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Q4: What’s the Best Way to Get Hired?
Another subscriber question: I researched many different organizations and I found one that I really, really want to work for. What is the best way for me to get a job there?
The Internal Candidate Advantage
There are so many ways to get hired that choosing a “best” way is difficult. I’ll interpret this question as how to have the highest probability that you’ll get the full time job you want. In that case, the answer is simple: be the internal candidate.
Hiring staff is the riskiest thing a team can do. So anything you can do to de-risk the formal hiring process will put you on the shortlist to be hired. The three best situations, in descending order, are:
- Be personally known to the team as a co-worker
- Be known to the team through their trusted peers
- Be known in general as an expert on their need.
When you are known to the team as a co-worker, there are no surprises. They know exactly who you are and what you’re capable of. They have little risk in hiring you. Assuming you’re good at the role, it will be yours to lose.
Next, if at least their peers know you and can vouch for you, then you have an advantage over everyone else. Finally, if they don’t know you directly, at least make it easy for them to know of you, or get a good idea of who you are from your online presence.
How to Be the Internal Candidate
Now how to be personally known to the team as a co-worker if you’ve never worked there? Well, one way is to get a adjacent job with a different team, or as an intern with that team. However, if your heart is set on a specific role or you’re too experienced to intern, I’d suggest a volunteer consultancy.
Approach the team with an offer to support them as a consultant, with objectives, timelines, and outcomes – just like you would with any professional engagement. Except don’t ask to be paid in money, but in contacts and exposure. Be clear that you expect to work like any other consultant, just payment will be in access not cash.
This gives a clear signal that you are a skilled professional committed to the mission and organization, and will certainly make a positive impression. Now this should be done before they have a job opening. You are pre-positioning yourself for a role there, not working for free.
During your volunteer consultancy, network like mad and make a good impression by outperforming expectations. That way, when a job opening comes along, you will be the internal candidate. Or if they aren’t hiring, you’ll now have a team of people that can personally vouch for you at a sister organization.