Job market

“Hey, can I work for you?” How to approach your favourite companies

Whether it’s Warner Bros, Tesla or L’Oréal, we all have our favourite companies – the ones we’ve followed for years and always hoped we’d someday be a part of. But what about when you want to stop dreaming about them and actually start working for them? From LinkedIn searches to handwritten letters, University of Warwick Human Resources Communications Officer and guest blogger, Sophie Hannah, shares some tips to help you on your way.

Search for the right people on LinkedIn

Let’s say you want to get some work experience at Netflix. It’s a long shot, right? Maybe Netflix doesn’t do work placements. Maybe they only do week-long slots and you have a whole month free. But either way, Netflix is your dream. So get on LinkedIn – first of all search for the company, then click on ‘See all employees on LinkedIn’ and sift through the list. Find their HR manager or whoever else you think would be receptive to your email, then write it. Explain your situation and why you think you’d be so great to have around.

Be specific

You already know that emailing help@disney.com or info@apple.com with a friendly “Hi, I’d love to work for you!” message won’t work. It’ll get lost, or sent on to the wrong person, or ignored. So have a think and get specific: who do you want to speak to? The marketing manager? An HR employee? The content-writing team? Make the decision and then tailor your email to that person – you’re much more likely to get a response.

Make sure your work is visible

I know, I know – everyone bangs on about this. But it’s crazy how many people say “I want to be a photographer!” or “I’d like to be a writer!” yet don’t put any evidence of this online. It can be scary to start sharing your work with the world, but it’s also a great way to get feedback on the stuff you’re creating and make friends with other people who are in the same boat as you. And, most importantly, it means you have a portfolio of work ready to show or send to potential employers.

Keep things informal

Putting together an email? Write how you’d speak. “Hi, Lisa. Hope you’re really well and that you had a lovely new year…” is a much friendlier opening line than “Dear sir or madam. I hope this correspondence finds you well…” It can be tempting to slip into a more formal tone, but this can often come across as impersonal. Don’t confuse ‘professional’ with ‘robotic’.

Become a detective (sort of)

Supposing you find someone on LinkedIn, but their email address isn’t listed on their profile. Dead end, right? WRONG. This is when it all gets fun because you can pretend you are a little detective with a mission to complete. (*puts on brown coat and sunglasses*)

  • Find them on Twitter. A lot of people who use Twitter for work as well as play have their email address in their bio – search for them and see what you can find. Maybe follow them on Twitter while you’re at it.
  • Connect with them on LinkedIn, then send them a message via LinkedIn DMs.
  • Give them a call. Slightly terrifying? YES. But potentially fruitful? Also yes! You’ve got their name and where they work, and that’s a start – so pluck up your courage, call the main switchboard and see if someone can put you through to their office. Tip: Write a mini script beforehand if you’re nervous.

Use your creativity

This is where I am going to tell you to write a letter to your favourite company, and I am aware that it sounds clichéd and very cheesy but you know what? I don’t care, because it WORKS. Write them a letter. If you’ve got neat writing, do it by hand. Tell them about you. Explain why you’d like to work for them one day. Ask the recipient if they fancy meeting for coffee. Send a list of questions you’d like to ask them about their career. Tell them why you admire their work or their company. Jot down your email address/website/Twitter handle. Decorate the envelope (no, really). Include some of your work, if that’s possible (e.g. if you’re a writer, artist or similar). Long story short: make sure that what you’re sending to any company stands out. An email might not, but a letter will.

Don’t give up

You might not hear back straight away, but don’t take it personally. Whoever you’ve contacted is bound to be busy, so responding to you might not be top of their to-do list, even if they’re interested in what you have to say. There’s nothing wrong with sending a follow-up email – wait a week or so, then drop them a quick message or give them a call. Unless you hear a definite “no thanks” from someone, there’s nothing stopping you from checking in every couple of months to bump your suggestion back up in their inbox.

Remember: you don’t have to live in London

The best part about being alive in 2018 (in my opinion, anyway) is that we can use the internet to take advantage of opportunities that didn’t exist a few years ago. Want to be a freelance writer at Cosmopolitan? Provide social media posts for a company you like? Get marketing experience? You don’t necessarily have to be in the office to do that. Have a think about what you can do from home part-time, and get ready to pitch it to someone. You got this!

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