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Traditional resume submission boards are insanely ineffective for new, deserving job candidates wanting to land a new job.

It’s not that no one ever gets hired this way, it’s just that they don’t work for most people most of the time—so as a new candidate who wants a new job yesterday, it’s time to try something different.

Stick Out, Don’t Blend In

Finding a job on LinkedIn, writing a cover letter to fit the job description, tweaking your resume & submitting it to the company through LinkedIn’s submission portal is not a way to stand out from the crowd, no matter how impressive you are.

To truly stand out, you can’t be boring, and you certainly can’t be run-of-the-mill.

You’ve got to go out on a limb, throw the stiff-necked HR advice to the wind, and show the people you want to work for that you’re far more than a bunch of industry-jargon key phrases jam packed into a cover letter.

Because by ‘taking a risk’ here and doing an informal introduction, you’re actually not taking a risk because you’re making yourself more memorable. The real risk is just being another face in the crowd.

When HR and a department manager are talking about hiring decisions, you want to be known as “that guy/girl who….” not as one from the stack.

That’s not to say trying to send an informal introduction through a job submission portal is a good idea… it’s probably not. But there are five key instances when throwing out the traditional, stiff-necked cover letter out in favor of an informal introduction can greatly work in in your favor.

1. When You’re Trying to Crawl in the Back Window

‘Getting your foot in the door’ doesn’t work very well for raw job candidates unless you’ve got a super-cool Aunt or other close connection working in the company.

The option for the rest of us is climbing in the back window. This means you have to bypass the permission to enter the front door (the job submission portal) and just find your own way into the building. (Metaphorically, of course, please don’t go crawling in through back windows.)

Our last post about reaching out and making an introduction via AngelList and Linked in is a perfect example of this. Click here to read that article and get a word-for-word message template you can use in that situation.

2. When You Have a Referral from a Mutual Connection or Can Name-Drop

Referrals are gold in the job-hunting industry. So is name-dropping.

When someone recommends you to a co-worker or former colleague for a job opening they’re hiring for, it’s an immediate boost above the pack. You came in recommended by a trusted source, rather than un-recommended from a site that collects resumes from a bunch of wannabes.

But when you do get handed the piece of gold that is a quality referral, don’t ruin it by being boring and sending a stiff-necked cover letter in an email that’ll make the recipient’s eyes glaze over.

Start off informal, explaining the connection so your messages is received warmly.

Hint: It also counts as a ‘referral’ if you accidentally message the wrong person on LinkedIn and they send you the email address of the correct person. All you have to do is say you were messaging Jane Doe on LinkedIn, and she suggested you to send your resume over to John instead of her, and gave you his email address.

You can write something like this:

Hi John,

Susan White was my colleague at Acme, Inc. where we both worked as Network Administrators. When she found out I was in the market for a new job, she told me I should get in touch with you about [listed position].

In my [current/previous] role, I [write something impressive you did related to the new job description.]

I’ve attached my resume for you to review. Let me know when’s a good time to chat.

Cheers,

Your Name

Simple, right? Informal, but professional, memorable, and to the point.

3. When the Job Description Reeks of Desperation

You’ve read them before… the job descriptions that have line after line of requirements like this:

  • Do not bother applying for this position if you’ve never successfully coded an entire software program in Java
  • IT Security background requirement is non-negotiable
  • Team management experience is an absolute must

Those descriptors (never, non-negotiable, absolute) are sassy, but for a reason.

They tell you one of two things: either the company has been burned by sub-par candidates in the past, or they’re getting too many applications from unqualified candidates who clearly don’t realize the gravity of the position.

This is your invitation to send a non-formal introduction message via LinkedIn or email identifying with their frustration, letting them know that you ‘get it’ and showing them that you can meet and exceed their expectations.

You can write something like this:

Hi Gloria,

I saw your posting for a new Support Technician on LinkedIn, and noticed from the wording in the requirements section that you’ve either had a hard time finding the right person for the job or are getting too many resumes from people that don’t even come close to qualifying.

I get it.

Right now, I work as a Support Technician for a company a little smaller than yours, and we’ve had a real problem filling out our team with applications from people who just don’t seem to get it.

Just between me and you, I feel like I’ve reached a plateau in my current position (and though we’ve had trouble hiring, I’ve trained a great successor for myself) and would love to move into a position like the one you’ve got listed to expand my skills and keep growing.

I’ve attached my resume for your review. Let me know when would be a good time to talk.

Cheers,

Your Name

Go Out on a Limb & Land an Interview Faster

It’s not that an informal introduction is the end-all, be-all, guaranteed way to land an interview from a future employer… but from our experience with a lot of years in the IT industry, we’ve seen that students who use this method typically land a job faster than those who are too afraid to go out on a limb.

The great thing is, an informal introduction can be combined with submitting your resume and a typical cover letter via a submission portal like LinkedIn if you really do not want to give up the traditional route.

For those of you trying to land a job, we’d love to hear your results after sending out 15-20 of these informal introductions vs. sending out 15-20 typical resumes and cover letters.