There is an old saying in marketing, “If you’re doing the same thing as your competitors, you’re screwed.” Well…maybe that’s not exactly how the saying goes, but you get the picture. In any competitive situation you simply do not want to be lumped in with your competitors. It’s not easy to do, but when done right, it can be very powerful. Just ask Apple.
So how does this relate to finding an IT job? Well, your competitors are the other candidates that are vying for the position you want. The only difference is that you probably don’t know how many competitors you have. That’s why it’s so important to stand out. But how do you do that?
Change your mindset. The common way of thinking is to find a job you are interested in, submit your resume, and wait. This is what most people do. And as you can guess by now, its exactly what you don’t want to do. Unless you want to be thrown on the same pile as all of your competitors. So what do you do?
Make the right contacts. Don’t contact the recruiter/manager through a job board or HR. Again, this is what everyone does. Instead, track down their email and send a personalized message, or see if you are connected to someone at the company through Linkedin (you are on Linkedin, right?) and ask for an introduction. Figure out who runs the department you want to work in and send them an email explaining your passion for the company and a few points about how you could contribute. Make a connection outside of the usual approach. There are lots of ways to do this if you are creative.
Get active. Join clubs and groups. Volunteer. Meet people. People hire people they know and like. People also recommend people they know and like to their friends and colleagues. I just got back from a lunch where a friend asked if I knew of anyone looking for a customer service job. I knew of two that another friend recommended to me. The more people you meet and know, the better chance you have of something like this happening. It reminds me of a quote I recently read from author David Kaiser:
“Sending out resumes is not effective. You need to pick up the phone, meet someone, get a speaking gig, or volunteer. If you’re not a little afraid, you’re not doing it right.”
Also, you must stay curious. Spend at least an hour each day learning. Maybe its reading business news. Maybe its learning a new software. Maybe its researching an industry or company. Learn anything that interests you. But stay curious and learn. It’s not only good for your soul, but it’s good for your job hunt.
Contact a few recruiters. There are recruiters at staffing firms that have good relationships with hiring managers at the companies you are interested in working for. These recruiters are always looking for good people and will help you with your resume, interviewing, and anything else that will get you hired by their client. Make a few phone calls to some staffing firms and find the right recruiters that can help you.
It’s important to remember that people want to hire people they know, trust, and feel can contribute. Sending a resume accomplishes none of those things. Focus on the developing the relationship first, the resume will come later.