When you are up against internal candidates for your dream job, what is the best way to get to the top of the pile?

It’s easier for a company to recruit internally, which makes it all the more impressive when great external candidates like you get seen. We know how disappointing it is to get shortlisted for a  position, only to be told that someone on the inside has snatched it up.

Find out how to compete with internal candidates here.

How do you compete with internal candidates?

Get an internal referral

According to a survey by Jobvite (reported on Things Career Related), nearly 40% of hires came from referrals, which made up only 7% of sourcing type.

This means that more hiring decisions come from word of mouth, than by applying for jobs through the conventional means or via internal candidates.

Start by compiling a ‘dream’ list of the companies you’d like to work for, then connect with the relevant people on LinkedIn who work for each of these companies. Look for people who used to work for these companies too, as they can provide a helpful insight into the company. Go to meetups and events, reach out online – whatever approach works for you.

It’s important to build a genuine connection, and establish trust, before broaching the topic of referrals for a job. If their company offers an employee referral bonus scheme, it’s a great incentive for those connections to refer you, since they trust your personality and skills.

The power of networking

Now at some point, you’ll have to attend industry networking events so that you can meet people who work at your target companies.

If you’re not sure where to start, look at Meetup.com, or look on the LinkedIn profiles of your connections you’ve made and join their online and real-life groups. Go along, meet them personally, and cement your connection.

If you’re working in a company already, boost your connection with colleagues and your boss, and participate in their groups. Build connections with people in your community, as you may get to know someone that works for one of your target companies and they can refer you for a position in the future, beating off any internal candidates.

Get a recruitment agency partner

For lots of companies, doing all the recruitment in-house can be a headache. For lots of individuals, doing the legwork of connecting and chasing new job leads is also a headache. Enter the recruitment agency. Our industry knowledge and experience is what draws both sides to use our services.

As with any other strategy, it’s all about forming good relationships. Ask your consultant if they, or any of their colleagues, have recruited for relevant positions within any of your target companies.

Whoever has a relationship with those companies should be introduced to you – and if you keep in contact and maintain a good rapport, you’ll be put top of the list when those clients come calling for new talent.

Get on the job sites

Although advertising on the job sites gives the widest reach, it’s also a last resort when the better options have been exhausted.

When companies are really up against it to fill positions, they’ll advertise them on job sites hoping to gather enough interest from outside applicants. With a wider pool of applicants comes a spectrum of quality. And with your CV on a job board, you’ll get a variation in the quality of responses.

So, to make sure you’re at the top end of that, and getting quality responses from recruiters, you’ll need to make sure your CV mirrors the roles you’re aiming for.

Because recruiters use search software, be sure to include the relevant jargon and keywords to boost its SEO when recruiters search for relevant applicants when you have uploaded your CV to a jobs website. The more your CV is targeted towards search, the better responses you’ll get.


If you’re looking for a new role, search our latest jobs or contact us at Intelligent People today. We’d love to hear from you and help you find your next position.

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