Continuing my daily series revealing the “secrets” to a successful job hunt.
Last time I revealed what I know about resumes. Today’s subject is “Every Breath You Take”, in which I trash a widely held belief about the job hunt…
Secret #2: “Every Breath You Take”
I’ve heard that the job hunt is a lot like dating. You’ve probably heard that too.
It’s more like stalking.
When applying online, find out who the company is you are applying to. This is easy if you are applying via the company’s website, nearly impossible if you are using Craigslist and they are choosing to be anonymous. It used to be easier in the early part of this millennium, when companies included a fax number to send your resume to: you’d fire up Google (or Yahoo, or Alta Vista, depending on exactly which year we were talking about) and google the fax number and, voilà, you would have the company name. Now you have to be a bit more clever. For instance, I have gone into the HTML source code of web pages to get the e-mail address that the form submitted to.
You can also take key phrases from the description and google those, and possibly find other places the company used that phrase in their descriptions, places that perhaps reveal who they are.
But really, you don’t want to be depending on web submissions to get you employed. Oh, the companies you apply to will probably want you to do that for form’s sake, to make sure you are properly in their system. But it isn’t the way to get a job.
No, you need to stalk the companies you want to work for.
Not in a creepy way, of course. But if you can figure out where the VP hangs out after work, why not buy them a drink to start a conversation? They won’t give you a job because you bought them a drink, but they might listen to what you have to say. (I leave figuring out what to say as an exercise for the reader, but remember the rule of social marketing – “He who sells first, loses!”)
Twitter is a great source of info about companies and connections into it. Find them on LinkedIn, find them on the company’s website, find them on Facebook (if their profiles are open enough), find them by rooting through the company’s garbage (well, no, not really, that is not advisable for many reasons)… however you find out who they are, follow them on Twitter. While the default for things like LinkedIn and Facebook is “no connection unless you actually know the person”, the default for Twitter is connect to whomever you want, regardless of whether or not you actually know the person. It is unlikely that someone at your target company would block you from following them on Twitter. Then take opportunities to interact with those connections, by responding to their comments, making suggestions, and so on.
Just being around and being helpful can be a good tactic. I’ll give you an extreme example, from my own career, many years ago. I wanted to work at a comic book store. So I hung around the store, advised the owner on what titles he should pay more attention to when ordering (correctly), I answered customer questions (correctly), I tidied up the store when something was out of place, and basically was helpful until the owner decided he ought to pay me for my work. I ended up working there for seven years.
That’s a little more like stalking than romance, right?
Everything you can do to find out about the company and the people in it will help you get the attention of the people in the company. The bottom line is you need your target company to know you really want to work there, and the more people inside the company who know it, who know you, and know what you can do, the better chance you have.
Jim Adcock is Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Check out previous career-related entries.