"Do you know someone who can't find a job?"
Finding a good job is hard. Lots of people have been job hunting for months. They’ve filled out hundreds of job applications—but nothing happens—not even a phone call. What’s worse, they know employers are hiring. They hear that their friends are landing new jobs quickly—but they’re left out. What’s going on?
The competition is fierce.
There are 6 million unemployed people in the job market each month. There are also tens of millions more who have been waiting for the economy to improve so they could find better jobs. The competition is so intense, it’s not uncommon for employers to get hundreds of job applications for each job they post.
Employers don’t actually read all the job applications and resumes they get.
They use computer software to read the applications and resumes. This software is programmed to look for applicants with the perfect fit—all the right skills and qualifications—right down to details like, “Can you work on Saturday evenings?” It then recommends these perfect candidates to the hiring manager for interviews. The other applicants are ignored.
Plus, the longer you’re out of work the harder it becomes to find a job.
Some hiring managers also program their software to ignore job hunters who have been out of work for several months. They feel that these job hunters may have outdated skills, problems holding a job, or they may be people who are difficult to work with.
Is there a way around the competition, the resume readers, and the stigma of being unemployed?
Yes, there is. You need an insider.
Have you ever wished you had a friend who would let you know when there’s a job opening at her company—and she would recommend you for that job?
That friend is an insider. Insiders are powerful people. Did you know that employers hire over 5 million new people every month? More than half of those job openings are never advertised to the public. Those jobs are filled by friends of insiders. The key to finding a good job is to find an insider who will recommend you to their manager and sing your praises.
Who are these insiders?
Basically, there are three types of insiders.
- Close friends—they are your relatives, good friends, and neighbors who work in the same field or industry as you.
- Distant friends—these are former bosses, supervisors, coworkers, and classmates who took new jobs across town but who still work in the same field or industry as you.
- Casual friends—these are people you know from the coffee shop, club, church, and gym who work in—you guessed it—the same field or industry as you.
Don’t be shy about reaching out to your friends.
Most friends are glad to help. Plus, managers actually prefer to hire people who come recommended by their workers. Recommended people are so valuable, many employers will pay a finders fee to an employee who brings in a new hire. When your friend recommends you, she could earn more than just a pat on the back from the boss—she could earn cash reward from her employer.
What’s the plan?
Look through your phone contacts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social media. Build a large list of insiders—people who work in the same field or industry as you. Add to your list everyday as more and more names come to mind.
Then, reach out to four or five insiders every day, Monday through Friday.
How to break the ice—
You haven’t spoken to some of these friends in a long time—maybe months, maybe years. So, how do you break the ice and start a conversation?
Here’s a great icebreaker. I don’t remember where I heard it, but it should bring a smile and a quick response from each of your friends. Text this—
“Hi, Tillie! Remember when…”
This is friend to friend stuff. So, don’t contact everyone with the same generic message and don’t post an announcement for everybody to see on your social media.
Instead, address each friend by name. Then, include a personal one-line memory for each person. Give it some thought. Nothing embarrassing. Nothing controversial. Something funny or warm works best.
Now, if a few friends don’t respond within a day or so, don’t give up on them. Maybe they didn’t get your text. Maybe they meant to respond but the thought was interrupted. So, send another text. Try another memory or try another media. You might have to reach out three or four times before they respond. Don't give up on them, they are so valuable.
When a friend does respond—
Spend a few minutes exchanging small talk and catching up on the news. Then, transition into the following few lines—
- “Tillie, you work for Abbra-Cadabra.
- I was thinking of applying for a job there.
- Most job applications ask if I know someone who works at their company.
- Would you mind if I mention that you and I are friends?”
Ask a favor.
When a friend says she’d be happy to be listed as a friend, add this—
- “Thanks, Tillie.
- Hey, I also read that job-hunters are more likely to be hired if they have an inside connection.
- Could I ask a favor?
- Would you mind giving my resume to your hiring manager and putting in a good word for me—just in case something opens up?
Note: Most hiring managers can read a resume in less than minute. Basically, they’re looking for the five or six skills and requirements needed to do the job. If they can’t find them in your resume or job application, they’ll assume that you aren’t qualified to do the job. So, what are the skills and requirements needed to do your job? Don’t guess. The Job Hunting Handbook can show you where to find them quickly. It can also show you how to turn the job requirements into you’re accomplishments—even if you’re a first time job hunter—in three easy steps.
But, what happens when you run out of friends?
You probably don’t know more than a few dozen people who work in your field. If you contact four or five people every day, you’ll run out of friends in a week or two.
When you do run out of friends, switch gears and build a list of businesses where you would like to work—small, medium and large companies, government agencies, and non-profits.
Then, reach out to the people you know who have connections. Speak with your former coworkers, supervisors, teachers, coaches, clergy, and the prominent people you know—like small-business owners and politicians.
Ask if they know someone who could help you get a job-interview with one of your favorite employers. You’ll be amazed at the doors that will open when someone makes a phone call for you.
Also, speak with a career counselor at your state’s One Stop Career Center. They know lots of hiring managers, recruiters, and business owners. They could connect you with several employment recruiters in your field or industry. All you have to do is ask. It’s free and they’re glad to help.
Talk with a career counselor at your school or college. They could introduce you to several former students who could help you get job interviews where they work.
Finally, go old-school.
Here’s an old, new-way to get a job. Apply directly to an employer by mailing your resume and a thoughtful cover letter through the U.S. Postal Service.
Mailing a resume and cover letter to a hiring manager used to be an important way to hunt for a job. With social media and online recruiting, the mail has become an overlooked way to introduce yourself. Only two-percent of job hunters use it. And that’s good news for you—there’s hardly any competition.
Be sure to address your letter to the hiring manager directly. The hiring manager is the manager of the department where you want to work. In sales it’s the sales manager. In maintenance, it’s the maintenance manager. At a small business, it’s the owner.
Note: The folks who write professional sales letters use a magic formula. It’s called AIDA. AIDA sells billions of dollars in merchandise and services every day. The Job Hunting Handbook can show you how to use AIDA to get more job interviews. It’s pretty easy. The body of your letter will have four short paragraphs—and all you have to do is complete four short sentences.
The easiest way to get the hiring manager’s name is simply to call the company and ask the receptionist who answers the phone. Receptionists are usually glad to help. Be sure to get the manager’s name, correct spelling, title, address and any in-office routing code to his or her office.
Keep in mind that employers are always looking for good people.
A recommendation from an employee, or someone with connections, will let the manager see you as a live, breathing person—an individual with the skills and abilities she needs—and not just another faceless job applicant who can’t find a job.
Harry Dahlstrom is the author of three, million-copy best sellers—The Job Hunting Handbook, Surviving a Layoff, and Out of Debt. His new book, Let the Job Work for You—How to start and build your career from scratch, comes out in the summer of 2018.