Most job seekers meet somewhere between 3-5 people at their target companies during an interview process. And that’s pretty lousy if you are interested in working for them someday. And usually those “3-5″ were people they met once. On interview day.
Not good. But what is the value of meeting more people?
Well, obviously, the more people you meet the more knowledge you’ll have. About how the target company works. And about who is pulling the switches and turning the dials. You can meet them well in advance of your first HR contact. You can research them in advance of your first interview. And, really important? You can test them out (friendly, stuffy, social) on interview day.
But there is also the awareness campaign that you should be doing with target companies. Well in advance of a more traditional approach (e.g sending a resume). To make yourself known to possible interviewers or HR staffers. And you should be actively looking to penetrate your target companies throughout the process, during an offer negotiation as well as during your first 90 days.
The more you are known to your target company, the better your odds of finding a job there.
Just to be clear, though. To penetrate means that you create awareness of your candidacy/unique skills with as many people as possible. Once everyone knows you (or knows of you), the risk in interviewing you and hiring you goes down. Especially important in a hiring market that favors the employer.
So how do you penetrate a company in advance and during your interview process?
1. LinkedIn – Hopefully you know by now the value of LinkedIn and the brilliance in using your connections to reach a much broader crowd. Many of them who may work now or in the past at your target companies. You absolutely have to be actively building a strong network here and actually using it. Find out what groups people at your target companies have joined and become a member. That way you can e-mail them directly and begin to network within the group.
2. Twitter – If your target companies are on Twitter, follow them. Re-Tweet them. If they blog, Re-Tweet their blog posts with a supportive comment. Create a Twitter list of the “Top 10 Tech Co’s in Atlanta”. Start to send @ messages to start a conversation. And direct messages to begin a real dialogue.
3. Facebook – If they have a page on Facebook (formerly a fan page), become a regular contributor there. First “like” their page and then begin providing feedback. “Share” and “Like” their content.
4. Charity – If you check the company website, you might find that they are involved in a few local or national charities. Consider attending local events where company personnel will be on site. Make sure that if you go, you have a good idea of how to talk to strangers.
5. Phone/Desk Staff – Upbeat and friendly never hurts you. So every opportunity you have to network, should be taken. Even if only a brief few seconds, your demeanor matters. To someone who gets hammered all day with requests. A simple “how’s your day”, if it is genuine, can help someone and help you on the day you arrive for the interview. And don’t think the opinion of the phone operator or greeter is insignificant.
6. Ask To Meet Others – I always asked during the interview whether I could be introduced to others. People on the team I would manage, others working at the same level or in an adjacent department. Or someone in a key cross-functional support role. All they can say is “no”. But don’t just ask HR. Ask the people you interview with if there are others at the company who would be open to a few questions. Hey, you never know, maybe you’ll get an invite to the company Monday Night Football night.
7. Company Tour – Does your target company give a tour of any of their facilities? What if you called and asked? You might meet a lot of people used to sharing a lot of information. How about a company store? Consumer relations?
8. Blogging/Public Relations – If you have a blog. Especially if it is industry related (technology) or key function related (marketing), you could highlight your target companies. In support of your Twitter top 10 list. Highlight key initiatives, new products or the upcoming charity event. And then send a link to their public relations team or firm.
9. Company Website – Who runs the website at your target company? How about writing up some feedback for the webmaster? Or writing a review of their site on your blog? Offer to write a product review on Amazon. This one is endless!
10. Industry Conferences – Find out where your target companies go to show off their new products and services. While you might have to drive a few hours or get on a plane, this is a target rich environment. Since other similar companies will likely be there as well.
So you can see by trying a few of the ideas above, you can become known to your target companies. In a way that should be seen as highly beneficial to both parties. Assuming your approach is a confident one. And you are not appearing desperate.
And hopefully you can see how each of these work together as part of an integrated strategy to build awareness of you and the impact you could have on their company.
What are your ideas to penetrate a target company? What has worked for you?
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