Sounds crazy, right? But think about it. Will you stand out if you're one of hundreds of applicants who blindly sends in their resume? Applying online is like buying a lottery ticket. Your chances of getting an interview are slim to none. I can tell you unequivocally that referrals and those candidates recommended by the hiring manager ALWAYS get noticed first. Do you want to take your chances or put in a little extra work to hook up a connection at companies you're interested in? Well, here are 3 easy steps to do it:
Step 1: Update your LinkedIn profile
If your LinkedIn profile isn't the best version of your resume, you're missing the boat. Recruiters, sourcers, and those you'll want to network with, will all look to your profile on LinkedIn to see if you've got an interesting or relevant background. It should highlight your most remarkable and distinctive strengths and talents, not a laundry list of everything you’ve ever done. Use the summary section to talk about what you’re passionate about, as it relates to your career. This is the REAL resume. Draw recruiters to you instead of having to pursue all of the job opportunities single-handedly!!
Step 2: Make a personal connection
Don't know anyone who works for a company you're interested in? No problem. I guarantee you someone you know does. Do an "advanced search" on LinkedIn by entering the name of the company you're interested in. If you don't have any first degree connections, you can see who your shared connections are. Then, just ask your first degree connection to introduce you. As long as you're gracious and appreciative, most will be more than happy to help you out. Tell them why you want to connect and if there are any posted positions you are interested in. Heck, even offer to write the email for them to send.
Don't have many connections (less than 200) on LinkedIn yet? Start sending out those invites! Get networking.
Step 3: Get referred
Having managed the global referral programs at Google and Salesforce.com, referrals were hands down the most important candidate pipeline. On average, 40-50% of hires are from referrals, compared to less than 7% coming from online applicants. The percentage is even higher for start-ups. They want to hire people with employee references. What kind of applicant do you want to be? Yeah, that's what I thought...a referral!
Oh and another tip. Nothing drives an employee more crazy than when they find out that someone they just referred already applied online. They just got aced out of a potential referral bonus! You always want to go after the referral submission FIRST. No exceptions. And, if you know more than one person at the company, start with the person you know best. They'll be able to sing your praises more and bring strength to the referral. If they haven't referred you within a week or two, then go down the list to the next person.
So when is it okay to apply online?
- After you’ve already spoken with a recruiter (who obtained your resume through your networking) and wants to get you into the interview process but needs you to apply online as part of their recruitment process.
- You truly can't find one single person who works at the company of interest and you really don't care if they contact you anyway. In fact, you forgot you applied 10 seconds after hitting the submit button.
- You are the luckiest person on the planet and win lotteries all the time.
Share your comments with me! Have you tried any of the techniques I outlined above? Any successes or stumbles? I'd love to hear about your experiences and opinions.