7 Effective Ways to Get Your Foot in the Door When Applying Online Isn’t Cutting It

You’re doing everything right in your job search—following instructions down to every last detail, crafting the perfect cover letter, tailoring your resume. But you’re not hearing back.

Why? You’re not the only one following the instructions and your materials are probably getting lost in the sea of other qualified candidates. Hiring managers receive loads of applications, and if you want to stand out, you sometimes need to take the road less traveled.

To help you out, we asked seven successful entrepreneurs from YEC to share their best unconventional job search tactics to land the role of your dreams.

1. Don’t Discount the Informational Interview

When I was 21, I started a podcast that involved reaching out to people with the jobs that I wanted and interviewed them about how they got to where they were. It turned out that setting up those informational interviews was a huge key to building relationships that would lead to landing my first job. Insider tip: Don’t ask for the job or bring your resume. Instead, make it about them and their experiences.

—Allie Siarto, Allie Siarto & Co. Photography

2. Send a (Personalized) Cold Email

I recently hired someone who wrote me a passionate email about their desire to join my team. The email came out of left field and was unrelated to any particular job openings at that time. The reason I gave the person a shot is because, by sending me a well-written message packed with enthusiasm, they showed their tenacity, creativity, and optimism—all qualities I value when looking for new talent.

—Mark Krassner, Expectful

3. Notify Your Network

Let your friends and network know that you’re open to new opportunities. Curate a list of people you trust and reach out to them about your openness to exploring new roles. Ask them to recommend opportunities and companies to consider.

—Adelyn Zhou, TOPBOTS

4. Solve a Problem

I once hired someone for a position I didn’t know we needed. He contacted me and (politely) pointed out a weakness in our operations, then showed me how we could solve it at a practical cost, thus improving our services. I was so impressed he took such care to study our business that I knew we needed him onboard. So, if you’re fond of a company, demonstrate how they’d be better off with you.

—Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

5. Get Your Face Out There

A very unconventional approach nowadays is getting a job the old-fashioned way (seriously, it works). If the company’s local, find out where they’re going to be and approach them first. Maybe it’s at a job fair, networking event, or industry conference. Put yourself out there, introduce yourself, and you’ve already taken the steps to standing out among the countless online job applicants.

—Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

6. Stay on Top of Social Media

Many companies will share open positions on their social channels to find potential employees within their followers. Candidates who come from their followers are already familiar with their business and more likely to share the same aesthetic as the brand.

—Bryanne Lawless, BLND Public Relations

7. Leverage LinkedIn for a Coffee Date (or Two)

One strategy I recommend is reaching out to the hiring manager or an employee on the team over LinkedIn. Ask for mentorship or career advice, but never ask for a job. Build a relationship over several meetings. Impress him or her with a great attitude and enthusiasm for the industry, and maybe the perfect opportunity will present itself.

—Terry Kim, NexGenT

Looking for proof these tactics like these work? Here are five people who thought outside the application box—and succeeded. So don’t be afraid to take a risk!

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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