How I Got 13 Interviews in 10 Weeks (Without Submitting a Single Application)

In just 10 weeks of job hunting, I got 13 interviews and landed a fantastic job at College Prowler. I even scored an interview at Google, that hallowed land where employees are treated to free sushi every day.

So how did I get so many great job leads?

By NOT applying for jobs!

That might sound strange. But check out the graph below. As you can see, instead of uploading a resume and competing with the thousands of other fellow resume uploaders, I made myself stand out by establishing personal connections within each target employer. For each company, I found someone to introduce me to an employee. When that wasn’t possible, I just worked up the nerve to call up and introduce myself.

The result? 13 interviews in 10 weeks.

Here’s How it Works

Look at each target company’s LinkedIn page to see if you share connections with any employees. In other words, you’re investigating whether you know anyone who knows someone at the target company. If you don’t have a lot of LinkedIn contacts, quickly add your friends, professional contacts, and acquaintances as connections.

If You Do Find Connections to the Employer

Send a short email to each mutual connection to ask for an introduction. For example, here’s an example of an email I sent to someone who knew someone at Google. This ultimately lead to an all-expenses-paid on-site interview at Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Hi Nick,

I hope all is well.

I saw that you’re connected to Mark Rivera on LinkedIn (http://linkedin.com/in/rivera).

I’m wondering if you could provide a 2-sentence email introduction to him?

I’d love to have a 15-minute phone call with Mark to learn about a day in the life of a Google People Analyst.

Quantitative analysis of employee behavior holds a special place for me, having earned a Master’s in quantitative psychology and after running a start-up focused on boosting employee engagement (http://communiteach.com)

It looks like Google People Analysts explore these same topics, so I’d love to get Mark’s feedback on whether I could be a good match for the open Analyst positions.

Thanks,
Ben

You can see that in this particular email, I said I wanted to learn about a day in the life at the target employee’s job, and to learn his perspective on whether my background could be a match for a particular position. In some other emails, I would also ask to learn their perspective on how to get started in their particular career path.

And, although I’m interested in learning their answers, to be honest it’s mostly just an excuse to make a personal connection inside the target company.

I sent about 20 of these emails, and believe it or not, most people said “yes.” It’s true that some people said “no” or never responded. But who cares? Some did respond!

These emails lead to several friendly, informal phone chats, which often ended with the employee offering to personally send my resume to the right person inside the company. As a result, I’d get contacted for an interview! Score.

If You Don’t Find Connections to the Employer

Sometimes you won’t have a direct connection to anyone inside a particular company. So, you’ll have to figure out a way to establish personal contact yourself. This is harder, but I still got three interviews this way.

Make a list of 3-4 questions that aren’t answered in the job description, e.g., “What’s the culture of the Quantitative Analysis department like?” Then cold-call and/or tweet the recruiter (if they have one), as well as someone who does the job you want to do. Tell them you’d like to ask some questions about the position, and ask when would be a good time to talk.

Remember, successfully networking to find a job is all about making personal contacts. Don’t just complain that you don’t have the connections in a given industry. Be aggressive and make direct connections yourself!

What do you think? Will you try this job search tactic? Post a comment and let me know!

 

 

About the Author: Ben Paul is a Quality Assurance Analyst for College Prowler, a comprehensive college resource with more than 325,000 student reviews and coverage of over 7,000 schools. Previously, he was Co-founder and Web Developer for CommuniTeach, and he gained experience in quantitative data analysis via a M.S. in Psychology. Follow Ben on Twitter!

 

 

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  • Heather Huhman

    Hey Ben,

    While this is a really great piece and outstanding advice, it’s a little misleading to readers. You didn’t really land JOB interviews — you landed informational interviews. And you did so under false pretenses. Basically, you lied (if only a little) to each person you contacted.

    Again, I am a HUGE fan of informational interviews and think most of what you wrote is good advice — people should reach out to employees and score informational interviews to not only find out more about working there but also to make awesome networking contacts. But this piece is definitely misleading, sorry!

