How to Get a Job with Your Dream Employer

October 17, 2012

Editor’s Note: Last week, we announced LinkedIn’s 100 Most InDemand Employers, a set of rankings based on our massive professional dataset. We are now following up with tips on how you can get a job at one of these employers. We started with Expedia earlier this week, and now we're excited to have Lindsey Pollak.

If you could work for any company in the world, which employer would you choose? You can see the most popular answers to this question on LinkedIn’s recently released list of Most InDemand Employers, which ranks the most sought-after companies on LinkedIn, ranked geographically and by job function.

If your dream employer appears on this list, you’re certainly in good company. But it also means you’re up for some intense competition. What does it take to land a job at one of the world’s most sought-after employers? Here are some tips:

It takes confidence. Yes, it can be challenging to apply to a top organization, but don’t take yourself out of the running before you take the first step. The very first step in landing a job with your dream employer is believing it’s possible. You’ll never get a job you don’t apply for.

It takes a good fit. That said, you have to be realistic about what opportunities you pursue. Just because a company is popular doesn’t mean it’s the right career or cultural fit for you. Take time to thoroughly research a potential employer by exploring that organization’s website and reading through its LinkedIn Company Page. The “Careers” tab of any Company Page will provide information about that organization’s culture, and the company’s status updates -- which you can follow by clicking the “Follow” button in the upper right hand corner of any Company Page -- will alert you to the organization’s current news and priorities.

I also recommend following a potential employer’s competitors (which you can generally find under the Insights tab of the Company Page under “People Also Viewed”). Research how a potential employer compares to its rivals in terms of culture, services, career opportunities and more. If you prefer another organization’s activities and positioning, then perhaps that company is your dream employer instead.

It takes the right qualifications. To further determine a good fit with a potential employer, visit the “Insights” tab of an organization’s Company page and research areas like the top skills of its employees (Do you share some of these skills?) and the “Products and Services” tab (Do you have experience or interest in one or more of the company’s core business areas?).

For more information beyond the Company Page, conduct an Advanced Search and type the name of the organization in the “Company” box and the job function you aspire to have, e.g., marketing, operations or product management, in the “Title” box. Then click “Search,” and LinkedIn will display the profiles of people who work in your functional area at that organization. Click through to some of these profiles and research what education these people have, what experience they list, what skills and expertise they possess and what professional credentials they hold. This will provide great insight into what that employer looks for in its employees.

If your LinkedIn profile contains similar information to the people you find, then you’re likely a good candidate for a job at this organization. If not, you may have to acquire additional skills, or perhaps pursue other organizations that are a better fit for your current credentials.

It takes connections. When I ask recruiters at highly sought-after employers what it takes to land a job at their companies, they say, “Connections always help.” There is simply no better way to get a foot in the door of a “hot” employer than to know someone who works there. Again, Company Pages are your go-to resource. The top right corner of the page, under the “Follow” button, will tell you “How You’re Connected” to any organization.

If you have a 1st degree connection, reach out to ask your contact for advice about applying to the organization. You might write a message that says something like,

“XYZ Company seems like a great employer and I would love to hear about your experience working there. Would you have a few minutes to chat by phone to talk about the company and perhaps offer a few tips for applying? I’d love to tell you what I’ve been up to as well.”

Don’t directly ask for a job or referral until you’ve had a chance to learn more about the company from an insider and to tell that person why you think you’re a great fit.

If you have a 2nd degree connection, you can ask for a LinkedIn introduction from your shared connection. You might say something like this:

“I noticed that you are connected to George Jones at XYZ Company. I think XYZ might be a great fit for my experience and skills and would love to hear more about working there. Would you be willing to introduce me to George so I can learn about his experience at the company? And, of course, please let me know if there is anything I can do to support you.”

If you’re not connected to an employee of your Dream Company, then check out your university alumni network, using the LinkedIn Alumni Tool, and see if any fellow alums are employed there. If you’re both members of your university’s alumni LinkedIn group, you can reach out with a message like this:

“Would you be willing to offer a few minutes of advice to a fellow ABC University alum? I graduated in 2000 and have been working in online marketing ever since. I am very interested in applying for a job at XYZ Company and would love to talk to an insider there. May I give you a call or perhaps ask a few questions by email? I would be so grateful for your help and support.”

Your primary goal in these initial conversations is to learn more about the company and what it takes to land a job there. Your secondary goal is to impress your contact so much that he or she offers to pass along your resume or LinkedIn profile and put in a good word with the recruiter on your behalf!

Have you landed a job with your dream employer? Tell us how you did it on LinkedIn or Twitter!