Using Your Network to Get an Interview
Research has revealed that in general the more of a social life you have, the more people you know, the more time you spend with people outside of work, the more likely you are to find a job. And the more people you know who are in other fields than your own, the more likely you are to be able to effectively change careers. Often, in fact, your contacts will turn up job opportunities for you even before you go out formally searching.
Now, once you’ve found a place that interests you and you want to get an interview there, there is a particular kind of contact that will save your neck. I call such a contact a “Bridge-Person.” What I mean by that title, is that they know you; and they know them (your target), and thus bridge the gap between you and a job there.
You can’t identify a bridge-person until you have a target company or organization in mind. But when that time comes, here’s how you go about identifying bridge-people:
- The website, LinkedIn, is your best friend here. Each employer you want to pursue should have a Company Profile page. (Unless the company is just too small.) Identify what place you want to approach, and look up its Company Profile page; go there.
- Start with the company. Ask LinkedIn to tell you the people in your network who work for the company you are targeting. Then sort that list. You can sort it by employees there, who share:
a. A LinkedIn group with You
b. A former employer with You
c. A school with You
d. An industry with You
e. A language with You
f. A specific location with You
- Then go to your school. On that same Company Profile page, look for your school—if you ever attended vo-tech school, community college, college, university, or grad school, ask LinkedIn to tell you who among your fellow alumni work for the company or organization you are targeting.
- Then go to the company activity. On that same Company Profile page, ask LinkedIn to tell you new hires (who), departures (who), job-title changes, job-postings, number of employees who use LinkedIn, where current employees work, where current employees worked before they worked for this company, where former employees went after they worked for this company, etc. Insightful statistics!
- As for connecting with the bridge-people whose names you discover, currently LinkedIn requires you to have one of their paid memberships, rather than the free one, to send a note to someone who’s not a direct connection. But if they’re still working at the company, you can phone the company and ask for them. Or you can search for their contact information through a larger search engine (Google their name!).
- If you come up blank, both on LinkedIn and all the other places you search for names, such as family, friends, Facebook, etc. (no bridge-person can be found who knows you and also knows them), you can advertise on LinkedIn, for such connections. They have “ads by LinkedIn Members” available to you, for modest cost (so far!). You can also browse LinkedIn groups, and join those (ten at the most) that seem most likely to be seen by the kinds of companies you are trying to reach. However, don’t just join them! Post intelligent questions, respond to intelligent “post-ers” that you think make sense. In other words, attain as high visibility there as you can; maybe employers will then come after you.
Once you get an introduction to a place, follow the instructions about interviews. And, good luck!