Should You Apply On-Line? Here’s a better way….

full-timeFinding a new position is hard work especially if you are unemployed.  Done right, it can be a full time job in itself.  While technology has been a welcome accelerator to the hiring process, it distances the candidates from the hiring managers.  In a world where we have become more accustomed to distancing through technology, the hiring process is still very personal.

Hiring managers want to work with people they like, yet many times they don’t have the time to do a thorough job of selecting and interviewing candidates.  Therefore, they lean on the Human Resources team to bring them ‘good’ candidates but HR is usually distanced from what the hiring manager really needs.

In addition, Human Resources managers and recruiters are slammed with tons of resumes that come in through their job postings, most of which are not qualified for the positions they need to fill.  A great example of this is our own experience in using ZipRecruiter for our job postings for a year where we received over 10,000 resumes for our job postings and didn’t successfully place a single candidate from that batch of 10,000 resumes.

Many recruiting firms and Human Resource managers are finding that on-line job portals are highly inefficient and therefore, ignore or don’t have the time to review those resumes.  Instead, they often focus on internal referrals and directly resourcing off of LinkedIn or from their own personal networks.

Then, what should you do?

You need to get closer to the hiring managers.  Even with all of today’s automated job matching tools and job boards, 70% of all jobs are still filled through direct networking. 

When you see an interesting position or get a notice about one, begin researching the company on and other sources to find out who might be the potential hiring manager or at least in charge of that group or division.  Then begin your networking with them.  If one company is hiring for that position, there is a high likelihood that other companies in that same industry will be looking for a similar person.

Don’t ask for a job or interview…yet!

You first need to build a relationship with them and many studies say it takes seven (7) different ‘connection’ points for someone to feel like they have a relationship with you.  Therefore, I suggest you ease into the process by nurturing it over some time which could take 4 to 5 weeks.

There is a fine line between pursuing and stalking.  You want to make sure you are staying out of the second category.   Here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Connect:  Ask them to connect to you on LinkedIn.  In your connection request, describe that you are interested in their area of specialty and you would like to expand your network in that area.  Again, don’t ask for a job!
  2. Thank them for the Connection:  Very briefly thank them for connecting with you and you can make a comment like “I’ve been keeping an eye on (COMPANY) and it looks like a great place to work.”
  3. Pass along relevant News:  Once they connect, you can pass along a news article they would likely be interested in.  “I saw this article and thought it might be of interest to you.”   PRO TIP:  Better yet, write a relevant article then pass it along!
  4. Offer Short Insight:   In a few more days, you can then send another LinkedIn message to very briefly offer some insight (no more than 2 sentences on yourself and add, “I would love to work with a company like yours, so please could you let me know if anything in the area of “______” comes up?
  5. Saw a Job Posting:  If you can get them to engage, you can then go back and say, “I saw this job posting come up.  Is that a role you are involved in?”  Wait for the answer.  No matter the response, you can ask if they would be open to internally referring you. Most companies provide internal referral bonuses.   Try to get them to introduce you to the HR department.  That is way more effective than applying on-line.

This process can be tedious and slower than just clicking on the “Apply Now” button, but it is 10X more effective in producing results.  While in the end, HR may still direct you to the on-line job portal, but at least your name will be familiar to both HR and the hiring manager when the resume comes through.  By first engaging the potential hiring managers directly, you increase their level of comfort with you and it dramatically increases your chance of being noticed by both the HR Department and the Hiring team.