Chris* was a communications and policy specialist, with a wealth of experience in health research, and was wanting to return to work after taking time off with her family. There was one organisation she had always wanted to work for, because of their global reach and reputation, but there hadn’t been any roles advertised since she’d started looking. She didn’t know if that was because no one ever left or they hired through their network.
An old colleague told her the team was small and when they recruited they tended to approach people within the sector. So far, it had worked because experienced people wanted to work for them. As she hadn’t worked in the sector for a while, and didn’t know anyone who could introduce her, Chris realised she had to approach the organisation directly. This is what she did.
Aligned her story to the organisation
Chris asked herself, ‘why would they hire me’? By researching the organisation’s mission and strategy, she could align her story and her experience to why she wanted to work for them, and the value she could bring to help the organisation achieve their objectives.
Updated her marketing collateral
Before approaching the organisation, she updated her resume and LinkedIn to demonstrate where she wanted to go next and the value she would bring. She also wrote a speculative covering letter, ready to send if someone asked for her resume. This was mostly in case she didn’t get to talk to anyone and the next step was to email it to HR or the general email.
Prepared her BBQ pitch to tell her story
As it was a small team, she wanted to try to speak to someone and make a connection, but didn’t want to ruin her chances by messing up the first impression. She wrote out a script for what she wanted to say in the form of a short BBQ pitch including:
- Who she was
- What she wanted
- What she brings
- Why them
Researched the person to approach
Researching the organisation’s organisation chart and LinkedIn, it was unclear which executive the communications team reported into, but there was a People & Culture Manager so she decided to approach them first.
Took a deep breath and made contact
Chris could see on LinkedIn that the manager wasn’t very active on that platform so didn’t want to leave a message there that may not get a reply. She decided to call the main phone number and see what happened. Unfortunately after being put through by reception, and a few heart stopping rings, it went through to voicemail, so she left a message. Chris left a brief message to introduce herself and that she would send her details by email. As very few email addresses are publicly available, and she wasn’t connected on LinkedIn, she went back to reception to appeal for their help.
Even though Chris knew that part of reception’s role is to block or filter unsolicited contacts, she called reception back, explained the reason for the call and did her best to build rapport, so they may just help. The receiptionist suggested sending her email through to the general email, marked to the People & Culture Managers attention, and they would pass it on.
Emailed straight away
Chris was fully prepared. She sent an email thanking reception for their time and assistance and included her covering letter and resume, so this could be forwarded to the People and Culture Manager.
Followed up a week later
After doing all the hard work, Chris didn’t want to leave it to chance. So she followed up by phone and the receptionist remembered the conversation and assured Chris the email had been passed on, and would let the manager know she had called. Chris was feeling a bit deflated and thought she’d done all she could.
Found an advocate
Chris went back to her old colleague and explained what she’d done so far, but she didn’t feel like it would work and asked if they knew anyone in the organisation. Impressed with Chris’ effort, her old colleague asked for her resume and said they would forward it onto the person they knew.
Turns out, their contact looked after communications and was impressed with how Chris’ experience and goals aligned to their organisation. They didn’t have a position available at the moment but as they didn’t tend to advertise, thought it may be worth a coffee in case they were looking in the future. Now two people in the organisation knew her name.
So how did things turn out?
This story has a happy ending – Chris was hired four months later by her dream employer. She definitely felt like she had been on a wild roller-coaster, with periods of no word from anyone, plenty of self doubt and then applying for other roles as she couldn’t sit and wait. On reflection, by being clear on the value she could bring and aligning it to the organisation, but mostly having the courage to make contact, she had done all the hard work for them. Why wouldn’t they hire her.
*Based on real career change scenario. Name changed for privacy.