Connecting with Hiring Managers
The least effective way to find a job is to apply for advertised openings, sending your résumé online through a company employment portal or a third-party website. You are just one of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of applicants, and even a standout résumé will have a hard time cutting through the clutter if the number of applications reaches in the triple digits or higher.
To increase your chances of securing an interview, you need to bypass the company’s Human Resources department and get your résumé in the hands of the hiring manager. The hiring manager is the person in the company with the ultimate authority to offer you the job. In a small company, it might be the owner or the individual who reports to the owner. In a larger company, it might be your future direct supervisor or a specific department manager.
There are two ways to get your résumé directly to the hiring manager — by email or by snail mail (postal mail). It used to be effective to fax your résumé to a hiring manager, but that has largely fallen out of favor. In many cases, you should actually email the hiring manager and send your résumé and a customized cover letter to the hiring manager via mail. Although you may be tempted to skip this step, or only send an email, you’re going to get more attention as a candidate if you put in the extra effort and actually mail a hard copy of your résumé and cover letter. Few applicants will go to the trouble to do so, so it can really help you stand out.
Note: Send your résumé and cover letter on a quality paper stock (not just the typical copier paper that’s probably in your printer). Mail them, unfolded, in a plain white or manila 9×12 envelope. Make sure you affix enough postage. (Yes, it may cost you $2 to send your résumé by mail, but it can really help you make a strong first impression.)
Address the cover letter and the envelope to the specific hiring manager for the position. But how do you find out the name of this person, if you don’t know it?
Here are some ideas:
- Use Google. Google the company name, department name, and/or job title. For example, if you’re looking for the name of the person who leads the Fraud department at PayPal, a Google search for “Manager Fraud Department PayPal” can yield some trails to follow. Sometimes you can find the hiring manager’s name in another job posting you find in the Google search results.
- Search LinkedIn. Check to see if the target company has a Company Page. In your LinkedIn account, use the search bar at the top (“Search for people, jobs, companies, and more…”).
Type in the company name:
This yielded several results, including the ability to search for “People who work at PayPal,” “People who used to work for PayPal,” two Company Pages, and two Groups related to PayPal.
We’re going to take a look at the official PayPal Company Page.
On the right side of the page, it identifies there are 11,181 PayPal employees on LinkedIn. Click on the blue “See all” link.
Next, we’re going to try to find a specific department manager — for the Fraud department in Omaha, Nebraska. Click on the “Advanced” link at the top left hand side of the page under the word “Search.”
Use the search criteria to make your selections. In this case, we are looking for the keyword “Fraud,” with the word “Manager” in the job title, at PayPal. In addition, because the job is in Omaha, we have added a local postal code to narrow the results only to likely matches in this geographical area.
While we didn’t find exactly what we were looking for, we did find another possible job title to search. In this case, the top match previously held the position of “Lead Manager, Merchant Fraud” at PayPal.
So if we change our search options (left side, below) to include “Lead Manager, Merchant Fraud” at PayPal, it yields a promising lead. (It’s not an exact match, but he does hiring within the Risk Operations area, as his profile says, “Build, develop, and lead a team of up to 14….”) But we still don’t have a specific name.
Next, we go back to Google, and we’ll enter that exact job title and company to see if we can put a name to the profile.
Sure enough — it comes up with a name. Clicking on the search result shows that it’s the same person.
Even if this specific person isn’t the hiring manager, you’ve identified a specific individual within the company who may be able to help you connect with the hiring manager. You can then see if you have any connections in common with him or her.
- Use Your Network. This strategy can work on its own, or in conjunction with the other techniques listed. Do you know someone who works at your target company? (Again, LinkedIn can be a good way to find this out!). Or do you know someone who knows someone who works there? (A friend-of-a-friend?)
- Check Out the Company Website. The company website can also be an excellent research source for finding a specific individual. This is especially true for smaller companies. Look for an “About Us” page, and also check and see if there is a “News” section, or somewhere on the site where news releases are posted. Key executives — often, those with hiring responsibilities for their area of specialty — are often quoted in news releases about important new hires or new products or services.
- Call the Company. Larger companies will usually have a main operator or switchboard that you can ask for the name and correct spelling of the individual in charge of hiring for [job title]. If you can’t reach a human being during business hours, call back in the early morning or late at night and use the company directory to see if you can be connected to a specific individual’s voice mail.
All of these strategies can help you find a specific name. Once you have the name, you can learn more about the person.
Have a Name and Want to Research the Person?
Look for opportunities to connect with a hiring manager before you send the résumé and cover letter. This will help make your first connection a “warm contact” instead of a “cold contact.”
- Go Back to Google. You’re looking for information that will help you research the person further — for example, social media profiles, blog posts, articles written, company news, and more.
- Check Out the Contact’s Social Media Profiles. Review LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. Look for areas of common interest or background, or people you know in common.
- Search A Specialized Directory. One of these is Data.com Connect — formerly known as Jigsaw. The Free version of the service is extremely limited; however, if you’re only looking for one or two names, that will probably suffice for your needs.
- Call the Company. For larger employers (more than 100 employees), you will also want to call the company to get a specific Mail Stop number or department code to send the résumé and cover letter via mail. This will help ensure your envelope gets to the right person in the right department quickly.
One final note: If you have the hiring manager’s name but not an email address, see if the company has a standard format for email addresses. For example:
Remember, if you want to increase your chances of getting the job you want, you need to stand out. And one of the best ways to do that is to connect with the hiring manager — either after you’ve applied for a position online, or by identifying a company you’d like to work for and sending a targeted résumé and cover letter.