How to Get An ‘In’ At A Company Where You Know Nobody

We’ve all experienced it: you see a job you’re super excited about, you apply online, then you wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Sound familiar?

If you’re applying for roles that are a bit of a stretch, then perhaps you’re okay with not hearing back and you can write it off as not being 100 percent qualified. But what about when you apply for that job you’re absolutely perfect for? It’s hard to just sit back and let it drift away.

Luckily, there’s more transparency than ever to the “inner-workings” of companies. How big their teams are — and more importantly, who’s actually on them — are things that are no longer a mystery. So the next time you apply for a role you know you’ll be great for but don’t hear back, consider using these tactics to get seen.

1 / Tap into your alumni network and get to know them.

I totally underutilize my alumni network, but it can be really valuable in a job search! Many databases will list current and past companies the person has worked for. Reaching out to fellow alums means you’re reaching out to someone who you already have a common bond with. It’s kind of an unspoken rule — especially for schools with a ton of school pride — that alums will help one another out.

Tap into that network via your university’s website and don’t feel awkward about reaching out. Instead of asking for a referral, consider mentioning that you applied for a role and would love to hear about about their career, why they chose that company, etc. If all goes well, you’ll usually get a referral after that type of conversation.

2 / Ask your friends, family and broader network for referrals.

A referral from a current employee is absolutely the most impactful way to get your resume picked out of that black hole and be considered for an interview. A referral coming from someone who really endorses you is even better. Don’t feel weird about asking, though it’s important to ask in a way that’s not pushy and gives an easy out. Some people just aren’t comfortable endorsing friends or personal connections in a professional setting. Learn more about the right way to ask in this post.

3 / When all else fails, use LinkedIn for direct outreach.

I know this is going to sound weird, but when you don’t have alums, friends or family to tap into, just reach out to someone random. I know, it feels awkward. But people — especially recruiters — are getting used to this type of outreach and may even welcome it. Remember, your goal and a recruiter’s goal are the same. It’s to fill the role quickly with the right person. So if you’re really qualified for a job, reach out! Searching for the right people (aka: the decision makers) can be a bit of a science, but this post will walk you through using LinkedIn’s advanced search function to find who you’re looking for.

So when you find a job you think is perfect and you don’t hear back after applying, reach out. Whether it’s a fellow alum, friends, family or even a person you don’t know at all, don’t hesitate to make that connection. Connections are absolutely critical to getting your resume picked out of the pile when no one’s looking. While it doesn’t mean you’ll be called in, at least you know someone will be looking it over and considering it.