Everyone already knows that networking is job search gold! And, with tools like LinkedIn, finding contacts at your target companies has become much easier.
However, a common complaint I hear from job seekers is that they can’t find anyone in their network at a specific company, which is why they resort to applying online (click here to see why this isn’t the best use of time). Since research shows that referred candidates are 15 times more likely to land the job (Jobvite), try these before giving up:
- Embrace second level contacts (those individuals connected to your first level contacts). This is usually where the magic happens for two reasons: 1) this group has access to information that we (or our current network) do not, and 2) exponentially, this pool is massive. If you have 500 LinkedIn connections (46% of users have more than 500) and each of those contacts have 500 contacts, you now have access to 250,000 professionals. So, one easy way to increase your odds of getting company contacts is to increase your connections. Reach out to old classmates, former colleagues, people you’ve volunteered with, parents of your children’s friends, neighbors, your dentist, etc. If you have a relationship with someone, then link in because you never know who they’re connected to.
- Avoid “pre-evaluating” possible contacts. Everyone has something to teach you if you pay attention and have an open mind. However, many job seekers dismiss potential contacts because they don’t have an impressive title or aren’t in their industry, when in fact, these individuals can be even more valuable to have in your network because they’ll likely open you up to new professional circles. Sometimes the person you least expect will be the one whose neighbor works at your dream employer, and the veteran mailroom employee likely has the daily scoop on what happens at the company you’re targeting.
- Check out past employers of your contacts. This is one of those simple steps many overlook, but that has huge benefits. Maybe you don’t know anyone currently working at Google, but you have 1st (or 2nd) level contacts in your network who’ve worked there previously. Chances are, they still have a lot of contacts at the company (and great insights about what it takes to work there!). Bonus: LinkedIn makes this information easy to find with their “Past Company” search feature.
So dig deeply – you are likely better connected than you realize.