You’ve been scrolling job postings for hours and the Internet is starting to feel like a cyber abyss. And right when you’re about to give up, boom. There it is… the one, the Dream Job you didn’t even know existed.
At first, you feel a ping of excitement– about what’s possible, about what the company stands for, about the corporate culture, about the growth you’d experience in the job… And yet, just minutes after your bliss, a surge of stress and panic takehold:
How will I let them know that I exist, and that I am, in fact, the perfect candidate for this role? Trying to connect with a hiring manager or recruiter is a great way to stand out from the pile, and yet it must be approached delicately. While it may seem like everyone and their mother is applying for your dream job, 76% of hiring professionals still report that finding quality candidates is their biggest challenge to hiring. So how do you tactfully make yourself known? Let me show you some ways to how to inquire about a job.
Approach #1: Reach out directly to a hiring manager, but do so carefully.
Hiring managers have seen it all when it comes to inquiries about a job… Here are some definite dos and don’t about reaching out to a recruiter or hiring manager.
LinkedIn is a good place to start. LinkedIn InMail messages have a 3 times better response rate than traditional emails. But you don’t want to contact every employee at a company that may have gone to a mixer with your cousin’s 3rd degree LinkedIn connection. And you definitely don’t want to mass text every recruiter on LinkedIn with a generic message. Try to message one person at a time, follow up two weeks later (if they haven’t responded), and then move onto another person in the company. In fact, start to do this before that dream job is even there. When you connect with professionals you admire and build connections at companies before you could even inquire about an interview, your chances of getting in the door are higher. Afterall, roughly 60% of jobs are filled through networking alone!
Brendan Browne, VP of global talent acquisition for LinkedIn, recommends “Personalized, tailored outreach with a warm intro.” Do some research on the person who you are contacting, and look for ways to show them that you are thoughtful and careful in your job search and your desire to network.
When connecting with a recruiter or hiring manager about a specific position, keep it short and sweet, professional and specific. Let them know who you are, your past experience and your future goals. Recruiter Jasmine Burns looks out for messages that “convey genuine interest, and clearly connects their background to our hiring needs.”
It isn’t simply what you say, it’s when you say it. Timing is key. Data shows the best time to send and email is 10AM, on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Similar findings at LinkedIn indicate that a message sent between 9AM and 10AM on a weekday will be the most effective.
A strong message to a hiring manager might look something like this:
Dear Ashley Stahl,
Thank you for connecting. I noticed you previously worked with the Superfun Design Lab in Houston. I also used to live there, and was aware of Superfun and a great admirer of their work. I am a graphic designer and marketing specialist currently working at Gladtimes Marketing, and I am hopeful to transition more fully into branding . I’ve recently been exploring some opportunities open at Greatcheer Branding Consultants, and I was hoping that we might have a chance to talk. If you have any availability, I would love to speak with you about the positions and learn a bit more about the company. I can make myself available at your convenience.
Thank you in advance,
Approach #2: Use your network to connect with someone at the company, not just a hiring professional.
It helps your hiring chances a lot if you are able to connect with someone at the company. In fact, 88% of employers see referrals as the best source of quality candidates, so it is definitely in your interest to make a connection with someone who might be able to refer you internally. Start with your social media network, LikedIn, and alumni networks.
Identify someone in the company with whom you have a mutual connection, or with whom you share a former employer or common alma mater, and reach out to solicit an exploratory call. Let them know you are interested in opportunities with the company and you would love to learn more about their experience at the company and the company culture. A little flattery here is your friend, in truth people love the chance to talk about themselves. A study shared in Harvard Business Review found that when you offer positive compliments, you are able to unconsciously persuade someone. When you persuade a person on a gut level, the connection will last, and last. Furthermore, research shows compliments can enhance performance, social interaction, positivity in relationships and increase general happiness. If you can be the one offering someone all of these perks, chances are they will be happy to connect, and may even offer to refer you directly to the hiring manager.
A direct referral from an employee may hold a lot more good energy with recruiters than a LinkedIn message out of the blue. Statistics indicate that a candidate who comes from a referral has a 1 in 5 chance of being hired. Not bad, right?
