Finding a job in the media and communications industry has always been extremely competitive, but over the last few years the state of the economy has made it even more difficult to land your dream job. You’re competing with thousands of other qualified people who are scouring the same media job boards and websites you are, looking to instantly apply for openings as soon as they’re posted.
However what most people don’t know about these job listings is that many times the positions posted online are already filled. Why is the opening posted online then? Well, most Human Resources departments are required to post job openings and accept a certain number of applications for each one. They have to do this even if they have an internal candidate they already plan to hire. This makes applying to jobs solely online a little bit like sending your resume and cover letter into a black hole.
While this may not be true in every case, you can’t take the chance of just submitting your application online and sitting back to wait for a response. Like most areas of the media industry, being successful on the job hunt requires you to be proactive about your application. You need to find out if the position is in fact already filled and if it’s not, you need to find a way to make yourself stand out from the thousands of other qualified candidates who also clicked the “submit application” button. This is where your networking skills come in.
On this blog I will be continually stressing the importance of growing and nurturing your network because in the newsrooms I’ve worked in, networking has been the best way to get your foot in the door, learn what’s really happening at the company, and move up on the ladder. Here are some ways you can use your network to stand out from the crowd.
Reach out to Someone you Know at the Company
If you already know someone at the company, I hope you reached out to them to let them know you were interested in the job as soon as you saw the opening. If you haven’t then contact them now. This doesn’t mean you’re asking them for the job or to help you get it. No, instead you want to just ask if they’ve heard of the opening and what they may know about the position or the department it is in. The information they give you will probably be much more helpful than the brief summary you read on the listing.
If they don’t know anything about it, see if they can recommend a way for you to learn more. They might be able to refer you to someone in the department or even in HR. Armed with that contact information, you can reach out and repeat the previous steps: express interest in the opening, tell them you applied, and see if they have any advice on how you can learn more.
It’s also important to remember that while you may not know someone at the company directly, someone else in your network might. This is where LinkedIn can be a great help. See if you are connected to the company through someone you know. Don’t feel bad asking that first connection to make an introduction and see how things go from there. The most successful people in the media industry are those not afraid of being assertive.
Contact a fellow Alum who Works where you’re Applying
At many companies you might not have a network connection to take advantage of. If this is the case I’ve often found success looking for fellow alumni from my university. A lot of college career services departments have an alumni directory where people update their information and don’t mind fellow alums contacting them. If you find someone, reach out and tell them you’re interested in a recent opening at their company and ask how they like working there. See how the conversation goes and if they are open with discussing their work, ask them if they know anyone in the department with the opening or in HR that you can reach out to and follow-up on your application. Most of the time alums like helping each other out and they’ll be willing to point you in the right direction.
Use the Internet to Find Contact Information
What do you do if you have absolutely no connection to the company? This is where you want to put your Internet skills to use. With a little digging, you can often find a name of someone at the department where the job is open or of the HR person looking at applications. If you can’t find their email addresses, see if you can find anyone’s email from the company. This way you know how emails are formatted using someone’s name and can usually make an educated guess at how the person you want to reach email is formatted.
Once you’re in contact with someone, let them know you applied for the job and just want to check in on your application status. You may not get a response but sometimes the person will write back either saying they are not the correct contact and refer you to who is or telling you that they are still reviewing applicants. Now you have a foot in the door and can follow-up with that person in a few weeks if you don’t hear back about the position. If they tell you it’s been filled, you can thank them for their time, reiterate that you’re still interested in working for their company, and stay in touch. If you ever see another opening, you can now reach out to that person about it. While a riskier way to find out about a job since the person won’t know you, if this works you’re able to add another person to your network.