To get a job you should know how to do it.
And, you should only apply to jobs where you know how to do it.
Otherwise you will waste your time, and the time of those hiring.
This does not apply to internships and junior roles, and roles like executive assistant and chief of staff where you come with certain experience and bent of mind and learn a lot on the job.
Knowing how to do the job does not mean that you should only apply to where you know 100% about a role. You should know the core and rest you can figure out.
So you look at a role, and you see that you know the core and want to apply to this role.
You find someone to refer you and you apply.
What should you do next?
Should you wait to hear back from the recruiter?
No, you should get to work. Here is what you should do.
The next step after applying to a job
Find out what’s not written in the job description.
The subtle challenges and how a role affects a company.
You do that by talking to people who are doing that same job or have done it in the past at the company you have applied to or at another similar company.
It will also safeguard you against future agony of working in a role that gets you to do uninspiring work under a fancy title.
To that end, it also helps to check out Glassdoor reviews. By checking out those reviews you can find out a lot about the working environment and the overall opportunity at a company. Glassdoor reviews are helpful in unearthing the information, that sometimes people are hesitant sharing one-on-one.
Finding the pre-interview candidates (people to talk to, to learn more about the job)
Get help from your LinkedIn connections.
Even better, dig the well before you’re thirsty and create connections and inroads into a company that you want to work at, before thinking of applying.
Sometimes you may not have done that, and you will come across a role that you really want to apply to.
You still do not want to skip reaching out to understand how a job is done part.
Ideally you want to talk to at least 2-3 people. Reach out to 10 because not everyone will reply. Don’t skip this. Do it even if it is one person better than playing in the dark. Some understanding is better than no understanding.
Identify people you want to talk to.
Send them a connection request and those who accept, send them a 2-part message like this:
Hey, I am considering applying to a role at Palo Alto Networks.
And, I am looking for some guidance.
Hope you can help me. Is it ok if I send you a quick couple of questions?
To those who reply, send this message:
Thanks for agreeing to help me.
So, it is for a role you were in a couple of years back.
What should I know about doing this job right?
What is the top responsibility of the person in this role?
Then send a thank you, and ask for permission to discuss more.
Thank you so much.
(add any follow up questions here and keep them as brief as possible).
(one sentence to tell them that you are working on a short note for the interview and if it’s ok to send it across).
People get a lot of messages on LinkedIn and many don’t see or ignore their messages. To reach out to them use InMail, it also works for those who are not your connections yet.
This is one of the most underused features of LinkedIn.
And you can use it to reach out to those who don’t see their messages.
This allows you to reach people’s inboxes, without knowing their emails.
LinkedIn premium gives some credits for InMail, and you can buy more.
And send the same message.
Use email if you do not get a response on LinkedIn
Don’t spam people.
And if it was a sales outreach, you could send multiple emails.
In this, just send one.
For emails of connections, you can download your LinkedIn connections data and find the emails of people there.
For those who are not among connections, use a tool like Hunter to find emails of people you want to talk to.
Use the answers to your questions to enhance your understanding of the role, and to prepare a note that you will bring with you to interview and present to the interview.
This note will be your ‘stand out tool’.
The Stand Out Tool
It will help you stand out among a sea of other people who will apply to the same job.
It will help you stand out from the crowd, because it is rare for people to go the extra mile. And, big rewards and recognition and respnonlityu come to those who do. In this case, your reward will be the job.
The stand out tool is a brief 5-10 page document that shows you what you will do once you are in the job + some suggestions and observations about the role. It can be a deck (if you are doing it online). You should always present it during the interview and not send it in advance.
A thorough research of the company’s past work and clients could also be a part of the ‘Stand out tool’ prep. Even when you don’t include it in the document, you could casually mention as you present it. This may be more useful for experienced professionals, but there is no reason freshers can’t use it to stand out.
Hope with all this you are equipped to talk to people who can help you get the job, and will put what they share to good use.
Thanks to Himani Srivastava for reading and sharing the ideas to use Glassdoor reviews and researching a company’s past work and clients.