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Re-Vamp Your Job Search Strategy - Part 2: Connect

by Lorraine Rise M.S., CPRW

Step one of re-vamping your job search strategy was to research potential employers that you are interested in. The goal is for you to go beyond the job boards and think about where you actually want to work. And yes, you can approach your job search that way. As you may know, the job boards only show about 20% of the available jobs out there. Those are terrible odds!

After you've compiled a list of at least 25 potential employers, I want you to set a goal of finding at least one person to connect with at each company. Who are you trying to connect with? Connect with recruiters, hiring managers and especially anyone in your network who works at that company. Always start with your warm leads, which are people that you already know. Your current network is always your best bet because they already know you and are willing to help you.

Here are your action steps for Step Two: Connect

  1. Start at the top of your Target Company list and do a LinkedIn search for every company on your target list. Click on the list of all of that company's employees. Look first for people that you know (1st and 2nd-degree connections). If you have no connections, look for recruiters next, and then hiring managers (preferably in the department you'd likely be working).
  2. Once you've identified someone to potentially contact, look at their profile to see if their direct email or phone number is available. With recruiters, this is fairly common. Then, add their name and contact information to your Target Company list or job search spreadsheet. (NOTE: You should be tracking all of your job search activity.)
  3. Contact them! If you don't have their direct info, then use the LinkedIn InMail feature. Send them a connection request with a brief note introducing yourself and why you want to connect. Your goal is not to ask for a job but to just start a conversation and hopefully add them as a connection. You want to find out more about the company that they work at and keep it informal. Once you are in engaged in conversation then you can mention that you are actively looking and start discussing what openings they may have.

Here's an example of what your message might sound like...


I would like to add you to my network. XYZ COMPANY has been on my radar as a company that I would be interested in learning more about. I have been researching the company and it seems to fit well with my goals and experience. I would appreciate being able to connect with you to learn more about what you do for XYZ COMPANY, and also add value to your network in any way I can.

Thank you in advance.

Bonus Tip: If you have any connections in common with them, or you are members of the same LinkedIn group, mention that in your message. Always focus on your common ground.

All of these steps are done BEFORE you apply for the job. If you just apply online, then you are leading with your resume and this reduces you to a piece of paper. This is the least effective job search method.

To recap, you should first research companies and compile a list of ones to target. Next, search for connections or other people at those companies with whom to establish a connection and conversation. In the next installment, we'll talk about how to actually apply for the job.