Blog article cover image that says "Do what other don't, Land more interviews"

Land more interviews by doing what other applicants aren't

job search newsletter Jul 16, 2023


 

There's no sugarcoating it - 2023 has been rough for job seekers. With nearly 350K+ tech workers laid off and not nearly enough companies hiring, we're in a hyper-competitive job market.

 

Many job postings receive more than 1,000 applications within a day of being posted.

 

Even if you have the best resume, it may never be seen by a human.

 

Fortunately, there are jobs out there and many people are getting interviews. We’ve even had success with getting career changers into their first Tech job (some of them raising their income $50K more than their previous role).

 

In working with a lot of job seekers, it’s become abundantly clear that it takes much more than submitting an application to consistently get interviews.

 

One of the approaches that I’ve had a lot of success with is reaching out to key contacts at a company as soon as you apply for the job.

 

Let’s dive into how to go about it…

 

In this edition I’ll cover:

  1. Prerequisites - the basics
  2. Who you should reach out to and why
  3. Finding the right people (key contacts)
  4. How to reach out and get an interview

 

First, the basics

It’s worth mentioning that you need to have the basics (Resume, LinkedIn, etc.) polished and ready to go with your target job in mind.

 

I’ll deep dive into each of these areas in future editions of the newsletter, but here is the quick checklist:

  • Target role: Identify, research, and include keywords incorporated into your Resume, Cover, LinkedIn profile
  • Resume: Include keywords, impact statements, and relevant skills and experience (remove anything that isn’t relevant)
  • LinkedIn: Have a professional headshot & banner; optimize your Headline, About, and experience sections for keywords; add relevant, search skills

 

If you aren’t ready in any of these areas, focus your energy there before taking action on the recommendations in this article.

 

Who you should reach out to

There are 3 key types of contacts that are worth reaching out to when you apply for a position.

 

1. Hiring Manager

This is the individual who is hiring for the position and who is the ultimate decision maker on who moves forward with interviews and gets the job offer.

Why reach out to the Hiring Manager? Since managers have direct influence on the hiring decision they are the single best person to get your message in front of.

 

During my time as a hiring manager at Outreach, hiring for dozens of open positions, I would respond to over 80% of candidates who personally reached out to me with a thoughtful message. Partly because I received surprisingly few messages from applicants. But mostly because receiving a personal message showed me that the candidate was resourceful and was someone who takes initiative. I know many managers who feel the same way. Here's an example:

 

Even in cases where a Recruiter rejects your application, a Hiring Manager can elect to move you forward in the interview process.

 

2. Recruiter

This is the person who presents the Hiring Manager with candidates to consider for interviews. They review applications/resumes, conduct the initial phone screen, and create a short list of candidates who will move forward in the interview process.

Why contact the Recruiter? Since they are the first human that will see your application it’s always worth reaching out to them. They may not respond, but seeing a message from you may prompt them to pull up your application or give it a second look. Recruiters are also responsible for filling multiple positions across a company, so even if you’re not a fit for the role you applied for they might plug you into another role that could be a better fit.

 

3. Peers

Individuals contributors (IC) on the same team as the role you’re applying for, or who are in a similar role.

Why connect with Peers?

Individual contributors don’t have as much influence over the decision to hire you as manager’s do but they can provide helpful insight into the company and its hiring process. They can also refer you to a hiring manager (if you make a good impression) which greatly increases your chances of getting an interview. ICs are usually more likely to chat with you because they have less candidates reaching out to them.

 

Finding Key Contacts (Recruiters, Hiring Managers, Peers)

First, always check the job posting to see if the contact is listed. In some cases, the Recruiter or even the Hiring Manager will be listed (score!). But because you found the contact easily, that means they’re more likely to get a lot of messages.

 

That’s where timing becomes very important - if you apply and reach out as soon as a job is posted, your chances of getting a response are much better - before they receive a pile of applications.

 

 

 

Now, here’s a quick video walk through of how to find the key contacts on LinkedIn. (it might take a minute to load the video)

 One thing to note: the smaller the company is, the easier it is to find the key contacts. If you’re applying for a position at a large company, you’ll need to narrow your search down by additional criteria such as the team, region, segment, etc. that the role is associated with.

