3 Keys That Could Lead to Your Next Job

Sometimes you come in second for the job you really want or the job you want isn’t open right now. If you’ve networked or interviewed your way to a good relationship with someone at a company where you’d like to work, that’s the perfect way to turn a connection into a resume builder. And if you play your cards right, it could lead you to your next job. 

One way you can leverage your connection into your next job is through project work. What’s project work? It’s work you do for someone that is clearly defined and helps them with their job and helps you with your resume. Doing project-based work for someone is a great way to prove your skillset. The easiest type of project work to get is work you can do remotely and independently. Any sort of market research, be it in-person research or online research, is doable and can deliver great value to your connection. Possible ideas include industry trends, competitor activity, or best practices. 

For example, let’s say you want to work in consumer electronics, your target is Sony, and you know someone who works there. My philosophy is you need to make it difficult for people to say no. There’s a way to handle this situation that makes it much more likely for you to get a YES. There are the three keys to getting a YES:

1.    You suggest project ideas. Don’t ask someone if you can do a project for them and make them come up with the idea. That sounds like work for them and that approach will likely put them off. If you want to do project work for someone, you need to go to them with a few ideas. Even if they don’t love any of the ideas, it shows initiative and if they like you and want the help, they can suggest a different idea.

2.    You do the work for free. Yes, for free. You need the relationship and the opportunity more than they need you. Getting the project on your resume and further building the relationship is your payment. In the long run, it’ll pay off. Free project work was my route into ultimately getting a full-time job at Nike back in the day. I’ve also seen it be a successful strategy for many people I’ve mentored over the years to get into their dream companies.

3.    You work remotely and independently. There isn’t a desk for you, and they don’t want to have to worry about you or this project. All you need is to clearly agree on what the project is (be clear on timeline and deliverables) then I suggest a short mid-point check-in via phone or in-person (whatever your contact prefers), and then I’d ask for the chance to present your work to them at the end.

If you do great work, you’ll be on the company’s radar and your odds are much higher of being considered the next time a position opens up. This is an excellent way to become a preferred candidate for a future open position. And if the project goes well and you enjoyed it, you can always suggest an extension to allow you to do another project. If it were me, I’d cap free project work at 6 months before asking if it’s possible to receive any compensation. At that point, they’re clearly seeing value in the work you’re doing so it’s a fair question.

If you want more tips on how to land your dream job faster, check out my online course and follow me on Twitter at @MadeToHire, Instagram, and on Facebook. 

Merryn Roberts-Huntley