Many of us want to feel like our work is more than a paycheck. Don’t get me wrong. Paying the bills is an important benefit of having a job, but if that’s all it’s doing for you, it probably isn’t sparking your passion or furthering your career. Eventually it can start to be a bit empty, which doesn’t encourage you to be your best.
Finding a role that gets you excited, empowers your growth, and fills you up can feel a bit like hunting for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Maybe you’ve chased down several rainbows before, only for them to seem to evaporate and leave you disappointed. I’d like to share some of the things that we’ve seen candidates do to help them land their dream job.
It can be a massive challenge just finding an opportunity you want to pursue, getting through the recruiting process and on to the hiring manager, and then actually interviewing for the job. You aren’t the only one running that gauntlet. Other candidates that likely have similar qualifications are all vying for that role. Standing out is important.
But how do you stand out from the crowd in a good way? It can be tricky to walk the line between reeling people in and coming off as a potential pain in the butt. We’ve seen a few candidates leverage some clever techniques to demonstrate their enthusiasm and eagerness to collaborate, making it more compelling to interview and hire them.
One of the easiest strategies is to follow hiring managers and recruiters on social media. Seek opportunities to engage with their content. Reacts are good, but thoughtful comments are even better. Some of the people I’ve hired in the past first got my attention because I saw their names in my notifications from a comment on a post.
If you start seeing the same people interacting, then you get curious about who they are. When you see that they’ve applied for a job, their application stands out for you. It’s a fairly easy thing you can do armed with little more than the apps on your phone. I’d recommend paying special attention to LinkedIn or any publications.
Not every interaction is a quality interaction. Generic “great job,” “interesting article,” or “I want an interview” will likely blend in with all the others commenting the exact same things. You’ll want to make sure what you’re saying furthers the conversation in a meaningful and intentional way.
Some interaction suggestions that could get you noticed:
For articles or informational posts, ask a question that opens the door for that hiring manager to respond to you. Start off in the comments section, but don’t be afraid to venture into the direct messages after you get a response.
For posts about available opportunities they’re seeking candidates for, direct message with a thoughtful reason why you find it compelling or would be a good match.
“This would be an exciting opportunity for me. It’s similar to my role as X at X company, where I successfully decreased our software development time by 12%.”
“I would love to add my expertise in user experience to this team and join such a dynamic company.”
Don’t just say “hey, when can we meet?” Send hiring managers and recruiters your Calendly link. I have to give a shout out here to an Atlanta based tech unicorn. @Calendly is an amazing tool that makes it quick and easy to grab time on someone’s schedule. It eliminates that annoying, time-wasting back and forth trying to find an open date and time slot in both of your calendars.
They also provide a Chrome extension that literally embeds the times right into emails for you, letting people click the time that works best for them and instantly getting it on both your schedules. At the very least, you can put the link in your email signature. If you make it easier to connect than others, you are differentiating yourself in a way that shows you are easier and better to work with!!
It can be helpful to find out more about the team and company you’d like to work with prior to trying to get an appointment with a hiring manager. Some candidates have found success by approaching 2 or 3 people that work for the hiring manager or company, inviting them out to coffee, and saying “I want to learn more about the organization. I’m interested in working here and would love to hear about your experience.” Not only will you get insight into the company culture by hearing what they love or despise about the company, but you could also glean some information that would help you describe why you would be a valuable candidate.
Ask if they have an employee referral program. If they do, now you’re not just a potential peer, you’re also someone that could end up having a positive financial impact for them. It’s an easy way to find and cultivate a champion that will advocate for you over the competition.
As you’re sending applications or email responses, find opportunities to ask really good questions. It’s the best way to show you’re attuned to adding value to the company. People who are naturally curious tend to build stronger relationships anyway.
What’s the business need for this role?
What are the opportunities to grow?
How can somebody coming in the door be most impactful to the organization?
Why is the position open?
If it’s due to growth, what’s going on?
If it’s due to a replacement, what didn’t work out in the past?
Your dream job is within your means to obtain. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it to find a role that sparks your passion and helps you grow. Choose the techniques that work best for you and the type of company you’re courting. These are just a few examples of things we’ve seen successful candidates leverage. I’d encourage you to test them out. If you have some other suggestions, I’d love to hear your story.
Josh McAfee is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Humans Doing. With over 26 years of recruiting and team-building experience, Josh has worked with startups, SMBs, and large companies to determine hiring needs, develop our recruiting strategies and processes, and connect top talent to fuel growth. In 2021, he became a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author with his book Measure Up: Mastering Your Career Search Like a Boss.