5 Steps To Get Your Foot In The Door At Your Dream Company (Before The Role Gets Posted)

Photo Source:  Adobe Stock By Gribanov

“I’m in the market for a new job.  Keep me in mind if you hear anything!”

Have you ever used this line with someone in your network?

It FEELS like networking….

“I reached out to my old colleagues and enlisted their help.  Check!  I’ve done my due diligence ‘networking’ for the day!”

Listen, the intention is in the right place!

We all know we need to NETWORK in order to land a job.  (Right?)

In case you didn’t, allow me to throw a couple fact bombs at you:

  • 80% of jobs are landed through NETWORKING.  (source: NPR, The Muse)
  • On average, there are 250 applicants online per corporate role, and that number is pre-COVID. (source: Glassdoor)
  • 4-6 of those applicants will land an interview. (source: Glassdoor)
  • Applicant tracking systems (the resume robot you submit your resume to online) screen out over 70% of resumes due to lack of qualifications or formatting. So, robots are disqualifying resumes before the human eye will even see them. (source:

All this is NOT meant to scare you! 

It’s meant to reinforce that the spaghetti method of applying to as many jobs as you can online and seeing what sticks, is not effective.

Especially at the director/VP/executive level, most opportunities won’t get posted at all.  

Or by the time they do get posted, companies often already have top picks for candidates in mind.

This makes it critical that you tap the “Hidden Job Market.”  In other words, NETWORK.  Get into the crucial conversations that are happening behind the scenes.

Now, here is what I see people struggling with…..

Networking is a term that gets thrown around a lot.  People know they need to do it but they don’t know how to do it.

It feels kind of nebulous.

Today I want to take something that feels kind of fuzzy and give you ACTIONABLE steps to make networking tangible and effective.

The bottom line is…. 

You need to be building relationships and warming up your target companies BEFORE the job is even posted. 

And building these relationships takes TIME.  You need to plant seeds and water them …. So that once a job opens up, you are top of mind.

You want to find ways to be seen as a giver and a server now versus a “taker” later  (reaching out cold to someone once you need something.)


1) Create a target company list

Create a target company list.

The goal is to get on your target companies’ radar BEFORE they post a job.  And/or to get a referral for a job at one of your target companies.  

Shoot for at least 20 on your list.

You probably already have a couple companies in mind.  Add those to your list.  

Now, research their competitors.  Add them to your list.

Next, seek out organizations by desired location.  Add them to your list.

Check out industry and association websites.  Review companies in the directory.  Add some to your list.

Check out “Great Place To Work” lists.  Add some more to your list.

You get the idea.

2) Empower your inner circle to help you

Leverage your inner circle (your friends/ family /colleagues) who ALREADY know, like, and trust you… and want the best for you.

You see, all along they have WANTED to help you… but they don’t know how.

Telling them to “keep their eyes peeled” doesn’t give them much to go on.

Create a list of everyone in your inner circle:  friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, previous colleagues, vendors, etc.

Now go down your list and reach out to each person.

Share your target company list with them. 

Ask if they happen to know ANYONE who works at any of these companies.  Request a virtual introduction so that you can learn more about the company culture.

***Think outside the box with whom you ask.***

One woman was chatting with her hairdresser about a company she was targeting.  Lo and behold, her hairdresser happened to have another client who worked there and made the introduction.

The lesson here is do NOT hold back sharing because that person doesn’t work in your industry or at your target company.

They don’t NEED to.

They only need to know someone ELSE who does!  (And you won’t know unless you ask!)

In my Career Bliss Coaching program, I provide my clients a one-pager worksheet for them to fill out and provide to their immediate network along with a script explaining how they can help you.

3) Virtual Coffee Chat

Once your inner circle connects you to someone at your target company, request a 15 minute virtual coffee chat. 

Share that you are a fan of XYZ company and that you’d love to learn more about their experience working there.

The person from your target company with whom you speak does NOT need to be a hiring manager, recruiter, HR, etc.  (Bonus points if they are…) This person is simply your “sponsor.”  

They are someone within the four walls of your target company who down the road has the potential to refer you for a role OR connect you to the hiring manager.  One step at a time. 

4) Plant the Seed 

Have the virtual coffee chat.

Come from a place of genuine curiosity AND service.

Share that the purpose of this conversation is to learn about company culture and what their experience is like working there. (It’s a non-aggressive way of building the relationship versus asking directly for a job.)

In the Career Bliss Coaching Program, this is another instance I provide a script to guide this conversation.

Conclude the conversation with a thank you.

Then ask, “How can I support you right now?” From the smallest thing, (like an introduction to someone else) to something bigger (like working on a pro bono project.)

Finally, ask is there anyone else they recommend you speak with to learn more. (Keep the ball rolling.) 

5) Water the Seed 

This is the most important part.

Build the relationship.

After the zoom call, send them a thank you note. Follow up with anything you promised you’d do in support of their endeavors.  

Perhaps for a recruiter, you connect them to one of your contacts for a separate role they are filling.

Or for someone else, you simply send them a thoughtful article you think they’d enjoy based on your conversation.

Comment, engage, and reshare their LinkedIn posts. 

Find ways to keep the relationship alive and be of value. 

Down the road you can explore if they’d be comfortable connecting you with the hiring manager of your target department OR referring you for a role.


Imagine a list of 20 target companies distributed to all your immediate network who already know, like, and trust you.  

Think about how many potentially valuable conversations you might have. 

Imagine who will be FIRST IN MIND when a role opens up at that company.  

OR once you see a role posted, you’ll have someone to reach out to from the inside.


Alright my friend, time to MAKE IT REAL.

What step will you commit to this week?

Here’s to doing away with nebulous networking and replacing it with a service-oriented networking strategy.


Start the discovery process to learn the 5 steps to transition into a career you love.

CLICK HERE to download a free 4 part video training series:  “5 Steps to Transition into a Career You Love.”

Let’s do this.

Betty Kempa, CPC, ELI-MP, is an executive career coach helping mid to senior-level corporate women transition out of unfulfilling jobs and into their dream careers. 



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