With six applicants for every job opening, unemployment climbing over the 10 percent mark, and 36 percent of unemployed Americans currently out of work for at least six months, it’s easy to become defeated if you’re searching for a job—especially if you’re an introvert. Why? Since we’re less likely to be out and about seizing every networking opportunity, we may have a harder time competing in this job market. But is working the room at every social function the only way to find a job?

It’s not for Andrew Flynn*, a senior human resources executive who was laid off from a major financial firm earlier this year. Flynn, an introvert, just landed a job which he describes as a “perfect match” for his experience and skill set at another major financial firm. He did most of the ground work by clacking away at his keyboard, which isn’t such a stretch for most of us introverts. Here’s how he did it.

“If you find something that looks like a promising opportunity,” says Flynn, “pull out all the stops.” He continues, “Use every tool at your disposal to make it work.” Flynn found his job directly on the hiring organization’s Web site. Then he searched LinkedIn to see who he knew at the organization to get the inside track.

Flynn found two colleagues who used to work at his last employer and who were currently at the company he was targeting. Pay dirt! “One was an IT recruiter and the other was in HR,” he says. “I didn’t know that the IT recruiter was there. He left my last company three years ago and I lost track of him,” he adds. “But I saw that another person I was connected with knew him directly. So I asked her, ‘Would you mind getting in touch with him for me?’ It wasn’t a big deal because she knew that I knew the IT recruiter and I was simply looking for his current contact information,” he says. Flynn contacted the IT recruiter, who was happy to help. The IT recruiter reached out to one of his colleagues in the group where Flynn was applying and put in a good word for him.

Flynn asked his old HR colleague, who now works at the organization where he was applying, to submit his application through the employee referral program. “It’s always advantageous to do that,” says Flynn. “If you go in as an employee referral, chances are that at least they will look at your résumé.”

Flynn also discovered that a colleague whom he’s been in touch with over the past 20 years has been doing some coaching at the hiring organization. “Purely by chance,” says Flynn, “he’s done coaching with the group where I was applying for a job, so he personally knew a lot of the people there.” The coach shared some insights about the people he would be interviewing with. He put in a good word for Flynn too.

Flynn offers this advice for job seekers—introverts and extroverts alike. “Mostly it’s a matter of just sticking with it,” he says. “Get up each day, check the job boards, make new networking contacts, and follow up on previous leads.”

He also stresses the importance of continuing your job search activities even when a lead looks promising. I agree wholeheartedly. Too many of us have seen the heartbreak of candidates who put too much stock in a hopeful job prospect and lose months of valuable search time when the opportunity falls through for all kinds of reasons.

Flynn shares a note of optimism: “It’s far from a tidal wave but there’s a little flurry of hiring going on right now.” He speculates that organizations whose fiscal year is the calendar year may have authorized headcount. If that’s the case, he says that they’ll be hiring now through year-end.

How can you use LinkedIn and other online tools to get market intelligence about the organizations where you’re applying? If you’re an introvert, you’re likely to have the patience to dig around and learn as much as you can about the hiring organizations and their people. And then, like Flynn, you can connect with valuable contacts, which adds to your competitive advantage.

In a follow up blog post next week, Flynn and I will share tips to help you excel at your next job interview.
*I have changed the name of the HR executive I interviewed for this blog post and a few identifying details to honor his request for confidentiality.


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