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“If I could just get my foot in the door…” is a complaint I often hear from job seekers. With automated applicant tracking systems in such wide use, how do you bypass computers and connect with hiring managers? Related: 14 Ways To Research Company Culture Actually, there are multiple ways to do exactly that. Let’s take a look at eight.

1. Apply For Open Positions

This isn’t the most effective way to get your foot in the door at most companies, but it does still work for some. To maximize your chance for an interview, make sure you customize your resume and cover letter by adding key words from the job posting. Why isn’t this an effective way to bring your candidacy to a company’s attention? First, you have maximum competition for each role you apply for since applicants typically number in the hundreds or higher. Second, only 15% of available jobs are ever advertised on job boards or other Internet/print resources, which means you’re overlooking 85% of open positions at any given moment.

2. Follow The Company On Social Media & Interact Online

The vast majority of employers offer you multiple ways to interact with them online – Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and one or more company blogs. If you’re targeting specific companies, make sure you follow them via social media. Even more important, though, is to interact with them through that media. “Like” them on Facebook and comment on their news and posts. Review their LinkedIn profile periodically and “like” their updates. Retweet their Twitter posts and share their blog posts. Be seen to be interested in them as an employer.

3. Arrange An Informational Interview Within Your Target Department

This is an old strategy that still works. An informational interview is just that – an interview you schedule to access insider information about an occupation or employer. It is not a job interview and shouldn’t be treated as one. Rather, this is your opportunity to ask the questions you’re not likely to find answers to in any website or print resource. Used strategically, informational interviews help you to explore the company’s culture and structure and determine which one or more departments are most likely to have roles that match your skills and capabilities.

4. Request A LinkedIn Introduction

When you come across a hiring manager on LinkedIn that you want to connect with, find another LinkedIn member who knows him or her and request an introduction. When you stop by the profile of someone you want to connect with LinkedIn shows you who you know in common. If you leverage these specific connections into an introduction request, you’re essentially getting a “warm” referral. Make your case to the connection you want the introduction from – sell them on the reason you want the introduction and assure them your request is serious. I strongly recommend leveraging a “netserving” approach that involves offering something of value before you make a request of any networking contact.

5. Submit Your Marketing Materials To The Hiring Manager

Once you’re connected to the hiring manager you can of course share your resume with him or her. However, keep in mind that many other candidates are doing the same thing. It would be smart, therefore, to look for a way to make your candidacy stand out. If you find out the hiring manager loves golf, for example, you could construct your cover letter with golf imagery, use a golf-related image somewhere in your materials, or include something small like a tee with your documents and include a personal comment. Keep your approach elegant, though – remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

6. Build Connections In The Company On LinkedIn

LinkedIn also tells you how you’re connected to companies when you visit a firm’s profile. Take advantage of this feature to help you deepen your connections with the company. Request introductions to other folks in the same firm and issue invitations to others in the department you’re targeting. Identify key employees in the company relevant to your search and review the groups to which each one belongs. Find an industry group they’re a part of that you are eligible to join and do so – this establishes a third-level connection without you having to tip your hand or approach the contact. Best of all, once you achieve this third-level connection, you can message that contact directly without requiring an introduction.

7. Research External Recruiter(s) & Build Relationships

As you build connection inroads to a target company, try messaging those contacts to find out which external recruiting firms they use for the types of positions you’ll be pursuing with them. Once you identify one or more external recruiters, build connections with them as well. I believe it’s critical to leverage a “give to get” strategy with recruiters since they are inundated by e-mails, voice mails, and LinkedIn messages/invites from candidates. If you approach them in the same way you’ll have to battle to stand out. Why not approach them differently from the start? Offer them something of value and allow your candidacy to prove itself over time. You’ll stand head and shoulders above the crowd as a result.

8. Court The Hiring Manager

With #5 above I mentioned sending your resume to Hiring Managers. An even smarter strategy is to court the hiring manager over time as I just recommended doing with recruiters. Research the manager via your favorite search engine and check out as many social networking profiles as you can find. Ask your mutual connections to tell you about the person’s interests and the needs faced by his or her department. Then, brainstorm resources you can share with him or her that they may find helpful before you bring your candidacy to their attention. Prove your worth first and a deeper connection is likely to follow. After a time, you can then request a phone call or meeting with the person to explore ways you may be able to contribute in more significant ways to their team. With a little ingenuity and a fair amount of persistence you can get your foot in the door in almost any company you can find. Make use of as many resources as you can, including as many social networking options as you’re comfortable with to build a web of connections with your target companies. The result will be more interviews and more job offers – a decent payoff for a little work.� This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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About the author

A 15-time, award-winning resume writer, Cheryl Lynch Simpson serves mid-career to senior executives as a credentialed resume writer (ACRW), LinkedIn strategist (COPNS), and Get Clear, Get Found, Get Hired (G3) coach. Like her advice? Check out her website, ExecutiveResumeRescue.com for a complimentary copy of her popular Polish Your Profile LinkedIn presentation, or follow her on Twitter!   Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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