Job seekers often start their search by identifying the type of job they want before looking for companies that offer relevant positions. But what if you have your eye on a specific company you want to work for, and you're willing to do whatever it takes to become a part of that organization?
Perhaps you've always considered the company to be interesting and innovative and you admire the company's culture. Or maybe the company tops a best places to work list, making it a desirable place to start or grow a career. Sometimes it might be driven by knowing people who work at the company and wanting to work alongside familiar faces.
Whatever the reason, pursuing a particular company versus a specific job comes with its challenges. But if you're committed to working somewhere, there are ways to up your chances of getting hired there.
"If you're dead-set on working at a specific company, then 95 percent of your job-search time and effort should be dedicated to wooing that company and demonstrating to them that you're not only the best candidate for the job, but that you're destined to work there and nowhere else," says Joseph Terach, CEO of Resume Deli.
Make sure you know why you want to work there
You may have convinced yourself that you're destined to work at a specific company, but make sure you can back up your reasoning. "What may seem like a great company isn't always what it appears," says David R. Sanford, executive vice president, client relations at recruitment firm WinterWyman. "You need to do your due diligence to make sure you are pursuing the best environment. Talk to people that you know to see if they have any connections inside. Reach out to those connections and talk to a few people about the culture, work environment, work-life balance, etc."
Sanford also suggests using online resources such as Facebook or GlassDoor, which can tell you a lot about the company and its culture. "All of this will help you decide if this is a company that is worth your time pursuing," he says.
Do your homework
If you know without a doubt this is the company for you, fill your brain with as much knowledge about the company as possible. "Read as much news as you can about your target company," Terach says. "Figure out their business strategy, who their partners are, who's in their supply chain and so on. These are the people and things you should get to know. Why? For one, being able to speak intelligently about the company's operations is impressive at an interview or job fair; for another, you might learn something about the company that will help you better understand what they truly need in a new hire."
Tap your network of contacts
One of the best ways to get your foot in the door at a company you admire is to seek out people in your professional network with a connection to the organization. "Find people you know well who might either already work there or who [know someone who works there] to have an informational meeting about what you want to do," says Jayne Mattson, senior vice president of client services at outplacement and career coaching company Keystone Associates. "If you are referred by someone who knows you extremely well, your chances increase to have a face-to-face meeting where you will be able to leave a better impression than email or phone."
Build a relationship with HR
While the human resources department is sometimes hard to reach, do what you can to connect with someone on the team directly. If you've already communicated with someone in your network who has an "in" at the company, use that person to introduce you to the right HR contact. "It does not hurt to show interest in working for the company with HR," Mattson says. "And if you can develop a relationship with them, ask them if you can buy them a cup of coffee because you would love to work for their company."
Mattson suggests explaining to the HR person that before you apply for specific jobs, you want to make sure you understand where you would be the best fit. She will appreciate that you're being proactive and not wasting the company's time by applying to jobs that don't suit you.
Make your interest known before a job opens up
Part of the reason why it's good to establish a relationship with HR and other influencers within the company is to let them know of your interest before a position becomes available. "You will increase your chances of being hired by your targeted company by meeting the right people before any positions are advertised," Mattson says. "Ideally you want visibility within the company ahead of jobs being advertised to eliminate your competition and for someone to think of you before they become published."
Debra Auerbach is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.