We all have companies that are on our “wish list.” They’re the employers with mission statements so profound they bring tears to our eyes, have Instagram accounts so beautiful they’re worthy of stalking, and company cultures that seem to speak straight to your heart. All this happens and then you’re left with the consuming thoughts of finally landing a gig at that company. There’s only one problem: They aren’t hiring—at least not for a position you could fulfill.
Do you feel like I just snapped my fingers in front of your face while you were daydreaming? I can’t blame you. Realizing that you won’t be walking through those doors and seeing your head shot on their “Meet the Team” page anytime soon seems like a total nightmare.
But, you don’t have to wait for the perfect opportunity to wriggle your foot into the door at your dream company. There are a few things you can do to start making a name for yourself right now—even if they aren’t currently hiring someone with your skill set.
Compile Information, and Link Up!
If you have your sights set on eventually working for a specific company, there’s no time like the present to start getting to know a few of the key decision makers or people who work there; this is a great way to get a view of the inside and form some connections within the office.
Do some research using LinkedIn and the company’s website to find one relevant person you’d like to sit down for coffee with. Limit yourself to just one contact for now—believe me, news of a canned message you sent to the entire sales department will spread like wildfire (and will likely result in zero responses for you).
Once you have your sights set on a certain person, send a simple and friendly message to see if he or she would be willing to meet. Don’t stress yourself out about your message. Meeting someone in person always makes much more of an impact than corresponding via email. This will often bump you to the front of the line when new opportunities open—and, even better, you’ll already have made a memorable first impression.
Provide Value Up Front
Buying coffee is a nice touch. But, is it enough to make someone think, “Wow, I absolutely have to keep in touch with this person!”? Not quite. Sorry, the $3 you spent on that latte doesn’t hold that much of an impact.
Try another strategy. One that involves offering value up front—whether it’s during your get-together or via email (which is helpful if you don’t get a response to your request to sit down). Perhaps it’s an insight from your point of view that would be hard for them to see from the inside. Share that idea (in a non-condescending way, of course). Remember, you can’t do all the taking here—you need to be prepared to give as well. So, demonstrate what value you bring to the table, and the impression you make will be that much more positive.
Interact on Social Media
I’ve sung the praises of LinkedIn more than I can even count—and for good reason. It’s a powerful tool to have during times when you’re desperately trying to get noticed. But, keep in mind many companies maintain an incredibly active presence on various social media outlets today, meaning it’s become an increasingly effective way to interact with prospective employers. Retweet a few of their posts every now and then or leave a friendly comment when they announce something positive on Facebook. Yes, it seems like a minuscule amount of interaction. But, it really can make a big impact for you.
Network. Network. Network.
In our heads, we tend to place people we know into categories—work, family, friends, etc. But just because only some groups fall into the professional category doesn’t mean they’re the only ones that qualify to be in your network. In fact, I’d even argue that every person who lands on any of your lists is eligible.
So, if you only think of past and current colleagues, individuals you met at professional events, and clients you spent the company dime on, you’re limiting yourself and your opportunities. Because all the people outside of that could have infinite connections, and you’re closing the door on all of them without even knowing it. Imagine how big your network would be if you put everyone you know on one list. Next time you meet someone, get to really know them. People are multifaceted—we’re not solely defined by the job we do. Sure, it can play an important role, but it’s not the entire story. Make it a goal to focus on the bond you’re forming, not the next gig you want or the promotion you’re aiming for.
Here’s what is important for you to remember: Getting in with your dream company isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. You can’t submit a resume and assume they’ll find the perfect place for you. It will involve an investment in your time and energy (not to mention some patience) to form the right relationships and make a name for yourself. But, as always, anything worth having is worth working for. And, if you’re ultimately willing to put that work in, you’re bound to see the payoff.