- LinkedIn vice president Dan Shapero said the most successful job candidates show the company how they can add value.
- Job seekers can ask current employees about the organization’s biggest pain points, and how their skills might be useful.
- Even once you have a job, it’s important to understand how your work contributes to the company’s overall mission.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Job searching and dating are similar in that it doesn’t much matter how objectively qualified or attractive you are — of the person sitting across from you isn’t feeling it, you’re out of luck.
In both situations, success boils down to meeting a unique set of needs and expectations, even if you don’t appeal to everyone.
For job seekers, that means being able to answer one all-important question: What problem is this company trying to solve? Once you’ve addressed that piece, you can figure out both how you can help and how you can show the hiring manager they need you.
That’s according to Dan Shapero, LinkedIn’s vice president of global sales and an 11-year company veteran. Shapero said understanding a company’s pain points — and introducing yourself as someone who can tackle them — is more important now than ever.
The most desirable employers are overwhelmed by interest from job seekers. Daniel Chait, CEO of the recruiting-software company Greenhouse, has said that when a company like Slack or Airbnb (who are among his clients) posts a job opening, it’s typically flooded with hundreds or even thousands of applications.
As Shapero put it, the job seeker’s problem is no longer knowing what jobs are available. Instead, it’s standing out among a sea of applicants.
Job candidates who personalize their pitch are more successful
You can start by doing some research.
Shapero recommends getting in touch with someone who works at the company — maybe you already know the person, or maybe you send a cold email — and asking them “what they think the organization’s going through,” plus “how your skills might be useful.”
That information will help you pitch yourself to the organization as someone they can’t function without.
At LinkedIn’s Talent Connect conference, which took place this September in Dallas, Shapero told Business Insider, “job seekers should spend more time trying to understand what the employer is trying to solve for.” Is the company struggling to keep up with advances in digital technology? Are they losing ground to a competitor with a savvier marketing team?
From there, Shapero said, you can figure out how to “showcase what you’re capable of in that context.” Job candidates who brand themselves this way are most successful, Shapero added.
Doing your research is especially useful, Shapero said, if you’re making a career transition and you’re not certain you’d be a fit for the organization.
Show the company you can do the work they need
You can apply this knowledge even after you’ve interviewed for the job.
In their 2017 book “The New Rules of Work,” The Muse cofounders Alex Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew recommend submitting a sample project with your thank-you note that follows up on something you addressed in your interview.
Here’s an example from the book: “Let’s say you’re applying for a role as a social media manager — why not pull together a few ideas for an Instagram campaign to grow the company’s brand?”
Meanwhile, financial expert Ramit Sethi has shared a (somewhat extreme) strategy to show a potential employer how you can add value.
It’s a strategy Sethi learned from Stanford University behavior scientist BJ Fogg when Sethi took Fogg’s class at Stanford.
Sethi remembered Fogg saying, “Find the one person [at the company] who does what you want to do there. Every week send them some kind of report or analysis and just say, ‘Look, I thought you might find this interesting. I’ll write you back next Wednesday with the next analysis.'”
In a 2016 interview with Sethi, Fogg added that when you’re trying to fill a niche in terms of the company’s needs, “If you can understand what those needs are and start delivering, who’s going to turn you away?”
Always keep in mind the organization’s broader mission, and how you contribute to it
Even once you land the role, it’s important to understand how your job contributes to the company’s overall mission.
As Martha Delehanty, senior vice president of human resources at Verizon, previously told Business Insider, “Building links to why the company exists and how the company makes money — and being very clear on that — is probably one of the biggest keys to success.”
Not only is it motivating to see the tangible impact of your work. Neil Irwin, the New York Times’ senior economics correspondent and the author of “How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World,” previously told Business Insider that viewing your work in a broader context can also help you anticipate industry trends that might affect the company’s performance, or your job security.
The bottom line is that landing (and keeping) your dream job takes effort. As Shapero said, job seekers need to realize “that just finding a job and applying is no longer enough to stand out and get the job you want.”