Online job postings have given organizations access to a much larger talent pool – which has resulted in many more applications through which recruiting personnel have to sift.
So, how do you make sure that a real live person reviews your materials?
To get your materials placed at the top of the pile and ensure that a serious review of your materials is conducted, always endeavor to have someone champion your candidacy from within the organization. How do you find this champion? Start with LinkedIn. Do a search of the organization to see whether you have a 1st or 2nd degree connection that works at the target organization.
If you have one or more 1st degree connections, determine which person is most likely to help you achieve your goal. Considerations include: strength of the relationship, the connection’s position within the organization and their personality.
If you have identified 2nd degree connections within the organization, assess the connection(s) that you have in common. Who could you contact most easily, requesting an introduction to that 2nd degree connection?
Once you have identified a good internal contact, the goal is to connect, most likely via email, in which you (i) introduce the way in which you are connected and (ii) request that the contact simply forward your materials to either HR/Recruiting, or the hiring manager, if known. This communication may also lead to a brief follow up phone call: You’re interested in learning more about the organization generally, and, if the internal employee is in a relevant department, to the specific position. Any information you learn via email or a short conversation can be useful later, especially if you get invited to an interview.
Generally, an applicant flagged by an employee in good standing will be considered more favorably than an applicant that submits coldly.
If the employee is indeed willing to forward your materials, make sure that you still apply through the online job posting system. You want to show that you are a candidate who “follows the rules” and is not asking others to do your work for you.