Its called a job hunt for a reason. A diligent search that requires a healthy dose of upfront research and strategic planning. You need to know what you’re hunting for, where to find them, and how to infiltrate them.

Decide who you want to work for (Research)

Ideally, by the time you begin your job search, you have your targets narrowed down to a few companies. Or, at the very least, you know what type of company you want to work for. This takes hours and hours of research. Companies have personalities. Different sets of values and beliefs that should align with your own. If you’re someone that lives a structured life, you should find a company that prides itself on organizational structure. If you’re someone that values creative freedom, you should find a company that allows that.

And again, this will take lots and lots of research. Sites like GlassDoor have a lot of valuable resources that can shed light on the hiring process of different companies. You can find job listing, average starting salaries, common interview questions, etc. All for a specific company or even position. GlassDoor even has a section on the site for employee reviews of the companies. This is where you’ll be able to find real insight on a company’s values and culture to help you decide if this particular company will be a right fit for your personality and work ethic. Reading up on all of these things can equip you with the information and tactics you’ll need

Don’t stop your search because something isn’t listed (Hunt)

When hunting for a job, don’t rely solely on job boards. Just because a company doesn’t have a posting on GlassDoor, or Monster, or any of those job board sites, doesn’t mean they aren’t hiring. Some companies NEVER post on job boards, because it welcomes all sorts of applicants without a real barrier to entry and they end up being inundated with resumes, emails, and phone calls, which makes it even harder to pick the best talent out of the crowd.

So, if you have a specific company in mind that you’d be interested in working for, do some digging. Find the email of someone who is in the department you want to be in and start to build a relationship. Some companies have their team’s emails and other contact info listed on the website, otherwise you may have to do some LinkedIn searching or other digging. But once you have the email, you’re on your way. You can ask them about the hiring process at the company, or if that person knows of any opening available, or if there is a better contact you could be talking to, or a plethora of other things that can get you into the company.

Now, don’t write up a cookie cutter email and send it to 30 different people at 30 different companies. You have to put in the extra time and energy to give it a personal touch. If it looks like a mass email, and quacks like a mass email, its probably a mass email and you’ll end up getting no response from anyone. Just like most aspects of business, its about building and maintaining long-term, personal relationships.

It doesn’t have to end at “no” (Follow Up)

When you get to the point where you’ve been exchanging emails with someone from your target company, always follow up. Always follow up, and always follow up. If they say something like “it doesn’t look like we have any openings right now, but we will keep your resume on file. Check back in with me in a few weeks and we can go from there” Guess what you should do in a few weeks? FOLLOW UP. A lot of people will receive that email and think to themselves, “whelp, on to the next, they don’t have a place for me.” Don’t be that person. Don’t accept defeat so easily. Who knows what could happen in a few weeks? Maybe the person that holds the position you want quits, or gets fired, or turns out to be an international fugitive and had to flee the company. Who knows? Maybe the company uses that response as a tactic to weed out unserious candidates, and they tell everyone to “check back in a few weeks” because they know that most people won’t follow up at all.

Even if the company did just straight up say “no” to you. What’s it going to hurt to follow up in a few weeks or months anyways to see if the situation has changed at all. Again, you never know what could have happened in a few weeks, and timing is eeeeeverything.

Don’t be a robot (Self-Marketing)

If the company you want to work for actually does have listings on job boards and other sites, chances are they’re going to be getting slammed with resumes that look a lot like your’s. This is where self marketing is crucially important. And at the root of marketing is differentiation and value exchange. What special abilities, skills, or experience do you bring to the table? What’s the best way to get these messages communicated to the company? Maybe its a resume thats not made from a Microsoft Word template and has some color or custom design implemented that will be visually striking when seen in a pool of other black and white resumes.

It’s also important that you let your personal brand bleed through in any encounter with the company. Whether you meet them at a job fair, or have an interview with them, or even just in the email you send them in the beginning. You cannot sound like a robot. They have conversations with robot applicants day after day. Don’t be a robot applicant. Let your personal brand tell the story for you.

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