How to be Proactive When Applying for IT Jobs
Applying for a job is stressful. We spend hours scouring job boards, fine-tuning our resume, drafting the perfect cover letter, and typing in the same information over and over into the online application. Then, once we have finally clicked that submit button, we are presented with the worst part of the entire process: waiting for a reply that may never come.
Even in best case scenarios where you meet the job requirements perfectly, have followed all of the recommended tips and tricks, and include a stellar cover letter, you may still find yourself in a situation where you are at the mercy of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or an over-stuffed email inbox. For that reason, the best path to a new job is through a personal connection with a current employee, or even better, from an internal referral. The key is to make sure your resume gets into the hands of the actual hiring manager, and an internal referral is the best way to make sure that happens.
With the above in mind, I always recommend that job seekers take a proactive approach to job hunting. This is much easier said than done, so today I’d like to share a few concrete ways you can proactively act to ensure that an actual person reviews your resume. Keep in mind that these steps certainly won’t guarantee that you will receive responses, but rest assured they will definitely improve your odds.
1) reach out to an internal recruiter or hiring manager on LinkedIn.
If you only take one thing from this list, make it this one. I consider this the single most impactful change you can make to your existing job search process. As mentioned above, getting your resume actually reviewed by a human being is one of, if not the most, likely indicator of a return call/interview. Therefore, it is critical that you establish a personal connection with the internal recruiter who is responsible for the candidate search. Luckily for us, LinkedIn exists to serve this exact purpose.
The easiest way to find the LinkedIn profile of any given job post is simply to check out the ‘Job Poster’ section. This may not always be populated, but if it is, simply click on the poster’s profile and shoot them a connection request explaining that you are interested in learning more about the job and would love to hop on a quick call about the role and if its a good fit for your skillset, experience, and current career aspirations.
If a job poster is not listed, not to worry. It may take a bit more legwork, but you can certainly find the appropriate person to contact. In fact, even if you don’t see the job posting listed on LinkedIn, you can STILL find the appropriate person to contact.
Start by logging into LinkedIn and searching for your desired role, such as service desk analyst, cloud engineer, remote network engineer, etc. in your area. Once the results load, click on People and start going through some of the profiles of folks already in the industry. When you find someone who works at a company that looks like a potential fit, browse to the company profile and click on 'See All Employees on LinkedIn'. You can then browse their current employees until you find a hiring manager or similar. Send them a connection request with a short message explaining that you are extremely interested in any potential openings and would love to connect/hop on a quick call to introduce yourself, even if there aren't any openings at the moment. You may not have immediate results, but remember the goal is to build relationships and a network, so that you are in the loop if/when they start to hire. Even if you don't get a phone call, as long as they add you as a connection you are in good shape - that means that you will be notified via linkedin if they post any messages looking for new hires in the future.
Please note: you may be tempted simply to mass message the entire IT department at your desired company. I do not advise this (obviously). Hiring managers expect to be contacted; it comes with the job. Try to limit your contacts to those reasonably expected to be involved in the hiring process. And of course, always remain professional and respectful. You’ll essentially be ‘cold-calling’ folks through LinkedIn; you are not entitled to a response nor does the hiring manager ‘owe’ you one.
2) Utilize Reddit While Job Hunting
Reddit is unique in the fact that it gives you the potential for direct access to hiring managers from all across the world. I mean, for all you know, your latest post on /r/buildapc was upvoted by the Senior Manager of your local Google data-center. You can take advantage of this while job-hunting by staying active on sub-reddits such as /r/ITCareerQuestions, /r/techsupport, and other similar communities. Ask intelligent questions, provide helpful feedback, and stay professional AT ALL times. You never know when the person responding to your IT career question will be looking to make a quick hire. Take the opportunity to make a great impression and let it be known that you are looking for work in your field.
On a more concrete note, if you’re interested in working for a Managed Service Provider (MSP), then /r/mspjobs and /r/msp are incredibly helpful. While the former is dedicated to those looking to get a job at a MSP, the second one is also a great resource for learning about the industry, getting to know owners and hiring managers (they are very active on the sub), and you will see the occasional hiring link. It is not uncommon for interviews to be scheduled right in the comments of the sub-reddits. Definitely stay active in both of these communities and reach out to those redditors who are in a position to make a direct hire.
3) Stay Involved With Local IT Professional Groups
Hiring managers and recruiters are often members of local IT professional groups that meet monthly or quarterly. By joining these groups (and participating regularly) you’ll get the opportunity to meet these folks in real life and build an actual connection. Again, just as with everything else, be sure to carry yourself professionally and strive to make a good impression. I’d also recommend joining technology user groups in technical fields that you are interested in, even if you don’t yet have the technical experience yet. In addition to networking events, they will often host technical seminars and trainings that will help you gain knowledge in the specific area.
A quick google search should help you find meetups in your area, otherwise you can start your search with a site like meetup.
If the job posting lists an email address or phone number, then both methods are always options for making the initial personal connection. Personally, I do not recommend these methods as they are more likely to be ignored and/or annoy the hiring manager. Most cold calls will be met with the typical “Go ahead and submit your application as outlined in the job posting, thanks for calling” and are unlikely to make much of an impact on the actual hiring manager. Emails may work slightly better, but again, you’ll risk falling victim to an over-stuffed mailbox with thousands of other messages. With that said, calling and emailing are recommended by nearly every other “job expert” out there, so perhaps I’m missing something. I’d say it’s worth a shot if you’re not having any luck meeting hiring managers via social media or real life meetups.
By no means is this an all-inclusive list, but I hope you can use the above methods to improve your callback rate for IT job applications. I’d also like to point out that traditional means continue to work well, so don’t forget to:
Work with external recruiters
Optimize your application for ATS
Stay in contact with hiring managers even if you don’t get the job
Reach out to companies of interest prior to a role opening to become part of their ‘talent pipeline’.
I plan on addressing each of the above in future posts, so be sure to subscribe and bookmark our page to stay in the loop!
In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you have had success with while exploring the job market! Please leave us a comment letting us know how you implement a proactive approach to job-seeking!