We've all experienced it. You send your perfectly crafted resumé out to 10 companies, all addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Every time the telephone rings you jump, and hope that somehow the recruiter at your dream company is going to pick you out of the hundreds of other recent graduates desperate for their first start. After a while, you begin feeling anxious, and pretty soon the self-loathing kicks in. Maybe you're just not good enough for the job? Maybe you're not smart enough, not qualified enough, not experienced enough? Sometimes these fears are actually the case, but most of the time, it's just that you didn't know the right people, and your resumé never made it into the inbox of an actual decision-maker. It takes a little bit of guts and a lot of self confidence, but networking skills can help narrow the gap.
I think the term networking scares a lot of young people because it conjures up the image of someone slithering their way to an event that they weren't invited to. But fear not—you can actually network from the safety of your laptop—although it never hurts to attend those events either!
Narrow your time and efforts to about 10 companies that you know are hiring and are part of an industry that you're interested in. Learn everything you possibly can about these companies. Read their blogs, press reports, newspaper clippings, and anything else you can possibly gather. Remember that when you step into that job interview, you should be able to speak like an insider, already well versed in the inner workings of the company.
Market yourself by joining some social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, or even start a blog. Whatever you do, make sure it's a clear consistent message streaming across all fronts, (and a genuine one at that). Don't lie on these profiles. You will come off looking fake if you do, and employers can sense insincerity from a mile away. Put some thought into it, and think of your profiles on these sites as a virtual extension of your resumé. It's so easy to say that you have great communication skills, but putting the time and effort into showcasing them to employers demonstrates that your passionate about the industry.
It still amazes me how much information companies are willing to give away about themselves on LinkedIn. You can look at a company's website and see absolutely nothing about the hierarchy of people who work there, but on LinkedIn there is a good chance you can find the HR manager, the president, the vice president, and everybody in between.
In order to see a large majority of the profiles on LinkedIn, you need to start making connections. Be bold! If you would like to add someone who you truly don't know, you should attach a brief message along the lines of, Hi, my name is Amy and I just graduated from Lancaster University. I am very interested in working in publishing, and would love to learn some more about your company. If you would ever be interested in maybe going out for a coffee for an informational interview, I would be delighted! Cheers, and thanks for your time. This gives your potential network connection a reason to add you back, and there's a possibility an of ally within the company if you hit it off.
If you don't hear back, don't take it personally. Most working professionals are extremely busy, and heck, maybe they just felt like watching Netflix that night instead. However, never be embarrassed for asking. It's a universal truth: everyone started somewhere, no matter how big and powerful they are now.
Another universal truth is that people love talking about themselves, and sometimes the best way to get quality information is to ask them how they got started in their company or industry. (It's also a good ego boost.)
With your LinkedIn connections multiplying, its time to takeover Twitter! Make sure your tweets have thoughtful insights on what's happening in the industry, or comments on the companies who are doing things that you find inspiring. Don't post anything terribly personal, and keep in mind that the etiquette for adding people on Twitter is much more low key than LinkedIn. You don't need to know the person or send them a message to start following their tweets. What you can do is retweet them or maybe start dialogue on something industry-related. A bit of healthy debate perchance!
So you've gathered a list of names from LinkedIn and Twitter but you don't have your contacts' actual company e-mail addresses to send your resumé to. The simplest option of course is just to come forward and ask your LinkedIn pal if they are responsible for hiring the particular position that you're interested in, and if they would be able to provide a company email for you to send your resume to.
If you're feeling shy and would like to bypass this option, the first thing you should do is dig around the company's website to get an idea of the email format typically used at that company. Maybe they do email@example.com, or maybe it's all one word. To help you figure it out, try calling and speaking to the receptionist. Tell her you have been trying to email your contact but the email has been bouncing back. It's a little white lie, and a tactic that's been used by the sales industry for years! The receptionist may ask you what this is in regards to. Try not to use to many umms and confidently tell them it's in regards to a particular position you are applying to.
Lastly, be patient, stay positive, and sooner or later you'll get the call. So happy creeping, job-seekers!