In the September 14, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader asks:
I know that a local company has new positions in the works, but I can’t get anyone to talk to me. The personnel office doesn’t return calls and I don’t know how to reach the manager. Is my only alternative to send a resume and hope it is seen by the district manager?
Here’s the short version of my reply. (You’ve got to subscribe to the weekly newsletter to get the whole story!)
No, don’t give up yet. Call the company’s sales department—those calls always get connected. Ask for advice.
Sales reps are usually talkative as long as you don’t waste their time. Be polite and be respectful. Learn all you can, then ask for a referral. “I don’t want to apply for a job until I learn more about the operation. I’d really like to have this kind of discussion with someone who works in the department I’d be applying to. Can you recommend someone—other than the personnel office—who might talk with me? I’d be beholden to you.”
In the newsletter I explain what to say to the manager when you finally make contract. (For detailed advice about how to give managers what they’re looking for, see the section titled Put a Free Sample in Your Resume in the Answer Kit: How Can I Change Careers?) But the main message is to contact people peripheral to the hiring manager to establish direct contact. In other words, to get introduced. Don’t waste your time with the personnel office or with a blind resume.
Never send a blind resume. Make a good contact and get introduced to the manager. Most important: Have something useful to say.
Approaching the hiring manager through the sales department is not a ruse; it’s honest, but it’s also clever. It’s just one legitimate method for sidestepping the HR office to talk to the hiring authority. I’m sure you know other ways to do it.
Got tips? That’s what this edition of the blog is about: Your suggestions and stories about how to get the hiring manager’s attention. Please post them!