When I made the transition from fast food to a real career, I had no idea how to do it. I didn’t go to college. I didn’t have friends in successful careers. No mentor to guide me. Nothing. But what I did have is a vision. A vision and goals to guide me to get to the next step (even though I didn’t always know what that next step was going to be).
If you’re making a big career change or just starting in your career, the common avenues you’ll read in popular articles won’t help you.Recruiters won’t help you. These days most of them are too transactional to take a risk on someone who isn’t proven. Recruiters these days are commissioned based. It makes much more sense for them to spend their time trying to convince people to make lateral moves rather than fight to help them achieve a step up.
As I was starting out, no recruiter would take my call, or even email me back. I was ignored because I didn’t have a history of being successful in any other field other than fast food. To a recruiter I wasn’t very exciting. Although, there is are another way to get your foot in the door. Company sponsored referral bonuses.
Many companies offer referral bonuses. Bonuses paid to their employees for anyone they refer who is hired. The average payout I’ve seen (in the bay Area) is $2,000 per hired referral! That’s not a bad chunk of change.
But how do you take advantage of it? You need to become the referral. The reason your friends can’t help you is because you are the median of your 5 friends and I’m going to assume you’re reading this article because everyone around you isn’t in the career of their choice and you know it’s up to you to start forging the path ahead.
When I first applied to my first “career job”, I was denied. Rejected without an interview or even a phone screen. I was pissed. Today I joke about it, but I was livid then. I did the math and was two months away from not being to be able to make the rent or buy food for my family. I needed a change and I needed it yesterday.
The first thing I did(in hindsight I wish I didn’t) was shoot a rebuttal email back to their recruiters telling them what a huge mistake they made. No response back… go figure.
Second, I jumped on LinkedIn (if you don’t have one get one!) and connected with everyone at that company. I made a special point to connect with the people who were in the position I was going for, Account Executive.
After I made a few connections, I started to email and message folks to see if they would hand my resume into HR. It didn’t take long for someone to finally indulge me. We set up a call, they talked about my resume, gave me speaking points, and even told me what to expect during the interview process. All the way from phone screen to the 3-hour in person interview.
I couldn’t believe it. Here is someone I don’t know putting in all this effort in to helping me advance my career. Little did I know though that this person was going to get $2500 for referring me if I was hired!
Thousands of companies are set up the exact same way and if you haven’t taken advantage of it, you now know how.
If you are referred by a current employee, this will guarantee you a phone interview.
This is your foot in the proverbial door.
Stop job searching on Craigslist. Stop randomly submitting your resume to job sites. Start building and leveraging your network. A network you create and shape to help you achieve more.
Pick one industry and a few companies within that industry that you would love to work for. Imagine for a second that you just received an offer letter to your new position from one of those companies you chose. Do you feel accomplished? Are you jumping up and down? If not, select different companies to apply to. Don’t worry about whether or not you “think” you’re qualified. We are advancing your career, not trying to keep you stagnant.
Start connecting. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. My biggest piece of advice is to just ask for what you want. The people you will be asking are busy. They have the lives and careers of their own to worry about. MAKE IT AS EASY AS POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO HELP YOU! You’re on their time, not the other way around.
Are you truly serious about getting your foot in the door? Pick up Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Never Eat Alone”. It’s fantastic!
Today is going to be a good day. I have a feeling…