Contrary to popular belief, pitching yourself directly to employers can give you an advantage over other applicants. In this article for the Harvard Business Review, I wrote a step-by-step guide on how to do this. Here's the TLDR version:
Step 1: Get your timing right. Plan to pitch yourself to the employers you want to work for as early as possible in your job search. By the time a role is posted online, it’s already been publicized internally.
Step 2: Identify key players at the company, or employees who have decision-making power at the company and who can influence hiring decisions. Your goal is to get an information interview with them, as they can connect you to hiring managers (and their recommendations will not be ignored).
Step 3: Nail your informational interview. Ask questions about their experience at the company and how the job you are targeting fits into it all. As the conversation wraps up, ask if they will introduce you to a hiring manager
Step 4: Connect with the hiring manager. Send an email introducing yourself, expressing interest in their company, explaining the value you can bring to their team, and requesting a meeting.
Step 5: Follow up … but don’t overdo it. Wait at least a week before reaching out again, and when you do, keep it short.
Step 6: Sell yourself. Assuming you do land a meeting with the hiring manager, use this time discuss your skills and experience and how you could provide value to the company.
Step 7: Don’t be put off by a “no.” Rejection is unavoidable, but don’t mistake it for failure. Sometimes, “no” really means “not now.”
If you want to learn more about each step, read the full article on HBR. I’m sharing everything I *wish* I knew when I was just starting out, including some email templates.
Image: HBR Staff/Getty Images/Maria Petrishina