Once upon a time, submitting a job application online was a meaningful step towards getting employed. Now, you’ll be lucky if you get an automated email from Noreply@greenhouse.io (I don’t know who this Noreply guy thinks he is, but he’s a total d*ck 🙄). This is a depressing, soul-destroying process, and the only way for it to be over is to go straight through it! 💪🏽

To save your resume and cover letter from the giant void of online applications, you need a referral. You need someone who works at the company to put your resume in front of the right recruiter 👀🏆. But how do you do that?

Step 1: Gather up all your sources for contacts

College alumni database? Get access to it. Haven’t used your free trial month of LinkedIn Premium? Start it (otherwise they’ll block your access as a “Power User”. Make sure you cancel your subscription before they charge you 👍). Niche summer camp program which had a group contact list? Dig that up in your inbox. It is going to take a village and your giant metaphorical phonebook should be up and ready to go ☎.

Step 2: Find 6 people who work at the company you applied to  

This is very difficult to do without LinkedIn, so make sure you have that. Now you want to find employees at the company that you can contact, ideally:

  • 2 recruiters whose job it is to interview candidates for the job you applied for
  • 2 senior executives who if they sent your resume around would turn heads
  • 2 random other people who work there and might do a good dead to help you

If this 6 people includes anyone you actually know, that’s great! If you have absolutely no connections, find 6 recruiters who work there. Some companies also have initiatives for LGBT, Diversity and Inclusion, so if that applies to you, find the employees who lead those initiatives within the company and plan to message them as well 📇.

Step 3: Message your 6 contacts with your resume and cover letter attached

The goal of getting in contact with a recruiter is that they will interview you. The goal of getting in contact with an executive or another employee is that they will refer you to a recruiter who will interview you. Now it is time to message your 6 contacts. And if your aunt’s friend’s daughter did an internship there last summer, reach out to her too. What the heck? 😜

ALUMNI COLD EMAIL EXAMPLE THAT HAS WORKED FOR ME:

Hi (person’s first name),

My name is (your first name) and I also graduated from (your college). I saw that there is a (role you applied to) role open at (company’s name) in (city) and wanted to reach out.

I'm very inspired by (company’s name)'s mission to (say the mission in your own words). I've previously (short description of a relevant experience you had) and I bring (two skillsets they mentioned in the job description that you have). I think I would be a great fit for the team.

Could you help me get in touch with a recruiter, or get a referral for the role?

Thank you, and I really appreciate the help!

(your name)

RECRUITER LINKEDIN MESSAGE EXAMPLE, WHICH WORKS MORE OFTEN THAN YOU’D EXPECT:

Hi (recruiter’s first name),

I saw that there is a (role you applied to) role open at (company’s name) in (city) and wanted to reach out.  

I'm very inspired by (company’s name)'s mission to (say the mission in your own words). I've previously (short description of a relevant experience you had) and I bring (two skillsets they mentioned in the job description that you have). I think I would be a great fit for the team.

Could you help me get in touch with the right recruiter for the role?

Thank you, and I really appreciate the help!

(your name)

p.s. Here is a link to the role: (insert link to role, LinkedIn does not allow hyperlinks)

EXECUTIVE LINKEDIN MESSAGE OR EMAIL, THAT ALSO SOMETIMES WORKS:

Hi (executive’s first name),

My name is (your name) and I am applying to the (role you applied to) position at (company’s name). I am a big fan of (company’s name), specifically (your favorite product the company makes). I want to use my (important skillset) to help (company’s name) optimize (most important thing your role should ultimately do for the company), so that you can continue to (company’s mission). To (company’s name), I bring my experience working in (name of two positions which gave you relevant experience).

Could you help me get in touch with a recruiter so I can learn more about the (role you applied to) role?

Grateful for the help!

(your name)

p.s. Here is a link to the role: (insert link to role, LinkedIn does not allow hyperlinks)

Final Tips

  • Remember, these contacts at the company are normal humans living their lives, enjoying their employment. Make it as easy as possible for them to help you and forward your resume
  • Keep any email or message as short as you can. Shoot for 130 words or less
  • Don’t ask to meet up for coffee with people. Do you want a coffee chat out of this cold emailing situation? No. You want them to send your resume and cover letter to the recruiter  ☕️ ❌
  • If one or two of the people you say they will forward on your resume, you can probably stop cold emailing
  • If no one replies to your cold emails, don’t give up. Send a quick follow-up 3 days later (people find follow-ups very awkward and are more likely to respond). A follow-up can be as quick as:

FOLLOW-UP EMAIL OR MESSAGE EXAMPLE:

Hi (person’s name),

Did you get my email? I’m really interested in this role and would love your help getting started in the interview process.

Best,

(your name)

Good job for putting in the effort and getting this far 👏 Getting interviews with humans is a tough process, but the quicker you get a referral, the sooner you’ll get there. The job process will be over before you know it! 😎 💼 💅🏽