The Secret To Getting A Job Without Networking
By Michael Hernandez
Last updated: 05/01/2017
It's no secret to the people that know me: I can be pretty shy at times.
I found the prospect of undertaking a job search daunting, specifically because there was such a big emphasis on networking.
All of the job-search advice that I had received through and after graduating college fell into one of two categories:
- Build up your network.
- Blast out tons of resumes and see what sticks.
While these tactics may work, my understanding was that both relied on the same basic premise to improve the odds of finding a job: sheer numbers.
It resembled playing a game of pure chance, like a slot-machine in a casino.
Worse, the networking tactic sounded a lot like orchestrating an ineffectual Ponzi-scheme where the benefit would somehow flow up to you from contacts. Bernie Madoff may not have had any issues with that sort of thing, but I did.
So instead I developed a system that focused on the potential value that a person could create for their employer.
I figured that an employer would be interested in a candidate that could explain how they intended to create value in the position they were applying for. This shifts the focus away from your professional network (or lack thereof) to your capabilities.
This system requires up-front preparation and research instead of relying on the chance that someone you know might have an opportunity somewhere.
The process starts with self-discovery and defining what we have to contribute to potential employers.
That's right, we are not starting by defining a dream job or a target position at a target company. Keeping things fluid and flexible will allow for an honest exploration instead of trying force ourselves to find desired characteristics.
To that effect, what do you have now?
- What are you naturally good at?
- Would your personality lend itself to handle certain situations more easily than other people can?
- Have you learned any special skills?
- How much education do you have?
- What experience do you have?
When I went through this, I discovered that I preferred working with things rather than with people, that I was careful and patient, that I had accumulated a number of computer skills over the years, and I had a mix of business/marketing education with experience in technology and IT.
Again, when you go through this exercise don't worry about trying to force yourself to find characteristics that fit a dream job. Let your discovery be honest and sincere.
Don't feel like you are missing experience or skills. Focus on what you have and that will help with the next step.
Now that you know what you have, it's time to think about what employers want.
Specifically, which employers want what you have now and what you could easily get soon.
Again, we are not trying to force ourselves to fit the description of a specific job, rather it is the exact opposite. We are finding jobs that fit our competencies and where we can create value in that position for the employer.
I think this is an empowering and effective thought process to use.
Look for opportunities in positions that match you. Make a list of companies and openings where you think you can contribute to creating value.
At this stage in my own job search, I found that the companies looking for my mix of attributes included those in the exciting fields of business systems analysis and online marketing. I found openings at nearby companies and few further out.
Research average salary and wages for the position as well. Compare pay in comparable positions and different areas of the country. You will want to know what you can expect to earn from these different jobs.
The time has come for me to share with you the secret sauce of the WONET system.
The whole thing is built upon the customer-focused principles of marketing that professionals use to develop selling strategies for products, events, political candidates, and ideas.
And there is a lot more from the marketing world that we will use moving deeper into this process.
I'm not going to bore you with the all of the theory; Suffice to say that these tactics can be effective and if you want to learn more about them you can check the materials I link to in the References section of this article.
Now that you have found some jobs that fit you, it is time to illustrate to those responsible for hiring that you have what it takes to create value for their company.
The first step is to do some research and create a short report with the following information:
- The company
- What they do
- Their history
- Important people
- Size (employees, revenue, etc)
- The job opening
- How long it has been open for
- Job responsibilities
- Job requirements
- Salary/Wage information
- Benefits included
- How your skills will help fulfill the job
- How your education will help fulfill the job
- How your experience has prepared you to fulfill the job
- How your personality will help you fit in with the company
- How these factors combine to create value and justify your desired pay
What you have created in this report is your strategy to maximize your hire-ability for a specific job. It will guide you from the initial application to the final interview.
You can use this strategy document to adapt your resume and cover letter for the specific application. The goal is to illustrate that you can create value in performing the job. Pull from your self-discovery notes the evidence to support your claims. Don't lie and don't exaggerate; just lay out the facts and build your argument.
I agree with this common advice about job-searches: make sure there are no errors (spelling, grammar, etc) in your documents and that they are presentable. Review your documents twice, and even ask someone else to take a quick look at them.
Make a backup copy of your documents.
Now submit your application and make note of the submission date on the backup copy along with any other important details.
Have these documents readily accessible along with the strategy guide so that you can easily refer to them when you receive a response.
When you do receive a response, make sure to note the person's full name, and pick up any other names that they drop during your communications. If they want to schedule an interview make sure to ask who you will be interviewing with, again making sure to collect that person's full name.
By contacting you, the potential employer would like to confirm that you are a good candidate for the position. At this point, you are likely to know as much about the company (maybe a little more) as they do about you.
Let's improve that.
Start by dropping the interviewer's name into several online search engines (like Google). Adding the company name to the search query, or their title if you have that available, can help refine the results. Adding the city is another good option.
The goal is to collect as much of the information that the interviewer has elected to share about themselves to the public as you can. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a host of other social media/networking sites can all offer profound insight into peoples' backgrounds.
Look for ways to refine your communication during the interview. Look for anything that may indicate their style. Read how they word their posts, what they choose to write about, and anything that they consider to be important.
If you can align your communications to appeal to their sensibilities, that is an instant connection. Don't imitate their communication style, just incorporate language they might appreciate.
You can choose to use words that act as subtle cues to convey that you have similar values.
This is like the icing on the top of the cake, or the bow on a package. By communicating on the interviewers wavelength, you will have fewer obstacles to prevent you from illustrating your potential contribution to their company. They can focus on the content without being distracted by the delivery.
Does this system work?
Well, it worked for me. It might not work for everyone, and as they say online, "your mileage may vary."
It might have been a slower process than more conventional methods. Regardless, I was very happy with the job I found. It was a perfect fit for me in terms of the work itself, the team, the continuing education aspect, and culture. I doubt that a better fitting job could have flowed to me from distant network connections.
When I started writing this article, I envisioned creating the guide that I would have found helpful when I started my job search. It provides a rough map for beginning the journey, an approach that you can incorporate into your own. It should not be your only tactic, but one of many employed in your efforts.
I hope that you find this information helpful, and I wish you luck in your own endeavors.
If you enjoyed reading this article you might like visiting my website because I wrote that too! MichaelHernandez.xyz