How To Land A Job Without Connections

By Maddie Lloyd - Mar. 31, 2021
Articles In Job Application Guide

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We all know the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While it’s not entirely true, having a connection at a company certainly doesn’t hurt. If you have an “in” at a specific company you’re interested in working for, it can make all the difference in getting your foot in the door for a job that you really want.

Here’s the deal:

While having company connections in your network can be helpful in getting an interview, you’re not completely doomed if you don’t know anyone who can put your name on the table. With some simple research and asking around, it can be easy to make new connections, or even get a job without them.

Here are six steps for getting a job when you don’t have any connections:

1Search Within Your Network for Possible Connections

If you’re applying to work at a company where you don’t have an immediate connection, do some digging within your network to see if there’s any other connections you’ve yet to discover.

First things first — check your LinkedIn for any possible connections you may not even realize you have. If that’s a no-go, spread the word to your existing network to see if you can uncover any possible second degree connections.

You could also contact your alumni association. They could refer you to any former professors or classmates who might be affiliated with the company. And just like that, you’ve got a connection to the company of your choice.

2Put the Word Out That You’re Looking for a New Job

After you’ve done some digging around, it’s time to spread the word that you’re on the hunt for a new job. This is a great opportunity to put your networking skills to use. Call or email your college friends and announce your job search on your LinkedIn or Twitter profiles. Once people are aware that you’re looking for a new job, they could provide you with some awesome leads or referrals.

While you’re at it, go ahead and bring up your job hunt with your friends and family. Good ol’ Uncle Frank might have an “in” at a company that you were never aware of. You never know who could help you out in your job hunt, so it’s always a good idea to spread the word.

3Make New Connections if You Have To

If Uncle Frank the rest of your network couldn’t offer you any new connections, it’s time to take matters into your own hands.

It’s never too late to make new connections. Do some research, find someone who works for the company, and reach out to them on LinkedIn or with an email. Give them a sense of who you are with your name, a brief summary of your career goals and work experience, and ask them to give you some insight into their experience with the specific company.

Don’t just come out swinging asking for a recommendation, that would only make you look like a rookie. No one wants to look like a rookie.

Your goal is to make a genuine connection with the person you’re reaching out to, not to get them to do something for you. If they can see that you’re emailing them just to get something out of it, you’re never going to get the response you’re looking for.

4Stay Up to Date on Company News

If your network can’t give you any leads and your attempt to make new connections didn’t yield results, it’s not the death sentence you may think it is. Just make sure to stay informed about the company’s current projects and events, and about anything happening within the industry.

This means that you’re going to have to do some homework. Read and press releases, check out any articles written about the company, and see if any of the company’s managers show up in the news. If the company or any of their employees have any big achievements in the press, bring it up in your pitch.

If you can show a company that you’re well-informed on their current projects, it will show them that you’re passionate and motivated to work with them. If anything you find in your research can be applied to your own experience, make sure to bring it up in your cover letter or your email to a company representative. These details will make you stand out as a memorable candidate.

5Go to Networking Events

If you’re looking to seriously expand your list of professional connections, attending a career fair or similar networking event can be a goldmine. Be sure to go in with a quick and memorable elevator pitch that doesn’t sound too rehearsed. Your goal is to put your name and story out to as many professionals as you can.

However, you should be targeted your approach. Before the event, research what companies will be there and what positions are available for each. That way, you can prioritize your day and give your best, freshest performance to the people you want to impress the most.

Bring several copies of your resume and any other additional materials you think recruiters might be interested in. Come wtih questions to make yourself out to be invested and interested in each company and keep notes so you can reference them when sending follow-up emails.

And don’t just network with recruiters — other job-seekers at these events also have industry knowledge and might be able to point you in the right direction. Even if they can’t right away, there’s no doubt that you’ll walk out of a career fair with more connections than you arrived with.

6Just Apply Anyway

If you’re not able to make any new connections, don’t let it hold you back from applying for a job. Even if you know all the right people, it’s not a sure guarantee that you’re going to get the job. A well-crafted resume with a solid list of qualifications can get you much further than just an address book full of connects.

The hiring process itself is a networking experience. The people you meet and the conversations you have may not directly translate into a job offer, but think of them as long-term investments.

As long as you maintain a positive attitude, stay in touch with the people you meet in a professional way, and make it known what you’re looking for, job opportunities will start trickling in.

Final Thoughts

Even though connections can help with getting your foot in the door, they’re not everything. Not knowing anyone at the company isn’t a death sentence. If you’re perfect for the job, apply anyway. They’ll see that you’re a great candidate with relevant experience, and that’s all you need to get an interview.

Just make sure to prepare to answer the most common interview questions, have stories to back up your skills, and show them that you’re up to speed on their current events and you’re sure to land the job.

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Articles In Job Application Guide
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Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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