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How to Get Your Foot in the Door

Looking for a new job at a hot company? Here’s how to get your foot inside almost any door, whether you know “people” or not.


  • Step 1: Network Network relentlessly. Increase your chances of getting that important lead by telling absolutely everyone exactly what kind of job you are seeking and where you want to work. Be specific, and be fearless.
  • Step 2: Attend career fairs Attend college career fairs. Someone you meet may lead you to that marquee job.
  • TIP: Many industry associations list job openings on their websites. Do an internet search to find groups in your field, then check their sites. You may find a great lead, or at least a few names to contact.
  • Step 3: Talk to alumni office Talk to the alumni office or career center at your alma mater. Schools often track their graduates’ careers and could connect you with individuals in your field who’d offer you advice -- or plug you into their professional network.
  • Step 4: Get internship Get an internship, or just volunteer to help with a specific event or organization. You’ll meet others who share your interests and prove your worth to someone who could someday hire or recommend you.
  • Step 5: Get more experience Be prepared. The person who gets hired is going to be the one with the most relevant experience, so do everything you can to be that person, even if it means working long hours or for little money.
  • Step 6: Accept wrong job at right place Consider accepting the wrong job at the right place. Sometimes the guy in the mailroom does become the CEO. Once you’re in the door, it’s easier to convince a company to give you the position you really want.
  • TIP: Many companies hire from within, giving employees the first crack at openings. If you know someone 'on the inside,' ask them to scan the company’s in-house job listings for you.
  • Step 7: Learn about company Be a snoop. Scour the company website and anything else you can find to learn more about the place and the individuals who work there. Use this information to send personalized letters directly to specific people.
  • Step 8: Cold-call Cold-call the place you want to work -- it can be intimidating, but sometimes it’s the most direct route. Be succinct, and don’t forget to mention how you will follow up before you hang up.
  • TIP: Request a short informational interview rather than a job. People are more likely to cooperate when the stakes are low.
  • Step 9: Show up If all else fails, just show up. Come prepared to speak intelligently to everyone you meet. If you’re turned away, depart gracefully -- but leave behind a resume with a handwritten note. Someone may admire your pluck and follow up.
  • Step 10: Be persistent Be a marathoner, not a sprinter. Persistence pays off. Pursue each lead, and keep searching for new ones. Once you land that great job, don’t forget to thank everyone who helped you. And do the same for others.
  • FACT: Only 15 percent of jobs are advertised, and over half of these openings are filled before the ad even runs.

You Will Need

  • Tenacity
  • Social skills
  • Ability to network
  • Friends

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