A few weeks ago I had a chance to spend a day with the remarkable James Altucher and his equally remarkable wife, Claudia. They both believe creativity is sparked by developing 10 ideas for discovering new ways of looking at old things. I’ve dubbed this concept the “The Power of 10 Ideas.”

Last week I used this approach to offer recruiters some suggestions on how to find candidates if job boards didn’t exist. This week I’ll use the same technique to offer job-seekers some ideas on how to get an interview without applying to a job posting. Job-seekers should use this list as a jumping-off point and develop 10 more ideas. Please add your best ones to the comments below.

10 Ideas for Getting an Interview without Pushing the Apply Button

  • Get referred. At a training workshop last week I asked 20 recruiters whose resume they’d read first - someone who responded to a job posting or someone who was referred by a co-worker. One hundred percent said the referral. Nothing more needs to be said.
  • Be found and be compelling when found. As you’ll see in idea #10, I suggest recruiters add Achiever terms when conducting a search for candidates. This brings the top 25% of any group of resumes to the top of the listing. So make sure these terms stand out on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Of course, being found is not enough. You’ll then only have 10 seconds to grab the recruiter’s attention. The most important part is the personal branding line under your name.
  • Use the job postings as a lead. Rather than applying directly to a job of interest, first try to find someone at the company who can refer you. If not, send the hiring manager or department head a non-resume, aka, some alternative sample of your work.
  • Respond to a bigger target to increase your odds. Once you find a job of interest, see if the company is posting similar jobs at different levels of experience. Then send your non-resume to the department head. You’ll increase your odds by not getting pigeon-holed into just one job.
  • Increase your qualifications by converting having to doing. The skills and experiences listed on a job posting are often waived if a candidate has accomplished something comparable. Describing a major accomplishment using the requirements listed is a great way to demonstrate this. This can be incorporated into your non-resume mentioned above and the 5-minute YouTube video described below (Point 8).
  • Build a targeted network of nodes. Networking isn’t about meeting as many people as possible. It’s about meeting a few people (i.e., “nodes”) who can vouch for your performance and who can recommend you to others who are at companies hiring people. The best nodes are people who work with lots of different people at different levels, like project managers.
  • Reverse engineer Twitter. Using hashtags like #hiring #jobs in combination with #skill1 and #skill2, you’ll find a lot of open jobs. Rather than applying, contact the tweeter directly and/or get a key to the backdoor to get a referral.
  • Use YouTube to demonstrate a strength. I just watched Jon Favreau’s movie, Chef, which demonstrates how YouTube can be used to find a job. I wouldn’t suggest Favreau’s approach, but putting together a 5-minute video highlighting one of your accomplishments or presenting some “how-to technique” might be the trigger to get someone to give you a call.
  • Become a sought-after SME. Being a subject matter expert is often the reason recruiters will contact you. Make sure this is in your branding statement under your name on your LinkedIn profile supported with your 5-minute YouTube video. Recruiters follow user groups and directly contact the most active members who provide the most useful content.
  • Benchmark the best in your field. To find the best people in any field I add these Achiever terms to my Google skill strings: (award OR honor OR fellow OR rotation OR scholar OR prize). If you combine this string with your own skills you’ll find people who are the best in your field of expertise. The list includes names of people to connect with, possible mentors, companies they work for, which ones are hiring and ideas for groups to join. Connecting with these people and becoming a recognized SME in their groups is a great way to expand your network.

Unless you’re a perfect fit on skills and experiences, applying to a job posting is a waste of time. Instead start thinking how you can land an interview without applying. These ideas are just a start and while they’ll work with a little effort, using The Power of 10 Ideas will lead you to come up with your own unique approaches. As Jim Rohn said, “For things to change for you, you’ve got to change.” So if you’re looking for a new job and you’re not having any luck, it’s time to change what you’re doing.