Following Up on Inside Connections at Potential Employers

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insideconnections.gifOne of LinkedIn’s many cool features is the ability to identify inside connections into potential employers. But once you’ve found them, what to do you do with them? Over on LinkedInnovators, Chris Morton poses the question:

I applied for a job I found on Dice yesterday (sent to “jobs@…”) and have now identified about a dozen 2nd and 3rd degree contacts at that company who are in my network.

To increase my odds of getting an interview, what sort of guerilla marketing campaign might I wage, if any? I had thought something along the lines of, “I’ve applied for X job, any assistance you may be able to render, …”

Your thoughts?

While it would be really nice to be able to do so, it probably won’t work very well to contact them and say, “I just applied for a job at your company – could you please recommend me to the hiring manager?” They don’t know you from Adam, and while the referral may or may not help, depending on how strong the intermediary relationships are, odds are that you’re not going to get a direct recommendation

The problem with Chris’s request as worded above is that it’s much too vague — “any assistance you may be able to render”. When making any kind of request from your network, people respond best to requests that are:

  1. Specific.
  2. Clearly limited in the time/effort required
  3. Clearly low risk to them (recommending you requires them to put their reputation on the line for you, and at this point, you’re only one small step above a total stranger to them)

I suggested to Chris something more like this:

“I’ve applied at your company for the position of ____. I’d like to better prepare for my interview there. Could I have a short e-mail exchange or phone call with you so that I might learn more about the company culture, current priorities, etc., so that I can make sure the company is a good fit for me and better prepare for my interview?”

With a request like this, you’re asking no more than 10-15 minutes of their time and at zero risk to them. And if they agree, you’ll get information that will be invaluable to you in preparing for the interview.

But what about increasing your odds of getting the interview in the first place? I’m not sure there’s much Chris can do in his case, because he already applied. If you want to improve your chances of getting the interview, you want to reach out to those inside connections before you apply. That way you can use the information you get from those discussions to write a better cover letter or perhaps even tweak your resume to highlight particular accomplishments, skills or traits that may speak to their current needs or the preferences of the hiring manager.

And once you’ve had that meeting, if you really hit it off with your inside connection, they might actually even be willing to say something to the hiring manager to make sure your resume gets a careful look.

It’s an invaluable tool. The sooner in the process you use it, the better.

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5 Comments

  1. Your article was impossible to read because your items from the left hand side, pages, categories and archives kept moving over on top of the article. What a shame. I would have liked to see what you have to say about using LinkedIN.

  2. I think that there is unlikely to be much of a response rate if you contact people and ask for their help for an interview however you phrase the question. In a busy company most people would be hard pressed to find even a few minutes to assist someone they did not know who simply sent them a request through LinkedIn. Maybe worth a try but definitely a long shot.The best use of LinkedIn is to build an extensive network of people that you know or at least have met in the past and then tap into this when you need it. This takes an investment of time over some years to achieve.

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