How To Get a Job Without Connections in 7 Helpful Steps

Updated February 16, 2023

When looking for a new job, it's often helpful to have industry connections you can use to find opportunities and increase your visibility to employers. If you're new to your industry or are applying to work for an unfamiliar company, there are plenty of other strategies you can use to gain the attention of employers. Even if you don't have relevant connections, learning how to communicate your unique value and show your suitability for a role can be equally strong, if not much stronger, influencers of success.

In this article, we explain how connections are helpful in a job search and offer a list of helpful steps you can use to get a job without the aid of a professional network.

How can connections be helpful in a job search?

Connections can be helpful in a job search because they can alert prospective employers to your skills, reliability and relevant experience. Knowing someone who already works for the company can make it easier for you to find opportunities you're well suited for and to reinforce the strength of your application. Employers may be more likely to hire someone they know rather than bringing in an unknown candidate because it represents less of a risk.

Even though connections are helpful in a job search, they're not always necessary. It's absolutely possible to find opportunities based on the strength of your qualifications, skills and personality alone.

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How to get a job without connections

If you're trying to get a job without existing connections, here are some steps you can take to attract the attention of employers and move forward in the hiring process:

1. Develop your resume

Having a strong resume can alert prospective employers to your skills, qualifications and experience. Most employers want to find the best candidates to fill their positions. Connections can provide powerful support to a resume, but if you're the most qualified or well-suited candidate for the role, your resume can be more important than another candidate's connections.

Create a resume that's attention-grabbing by using the employer's own language from the job posting when describing your goals, skills and experience. Consider using professional summaries to explain your career objectives and try to communicate the relevance of your experience by describing the duties of your previous positions in a way that addresses the relevance of your background directly. By creating a well-written, clear and poignant resume, you can increase your chances of influencing an employer's consideration of your candidacy.

Related: How To Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

2. Write thoughtful cover letters

Another way to attract the attention of prospective employers is with a cover letter. Cover letters can support the content of your resume and express your sincere interest in a position. Like a strong resume, thoughtful cover letters can help you differentiate yourself from other candidates and reinforce the value you could bring to the company. In your cover letter, describe how your unique skills and experience relate to the position directly. Use your cover letter to show your unique ability to add value to the company.

Related: How To Write a Persuasive Cover Letter

3. Practice interview skills

A strong cover letter and resume can increase your chances of moving forward in the hiring process and being invited to interview with the company. This is where you can gain a significant advantage over well-connected candidates. Come to the interview prepared, confident and equipped to show your unique value. The first impression you make on prospective employers can increase your chances of being considered for a role.

Here are some tips for interviewing well:

  • Research the company: Before your interview, look at the company's website and social media pages to learn about the company's values, discover who's going to be interviewing you and better understand the company's history. This can show employers you're prepared and care about the company.

  • Practice interview answers: Look online for common interview questions and practice delivering thoughtful answers alone or with a friend. This can increase your confidence in the interview and ensure you give the best answers to your interviewer's questions.

  • Arrive early: Give yourself enough time to get to your interview early and show employers your time management skills. Look up the directions the day before and account for potential delays like traffic, getting lost or finding the right office.

  • Get a good night's sleep: The night before your interview, get a good night's sleep. This can improve your ability to think clearly and remain alert during the interview.

  • Dress well: Wear professional clothing for your interview. Clean clothing without wrinkles, pictures or writing can help you make a good first impression on employers.

  • Be friendly: One helpful tip to help you stay calm and friendly in an interview is to pretend you're meeting a friend you haven't seen for a long time. By being positive and polite, and expressing a genuine excitement to learn about your interviewer and to tell them about yourself, you can fill the interview with positivity and infectious energy.

Related: How To Nail an Interview

4. Grow your network

Growing your network can help you find new opportunities and increase your chances of being noticed by employers. Do a good job in your professional roles and consider using professional networking sites to help you remain connected to those you've worked with before. You can also join groups, attend seminars and go to industry events to help you meet new contacts and increase the size of your network. School is another great place to meet others in your field.

Related: The Benefits of Networking: 14 Reasons To Start Your Network

5. Use strong references

Your references, even if they're not connected to the company you're applying to, can reinforce the information you provided in your resume, cover letter and interview. Use professional references with weighted titles to improve your credibility and show employers you're a worthy candidate. Always ask a reference's permission before listing them on your resume, and conduct yourself well at school and work to develop the strength of your connections.

6. Find good culture fits

Another way of improving your chances of getting hired without connections is to find companies with similar values to your own. This can increase your ability to make a good impression in the interview and help prospective employers envision you in the position. Relating to interviewers about hobbies, interests and values can make you a memorable candidate and boost your likability.

7. Demonstrate unique value

While connections can be a helpful tool for finding opportunities and moving forward in the hiring process, showing unique value is often even more helpful. Try to develop your skills and experience in your industry. Certifications, niche offerings and relevant capabilities can show employers you're the best choice for a role. For example, candidates who are bilingual or who have additional experience that can help them outside their job functions may be desirable additions to a company's team.

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