While building 1-click apply at Anthropos we spent quite a bit of time understanding where we want to expand our tool next. That’s because applying for a job is just the starting point, and there are actually quite a few steps you can take to maximize your chances of getting an interview with the company.
Let’s cover a few practical steps you can take after you applied for a position you really want. In my experience I’ve observed candidates doing all sorts of things and I’ve learned what works or doesn’t with most companies. In the previous article I’ve detailed what happens when you send a job application and I suggested a few things to get noticed. Today we get into the details of how you reach out to the company after you apply for a position.
1. Don’t be shy: you should really reach out to your next employer
Most people are not really used to reach out to companies and potential employers after they apply for a job. They sit there and simply wait up until the company comes back to them proposing an interview. Most of the times this never happens, companies get thousands of applications (especially in moments like this one) and they select just a few candidates based on the bias of the person reviewing candidates, lack of similar experience to what they have in mind and all sorts of internal processes.
You shouldn’t be discouraged by this. The application to a position is really the first step and if you really want that position, you should go to the extra mile for that.
How? Reaching out to that company and showing them you deserve to be interviewed for the role. Don’t be shy, this is something that some companies expect and in almost all cases it will be very appreciated. So, if there is a position out there you really want, don’t second guess yourself and start working on getting noticed.
2. Study the organization
Before you reach out you need to know who to contact there. I don’t like the idea of just reaching out to the HR person in charge of that role: it’s something you should do to make sure she knows you, but the real opportunity comes from creating connections with the hiring managers.
The hiring manager is the person that is hiring for that role at the company and most likely the person you will report to. Now, in some cases this is easy to find, she is mentioned in the job application or on the company’s website, in other cases this is not easy, especially in large organizations.
The best way to find this person is to study the department where you applied and try to find the hiring manager. Using LinkedIn this should be quite easy, but there are other tools like TheOrg that can help you visualize who works there and what’s the hierarchy.
If you are still not sure about who could be the hiring manager, then go back to your message out to HR and use that conversation to obtain this information. Just ask the HR person who you are going to report to in case you get selected. Most people will absolutely reply to such question on LinkedIn, and you can move to the next step.
3. Ask for intros
Once you have found the hiring manager, simply check if you have shared connections. If so, ask for a intro to that person. I’ve seen this hundreds of times in my career and I’ve always appreciated someone in my network introducing me to a potential candidate for a critical role we were looking for.
Warm intros are powerful because they can really accelerate your application process. Sometimes, when people come from intros, they go directly interviewing with the hiring manager.
4. Present your plan, ideally a presentation or a long-form document
This is the most important thing you can do if you reach out. Work on a presentation/long-form doc that explains, even in details, what you will do in that role adding ideas and considerations on the position you will take and the current business.
One of the best people we hired years ago in our marketing team sent us a full presentation, with our logo and colours, detailing how she would have organized our events. It was full of details, well designed and most importantly it showed this person knew what she was talking about. We quickly talked to her and we ended up offering her the job, even if we had multiple candidates at a more advanced step.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of position you applied for, there is always something you can work on. Here are a few examples I’ve seen over the years:
- Product Managers: send a complete document that details what you would change and why – in many cases this will be a task of the interview process, if you send this as soon as you apply, you’ve basically done that already. In this case I think a long document, well detailed, with screenshots and mockups, could be even better than a presentation. If there are things that sound off in their product (bugs, broken flows, badly implemented ideas), provide that feedback in this document. And tell them how you would fix that.
- Marketing roles: depending on what discipline you need to tackle I would focus on suggesting strategies to grow demand and show your skills. If you are working on digital, I would review their SEO, their current approach to paid and then propose my plan with improvements and additional things they are not doing. Marketing is about growing their business so the most practical you make your plan the better: you shouldn’t forget to mention how that will benefit sales and what’s the investment it requires for the company (I am thinking of a paid advertising strategy where you can simply assume the budget required and the return on that).
- Finance roles: focus on the position and how this role will work with the rest of the team, once you understand that, you can be pretty specific about your contribution. Imagine they are looking for a controller: I would simply detail the processes and the methodology I follow to run things and what are the standards I create for the rest of the organization, from sales to marketing to the same financial team. If you know the stage of the company (how big it is and what they are going through), you can also define a list of priorities you would work on in terms of activities. It’s usually difficult to find public data on financial information if the company is not public, so feel free to make assumptions and explicitly tell them you are doing so.
- Software engineering roles: focus on product. This is usually the only thing you can really get exposed to, unless you have specific information on their stack and want to talk about your experience with specific components and languages. As a software engineer I would really try to test their products and give them a set of indications of what can be improved and how. You don’t have to become a product manager, but this will go a long way in most organizations because it shows you are not only technical but have also an understanding of their business.
- Sales and business development roles: this one is easy! just tell them what are the priorities for you and the processes you would implement (if you are in management) trying to understand their stage and what kind of issues they might be facing. A company moving from $10M to $20M has always a very clear set of priorities, if you apply as a Director or VP there, defining priorities will be easy. If you are applying for an Account Executive role, the best thing you can do is to present a plan of how you intend to build pipeline and close customers, making real examples of accounts you would go after.
5. Use their email and reach out on LinkedIn
By now you should be ready to reach out to your potential employer. LinkedIn is an easy way to do so, but even better is to use both email and LinkedIn. I would prepare a great concise email with my attachment first. Try to be direct and tell this person you applied for the role X and thought you would share some thoughts on how you intend to run things if you get hired.
Wait a day or two if you don’t get a reply and send her a message on LinkedIn as well. Most people are busy or miss emails like these ones, LinkedIn is just another reminder to look at your email and check it out. This happened to me multiple times: someone would email me and then reach out to me a few day later on LinkedIn. I’ve always replied to the LinkedIn message.
6. Ask for feedback even if they don’t respond
Even you do all of this, there is still a chance you don’t get a response. If that happens, reach out one last time to ask for feedback: in this case I would suggest you contact HR / recruiter and ask for candid feedback on what you could have done better to be selected for an interview. You can use that for your next applications!
I know, doing this for every job application might be impossible, but try to incorporate this into your process for all that positions you really would like to get!