They say “It’s who you know,” when you’re looking for a job. And if you've been looking for work, you know that too often, that old saying proves true.
Job-hunting process usually requires that you follow the 20-20-60 approach that says 20 percent of your time you should be spent applying for jobs – sending out your resume and cover-letters, other 20 percent reaching out to employers and the last 60 percent networking for opportunities.
But, when you have zero connections, you need to get more creative.
Nobody ever said that to get a job you need to have a lot of people in your network. In fact, the only person you need to get hired is you. If you know how to sell yourself and your skills to employers effectively, you won’t need to do any networking at all. Approach employers directly and introduce yourself. If you don’t think you are comfortable with that, send employers a LinkedIn invite and explain who you are and why they should want to meet you. This way you don’t even need an in-between man to recommend you for the job.
Go the Extra Mile
The benefit of having a connection is the edge it gives you against other applicants. When you don’t have a connection, you can create your own edge by going above and beyond in every step of the process, especially in interviews. Always arrive 10 minutes early, take notes, and ask thoughtful questions that you can’t find the answers to on the company website. Send a thank-you email within a few hours, and mail a handwritten card within a day.
Show What’s Unique About You
Employers are easily impressed by candidates who know how to set themselves apart. Instead of doing what other candidates are doing, try something else that has never been done before. Find out what other candidates are doing, and do whatever you must to avoid it. If it helps, think of yourself as an entrepreneur who wants to promote his business. First research the market and learn about your competition what they do and how they behave. Then do the same with employers. Find out where they are and where they look for new talent.
Show Your Strengths
What are your key strengths? Do you have any special talents? These are your best selling points. When writing up your resume and cover letter these are the skills you need to list down, but make sure you provide adequate evidence. If you love to sing, send employers a recording of a song you love, or if you like baking send your resume out with a homemade cake addressed to the company. What you should be aiming for here is to make your radiant personality evident and get employers interested in meeting you.
Show You Can Do the Job
The best way to show employers you are perfect for the position is to start doing the job now. Find out if there is any problem the company needs help with and make a value proposition to employers.
In fact, make them an offer they can’t refuse and take the upper hand in the selection process. For example, does the company need help with driving traffic to their website? Do they want to increase their sales? Conduct some research, spend some time on it and then show employers how you can help them out.