Secrets of the Job Hunt


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How to Approach HR

Approaching an HR manager out of the blue about a job you heard about can be a tricky thing. I recently surveyed some Human Resource folks about this very tactic. I think you'll find their answers interesting and insightful.

Steve Goldmintz wrote

"As a candidate approaching an HR Manager, you have to be what they want, when they want it."

Samantha Matson wrote:

I don't recommend they approach the HR Manager directly. They should apply directly via the company's preferred way of receiving applications or reach out to the appropriate recruiter at the company. If they do contact the HR Manager or anyone else at the company out of the blue they could be hurting their chances of getting hired. Also, the person(s) applying should read the job description VERY carefully to ensure they are actually qualified.

Sheilah Etheridge wrote:

They need to follow protocol for each company. They may ruin any chances of getting an interview if they try to side step the policy. If a person attempts to find a way around one thing they will often find a way around other more critical issues and that is not the type of person most want to hire.

Marietta C. Baglieri wrote:

Much as hate not thinking "outside the box", I have to agree that contacting HR directly, depending on the situation, can be detrimental to being considered at all .. especially on-line .. most sites specifically state NOT to contact the company or HR directly ..

Now, dependent on the circumstances (ie. the "heard about" statement) .. if they've actually been told about the job by someone who thinks they are a good candidate, dependent on that persons role and connections (inside source), there may be an introduction by that person but that too is something you have to "feel out" carefully .. all situations are different ..

The "best way" to get noticed is to begin with the protocol .. see where it takes you, and then improvise as the situation warrants .. you've heard it before: the fact is, sometimes the bold move gets the position.

Amy Constien-Jones wrote:

Follow the company preferred method of becoming an applicant, but then try to find someone who will endorse you that is inside of the company. Have that person approach HR or hiring manager. If the company is progressive, they will give employee referred candidates preference.

Kelley Olsen wrote:

As an HR Manager I'd say: Don't call me. Don't email me. Don't snail mail me. Come to the door and ask for me. Its the only way to keep me from using the 'delete' button.

I'll know their face. The way they handle me may be make or break. If I come out rushed, then they need to keep it short and quick. If I come out and want to spend some time then they need to be able to get to the point, keep me on point and let me go back to work leaving a good impression.

Greg Buechler wrote:

I think the answer for this one is to get into the STAFFING organization, not Human Resources. As a Recruiter or a potential employee of a compay, I prefer to approach HR with either at 5-iron or a driver depending upon my accuracy on that day. ;-) Unless you are an employee and have a personnel issue, HR is not the right tree to be barking up.

With that said, the BEST way to get into a company is through an employee referral. USE LINKED IN, network, network, network.

Sarah Underwood wrote:

I agree with what others have stated about the importance of reviewing job qualifications/descriptions. The best way to be noticed by the HR manager and/or hiring manager is to be the best qualified candidate for the position. As a job seeker, know the skills and qualifications that you possess and research the positions that will best match those skills. Another thing to keep in mind as an applicant is that there are reasons why a specific company protocol is in place (filling out an online application, etc). Calling repeatedly, filling out multiple applications for the same position, etc do not improve your chances, in most cases, it hinders them.

Russell Wright wrote:

OK, this is what is wrong with the HR systems used in this era of "communications". Kelley is right, many of us will delete candidates who are bold enough to try and make contact. We are so busy protecting ourselves against being approached by someone who wants to get past the electronic hurdles that have been put up to keep the have-nots out.

The best way to get noticed is if you have a knight in shining armor come to your aid. This can be either an insider or a recruiter. Those are the contacts who can take a person or resume directly to the person who is making the hiring decision. Once there it is up to the candidate to make the sale.

I am not thrilled with the manner in which the process has been molded. It leaves a lot of very talented people out of consideration for positions. It puts us in a spot where we are not using our skills of predicting future performance of an individual and counseling our hiring managers to select the best. We should take advantage of our tools not use them to shield ourselves from our duties and the effort it takes to do it right.

Bob Grebe wrote:

Geez - after reading Kelly & Russell's answers, I guess sneaking up from behind with a resume rolled up like a club may be the only acceptable method.


Drew,mba said...

I strongly suspect that most of these "HR professionals" would just prefer not to be bothered - whether out of reticence, laziness, or fear of a lawsuit. It seems from their comments here that they'd just as soon not deal with job seekers at all, curiously.
Standard procedure for most of these companies? They post a job. You spend time on a good cover letter, explaining why you're qualified, along with a cv that matches the posting(this can take a few minutes or a few hours.) They send you an automated e-mail, then, you never ever hear anything again, 99% of the time. In other words, you may as well call them.

Brad Attig said...


Nice article. I threw my thoughts in on my blog,



Anonymous said...

As an Engineer, I hate, hate, hate HR Managers. First their education is very easy to obtain, they try to be a dictator many are too stupid to understand my resume (that includes half brained HEAD HUNTERS). After about 15 years I learned they could care less about that cover letter, they like it better when you put it on a "pretty" professional paper. I never send a cover letter, here is my five page resume, if your smart enough to read it then I will consider working for your company, because someone hired a smart HR manager. Five Pages too much, then that 95000 a year job must have been made for someone without experience or two pages of education. Now that HR person that don't want to be bothered, soon guys like me will get you replaced with a tool that many large companies already use, they scan the resume for targeted words. Hey you lazy guys and gals asked for it! Now you know why Engineers get promoted to Plant managers and not HR managers.

. . . with Len McGrane said...

I was interested in this part of Russel Wright's survey answer: 'Once there it is up to the candidate to make the sale.' That is the bottom line. Regardless of what route the employee used to get into the position, they have to then perform. If HR is going to use its gatekeeping strategy as the easy way to recruit new people (and keep the boss happy, thinking he is getting the best people, when all along HR knows they most innovative and creative candidates are being kept out of the company by the clever recruitment process corporates have developed) then HR will surely have to make sure it has things like a good corporate team building program in place to help those new people fit in fast and perform to the max. I believe almost anyone can do a job given the right experience and background and good training once they start the job.