By Peggy McKee, PHC Consulting
You should read this terrific article from Ask A Manager: Are online application processes avoidable? A reader who has been frustrated by the black hole of online applications processes asks if the way to go is to contact the hiring manager with some attention-grabbing subject line or graphics in the email. The answer (in the article) is that “it depends.” Some companies are going to want you to go through the process they ask you to go through and will be annoyed if you don’t; and some companies are fine with your bypassing the HR process entirely to get to the hiring manager. (There’s also several terrific comments from job hunters about their experiences both ways–but most are getting their best results by skipping HR.)
The upshot of it is that you are likely to have a better result by contacting the hiring manager directly, especially if you’re transitioning into a new career area (HR’s looking for specific keywords, not transferable skills)…but to be careful of “gimmicks” in your email, which can take a bad turn into obnoxiousness pretty easily. Overall, the best way to go is to grab the attention of the hiring manager is to find a connection to the person or the company and get a recommendation from them. (That’s why your network is so important.)
So what’s your take-away from this for your job search? It’s what I’ve been saying all along–learn to harness the power of LinkedIn to bypass HR and contact the hiring manager directly. And that doesn’t mean you only have to find the name and send your information. Use LinkedIn to build those connections, participate in those conversations, and get your name out there so that when you do contact the hiring manager, it’s not a cold call. Make it easy to be found by having a great LinkedIn profile that showcases you as a desirable hire. LinkedIn is not the only social media you can utilize to get the job, but I think it’s the best one. Be proactive and get results.