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The secret trick to getting an interview is coffee

Meeting for coffee isn’t just for first dates anymore. A 30 minute coffee chat can help land you a coveted interview. How? It’s estimated that 80% of jobs are gotten through some form of networking.

I used to think that all you needed was a great cover letter and a strong resume. I believed that hiring managers reviewed all applications equally, and after reading mine they’d be so intrigued by my wit and cleverness. I was so wrong.

I never understood the intricacies of the hiring process. My naivety was reinforced from my experience with B-School where recruiters came to campus and all you would do was apply. Amanda, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

The real truth is that lots of companies have screening software that scan for key words (there goes my visual resume). Even in smaller companies and non-profits where there are no robots, the average time your resume is looked at is 6 seconds. Going through piles of applications, the hiring manager starts making reactions based off first impressions- often beyond your control.

Now that you understand more how the system works you see the importance of making sure the hiring manager actually pays attention to your resume. A kick-ass application may catch the eye of the hiring manager, but a recommendation or a referral will almost certainly ensure they’ll take your application seriously.

So what to do? Start by figuring out who you know at the company. You may need the help of your friends’ networks too, but once you’ve identified a potential coffee date, make your move. Make it even harder for the person to say no, by offering to pay for their coffee. The 30 minute coffee is great because it’s a casual, non time-intensive way to make an impression and an inside scoop on the company.

When setting up your coffee date, remember to:

  1. Be mindful

    . People are more willing to help, the less effort is required, so propose something close to where they work. People in the company talk, be wary about asking multiple people on the same team to go for coffee.

  2. Be prepared.

    If you make a good impression on this person, they’ll be more likely to mention your name to the hiring manager. Remember, it’s not just about you. Listening to what the person has to say about their job and the company will help you, should you get an interview.

  3. Be grateful.

    They are taking time to help you, be sincere and thank them. It’s not a given that they will help or recommend you for the position so don’t act like it.

Even when there’s no open position, if you’re interested in learning more about a company or a new industry- start drinking lots of coffee.

Let us know some other strategies you’ve used to help get an interview. We also want to hear what didn’t work. Don’t be shy, tell us in the comments section.

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  1. October 31, 2013 at 5:33 pm — Reply

    I have been drinking a lot of coffee lately. I have found that for the most part, people are so willing to meet and chat. I have found that giving the person something to remember you by can be very effective. A business card is a fairly obvious tool, but if you have something from your portfolio, an example of your work, that you can give them as a leave-behind, that might help keep you top of mind. And, it’s a useful talking point too.

    Thanks for your site – it’s a great resource!

    • November 5, 2013 at 1:47 am — Reply

      Thanks Heidi!
      We appreciate the love- and great advice about leaving something from your portfolio.

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