|  March 15, 2017

Common Questions about Networking for your Job Search

Last week I led a webinar on networking for your job search (you can still watch it here if you’d like) and in general, this a BIG topic for me.

Adding strategic and targeted networking efforts to your job search can be a game changer.

Here are 5 common questions I often get on this topic and my perspective:

If I have a contact at a company, can I just email them with my resume or do I also need to apply online?

The fact that you have a contact at a company is amazing news. I’ve personally seen a strong referral or endorsement make the difference between calling someone for an interview vs. not. 

There have even been a few people who I ended up hiring for roles that at first didn’t seem like the perfect match.

That being said, you should absolutely do both – apply through the official channel and then also network through your contact. 

This ensures that you’re in the company database (which recruiters will search through in the future) and also serves as a failsafe in case your contact drops the ball.

In a perfect world, the referral goes through seamlessly and when the recruiter goes to look you up, all of your information is ready to pull up in their applicant tracking system.

Is it appropriate/necessary to reach out to a stranger (the recruiter or hiring manager) to follow up on my application?

Yes and yes – but only when this is done the right way. You all know my mantra:

No application should be considered complete until you’ve followed up with an actual person about it.

That being said, I’ve been on the receiving end of super effective cold emails and also ones that are swiftly deleted.

If you are going to email a stranger about a job, here are my rules:

  • You must be genuinely excited about the job and company (and that must come across in your outreach).
  • You’re qualified enough for the job that this won’t seem like a complete waste of the recipient’s time.
  • You customize your email and are authentic and not template-y (not a word? it is now) or spammy.
  • You do not demand an interview or even a response – this person owes you nothing. Don’t act entitled. 
  • You’re quick and to the point – no one has time to read an essay.

When should I reach out to follow up on a job application?

If you have a direct contact at the company (someone you actually know or a friend of a friend) then you should let them know you applied to the job right away.

You may even do this beforehand, especially if you know the person very well and want to get some initial information/guidance before applying.

If you are planning on cold emailing (usually best to target an alum, hiring manager, or recruiter) then I usually recommend waiting 3-5 days following your application.

Why? Well, it takes quite a bit of effort to search for someone on LinkedIn, figure out their email, and write something thoughtful. 

Since I’m all about efficiency in the job search, I recommend waiting a few days to see if a recruiter will come across your application and call you anyway. 

In that case, you can skip this phase of the process.

Is it creepy to email someone directly if I don’t know them? How do I even find their email address?

This is just my opinion but I think we’re beyond the days where people are worried when someone emails them out of the blue.

I think we’ve all been on the other end of about a million sales pitches, so when candidates used to reach out to me I definitely wasn’t thinking, “How the heck did they get my email? That’s creepy.” 

I thought, “Welp, my email must be on the internet somewhere.”

Also, emails aren’t so tough to figure out. You just find one person’s and then you know them all. Again, as long as you reach out respectfully and authentically, I don’t think people will get too hung up on a direct email.

There are a few ways to find someone’s email but here are my go tos:

  • Scour the company website looking for a press or customer service contact – once you know the email formula you can adapt it to fit the first and last name of the person you found on LinkedIn
  • Leverage email finder sites like email-format.com – these work well for larger companies
  • Google the person’s first and last name + the company name + the word “email” (surprising that this sometimes works!)

This article is a good resource on this topic as well.

Should I ask someone for coffee or a drink before I ask them for a favor?

This is a particularly interesting one. A lot of people are afraid to ask for a referral or favor if they haven’t talked to someone in a while.

They don’t want the person to feel like they’re using them and so they think they should ask for coffee or a drink or dinner, catch up, and then ask for what they really want instead.

Granted, there are some relationships where this makes sense but there are a few problems with this approach:

  • Having coffee with someone is an hour time commitment (between scheduling, traveling, and having the actual coffee) at a bare minimum. Most people are busy and that ask seems like a big one to agree to, which means it is a lot more likely to get ignored.
  • In this scenario you still eventually need to ask for what you really want, so if the person was going to feel used, they’re still going to feel that way.
  • When you ask for a referral in the right way, you’re literally just asking for someone to hit forward on an email. This is incredibly easy for someone to do. Way easier than scheduling and having a coffee.

In most cases, I suggest helping people to help you by making it easy on them. There are plenty of ways to ask for what you want without being slimy about it.

Thanks for reading and if you have questions you’d like to be featured in a future round-up, send them over to [email protected].

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