    Congrats on your new position! I’ve long held that informational interviews are a tool that should be in everyone’s job search arsenal — glad to see someone putting them to use!

    • I was thinking the same thing, Heather.  Thank you!  I also think that cold-calling recruiters is not great advice.  Recruiters are tremendously busy, and are unable to take a phone call from every ambitious person job searching.   Making personal connections is great, but I’d think twice before cold-calling a recruiter.

      • I can definitely understand this perspective. All I can say is that in my particular case, I cold called or cold tweeted ~5 recruiters, which resulted in 1 formal job interview (not just an informational interview). Some recruiters responded and some didn’t, which was absolutely fine by me. None expressed negative feelings regarding my call or tweet. Thoughts?

        • Angela

          I think that’s fantastic!  I’m glad it worked for you, and congratulations are definitely in order.  You were fortunate, though.  Recruiters and hiring managers are going with the “no phone calls” route for a specific reason – they don’t have the capacity to handle them all. I know recruiters who won’t take a call from a perspective employee; or if they do take the call, they are resentful of having their time taken up.  It sounds like you didn’t get people like this, and that’s great. I am all for people trying creative things to get their foot in the door.  Sometimes it works, but I would caution that most of the time cold-calling doesn’t.  

          Building personal relationships and networking, on the other hand, is always worth doing. I commend you on your efforts and sharing your story.     

    • Hi Heather,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful response and for the congratulations. I wanted to respond to a couple points here:

      1) Thank you for the excellent point to distinguish between informational interviews and job interviews. Perhaps I should have included this in my post: out of the 13 interviews I got, 2 did not go beyond informal chats / informational interviews. The remaining 11 either started as informal chats / information interviews and progressed into formal interviews, or my first contact was a formal interview. So the methods I used still resulted in 11 bona fide interviews.

      2) Although I stand by the advice I posted, I’d love to learn more about the pretenses under which an informational interview is typically conducted, and how they might differ from what I did.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful response!
      Ben

      • Heather Huhman

        An informational interview is just that — an “interview” in which you as the candidate are asking questions about the company and your field overall. The pretense is just that — you’re not looking for a formal interview. Otherwise it’s like having a sales person call you during dinner, tell you to stay on the line because they’re not going to sell you something, and then proceed to sell you something anyway.

  • No matter how unconventional, and no matter what we own as preconceived notions, awfully hard to argue with the results here. Congratulations, Ben… I hope others are confident enough to emulate your success!

  • hh

  • Tom Bolt

    Networking means using every door. What a great example of finding the doors that others missed. Congrats on your success and thanks for sharing your story.

    •  Thanks so much! I agree, it’s all about finding the doors that others are missing. 🙂

  • Hi Ben! Excellent post. I couldn’t agree more. I too have actually only been able to secure internships / jobs due to who I knew in the company, or being introduced by a friend / teacher. What you have to say holds a lot of weight. Although as some comments above have said, that recruiters are busy, etc., it is there job to distinguish those that go the extra mile, and in your case, I applaud you for your efforts and great advice. Not everyone can do what you did, which will bring lots of skepticism. It’s an art.

  • Sully Moreno

    I’m doing something similar. I’ve had two informational interviews, one where a mutual connection introduced me and one where I sent an email and got a response. They have both gone well, in one of them the person offered to introduce me to a recruiter if I had a position in the company that I had in mind, and in the other one the person gave me a list of companies that he thought were suited to my interests and offered to introduce me to employees in the company after I researched them and found mutual connections. I’m in the following up phase to this now, and that’s the hardest part for me since I don’t want to be pushy but I don’t want them forget about me.

    And while the interviews were informational, I think that the professionals know that when people ask for this type of interview their goal is ultimately a job, since in both of my calls they said that when they were younger others helped connect them to their first jobs so they were happy to return the favor (which I would be happy to do someday, too). 

