Let's face it. Whether you are just barely in the workforce or are an executive, searching for a new job is full of struggles. On a personal level, you wonder if you are enough, worthy, have the right experience, have enough experience, or should be doing something different.
Then comes the actual process of searching for a new job. Do you hire a coach? Do you hire a job search strategist? Do you do it all on your own - and if so, where in the world do you start?!
One of the toughest steps in the process is getting through those gatekeepers. The reality is that department heads and other hiring authorities have administrative assistants and human resource departments to shield them from random people attempting to go around a well-defined hiring process to get their ear. I know when I was in the corporate world, I made sure I was shielded too. I had so many things to get done and people who needed me, I didn't need yet another group of people trying to get my attention.
Still, there are some very simple things you can do to get around and through the human and robotic gatekeepers. You will need to have the smarts not to simply follow the path that these companies lay out for you. Some things require you to outsmart the system before you ever even enter it!
Consider the following:
1. Contact hiring managers and stakeholders directly through LinkedIn.
This is my favorite one! LinkedIn has the outstanding function where you can conduct searches to find people within departments you are interested in. Look for connections that are 2nd-degree - then search their profile to find what groups they have joined, and apply to join some of the same groups. By default, once you have a group in common you'll be able to send a message directly to the person unless he or she has specifically turned off the ability to be contacted this way.
One thing to keep in mind (but not deter you!) is that busy, non-job-hunting people rarely check their LinkedIn messages with the same frequency that they check their regular email. If you don't get a response you shouldn't read too much into it. And you should definitely avoid frequent follow-ups that will portray you as a desperate stalker rather than a potential star candidate.
2. Activate your alumni networks
Another often overlooked way to network your way into a company and to specific people is to utilize your alumni networks! Contact both the career services and alumni offices of your college and graduate schools to find out if they have a career networking series of events in your city. If they do, then go!
Oftentimes you'll find people who know the people you want to know, or people in the field you want to enter and they would be happy to make an introduction.
More often than you might imagine, people you meet at these events are themselves looking to hire or pick up an employee referral bonus from their company if they can find and recommend talented individuals who are not already known to the company and are subsequently hired. Use this knowledge to your advantage.
3. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
So often these days we rely on text and email, but when you’re applying for a job, assume that the listed contact is getting hundreds of emails. So how can you stand out? PICK UP THE PHONE! And if you encounter a receptionist, be warm and friendly, but not over-familiar; ask when a good time to call back might be, and inquire if he or she can leave a note for you. Consider what you’re comfortable doing and then take one step beyond that.
Remember, YOU want the job. So if you do nothing, nothing will happen. Many people don’t realize that it’s the gatekeeper who is holding back their chances. Get in there. Be bold. Stand out!