With the growing trend in companies creating a unique company culture with perks like unlimited vacations or nap pods, it’s not so uncommon to have a dream company before you even have a dream job.
But once you know what your dream company is, what’s next? How do you begin the process of getting noticed and showing the team that you’re the next great addition?
Here’s your four-step game plan. Hint: It’s not about submitting your resume to every open job on the website.
1. Do Your Research
Even though you’ve likely combed through dozens of photos of your dream company’s gorgeous office and know all about its catered lunch policy, you should still take some time to do more research. Whether you do more digging into the company’s core values or core product, there’s always more to learn. For some ideas for where to look for this information beyond the company website, check out this article on researching companies.
Why is this so critical? The more you know about the company, the more you’ll be able to stand out in your networking conversations and application materials—plus you’ll even sound more enthusiastic in the interview. Of course, your research shouldn’t stop at the company level. Pull up LinkedIn and see what you can learn about who works at and runs the company to see what themes come up.
2. Craft Your Career Narrative
Once you have a really good sense of what you’re signing up for, see how you fit into the picture. What is your career narrative, and why does it lead you to this particular company? Perhaps you’re a programming whiz with a passion for understanding the financial market, or maybe you’re a marketing pro with a keen interest in the field of health and wellness. Regardless, career expert Jenny Foss offers some excellent tips here on how to tell your career story, no matter how complicated it is.
With your story strung together, practice, practice, and practice some more. You’re going to need to nail your elevator pitch when it comes time for you to meet those people you’ve been stalking on LinkedIn and, with any luck, the interviewers at this company.
3. Get Your Foot in the Door
This is where things get a bit trickier. Armed with your perfected elevator pitch and in-depth company knowledge, your next step is connecting with people who work at your dream company. If you already have a friend or acquaintance who you feel comfortable contacting to learn more about the company, great! If not, here’s how to find an “in” at the company fast.
With one or two people lined up, politely ask to set up an informational interview. This will give you an opportunity to get an insider’s perspective and let someone within the company know of your enthusiasm and interest. Whether you end up having a quick networking call or a longer sit-down conversation, plan ahead what questions you need to ask in order to get the information you’re looking for. Maybe it’s what the company seeks in a new hire or what your friend’s own interview experience was—the key here is to know what you want to find out.
4. Tailor Your Application
Now that you’ve laid all the groundwork, it’s finally time to apply. (If you get an internal referral from all the networking you’ve been doing, that’s even better.) This being your dream company and all, you’ll obviously not send your standard resume. Tailor that resume like you mean it, so there can be no doubt you’re ideal for the company.
Next, write an unforgettable introduction for your cover letter (here are dozens of great examples), and wrap up by following some of these tips on writing cover letters that make hiring managers smile, then call you. Tailoring your application documents is an important part of any job search process, but let’s not forget which company this is for. Go all out.
Enthusiasm alone will only get you so far. To really get noticed, you’re going to need to put in the work. The good thing is, in the end, those nap pods (or whatever it is about your dream company that you love) will have been worth the effort.
Photo of heart courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author