HR professionals and hiring managers will likely ask you to apply online when inquiring with them regarding job opportunities at their respective companies. It seems so easy to apply for a job today as well. Simply follow the link, fill out your applicant profile, upload a resume and submit. The pros: it is extremely convenient for candidates to apply, it maintains consistency for recruiters reviewing the applications, and ensures standards and fairness for HR departments. On the other hand, the online application may impede your ability to stand out from the crowd of other job seekers.
While an online application is a great way to formally declare your interest, it is useful to attempt to build a relationship with your desired employer, which may yield stronger results in the long run. Here are some ideas that will assist you with building fruitful relationships online through professional networking
Make Contact with your Potential Employer Before They Contact You:
While this idea may seem foreign to you as an applicant, recruiters and sourcers are practicing this approach when trying to attract talented professionals like you on a daily basis. Alongside your online application, use LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook to seek out connections that have job titles similar to the role that interests you. Also, do your best to look into recruiters and HR professionals of the companies of your choice and send a friend request, connect or follow through social media. LinkedIn, for example, has a fantastic job title search engine which allows you to narrow down your search results making it very easy to find job titles with a specific employer and location.
It is likely that these professionals will accept your invitation to connect, as long as they appear to be active participants in social media professional network. Your approach to making the connection should be easy, friendly and neutral – a simple hello or request to learn more about them.
Please note, before you go out and start requesting connections with professionals on social media, it is recommended that you polish your own publicly displayed profiles, pictures and communications so that your online persona comes across as fitting to the industry or employer you are attempting to contact.
Formally Introduce Yourself through Creating a Knowledge Gap:
Here is the tricky part – trying to get the attention of someone you don’t know, and who doesn’t know you, in order to start a conversation about a potential career opportunity that they might not have knowledge about either. It’s important to approach step slowly over time by showing up on their social media news feeds. Once you identify a connection you’d like to turn into a relationship, I would recommend following their news feeds, blogs and other online activity. If you find their online posts and interactions interesting, then begin to comment, like and share on their activity. This way it is more likely that you will be noticed and positively acknowledged. Your connections will be able to see your personality and your face as you interact with their content.
Once you’ve made yourself known through following, commenting and retweeting, you are ready to send a more formal introduction email or message. Start by identifying something about this connection that either interests you or that is similar to an aspect of your social profile. From here, simply ask to learn more about them. For example:
“…I noticed that you took the same marketing program in school as me, I’m curious to know how you feel that program helped propel you into your current role as a VP marketing?…”
“…I see that you are a recruiter for company ABC, I happen to be connected with a recruiter from a similar firm, company XYZ, I’d love to understand what positions you are responsible for hiring…”
Sending a brief and inquisitive message allows you to come across as generally curious and interested in the recipient. This will likely yield better chances of getting a response.
Continue the Conversation and be an Active Participant:
Once you get a response, keeps the conversation going by kindly asking for a phone call or an in person meeting. Try to find networking opportunities and mutually interesting topics for discussion through this ongoing dialogue. Treat the relationship as though it exists to benefit both parties and try to find out if there is any way your can benefit this professional you are interacting with.
As you meet, email or chat with each of the professionals of which you are developing relationships, you will notice that asking for consideration regarding current or future job openings will come easily. In addition, you may find out quite quickly whether you truly have the right profile that a job is calling for, and you’ll be able to ask questions about the opportunities that the online application process may otherwise not provide.
Remember, the goal is to develop a relationship over time so that when a job opportunity comes available, the respective employer or recruiter will draw on your relationship when considering candidates for the job.