12 Tips for Landing a Job at a Company You Admire
Strategies for getting a dream job at the place you love.
Posted Oct 17, 2017
Have you been applying for jobs at cool companies but not getting interviews? Here are 12 strategies for getting a foot in the door of those admirable and highly competitive companies.
1. Resume & Cover Letter Strategy - Whether you’re currently employed or unemployed, always keep your resume up-to-date and ready at a moment’s notice. With little notice, you might find yourself talking with a recruiter or hiring manager and you don't want to be scrambling to write a resume. Resumes and cover letters are highly strategic documents that take time. Do not use templates and don't be mislead by thinking graphics and colors will catch their eye. Create your own documents from scratch and focus on the content.
Once they're up-to-date, ask someone who is in a hiring position or has had proven success with their resume to review your documents. If a job application gives you the opportunity to include a cover letter, always include one. It should show your genuine enthusiasm for the company. It should not rehash your resume but make a case, with a concise narrative and evidence, as to how you can step in as a solution to the company’s problem. Here are some cover letter and resume writing resources.
2. LinkedIn Strategy - Create a well-developed LinkedIn profile. Don’t skip this part—I’m constantly hearing LinkedIn success stories. And don’t simply copy and paste your resume. LinkedIn is a wonderful opportunity for crafting a professional narrative in a warm and authentic voice. Your summary statement should be a compelling snapshot of who you are as a professional. Each job description should clearly explain your responsibilities and accomplishments, but not get bogged down in your day-to-day duties. After reading your profile the reader should get a clear sense of how your career has developed and what kind of person he or she will be hiring.
3. Research Strategy - While you’re on LinkedIn, use it to research as much as you can about the company you want to work for. Look at their leadership structure: What is their background? What might you have in common? Do you share mutual connections? What is the company’s mission? What is their future vision? Armed with this information, you’ll feel more at ease in an interview and it might give you some conversation starters to break the ice. You can also use LinkedIn to reach out to recruiters, hiring managers, or company leaders to introduce yourself and perhaps even request a casual chat or interview. Sometimes that approach truly gets a foot in the door.
4. Narrative Strategy - Once you’ve researched as much as you can about the company, you should have a pretty good idea of their story. Great companies have great stories. How they developed and the philosophies that guide them. They’ll want to know the same about you. Developing a professional narrative—even a professional mission statement or career philosophy—will help you present yourself confidently in your materials and in interviews. List out your values, your strengths, your greatest accomplishments, moments when your work felt most rewarding, and your professional goals. Weave that information together into a concise narrative or mission statement.
5. Application Strategy - Once your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and professional narrative are on-point, upload your materials into the company’s hiring system. If they don’t have any openings, reach out to HR to ask if they have a means of keeping your materials on file. If you apply to a job through their career portal and you don’t get a response, reach out to HR to confirm that your materials were successfully uploaded. I’ve heard stories of those applicant tracking systems or resume scanners chopping off resumes or translating them into a jumble of nonsense.
6. Networking Strategy - If you’re relying on online job boards (Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, etc) and submitting online applications for your career search, the odds are stacked against you. The vast majority of jobs are not being landed from online job boards—just ask anybody in the job market. They are being landed through networking and connections. By ‘networking’, I don’t mean doing the old’ business card shuffle down at the chamber of commerce. There are many ways to network and make connections. Start by reaching out to everybody you know to find a connection in that company you admire. Even if that means finding a friend of a friend of a woman who knows a guy…
7. Social Media Strategy - If you’re still not finding a connection in the company, you’ll have to make one. Become a brand champion by following the company on their social media channels and being interactive. (Interactive in a strategic way, not a stalker way.) Many companies will first post their job openings on social media, giving an edge to their followers. And it makes complete sense—why not announce your job openings to a pool of talent who already knows, loves, and interacts with your brand?
8. Portfolio Strategy - Create something for them. If you’re a graphic designer, design a graphic mockup for their new product. If you’re a motion animator, tag them on a video you’ve created. If you’re a writer, write a piece about the company’s revolutionary approach to business and upload it to LinkedIn or pitch your article to a blog or magazine. Do you have an online portfolio? Do you have work samples ready?
9. Agency Strategy - Connect with a recruitment agency, placement agency, or temp agency who has a location in the same city as the company. Maybe you can get a temp-to-hire placement in the company. Maybe you’ll develop a great relationship with a recruiter who will work hard to pitch your resume to the company.
10. Investigation Strategy - If you’ve ever wanted to work for a highly desirable and competitive company like Google or Apple, you might already know that there are blogs and YouTube videos created by current and former employees sharing insider hiring tips. Do some "How to get hired at..." sleuthing.
11. Informational Interview Strategy - Request an informational interview or facility tour. Companies are surprisingly responsive to bringing people in for a tour or a chat. Bring a folder that contains your resume and a pen & paper—because why not? If you have business card, exchange cards with everybody you meet and connect with them on LinkedIn when you get home. Also, write a thank you note to whomever spent time with you.
12. Meet & Greet Strategy - Contact the company and ask if they participate in any career fairs or open houses. Find out if they support particular causes in the community and if they’re participating in any upcoming volunteering events. The strategy, of course, is to get job seekers away from the computer and in front of influencers.