How to find a Job, when it is your Job

With 25 million unemployed at present, nearly 15% of our country is looking for a job right now. 

So here are a few tips from someone who works in the recruiting space. 

For those reading this right now who are part of that 15%, I’ve been there. I know how unbearable the stress can be and how it can not only mess with your finances but also your self-worth.  

With that being said, over the years I’ve often had friends who are out of work or just looking for a change ask me what they should do.

If you are just applying to job postings, don’t expect this to yield much. That’s odd, David. If ads don’t work, why are you paying for a dozen ads on LinkedIn? We of course look at applicants, but with the current volume of people applying, it’s very easy to get several days or even weeks behind in actually reviewing these. Even if you have the perfect resume, expect latency in replying, or no response at all. 

That ad is more than likely going to an internal recruiter or HR person. While the hiring manager will have access to the Applicant Tracking System that is aggregating all the ad responses, he or she has a lot else going on and is more than likely only filtering through applicants if they are not seeing any from the internal recruiter. 

Internal recruiters are generally measured on two metrics: 1) Number of qualified applicants submitted to the hiring manager 2) Time to fill the opening. 

If the position already has a sufficient number of qualified applicants presented, the recruiter may not want to further burden the hiring manager or create a paradox of choice. Usually, this number sits around 6 qualified candidates. If it starts to creep up over 10, the hiring manager will tell them to hold off on sending any more. 

As for time to fill, if the company has a few applicants already in play and the hiring manager could see any one of them fitting the role, adding new applicants to the pipeline will more than likely slow the time to fill. 

Now that you have this context, all the more reason to make sure you: 

InMail or Email the Hiring Manager Directly

My first piece of advice is sure, apply to that ad, but also reach out over InMail or email directly to the person the role reports up to (guessing someone’s email address at a company is relatively easy… It’s probably first.last@company or first initial last name@company). Who do you think is hurting more by not having that role filled, the recruiter or the hiring manager? If you’re a Director of Sales and you have 7 employees’ worth of quota to achieve and only 6 sales reps on board, you’ll welcome an email from a sales rep reaching out directly. Same thing if you’re a Head of Marketing and you’re having to write your own content… and so on.

When crafting an email to a hiring manager you should do some discovery prior to getting started:

  • Read through the entirety of the LinkedIn profile of the person you are emailing
  • Read the target company’s Wikipedia page, Crunchbase profile, and last 5-10 press releases. 
  • Comb through the LinkedIn profiles of as many people in the company as you can. If it’s a massive 1,000+ person company it isn’t realistic to look at everyone, so stick to people within the discipline and geography that aligns with what you’re applying for. Know the types of backgrounds that the company typically hires and see where you align. 

What should you say in your email? 

Well, the most important thing is that it gets opened. The subject needs to be personalized. It doesn’t have to be fluid, it just needs to grab the attention of the hiring manager. 

Can you be more specific, David? Sure, let’s say you are looking for a sales role. Take a look at company X’s current sales reps. A quick boolean search on LinkedIn using “company x” AND (sales OR account) will pull up what you’re looking for. The sales reps, the top ones at least, will probably reference their quota achievement in their LinkedIn profiles.

So, let’s say you come across the profile of Jen Smith, and she mentions that she is #1 of 13 US reps for company x. Make your subject “Ready to give Jen Smith a run for her money!” That should get you an open, right? You’d open that if you were a sales manager, wouldn’t you? 

Now that you’ve got an opened email, time to keep their attention. Make sure the next few sentences are again personalized. Use something specific to the person you are writing and specific to their company: 

Hi Gary, 

Congrats on your recent promotion to a VP role with Company XYZ. Given that the company was recently named a leader in the Gardner Magic Quadrant, it would seem that you are on the cusp of a breakout year. 

At present, I am actively starting my job search and Company X recently came across my radar. 

I’ll spare you a lengthy explanation of why I’d be a great fit. Similar to some of your top reps, I started as an SDR out of school and was quickly promoted into a closing role. While I don’t have experience in your particular space, given the background of Jen and Steve, you don’t seem to be afraid of hiring on potential.

I’d love to be able to grab a quick 15 minutes on the phone with you, I have some time open both Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. 

Look forward to connecting. 


P.S. My father also happens to be a UConn Alum. Go Huskies!

While your email should be substantive, don’t treat this like you’re defending your dissertation. Keep it clear and concise. A good test is to send the email to yourself and see what it looks like on your phone. If you find yourself having to scroll a few times to get through the whole message, it is probably too long. Maybe some people have more time on their hands right now, but they likely don’t want to spend it reading a long and rambling email.

One other method that can work is to not just write the person you’d be directly reporting to, but the person they report to as well. This will potentially create some dialogue between both parties. I’d imagine the conversation may go something like this: 

Big Boss: “ Hey did you see that email that just came through, not necessarily a perfect background, but definitely a unique approach… got my attention” 

Little Boss: “ Yeah, didn’t hate their background… I’ll reach out and at least schedule 30 minutes with to hear what they have to say” 

… aaaaaaand scene!

Update Your LinkedIn Profile and Resume

Hit things from both sides. You are targeting stakeholders directly, now let’s make sure you are also getting found by recruiters. 

Your LinkedIn profile should reflect your body of work, not your previous employers. We can easily find out what the companies you have worked for do, but your own personal experience we can only learn from you. So make sure each of your roles has a breakdown of your responsibilities and accomplishments. 

Think like a recruiter. Try to find candidates for the job you are looking for by doing a search on LinkedIn. Try the search from a friend’s LinkedIn and see if you pop up. If not, why? With a sea of candidates, recruiters start our search being as specific as possible. If we are finding 500+ possible candidates for a job, we’re going to add additional keywords and narrow that search. Make sure those keywords are showing up in your profile. 

Get recommendations. Yup, recruiters, and hiring managers read these. I know these are not always easy to ask for, but they are meaningful.  

Similarly, update your resume and include it in your email, but keep length in mind here too. Unless you are a published researcher with 20 years of experience, keep your resume to 3 pages or less. Hit the highlights of each job… we don’t need a detailed day in the life description. If you were on the other end would you read 12 bullet points describing each position? And if you are still early in your career, try not to add too much fluff. We probably don’t need much of an explanation of what you did as a server/bartender/retail associate unless that is directly related to the job you are applying for.

These are a few things that can help get you noticed by a hiring manager, but it takes more than that to actually get the job. In the coming weeks, we’ll be covering Interview Prep and some other key areas of the hiring process. Stay tuned! 

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