As mentioned in many of my books, articles, and blogs, and in those of many others
in my profession, answering postings is not a very successful technique for career
transition - less than 10% market penetration. This statistic is even lower when
minor or major career changes are involved. I hope most job seekers learn this
quickly, and use their search time more efficiently.
There is, however, a method of making a job posting lead to improved opportunities
I was reminded of this the other day, when a client was discussing his search, which
had largely consisted of answering postings. Yet, something was different with his
approach. I was all set to go into my rant about not depending on online postings as
a primary source for job opportunities, when it became clear that he instinctively
understood that just answering wasn’t enough; he wanted to “surround” the
In other words, he should fully investigate the possibility of knowing, or getting to
know, someone in the organization. If he could find someone, he would contact that
person the same way one would contact anyone for an informational interview. A
method of finding that person (or persons!) could be research instruments that
would disclose personnel information (websites, data collections like Hoover’s or
Factiva) or investigating on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn, of course, is a valuable tool for finding the right people. Try to find
someone whose role is connected, in some way, to the role posted. Write a
personalized invitation, even if you have Premium service, saying that you see that
the two of you have things in common, like ________ and ________, and you’d welcome
the opportunity to be part of her network. Chances are good that you’ll get a
positive response, which is your opportunity to write a standard approach email for
an informational/due diligence/market research meeting. As usual, you’d prefer in
person, but if not possible, Skype or phone will do.
At the meeting, treat it as a standard networking meeting, without, of course, ever
saying the word “networking.” Mention towards the end that you have applied for a
position posted at that organization, and are curious if she knows anything about
the area. She’ll get the point. Don’t ask for a direct introduction; if you’ve made
your credential apparent through your excellent opening pitch, she’ll possibly offer
some advice or information, or maybe, if you’re lucky, even an introduction for an
exploratory conversation. The very least you’d hope for is some insight into the
organization and/or position. The best? The direct introduction.
That’s “surrounding” the posting. Answering the posting is only an initial step.
Doing more than that might help a low-odds job search approach become a more