A recruiter once told me that he always has two stacks of resumes on his desk: one super tall stack of resumes he receives unsolicited from the Internet and one very short stack of resumes that have been passed along from people he knows and trusts.
Not surprisingly, when this recruiter has a job to fill, he reaches for the smaller stack of referred applicants first. It’s simply more efficient and effective to check out candidates who come with a recommendation from a trusted friend or colleague.
So, how do you get your resume into the coveted short stack? Here are some tips:
1. Put people first.
Instead of starting your job search with job postings, start with the people you know. Where do they work? Where did they used to work? Who do they know? What advice and introductions can they provide?
The new LinkedIn Jobs makes this easy by showing you all of the companies (that are currently hiring) where you have LinkedIn connections. Just scroll down the main Jobs page to “Jobs in Your Network” and start browsing opportunities. You can also visit theLinkedIn Company Pages of the organizations on your prospect list and view anyone in your network who currently works or used to work there.
2. Gather information and build relationships.
Now it’s time to reach out. Before you apply for any position, try to speak with or have an email exchange with someone who has worked or currently works for the employer — in other words, conduct informational interviews. Your goal in these conversations is not to ask for a job or even to ask for your resume to be passed along. Not yet. Your objective at this point is to gather information that will help to: 1) give you an edge when you do apply for a position, and 2) build a relationship with the person providing the information so that in the future this person will make a referral.
Here is what you might say in an outreach email to an existing connection:
I hope all is well – I loved the recent article you posted on LinkedIn about the new iPhone. As you may know, I am in the midst of a job search and I was wondering if you would be willing to provide a bit of guidance. I am very interested in a position in IT support at Nike and I know that you worked there for several years. Would you be open to a brief phone chat or to answer a few questions by email to provide some insight into how Nike hires and what they look for? I would be so grateful for your time and very happy to return the favor.