Be Your Own Referral.

My initial thoughts about paying for a premium account on Linkedin were laden with skepticism. It wasn’t the money that pinched as it seemed fair to charge ~INR 1,400 a month to reach out to a world of recruiters, hiring managers and corporate role models. It was the effectiveness of the inmails that bothered me.

I started off inmailing recruiters while searching for a role in India, in the first 4-5 months of looking out. No response. Literally, 0 responses! In a short time my husband’s role got us to Singapore and I started inmailing the recruiters here – lukewarm response…around a ~15% response rate on average. Not bad!!! Then, very slowly and hesitantly I started inmailing Hiring managers. Now, these are the VPs, the Head of Departments and Directors that I was reaching out to, a person usually shy in personal interactions and hugely worried about invading inbox spaces of the senior guys. Guess what? The response rate shot up to ~50% for profiles that were a close fit.

There are things I learnt from my experience using Linkedin premium for almost a year now.

  • Geography matters – Don’t get me wrong. Linkedin is all pervasive and is popular all over. But while it has a global reach, it seems to have varying engagement levels. There is every possibility that recruiters in Singapore are more open to the credibility an inmail carries or that they value the proactiveness of a candidate using inmail to reach them vs. considering them intrusive. Maybe they simply visit their account more often and not just to ‘like’ or say ‘congrats’ to people in their network. My hypothesis is that the response rate is high in countries that place a very high emphasis on Industry Networking (online and offline), making them more open to getting inmails from non-connections.
  • People matter – I value the role a recruiter plays in the hiring process. But the reality is that they get bombarded with numerous choices in a single day and for your resume to stand out in the initial screening phase it has to tick off every pre-requisite, sometimes one that says MBA required even when you may have practically covered 80% of the JD in your previous roles. These are the times when you use the search function (another brilliant benefit of the premium account) to look for the head/senior of the team in the company you want to apply and shoot an inmail directly to them. Before landing the new role, I interviewed with 4 companies – one where I reached out to the Recruiter and the other 3 directly to the Hiring Manager. I am not exaggerating when I say the responses from the Hiring Managers came within a day.
  • Role matters – Inmailing for exploratory chats in case potential roles open up in the future rarely worked. Asking for advice or a chat to learn more about the industry also rarely worked. Cold inmailing for tangential roles did not work. An inmail works best when you see a role that is a close fit with your profile but you do not have a referral. There was at least one role every month where I was 100% sure I was the right person for it. These were the times I dreaded going the traditional route of applying on a company website, because who knew if my resume would even make it to the Hiring Manager through the various filters along the way. These are the times I wished hard I knew someone at the company who could refer me for the role. I kid you not when I say Linkedin lets you be your own referral. And that is awesome because now you can present yourself directly to the Hiring Manager the way you would want to. Be bold! Which gets me to my last point…
  • Content matters – A lot of people I know pay that extra money for the account, do all of the above and then when it comes to drafting the inmail, show mere interest in the role and leave it at that. Seriously?! When you inmail someone, you are already portraying yourself as a bold person willing to go that extra mile towards what you want (as long as you don’t keep stalking that person, which then borders on desperation). When you have an inmail that doesn’t match this personality, everything falls flat. The power of a short and creative inmail displaying your fit with the role is not to be underestimated. Be polite, be humble but be absolutely clear that you are the “One” for this role. Make your premium profile talk.

This is not a sponsored post!!! I do not work at Linkedin but I cannot discount how much the premium feature helped in my job search, converting me into a firm believer that if used correctly it can work wonders.

5 things I learnt from 5 months of looking for a job.

Everyone who tells you it is going to be okay or that God has something better in store…and you want to punch them in the face…yes…I went through that! Month #5 of sitting at home looking for a good role despite having a solid resume and work experience behind me…and no…no matter how many times you tell me you understand my situation…you do not. But, I wonder how worse off I would have been if I did not have people throwing these ridiculously optimistic thoughts at me…it balanced off some of the negativity…and that helped in itself.

And just cos I have all this free time to introspect, here’s some lessons I learnt, in order of priority:

Lesson #1 – Family and friends are everything!

They are there through my vents, my frustration, my mistakes…my many varied moods. I cannot imagine doing this alone. Nobody should get through this alone. So take all the ‘it will be okay’ statements they throw your way, take all the chocolates they get you, take all the blessings they shower you with…cos that’s how you will survive this with your self-esteem intact.

Lesson #2 – That thing people talk about called ‘Networking’…believe in yours…and yes, you have one!

I hated that word…it always sounded sooo fake and conditional and transactional…and everything not warm and fuzzy. At a time when I believed I had no network cos my small talk skills are zilch…I was getting this all wrong…I did have one…a really good one! You have interacted with dozens of people through your career. Pick out the ones you like, the ones you respect, the ones you want to be like and can learn from, the ones you want to keep in touch with through your life. If you have not, please do not start with you wanting a Job, it doesn’t work that way. And if you absolutely have to, put all your cards on the table… 7 out of 10 times, these guys you picked to open up to, they will be smart and kind enough to offer something themselves…advice, tips, referrals, introductions…take and value whatever comes your way!!!

Sub Lesson #2a – The rarest of them, who refer/introduce you…remember they put a part of themselves out there…a chunk of their credibility goes with you when they take that extra step. Respect it at all times and put more than your 100% for such cases.

Lesson #3 – Linkedin Premium is worth the money!!! <This is not a sponsored post>

I didn’t see this one coming. It took me by surprise, very pleasantly. The power of properly drafted inmails is super. I have had a ~50% response rate for roles that fit my profile (I am not talking about cold inmailing for tangential profiles…yes, I have done that, and it doesn’t work). Of 4 roles that I interviewed for, 1 was a referral and 3 were through directly inmailing the Hiring manager. If there is a role that fits your profile and you don’t have a referral, invest in a premium account and shoot an inmail. Also, it doesn’t hurt to be able to see who viewed your profile. On otherwise dreary days, it will bring a smile to your face to know your profile has a view.

Lesson #4 – A happy space gets you through the worst of times!

Books, cheesy rom-coms, cheesier loud music, zumba’ing to an Alia Bhatt number, roulette on the phone…whatever works for you! When you see yourself going to the dark side, drag yourself to this happy space, scream out loud and you will find the darkness passes by. Remember, the force is with you…find yours!

Lesson #5 – Keep your chin up, life is so much more than what you thought it was when you had the Money but no Time.

This one…takes a while especially if you are someone who has been financially independent and a little bit of a shopaholic. You won’t get this the initial 2 months or even 3. But if you, like me, have some savings or a spouse who works, you will realize this slowly. It starts with Oh-I-can-survive-with-just-x-dollars-a-month, then a moment of Why-did-I-need-so-much-money-to-enjoy-life and then it leads to a full blown Oh-My-God, I-was-doing-this-so-wrong!!! Yes, as clichéd as it sounds, life really isn’t about the next Coach bag or Espirit top. It may still be about the Avocadoes and the Margheritas, and you will still be able to enjoy these some days, while you watch a movie on Netflix or read a Nora Roberts or just stare into space. It really doesn’t take much to enjoy life the right way!

Sub Lesson #5a – You are so much more than what you were when you fell into the mundane that was work-life balance. This is the time to reach right into your soul and figure what it is you were meant to do and get at it. After all, I did start this blog in month #5 of being unemployed and having had enough of self-doubting my potential for the nth time. Guys, go get that job that will pay for your trips around the world but don’t lose sight of what makes you happy within.

It does boil down to trusting yourself and believing that support sometimes comes from unexpected places, sometimes comes a little late, but…things really do get OKAY! :o)

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