As graduation nears, the panic of “what the hell am I going to do?” is likely setting in. Sure, there are a few of you who are planning to avoid the real world/incur more debt by going to grad school, and a few more who were lucky enough to have that internship pay off in the form of a real-life, grownup jobs, but the vast majority of you are spending the time in-between all of the “one last” events frantically applying for jobs while your mom texts you every forty-five minutes asking if you’ve heard back on such-and-such an application yet.
But what you don’t realize is that a skill you’ve developed and honed over the last four years is likely your key to post-graduation employment that doesn’t involve folding sweaters at the Gap. And it’s one that you definitely didn’t learn in class: your internet stalking ability. So let me tell you how to use the search abilities you refined while finding every single one of his ex-girlfriends’ social media accounts in under five minutes to get your dream job.
Step 1: Find The Right People.
Cold, hard fact: online job application portals and generic human resources email addresses are a deep, dark pit that your résumé will never emerge from. Despite all of the high tech ways you can apply for jobs, personal connections are key. But what if you find your dream job online and you don’t know anyone that works there? Well, it’s time to put those stalking skills to work.
First, hit up LinkedIn to search for people at that firm and, in particular, the department you want a job in. Look for people in the department that you may have shared connections with (people who could introduce you to make a connection). If there aren’t any, you are going to need to take matters into your own hands. So instead, look for the person who is in charge of that department. Once you find them, it’s time to find their email address. If you’re lucky, their work email will be publicly available via a Google search. If not, well, you may need to take your sleuthing to the next level. Enter “@companyname.com” into Google and try and find the email of someone – anyone – that works there, so you can get their email nomenclature down. Then simply plug in your target’s name into that formula and voilá! You (hopefully) have their email address.
This can be a little complicated, so let’s go through an example: If I wanted to work at Grandex, I would search that company on LinkedIn. Then, from the employees listed, I would look for those in the department that I wanted to work in – say, the Total Sorority Move division. Oh, look – there’s Veronica Ruckh, the director of TSM. Now, when you Google “Veronica Ruckh Grandex email,” Veronica’s email shows right up, but let’s say that wasn’t the case. So the next step is to Google “@grandex.co email” and boom! A post pops up with the email address “email@example.com” pops up (because Bacon is EVERYWHERE), so it would stand to reason Veronica’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Got it now? (Now don’t you all go spamming her and pissing her off. I’m not looking to get fired.)
Step 2: Send A Carefully Worded Note.
Once you’ve identified some people to contact and gotten their information, it’s time to send an email. How you word this is key, because you don’t want to seem desperate. The body of the email should read like a standard cover letter, detailing your qualifications, your interest in the job, etc. But you need to lead with something about why you are being a persistent pain in the ass by sending an email. Something along the lines of this works well: “I submitted my online application via your hiring portal, but as that this job is of particular interest to me, I wanted to take the extra step of contacting you personally.”
One additional word of advice in this step: do not attach the cover letter, include the text in the email. Attachments, particularly from randoms, don’t get opened, so you need to catch attention with the email and then they may open your résumé, which should be PDFed so your fonts and layout don’t get all effed up.
Step 3: Get Personal With Paper.
If you get to step 3 with no response, it’s time to take it old school by sending a hard copy cover letter (you can just re-use the text from your Step 2 email) and résumé. While it’s super easy to hit delete on an email, most people at least open their mail. Yes, I’m telling you to send actual mail. Who even does that anymore? But that’s exactly the point – no one does, so it shows that you are willing to go above and beyond for a job that you really want. You don’t have to make it pink and scented (although that may give it a little something extra), but sending a personalized note and résumé via the mail will set you apart. So use those stalking skills to find out the company mailing address, and drop that envelope in the mail to the same people you emailed. Want to go big here? Send it via Fed-Ex or UPS – it’s more even more likely to get opened that way.
Step 4: Follow Up.
When you’re lucky enough to land an interview – whether in person or via phone – make sure you get business cards of everyone you meet with and follow up with both an email AND a snail mail thank you note. The snail mail one should be handwritten, on a nice notecard. If you have a portfolio or any example work you haven’t yet shared, now is the time to tell them more about yourself, since you’ve already piqued their interest.
At the end of your interview, be sure to ask what their timeline for next steps are (next round or making a hiring decision) and if you don’t hear in that time frame, follow up again a few of days after their estimated time frame. It may seem pushy, but job searching is a little bit like dating – or, more accurately, what I imagine dating is like for dudes – out of sight, out of mind. So you need to do what you can to keep yourself right at the front of the line.
All of this probably seems a little extreme, right? Well, I don’t recommend it for every job you apply for; lord knows, you don’t have that kind of time between the senior bar crawl and your last-ever formal. But for the job(s) you really want, it’s worth the extra time. Case in point: I followed these steps when I applied for my dream job with one of the country’s four major sports leagues a few months ago. I didn’t get the job, but my persistence did get me an interview – and there were literally thousands of applicants that didn’t. So the next time someone tells you it’s not productive to fall down the rabbit hole of internet stalking, just tell them you are honing your job search skills..