now is not strong enough, but as you go out and meet other people, particularly other people in your industry, then you're going to have a better chance of making contacts with people at other organizations that you're interested in that might just be willing to do that warm referral for you. And keep in mind that a lot of organizations do have financial incentives or other kind of incentives. It's very difficult to recruit quality people, and so a lot of companies have found that if they put in place reward systems or incentive systems to get their current employees to recommend their colleagues or other people they know that would do a good job, it makes it just a lot easier to recruit, and it's just a lot more effective in terms of being able to find somebody when a firm has a need. So, it's a good idea for you to keep in touch with your network, to be able to potentially be that name. So, when a manager goes to somebody and says, ‘Hey, do you know anybody who could be a good fit for this role?’ Hopefully, your name is one of the names that might just come up.

Use Your Network to Improve Your Job Search

So, I hope that's been a helpful suggestion of how you can dramatically improve your job search and make your return on invested time just a lot better. Your odds of actually getting an interview is reaching into your network, not just applying online, but getting a warm introduction, getting directly introduced to a hiring manager or somebody in the organization who can give you some information and potentially would be willing to vouch for you and forward your resume along or even directly introduce you to the right hiring authority in that company. So, if you have any other questions or any other challenges, you know, I'm always trying to be as helpful as I can. You can always find more by visiting my website at csotomayor.com, and I hope that you will have a much more effective job search with less frustration. But if you do run into obstacles, I'm always here to help. That's all for now. I'll see you the next time.

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