Humans have made astonishing advances in how we get things done, but not so much in the employment game. Resumes and cover letters have been around for ages, and employers are just as frustrated by them as job-seekers. A job candidate presented on paper is not nearly as reliable as an in-person interaction. The challenge remains: how to make a positive impact in those interactions? In building any relationship, learning about the other party and reflecting a genuine interest and desire to understand are the keys to building trust and nurturing commitment. Let’s get you sliding into those DM’s.
Step 1. Slow down
Elevator pitches are a handy tool for communicating your value, but unloading a laundry list of your qualifications and skills at someone at an industry event or career fair without also building some rapport is coming on too strong. Your personal pitch can be delivered over the course of a conversation, or in a couple of introductory sentences, but realize that you are likely not going to be offered a job based on one interaction. Be prepared to play the long game.
Step 2. Show interest in your new contact
You’re interested in the company, but you have to start with nurturing a relationship with the person you’re talking to, whether it’s the receptionist, someone who used to work there, or the CEO. Take the time to get to the know them and demonstrate your inter-personal skills. What do they like about the company? How did they start there? Are there unique challenges they experience in their job? What would make their job easier? Are there specific qualities that they wish new hires had that would make their lives easier? This information is useful for you, but it’s also taking an interest in them without coming across as purely self-interested and single minded.
Step 3. Continue to invest
You’ve had one interaction with a company, so now you’ve got to keep the momentum going. Add them on LinkedIn and message them a thank you for the conversation: if they gave you any suggestions, tell them how you will or already have acted on them. Follow the company on social media, find out what events they might be at, and make sure to interact with them at every chance you get to continue learning about them and keep that connection warm.
Even applying for jobs is a signal to them that you are committed to getting your foot in the door: just because you’re not interviewed on your first attempts, doesn’t mean you can’t keep trying. Persistence can be flattering when done in a targeted, non-harassing way. At the end of day, you’re asking the employer to commit to you, and gaining that trust can be quite a process. Getting close to an employer is a dance that takes practice and finesse, so start learning the steps early. Feel free to apply this advice to your love life, too 😉