4 ways to land a job when you have zero connections
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4 ways to land a job when you have zero connections

Commencement ceremony
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

This story originally appeared on BusinessInsider.com.

"It's not what you know. It's who you know."

You've probably heard this more times than you can count.

But in a lot of cases, it's true — having a connection at the company you want to work for can be everything when it comes to getting the job.

In fact, there are tons of jobs out there that you pretty much can't get without knowing someone.

So going for a job without any connections is futile, right?

Related: 11 of the worst pieces of career advice for recent grads

Well, not really. While most hiring managers prefer candidates who've already been recommended for the job, it's not impossible to snag something on your own and even uncover some new contacts on the fly.

You just need to have a plan:

Put your networks to use

Many people hate the idea of networking, but it doesn't have to involve awkwardly weaving through a cocktail party collecting business cards from total strangers.

Networking can be as simple as setting up a phone call with one of your old college buddies who just landed a great job. You can also put your networks on LinkedIn and your other social media platforms to good use.

If you're looking for a job, spread the word. Perhaps your Uncle Joe's neighbor is a hiring manager at the company you want to work for. You'll be surprised by how many great, previously hidden connections you can scrounge up once you start broadcasting your job search.

"Just be sure to thank your contacts along the way and offer to help them if they need anything," Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job," previously told Business Insider. "Pay it forward."

Related: How to make your résumé stand out, according to a Harvard student who received internship offers from Microsoft and Goldman Sachs

Reach out to some new contacts

It's not too late to make new connections. If no one in your personal network can help you, Ryan Kahn, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group, and author of "Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad," suggests you start reaching out to some of your work idols — people who've achieved success at a company or in a field that you're interested in.

WayUp CEO Liz Wessel previously gave Business Insider some great advice on the art of writing a clear, concise cold email, from the eye-catching subject line to the pithy sign-off.

"Once you get into the email, make it short, crisp, and say exactly what you want," Wessel told Business Insider.

Here's a sample cold email:

Hi [your idol's name],

My name is [blank]. I'm really interested in meeting with you because of [x,y and z]. Do you have 15 minutes to hop on a phone call?

All the best,

Your name

You can also try connecting with your work idol on LinkedIn. Use the LinkedIn Alumni tool to discover individuals from your old school who work at the organizations you're applying at — you'll have an instant in when you bring up your alma mater.

Do your homework

If you can't manage to track down an individual to connect with, make sure to stay informed about the industry and the specific organizations you're going for. That means doing your research on the folks you're hoping to work for one day.

"Read news releases," Taylor previously told Business Insider. "Look for people with common interests and think out of the proverbial box. If one of your prospective hiring managers plays on a local golf team or is involved with your favorite charity, for instance, forge ahead and leverage commonalities. If they had an anniversary or major achievement in the press, mention that in your pitch."

So make sure to include relevant information you've gleaned from your research in your cover letter — those personalized details could give you the boost you need you get the job.

Related: 5 pieces of terrible résumé advice you should ignore

Just apply anyway

If all else fails, don't let your lack of an inside connection hold you back from applying.

It's important to remember that knowing someone can help your résumé be seen, but it never guarantees an interview. So, while having a connection does help, it certainly isn't everything.

If you're really perfect for the job, apply the old fashioned way. Having a great résumé, relevant experience, and a positive attitude can be way more powerful than any connection.

Jacquelyn Smith contributed to a previous version of this post.

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