Q. My job search has taken off!
I want to apply for an advertised job in the systems group of Mega-Corp. I know folks in other departments but not this one. Do you have tips to bypass HR and get a job interview from the hiring manager?
A. Success depends on how much nerve you have and how much risk you’d like to take. These strategies carry no guarantees and any job search strategy (including following the rules) can always backfire.
As far as I know, these strategies are completely legal and ethical. If you feel queasy about taking an action, don’t do it.
(1) Call the department and ask for the department head’s name. Usually they’ll just give you the name readily. Some job hunters say, “I’m doing a mailing.” Well, I think you are doing a mailing but you get to sort out the ethics, practicality and reality.
Once you get a name, you can write directly to the department head.
(2) Call the department cold (with or without a name). Ask for info about the position in a calm, confident manner.
(3) Send a copy of your resume and cover letter to HR. But also send copies directly to the hiring manager. I’d say don’t bother to cc anybody: if they don’t like your back door strategy, it won’t matter anyway.
(4) Google the department and (if possible) the name of the hiring manager
to see if you can come up with a connection between you and him (or her). Ideally you will find a mutual acquaintance to perform the introductions.
Or who knows: you may discover a strong common bond based on education, fraternity, previous employment or sports.
(5) Phone, email or visit everyone you know at this company. Get a list of *all* the names for which they’d agree to be a referral source. For example, you call your trusted friend, Janie. She says, “You can call Frank, Hilda and Bob and say Janie sent me.”
Now you set up informational interviews with Frank, Hilda and Bob, using Janie’s name. Casually ask if they know someone in the target
department or if they have general advice about hiring at Mega-Corp..
(6) You may find informal email lists too. For example, here in Seattle we have an email list of women writers – and I see exchanges of info about UW positions.
(7) Attend a meeting of any industry group where the department head will be expected to show up. You may be able to scan a membership list (if you or someone you know is a member) to see if she’s involved. And if he’s a no-show, you’ll use the opportunity to get some deep background on the industry and maybe even MegaCorp’s reputation as an employer.