Today’s career advice describes how to ask your contacts about job openings within their companies. Many candidates ask how they can find out about job openings from their contacts and people in their social networks.
I typically respond – Why would you ever want to do that?
Utilizing your contacts just to find out about job openings within their companies is a waste of their time, a waste of your time and most importantly, drastically under utilizes the value of your contacts. Your contacts can be so much more valuable than just telling you about job openings that you could find on a company website or a job board.
Your contact may not know about specific job openings or may not be empowered to discuss them. Many companies today want all job applications to come through HR, to stay in compliance with Department of Labor regulations – so they tell their employees to direct all hiring questions to HR. Most people are uncomfortable admitting they have little influence to help – instead they offer to pass along your resume.
However, sending an application for a job opening through your contact likely results in your resume being passed into the same database as if you applied on a job board, and gives you little if any advantage (remember Employee Referral Bonus programs?).
If you feel comfortable enough asking your contact about job openings, why not instead ask questions that provide you greater value?
7 High Gain Questions To Ask Company Contacts Instead Of Job Opening Inquiries:
- What’s important to your contact? What drives your contact? What are his/her personal goals? What/who do you know that could help your contact? What does your contact do outside of work?
- What’s your contact’s role at the company/How do they like their job/What challenges are your contact’s department facing today? First, get your contact talking about themselves. People love talking about themselves more than any other topic – this is a great way to open them up to talking about what’s more important to you.
- How is the company responding to their stated goals? Public companies state goals in an annual report, interviews, on websites, in blogs. Company contacts can give insight how the company plans to meet their goals, what challenges they are facing, what problems need to be solved, or roadblocks overcome.
- Who are the hiring managers for a specific function? It may be premature to ask for an introduction, but knowing who you want to target can be extremely valuable information. In that way, you can do some background research on your contacts, gain a better understanding about what’s important to them and network your way into multiple paths to the hiring managers.
- Who are the trusted contacts of the hiring mangers? Learning who the hiring manager’s trusted contacts are, learning how to provide value to these trusted contacts and then asking multiple trusted contacts for a hiring manager introduction is a great way to gain attention and build trust with the hiring manager.
- How is the company responding to outside forces? How is the company planning to respond to competition? Industry changes? Customer changes? New opportunities?
- What’s coming up on the horizon: What issues are being tackled next by the company? New products, new territories, online strategies, responding to competitive threats?
Asking these questions successfully allow candidates to gain the greatest advantage over your competition – because you gain such an information advantage over others. The answers to these questions allow to customize your resume and interview to demonstrate that you’ve solved similar problems your hiring manager currently faces.
Let’s see … asking what openings are available, or learning more about your target company’s problems … Which do you think are more likely to get you and interview and a job?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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