 

Now that you’ve identified the key contacts, let’s reach out to them.

 

How to reach out

Where to message

LinkedIn

Most candidates will message key contacts on LinkedIn. That can be certainly effective but the downside to LinkedIn is that 1) that’s where recruiters/hiring managers are getting most of their messages from other candidates, 2) some managers aren’t very active on LinkedIn and could miss your message.

 

Email

Email can be a great way to reach out to recruiters and potential hiring managers because 1) it’s rare for candidates to send a direct email, 2) email is more likely to be read because managers and recruiters live in their email inbox.

How do you find their email? Use free tools like Snov.io (100 free email lookups) or Apollo.io, to find the person's email address based on their name and company.

 

Phone Call

For sales positions, finding and calling the hiring manager is a strong move because that's exactly what you’ll be doing in your role, making it a great way to show a potential manager how you deliver a cold call.

I recommend messaging key contacts via both LinkedIn and email. As long as it’s a polite and personal message, it won’t be perceived as spam. If you’re pursuing a sales role, go for the phone call!

 

What to say

If you want to get noticed and stand out, you’ll need to send a thoughtful and personalized message. Blasting out a generic template message may actually hurt your chances.

 

Here are some examples you can use as a starting point to craft your own message.

 

Example 1

Hey [NAME],

Hope you are doing well! I'm reaching out to learn more about the [POSITION] at [COMPANY]. I applied for the position today, but I also wanted to let you know directly as well.

A little bit about me: [share a high level summary sentence of your experience, and then 2-3 bullet points of your most relevant accomplishments]

This position caught my eye because [share a few specific reasons that connect to your skills/background]

Would you be open to chatting about the position? I can answer any questions about my background and I'd love to learn more about [POSITION] and the team. Either way, I hope you find an awesome candidate for this position :)

Best,

[YOUR NAME]

[YOUR EMAIL]

** Attach your resume to make it easy for them to refer to without having to pull it up in the ATS


 

Example 2

“Hi [NAME]. I just applied to [POSITION] and wanted to reach out and introduce myself. I’m excited about this opportunity because I’m passionate about [INDUSTRY FIELD] and it aligns perfectly with my skill set. I bring relevant experience/skills such as [SPECIFIC TRANSFERRABLE SKILLS/EXPERIENCE] that would allow me to quickly make an impact on your team. I’ve attached my resume. I’d love to have a conversation about my background if you feel there’s a fit. Would you be open to meeting later this week?”


 

Example 3 - Short version for a connection request

Hi [NAME]! I’m looking to make a career transition into [POSITION/FIELD], and I saw you made a similar career change not too long ago. Would you be open to a quick Zoom call to chat? I’d love to hear about your career journey. I’m curious to know what advice you’d have as I make a similar transition? Thank you!”

 

If you craft a good message and find the right person, you should get a response 25% of the time or better. If not, adjust your message and keep trying until you find a message that works for you.

 

Bonus Tips:

  1. Always include a call to action (CTA) and ask them if they’re willing to chat with you. If they are, use a tool like Calendly (free) to make scheduling easy on them.
  2. Try recording and sending a short video (using Loom or similar) - very few candidates do this, making it a great way to stand out.
  3. Set a reminder to follow-up if you haven’t heard back from the contact in a day or two. A short and polite follow-up message will increase your response rate significantly.

 

Final Thoughts

Reaching out to the key contacts at a company can make your application stand out and land you more interviews.

 

I’ve seen it work many times in recent months.

 

It takes effort and means you’ll apply to less jobs, but submitting 300 applications and getting 1 interview (0.3%) is much worse than getting 5 interviews from 50 applications (10%) - for the same amount of effort.

 

There are many other ways to make your application stand out and leverage your network to get interviews. I’ll dig deeper into other strategies and tactics in future editions of this newsletter.

 

Until then, I wish you the very best in your job search!

 

Keep pushing forward. I’m rooting for you!  👏

Yuji

 

P.S. Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:

  1. Job Accelerator Program: This comprehensive program gives you the step-by-step roadmap and live coaching that has helped hundreds of people land six-figure jobs quickly
  2. Personalized 1:1 Coaching – We'll work together to give you an accelerated job landing strategy. 

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