When I was living abroad and on the job hunt, I found my dream job on Idealist.org. But the excitement was short-lived as I quickly scanned the post and discovered I had just missed the application deadline.
I knew I was a good fit, and figured there had to be something I could do. So, without much to lose, I reached out to the organization and found myself in direct contact with the hiring manager. Thanks to this connection, I was able to swiftly send over my materials.
Ultimately, I scored an interview, but I also learned a big lesson: There is tremendous advantage to be gained from a direct connection to a hiring organization, and getting your information in front of a real person. I wouldn’t recommend making a habit of missing deadlines or reaching out to organizations who specifically tell job seekers “no emails or calls, please.” But a little creativity in finding inroads can certainly have its benefits.
Below, you’ll find ways to make solid connections, and none of them involve being late.
Get creative with connecting
The idea here isn’t to get kooky with your job applications, but rather to get a bit creative with how you connect with the hiring organization. Try thinking outside the box about where you may find an interesting opportunity to start a conversation with current employees or a hiring manager.
For example, do some research to see if the organization will be attending—as a sponsor, presenter, keynote speaker, vendor, etc.—any events, conferences, or panels near you any time soon. Even a webinar can be an in. If it’s practical, try to get a seat in the audience and be sure to introduce yourself when the time is right.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to always have some business cards and a current version of your resume on hand. While some may think that hard copy resumes are a thing of the past, if you’re able to put a resume into a hiring manager’s hands at an event or conference, she may be more likely to skim through it during some down time, her evening commute, or, dare I say, a moment of conference-induced-boredom.
Craft a clear message
You may also choose to reach out to a potential inside contact via email or social media.
In your initial message, make it clear how you found this person and why you’re emailing them. Connect about a specific piece of work or a commonality. Mention a common contact. Include a clear and specific ask or action step and make it easy for your recipient to either agree, or politely decline. Not sure what to write? Check out our, “13 helpful email templates you can use while job searching.”
Pro Tip: Before hitting send, it can be helpful to put together some quick notes. While there’s not a tremendous chance that she’ll skip straight from your email to the phone, it’s smart to have some notes and talking points on hand just in case.
You can also try to connect with staff at the hiring organization in ways that are unrelated to specific job opportunities by following or tweeting at someone in your field.
As a writer, I have had success in emailing other writers about pieces of theirs that really resonate with me. Reaching out as a fellow creative or social-impact professional with shared interests helps seed a genuine connection and spark a larger conversation.
Before I write, I want to make sure that I’ve done my research; I always check LinkedIn profiles and sometimes Twitter or Facebook for background on the person I’m emailing. Of course, browsing Facebook all day might not be the most productive tactic, but using social media or exploring connections beyond the strictly professional realm can work in your favor.
And, don’t be late
Being late may have worked once, but it’s safe to assume that applying as the employer instructs will work in your favor. Always follow directions and submit your application accordingly. For example, be sure to double check that you’ve followed all application instructions. Does the employer want PDFs or Word Docs? Are they requesting you submit your materials in one file or separate files? Be sure to honor the employer’s request for no emails or phone calls. In the end, you want to stand out for being an excellent candidate above all else.
Have you ever gotten a professional boost from an unexpected circumstance? Tell us about it in the comments below.
About the author: Gina Ciliberto first delved into social impact when she created a campaign to raise awareness around immigration in her high school. She now writes about social justice issues ranging from fracking to human trafficking for the Dominican Sisters of Hope, and volunteers with the ASPCA in her spare time. Her work is featured on the Huffington Post and Let’s Travel! Radio, among others.