When looking for a job, most candidates try to go through “the front door.” Those are the traditional job-hunting methods people use – blasting out resumes to hundreds of employers, applying “online” to hundreds more, or working with a job search firm.
But many are disappointed when these attempts fail. Logically, since you are playing the numbers game – applying to literally hundreds of employers in a short space of time – these attempts should get you plenty of job interviews and a fair share of job offers.
But somehow, they often don’t. How can it be?
It’s simply a matter of traffic and a soft job market. You’re far from the only job seeker who is using these methods. As a result, employers are getting hundreds of resumes and applications for every job that is posted. They use sophisticated computer filtering methods that substantially narrow the field of potential candidates. Your resume and applications are mostly being filtered out before they are even reviewed by human eyes. If you’re not a glove fit, you’re out.
The better way to get a job now is to forget about the front door, and take a good hard look at going through the “back door.” What is the back door of the job market? They are the places that most other job candidates are not going. You will improve your chances of getting a job considerably by going where the traffic is light.
There are different ways to do this, and which you choose will depend on your current employment status. One of the primary reasons why people avoid looking for a job through the back door is that it is more time-consuming and requires considerably more follow-up. If you’re unemployed, you’ll have the time to do this. If you already have a job, you’ll have to take it in measured steps.
Networking Your Way In
Unless you are very specifically qualified for a position, you’ll have difficulty getting a job interview, let alone an offer. Hiring is still largely an old-school process – you have to know someone who knows someone who is in a position to get you the interview, and provide the credibility needed for a job offer.
Networking is one of the best ways to do this. You may not develop close contacts from networking, particularly the online variety, but any contact is better than no contact when it comes to job hunting. If you can get to know people who are in a position to hire – or are close to those who are – you may succeed in getting the door-opening introduction that your resume and application simply cannot provide anymore.
Get to know as many people as you can who are either working in your current field, or the one that you hope to get into. You don’t always need to know people who do the hiring – it’s often enough if you get to know the people who know the people who do the hiring. The more contacts that you have, the more job opportunities you’ll have too.
How to Apply
If you do make direct contact with a potential employer, it might be best to avoid applying through the company website or through job boards. Instead, find out who the person is who does the hiring for the position you want, and make direct contact. You can do this by telephone, email, or by old-fashioned snail mail. The advantage to these contact methods is that most job candidates are not using them. Your call or correspondence will be far more likely to be read by the hiring manager.
In most of these situations, you will also be directed to apply through the company website. That’s okay – you will still have made the critical contact, and if the hiring manager is impressed by your credentials, you may have moved your application up to the top. The key is always to bypass human resources, and “the system,” to the greatest degree possible.
Temping Your Way into a Job
If you are unemployed and need a job, sometimes the best way to a permanent job is by accepting a temporary one. When you apply for a job with a company, your application is one in a stack of hundreds or even thousands of others. It’s hard to get noticed in a stack. But when you’re actually on-site, working for the company, you become a name and a face, and you have an opportunity to impress. Your chance of being offered a full-time position increases dramatically!
Using a Part-Time Job to Get a Full-Time Job
This is similar to temping – you come into the organization on a reduced basis which gives you the chance to demonstrate your worth to the company. This can be an especially big advantage in a bad economy. An organization that cannot afford to hire you on a full-time basis may be open to a part-time arrangement.
Once you are there, and they become accustomed to your production, you may succeed in creating a full-time slot for yourself. Sometimes the best way to get a job is to work yourself into one. Whether you do this by temping or by working part-time, it will provide you an opportunity that the best-looking resume cannot.
Offer to Work for Free
Once again this is a suggestion for a person who is unemployed and needs to get a foot in the door. It’s a pretty bold step – one that is so radical that a lot of employers may even turn their nose up at the opportunity. But if you’re confident in your ability to make a substantial contribution to an organization, this can also be one of the most effective ways to land regular employment.
It will be important at the outset to establish the fact that you will work for free only on a trial basis. It could be that your time with the company fizzles out without you ever getting a job offer or even a single dollar out of it. But if they are impressed with what they see, they may elevate you to a paid part-time position, or even a paid temporary position. Either arrangement could eventually lead to full-time employment.
Because of the sheer volume of competition, you should not be the least bit surprised that your efforts at mailing out resumes and applying for jobs online are not bearing fruit. And if they aren’t, you may need to start looking for a job through the back door.
Have you ever tried any of these job-hunting methods? Did they eventually lead you to a job? Leave a comment!