The traditional, or assembly line, way of getting an interview can be characterized as follows: you knock on the front door called Human Resources (yes, the front door), wait for someone to open it, you walk in, and you chat with them for a while. In some cases, it may still be necessary to do this, especially with larger firms, because they don’t want their managers constantly being interrupted by phone calls and emails. Also, you may find that hard to find the manager to begin with at these firms. As a result, you may have to follow the established protocol.
Many firms request that you respond to job postings through email; your resume is evaluated by an applicant tracking system and then by a Human Resources professional, who may or may not forward your resume to a manager, who from there will get around to reading it, who then hopefully responds back.
Are you getting the picture about how dreary that is? That’s really the path many companies want you take and it works if you follow it, but you do have to know a few things going in.
The first question is: how do you make it work for you? Recognize that the assembly line has a flaw, and the flaw is that it’s often manned by the least experienced and least interested person possible in HR. In organizations where this is the case, you’re stuck. You can’t get around this sentry. What you have to do instead is get a resume into their system that will get into their hands that makes it obvious to a six-year-old that you are a qualified person to do this job.
Because that system and that inexperienced disinterested person will be the one who may scan your resume and pass it on to a person who is going to read it, who is going to decide whether or not to hire you. It’s kind of like in the Old West during the Gold Rush days. The prospectors sit by the river, each with a pan. The pan has a filter on it, and they squat there for hours, looking in their pans for gold.
Well, in our modern-day example, the prospectors might not know exactly what a gold nugget will look like, do they? What they’re doing is trying to ensure that the silt goes through the screen and gets to the bottom. Well, it’s the same for this person. They probably can’t recognize gold right away. That’s for the manager to ultimately decide. You just want to ensure that you’re not being filtered into the bottom of the pan where what’s left gets tossed back into the river.
Although you are following protocol, it is advisable to attempt to make contact with the person in charge of making decisions– the hiring manager. You have to think in terms of making them aware of you and your expertise. So yes, I might take the front door in, and at the same time try and get to the back door of the house and try to contact the manager directly. How do you find out who this person is? Here are a few simple tips for doing that.
Number one, and a favorite of recruiters for many years, is to call up the company and speak to a receptionist or switchboard operator and ask them who the manager is. It’s amazing how often you get the information.
For those firms where they’re not so forthcoming or knowledgeable, LinkedIn can provide you with access to information about most of the people within their organization. Remember not to forget about former employees as information sources.
Once you have a name, you can contact that person and say something to the effect of, “I’m up for a job at your firm or the firm you used to work for. Who is the best person to talk to there about this position?”
If you do find who the person is, you can speak more assertively to them about the job than you can to an HR administrative assistant. You can go into more complete detail with them, and you might be able to get them on the phone and speak with them directly.
Then, they can hear your voice and how smart and capable you are and will be more willing to meet with you. That being said, you have to know yourself and your abilities; some people really shouldn’t be making the phone call, because their oral communication may not be strong enough to do it.
Nevertheless, you can schmooze and network with these managers to get your interview. If you are capable of delivering your message, then, when schmoozing, you call the manager in charge and say, “Hi, my name is (your name) and I understand you’re trying to hire (blank). Can I take two minutes of your time now, or is there a point later in the day that would be good, to speak with you about my background? Your job description is what I do.” Do you think their interest might get peaked by that?
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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