Connecting with a current employee is also great practice when you identify a company you are excited about, but don’t see postings for positions online. Many companies prefer to rely on referrals over job postings, and recent data shows that as many as 70% of jobs are not listed anywhere online. This means if you make a good impression on your new best friend/future work buddy, they may clue you in to opportunities you may not have otherwise heard about.
Past data has indicated that 60% of successful job placements come from networking, but recent studies have found this number could be closer to 85%. That means networking could be the most effective tool in your arsenal. That said, it’s best to focus on one person at a time: nobody wants to be the recipient of a mass email, and you certainly don’t want to become fodder for an office joke about the desperate job seeker.
Needy is creepy. Note that.
Approach #3: Write a letter of interest.
Another great way to get on the radar of HR or a recruiter or hiring manager is through a letter of interest (LOI). By writing a letter of interest, you demonstrate that you have researched and identified the company as aligned with your interest and career goals.
The upside is that you don’t come across as wanting too much in return. You aren’t asking for a favor or special privileges in a hiring process, just expressing a desire to connect and that you are genuinely interested in the work of the company. Take a lesson from the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook that shares the value of small “jabs” before approaching the big ask. The idea is to offer others so much value, that when it comes time to make a sale, or in this case, ask for a job, they will already feel deeply committed to supporting you. So, how do you write a strong LOI?
Once you have identified a company that peaks your interest, take these steps to get you started on an excellent LOI:
- Research and learn everything about their mission, values, and goals.
- Do your best to identify the hiring manager through the company website/LinkedIn.
- Go more in depth than you might in an email or LinkedIn message inquiring about a specific position.
- Take the opportunity to introduce yourself, and show that you have done your homework in identifying with the company.
- Brag a little bit about your work experience, (humble brag of course) and how you want to use your gifts to help their company in the future.
- As always, thank them for their time, ask them to keep in touch, and of course to keep you in mind if they ever have an opportunity that might be a good fit.
Approach #4: Connect via social media.
If you are particularly excited about working with a certain company, social media can help you play the long game. Connecting via social media is a great way to engage and build relationships that will come in handy when an opportunity arises that may be a good fit.
Moreover, 84% of recruiters report using social media as a means to reach out to candidates. What’s more, in 2020, Social Media Marketing experience is the most desirable skill sought by HR managers. What better way to show your social media savvy than by connecting directly via social media?
If you are hesitant to breach the personal nature of your media profiles with the professional world, its time to realize it has already been broken, a reported 70% of recruiters looking at candidate’s social media accounts in the screening process. So, you may as well start the conversation online yourself. Here are some steps to engage positively and professionally with hiring managers through social media.
- Twitter: is a great way to engage, tagging the brand in relevant content, and actively responding and reposting their content will show the social media team that you have an investment in, connection to, and understanding of the brand identity.
- Build a library of strong statements around your industry that you connect with and tweet them periodically. Note: It is totally acceptable to retweet your older posts.
- Follow and Tweet @ them if their twitter careers account or company careers page says they are hiring for the talents you possess.
- Send Direct Messages to a point of contact that you want to connect with and again, make it personal. No one wants to jump on their account to find a spam message from yet another stranger.
- Leverage video content. With 92% of marketers expressing this media method as a key aspect of their marketing strategies, video is the way of the future. You can directly video message someone, or share a video of yourself with insight into a business idea you are excited about.
- Follow company pages and actively engage in their posts. Don’t simply “heart” a post or story, send a message back, ask a question, and respond to other comments yourself. If you are able to provide insight repeatedly on their page for them (providing value) they are likely to notice.
Keep in mind that social media accounts are more personal, and reaching out to a manager on their personal Facebook may seem like a no-go. Follow your gut instinct and keep any majorly professional communication, such as following up on an interview, to email, or over the phone.
I hope this serves as a good reminder that there are a lot of ways to make strong connections that can help in your goal of finding a job. Get creative, connect carefully and kindly, be genuine, and don’t be afraid to humbly ask for help!
Want to network? I’m on instagram @ashleystahl, my friend!