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Looking For a Job? Try My CFC (Culture-Fit-Chat) Strategy

A tried and true method to greatly aid your job search.

Lady on the phone with a computer in front of her. She's smiling
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“There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.” — James Nathan Miller

Does it sometimes feel like applying for a job is an enormous waste of time?

How often have you submitted your resume to what seems to be a black hole of the recruiting abyss from which it never emerges?

You only get two emails after submitting it — one saying your resume was received and they will “be in touch” and a second saying that after “careful consideration,”…blah, blah, blah…

As someone who has been in the recruiting industry for over 16 years and has been behind the curtain, I will let you know you’re right.

It IS a waste of time.

It seems more of a waste of time now than when I started in 2006.

This is because there’s currently so much talent out there that recruiters are bombarded with 1000s of applications for just one job.

It’s not unusual to see a job only 8 hours old on LinkedIn with over 200 applicants. While some of this consists of quality resumes that readily match the job description, much of it is chaff that recruiters have to sift through because people tend to apply to anything that sounds like it’s in their line of work when they are desperate for a new job.

Director of Security Engineering?

I was a security guard two years ago…close enough…apply.

Couple this normal phenomenon with the unusual one of having so many people on the market today due to the enormous amount of layoffs with a pending recession always looming, and you have more applicants than a recruiter can shake a stick at during this time of the year.

Being one of the 11k employees having been laid off from Meta in the recruiting industry, I am in a unique situation to understand what it’s like to be on both sides of this unfortunate situation.

Not only are recruiters now fielding more resumes than usual because of the massive layoffs, but they are also understaffed while doing so since many of their former co-workers were part of these layoffs.

This, in turn, has many recruiters not even coming close to getting to all the applicants hitting their inboxes daily.

Therefore, if you want any chance to have your resume reviewed and talk to a recruiter about a potential job, here’s a simple three-step strategy that I call the CFC (Culture-Fit-Chat) Strategy that will significantly enhance your chances to do so.

Step 1: Only apply to jobs for which you are a possible fit

This step is important for your credibility and gives this strategy the best chance to work.

You must make sure that you ONLY apply to positions in which you meet close to 70% of the qualifications. You don’t have to be perfect, but anything less than that and you hurt your chances of the strategy working (as well as all the other actual qualified employees whose resumes are pushed to the bottom when people apply that are not good fits for jobs. )

What you want to happen is that anyone who looks at your resume and then looks at the job description would think that you would have a “fair” chance at getting the job.

If the average person (not a recruiter) can’t look at your LinkedIn profile and tell you’re a good fit for the job, then you either don’t need to apply to that job, or you should update your LinkedIn profile, so it represents the experience it needs to do so.

Once your LinkedIn matches your resume and everything is in order, this brings us to step two.

Step 2: Use LinkedIn to find people who work at the company, aligned to your job function

You now need to use LinkedIn to find people who work at the company who are aligned to your job function.

You should look for people at the same level or higher as the job you’re applying for.

For example, if you’re applying for a marketing manager role, I would look for other marketing managers, Directors, or VPs. If there’s a way to find out what specific group you might be in, that’s even better.

Some people may question why not reach out to recruiters. This isn’t the best strategy (unless your function is in the talent acquisition function like mine) because recruiters can get bombarded with messages from people who have applied for jobs on the website.

Reaching out to them will be similar to applying for the job online, as they get so many messages through LinkedIn that they likely don’t have time to review them.

Instead, targeting a marketing manager or security engineer director will have a greater chance of working because it will not be fighting against other people doing the same thing.

Step 3: Message each of them with a simple message requesting to learn about the culture of the company to see if you could be a fit

The last step is simple.

Send them a LinkedIn request with a message asking them to connect.

SIDE NOTE: This strategy will be much easier for you if you have a LinkedIn Premium account because it doesn’t limit the message request amount as quickly as a regular account. Since landing a job is so important, spending the monthly cost of $59.99 is well worth it in the long run, so I highly recommend it.

My message is always simple. I mention the company name and the job I applied for and then request a quick 15-minute chat if they’re open to it to learn more about the company’s culture to see if I’m a fit.

It looks something like this:

It has to be short because you only get so many characters and want to get to the point. Asking to understand the company’s culture is helpful because it isn’t asking for this person to help you get the job.

You’re just asking to understand what makes the company unique and if you could fit that particular mold.

I send this to only about 5–7 people because it can be overwhelming if too many people respond. I typically get 2–3 people who respond and are willing to talk or point me in the right direction to someone who can help.

This is highly unlikely, but sometimes you might not get ANYONE to respond to your request. This is still pretty helpful, however, because it could tell you two things:

  1. There may not be very many people at the company who are proud enough of the company culture to respond or
  2. The company culture isn’t one of helping others when people are too busy, even when it could help the company add a great hire.

If either of these two is the case, then perhaps this wouldn’t have been the best place for you to work anyway, so it could be a level of screening from your side of what it would be like to work there.

How this plays out and helps

Once someone accepts your request or responds, ask if they will be open to a quick 15-minute chat to discuss.

Once they do, make sure to be highly flexible to work around their schedule (they are doing you a favor) and use any medium they desire (call, video chat, etc.)

Once you get them on the line, ask their perspective on the company, the role, and the culture. Listen intently for how you might fit into the culture and the role, and if you think it’s a good fit, let them know as much.

Lastly, end the call by asking their advice on what they think you could do to put your best foot forward and increase the chance of at least having your resume reviewed by someone.

This call usually accomplishes two things. One, it’ll give you a better sense of whether the role and company are the right fit for you, and two, it’ll give you a chance to represent to someone at the company that you are the right fit for them.

If you did a good job of the latter when you ask the closing question, the person will either be willing to submit you as an internal referral (something that gets them credit if you’re a great candidate) or, at the least, would be willing to point you in the right direction of someone to talk to about the job, using their name as a referral.

This will also increase your chances of being viewed and at least get an audience with someone to get you closer to being truly considered.

And while I can’t promise you that this will ensure you get an interview, at least you will have done everything you could to put your best foot forward instead of just waiting for the abyss of the recruiting black hole to finally give you a positive response.

Happy job hunting, and best of luck!

You got this!