Make Guerrilla Job Hunting Work for You


Guerrilla job hunting means: adopting unconventional tactics to land the job of your dreams. This method hits the headlines every now and again. And occasionally, we hear about a stroke of brilliance and a deserving candidate landing the job. But all too often, these stories are about job seekers who go to enormous lengths to catch the eye of a prospective employer, only to have it backfire horribly.

Did you hear about the one where the candidate back-flipped into the interview room? Or where she arrived armed with items purchased from the interviewer's Amazon wishlist? Those tales did not have happy endings. But even if your usual approach is a little more low key, you can still use some guerrilla skills without needing to hire a billboard to advertise yourself, or tattoo your resume on your forehead.

Here's how to make this job seeking approach actually work for you, without making a total fool of yourself. (See also: 6 Extreme Interview Tactics That Worked)

Make Yourself Stand Out

Recruiting managers might receive hundreds of applications for any single position advertised. Even with the most rigorous screening process in place, resume number 357 has to be pretty special to stand out. Some job seekers have gone to great lengths to make sure their applications memorable, including one famous tale of a job hunter sending a note asking for a coffee meeting, inside a coffee cup, using a FedEx tracking number. Monitoring the delivery notes online, she was able to see the exact moment it was received and signed for, and placed a call immediately to follow up. But don't panic. You don't need to do anything so extreme to make sure you get noticed.

Make sure all the basics are covered first. Write a tailored resume and cover letter, making your enthusiasm for the role clear. Using a resume template is a great way to create a resume that stands out for the right reasons.

Then try this:

  • Make an effort to find out the name of the individual recruiting, and use it.
  • If you can start adding value to the business at this early stage, you'll be remembered. Is there a business improvement idea, or some customer insight you can share as part of your application?
  • Have an "elevator pitch" summing up your unique abilities, ready to use whenever you get the ear of a potential recruiter.
  • Gather intelligence. If you send an email application, follow up with a call. Ostensibly this is to check that the email was received, but take the chance while you're on the phone to get any insight into the business that you can.

Leverage Your Contacts

Once upon a time, "it's not what you know, but who you know" was the embodiment of a system that favored the elite. With the democratization of information resulting from Internet use, this is no longer the case. If don't have contacts who can help you in some way, then it's probably because you're not trying hard enough.

First of all, think through your real-life connections. Do you have friends, family, or previous business contacts who might be able to help you? Can they put you in touch with managers at businesses you're interested in applying to, or who you can tap for information and ideas? Even if your direct connections don't work directly at the company in question, they may be partners, suppliers, or contractors, who can still offer valuable insight.

Then try this:

  • If you want to pump connections for ideas, ask to meet for a coffee. An informational interview sounds too formal and demanding.
  • Follow the right people: businesses, recruiters, industry insiders, and the trade press, on social media. The knowledge you gain can be game-changing. For example, if you learn about an organization's expansion plans, reach out directly even before they start to officially recruit, to get ahead of the game.
  • A referral opens doors. If you have an inside contact, ask them to send your resume directly to the recruiter with a recommendation.
  • If you have the nerve, call the CEO (or another senior manager) directly. Ask them where you should address your application. And when you do send in your resume you can legitimately say, "the CEO recommended I apply to you directly." It's cheeky, but this implied recommendation has been known to work.

Follow Up

Recruiting managers are only human. There's research to show that if you've scored an interview, you're more likely to be selected if you are the first or last person seen, as memories are sharper, and the recruiter's mood is perhaps more forgiving. You can't necessarily dictate the order in which your interview falls, but you can increase your chances of being remembered with a polite follow-up note after an interview. Failing to follow up is a common complaint of recruiting managers, so don't miss the chance to do so.

Try this:

  • Handwritten notes, in more traditional businesses, are preferred. In more modern or tech-focused organizations, an email is fine. Include a link to your LinkedIn profile, and you'll be able to see if the reader clicks through to check you out.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time, and reiterate your interest in the role in authentic terms. If something came up in the conversation that impressed you about the business, then say so.
  • Refer to a point of connection. If you mentioned an interesting article or book during your conversation, pass over the link in your message.
  • If you felt you did not get across some skills, or answers as well as you could have, this is a chance to elaborate. The interviewers are likely to be flattered that you're still thinking of them after the meeting.

Traditionally, a job search follows a regular pattern: find a relevant role advertised, apply, interview, and if all goes well, receive an offer. These days, finding a job is a more fluid process. Many roles are not even openly advertised, putting the ball firmly in the job seekers' court. Use your intuition, employ some of these tactics, and you will stand out for the right reasons. No backflips required.

What tactics have you tried to get a job? Did they work for you? Share with us in the comments!

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