    • Ben Paul

      Thanks so much for this response. I think you summed it up very well: “while the interviews were informational, I think that the professionals know that when people ask for this type of interview their goal is ultimately a job.”

      I, too, found that even when you frame the conversation as information gathering, there seems to be a tacit understanding that if they like you, they’ll offer to help you land a job.

  • Ron Knudsen

    Ben, this is an awesome post with some great ideas for job seekers. Great job!

  • Ray

    Hi Ben,

    Thank you for the post. I have been using this method to schedule informational interviews with my college alumni. Most people are happy to talk, and help (if they can). However, informational interviews are only successful if the person initiating them is very intentional about creating a “connection”, which can be anything from a sports team to a LinkedIn group. In my experience, every conversation with a recruiter or resume submission does not lead to an interview. I think college students should be more realistic than to expect that.

  • Ben – We are really impressed with your article & how you used LinkedIn to find a new job. Creativity in the job search is a sure-fire way to set yourself apart from the candidate pool.

    Congrats on your new position!

  •  Great piece!  You just reinforced what our founder has been preaching for years. It’s also the basis of our job search management system (not a plug).  I’ll be following your posts – you “get it”!

  • What a fantastic strategy. I’ll blog this later this morning. Look for a trackback

  • Carhow75

    Great article! I am in the process of doing this now. LinkedIn makes it easier. I wouldn’t say that I don’t apply to any jobs but I am very selective and carefully evaluate whether applying to a certain job is worth my time and effort. And I try to make sure I have a connection inside or I make a connection inside the company as I am applying. I think this does work though. Slowly I am building some freelancing prospects as well.

    • Ben Paul

      Sounds good. If you are going to apply, I would suggest reaching out to your connection before applying. It makes the conversation before natural and less like you are trying to get them to pick you.

  • Polo1684

    Great work !!!
    I am actually about to start to this process next week because I’m done with finals and have some free time. I’m sure it will work, I’ll keep you posted.

    • Ben Paul

       Thanks! How can I help?

  • Ben Paul

    Great to hear! How can I help?

  • Carhow75

    Thanks, Ben. I agree. I am trying to adopt this strategy. Find places in which I’m interested, then see if I have potential contacts and try to make connections. Nobody seems to want to do this these days. Everyone wants to apply online though everyone complains about it and no one I know seems to achieve great results. So we just keep doing the same thing over and over – job search insanity I think, right?

    • Ben Paul

      Exactly! Anything I can do to help? Any questions?

  • Ben,
    Good advice! I know that some recruiters and professional career consultants might not agree with you, but I do. I tell my clients all the time to use the phone and cold call in pursuit of their career goals. No other tool is faster and more direct. If the HR manager or recruiter doesn’t want to talk with you, so be it. Many don’t, but it”s a numbers game, so keep calling and think like a salesman!

    When I recruit or hire, I prefer candidates call me. For me, it’s faster than reading a resume, because I can tell immediately if this is someone I want to engage with. 

    Using Linked In is the best way to go. It’s as simple as that. Most people on Linked In are networkers, so they are happy to pay it forward. 

    Congrats on you new job!!

    Kristi Enigl
    Global Career Coach

  • Mkvillava

    Great advice! Your dedication, enthusiasm, and determination allowed you to prevail and stand out amongst the rest. It’s all about marketing yourself in a reputable manner. Thanks for sharing, this will certainly assist me in my job hunts and trying to land interviews.

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  • Elereed

    Brilliant!  And my question is: How do you know who to contact in a company if you are not familiar with the company even after you look up the prospective company you want to work for?

    • Ben Paul

      Thanks so much for the question. I contacted anyone within the company that I had a mutual connection with. I mostly used LinkedIn to figure out who those people were. Does that answer your question?

  • Aman Sharma

    Hey Ben, please share my resume to your personal contacts. I have been looking for an opportunity for very long time with hardly any success. Please let me know how I can contact you. Thanks in advance!!!

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