I’ve preached about proactive job search for over a decade. This said, I know most job seekers are still reacting to the job market, only targeting advertised jobs. I’ve no problem with job seekers targeting advertised jobs, as long as they’re playing smart. For me, surfing the net for live jobs and submitting bland CVs to HR isn’t playing smart. I call this “going through the front door”. This is the only door many job seekers are aware of, or more likely the only door they’re comfortable using. Well, let me tell you, there’s another door - “slipping in the side door”. Savvy job seekers use this entrance.
Who should be “slipping in the side door” ….
There’s an argument that all job seekers should use this entrance, even strong candidates. It’s especially useful if (a) you don’t meet the minimum qualifications/job requirements, (b) you’re changing career, or (c) you haven’t put the effort into creating an impactful CV.
Why should you start “slipping in the side door” ….
Better odds – Finding advertised jobs is easy, which means it’s easy for everyone. When you apply for a job through the front door your CV joins the tidal wave heading for HR. Your job hopes balance on the outcome of the 10 second CV sift. Less job seekers use the side door, meaning better odds of getting noticed.
CVs only tell part of the story – The best qualified and experienced applicants always get interviewed but don’t always get the job. Why? Other key factors are important - personality, attitude and interest. When companies sift CVs they realise they’re binning good candidates but they can’t interview everyone. The side door strategy reduces the emphasis on your CV. Someone will champion your cause, or get you an opportunity to champion your own cause, allowing you to communicate your interest and attitude to the employer.
Companies love referrals - When you’re referred you'll probably get interviewed. Companies know referrals tend to be high calibre. Also, referrals take the hassle out of recruitment, minimising time spent sifting CVs or interviewing. It’s worth pointing out that HR professionals don’t enjoy recruitment.
How do you start “slipping in the side door” ….
Leverage your network – It is crazy sending CVs to HR without first checking if you know anyone connected to the company. You must search, find and leverage your connections. LinkedIn is a powerful tool to help you identify connections, friends and possible leads. A personal recommendation can help you get noticed, generating more interviews.
Target key decision-makers – If you can’t locate warm leads or connections, then make contact with the decision-maker, and I don’t mean the HR Department. You should target the hiring manager. I know this strikes fear into most job seekers, but you’ve got to start stepping out of your comfort zone!
Paul Mullan is founder of Measurability, a leading Irish outplacement and career coaching provider - Outplacement, CV Writing and Interview Coaching. Visit www.measurability.ie.