There are times when it’s not clear at all how to reach key people who might be able to facilitate your job search or career progression. After you’ve exhausted your contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, what’s left? Any other networking strategies?
At this point, it may be time to pull out more stops and resort to some “ninja” strategies. Unlike the connotation associated with the name, the execution of ninja tactics in the job hunt is neither subtle nor stealthy. This approach involves direct calling (DC) of potential contacts to help you extend your network beyond the third degree connections that LinkedIn provides.
What makes it “ninja” appropriate is the method taken to gain access to the key decision makers. It’s all overboard, so don’t worry. However, this requires underground work to find out who the right people are and where to meet them.
Recently, I met the president of a famous university in Palo Alto whom I had unsuccessfully been trying to contact via email and LinkedIn for three months. I registered for a conference where he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker and I waited until the lunch session to talk to him and request a further meeting to discuss a proposal. I expected him to tell me to wait until the next week or later, but to my surprise he agreed to talk about my proposal that very day.
On other occasions, I have arrived an hour early to conferences, grabbed a front row seat, and made sure to ask carefully researched questions to catch the eye of a particular speaker I came to meet. This has helped me establish contacts with several high-profile CEOs and decision makers.
A much less expensive but still effective way is to “stalk” the blogs of the people you are interested in. Become interested in their interests, get noticed by leaving comments to their posts, and establish email or Twitter correspondence. Before diving head-first into the blogosphere, make sure to answer the following questions:
- Whom do I want to reach?
- Am I passionate about this topic?
- Is the subject narrow enough?
The road map to cracking the hidden job market
The ultimate objective of the approaches we’ve been exploring in this series is to dramatically increase your chances of landing that dream job. To conclude this series on how to quadruple your job success rate, I will leave you with a road map and some resources that can help you crack the hidden job market yourself.
I trust that you are already using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter here, as part of a comprehensive strategy.
Step 1: Target your next employer
This can be done efficiently by using resources like Hoovers.com, Edgar-Online.com, and ReferenceUSA.com. Reference USA allows you to search through 24 million US businesses and 200,000 human resource contacts. Also included are business descriptions and links to job postings. Check with your local library for free access to this database; otherwise, individual access to information contained in it is very expensive.
Step 2: Determine the types of jobs you might be interested in
Once you have fallen in love with a particular company, do a search on the types of positions they typically hire for and find the closest match to what you need. The idea is not to apply online for the jobs, but to tailor your resume to suit such jobs. One of the first few questions you hear when you talk to hiring managers is, “Have you checked our website for job openings?”. While we now know that blindly applying online is not the way to go, make sure you’ve covered all your bases.
Step 3: Identify key decision makers
In addition to using LinkedIn and your existing networks to find the key decision makers, I recommend checking out the council of business advisors (www.councilofbusinessadvisors.org). They are an association of highly experienced professionals and advisors who work primarily with business owners and executives. Members are sorted by profession and specialty along with their bios and contact information (phone numbers, email addresses, websites).
An often underrated approach is to contact headhunters or recruiting agencies who tend to have a lot of information on many companies. Find a specialist agency in your target industry. You may want to review annual and 10-K reports of the target company to find some contact information.
Step 4: Go all out
Once you know who to contact, focus on being authentic and building relationships. Always endeavor to create low pressure encounters, such as accidental meetings at events and informational meetings (also known as “informational interviews”). It is also a good idea to spend some of your time making “cold calls” to the people you identified in Step 3. Remember, don’t ask for a job, but seek advice and then you just might land your dream job.
Subscribe to our blog here. Don’t miss an update.