My girlfriend and I went to dinner with an High School friend of hers this weekend.
Since the friend (let’s call her A.S.) is looking for a job, the topic eventually turned to job search and the challenges A.S. is facing.
She had been an HR manager for manufacturing companies but was willing to work in a staff role, so she could spend more time with her family.
A.S. revealed that she’d never had to search for a job in her entire life – she had always been recruited by old bosses, ex co-workers and recruiters. But none of her old bosses or ex co-workers work in this area.
However, her family had connections to a number of companies in the area – These family connections were top executives at a few of the local companies here.
So why hadn’t these top level connections, including CEOs and Senior VPs are some area companies hadn’t been able to get her a job?
A.S. is facing multiple challenges, all at the same time, that are roadblocking her job search, even after her resume had been passed along by executives:
- Recently moved to a new metro area where she doesn’t have a large network.
- Over 40 and facing ageism
- About 25 hours short of a college degree
- Will have to change industries – few manufacturing companies here
- In career transition
So she knew someone at companies that might be able to offer her a job … but was it the right someone?
Let’s think about how contacts inside an employer can help you. There are four basic ways: 1) Information, 2) Introduction to the hiring manager, 3) Introduction to someone who can provide information, 4) Resume pass.
Here’s 5 questions to tell if the person you know at the company is the right person to help:
- Is your contact passing your resume to HR? Unless you are interviewing for a job in HR, you don’t want your contact to pass your resume to HR – If your contact is passing your resume to HR, it’s the wrong contact. It will just end up buried in the ATS. You could do that yourself by sending your resume in response to a job ad. Exception: If you’re like A.S. and looking for an HR job, you’ll want to make sure that your resume goes to the HR hiring manager, rather than to a recruiter or HR rep or straight to the database.
- Does your contact personally know the hiring manager? If your contact doesn’t personally know the hiring manager, they aren’t the right contact. Executives rarely will tell a hiring manger to hire someone – Execs want hiring managers to make hiring decisions on their own. If your contact doesn’t personally know the hiring manager, it’s little different than a stranger passing your information to the hiring manager.
- How close is your contact to the hiring manager? If your contact isn’t close to the hiring manager, then they’re the wrong contact. How can’t be a good source of information about the hiring manager’s priorities and problems, when they aren’t close to the hiring manager? How can your contact offer a credible recommendation if they only know the hiring manager in passing? Hint: If your contact has been to the hiring manager’s house then they are probably close enough to provide decent information and to give you a credible hiring manager recommendation.
- Does your contact work in the same building as the hiring manager? If your contact works in a different town, building, division or subsidiary than the hiring manager, then how will they know what issues the hiring manager is facing? Exception: If your contact is a close friend of the hiring manager, then they’ll have enough credibility with the hiring manager to help by recommending you.
- Is your contact in the same department as the hiring manager? If your contact works in a different department then the hiring manager, then they’re unlikely to know what the hiring manager is trying to accomplish. Again, if your contact is close to the hiring manger, their recommendation may still be worthwhile.
You’ll note that just passing a resume along is the weakest way a company contact can help. The reason why most of your contacts just pass along a resume is because they’re the wrong contacts to either provide information or influence the hiring manager … the two actions you really want.
When sizing up a new company contact that you’ve just met, ask yourself the 5 questions above.
If you your new contact is the wrong contact, who is likely to just do a resume pass, try something different. Instead of the resume pass, ask for an introduction – not to the hiring manager (the wrong contact won’t know the hiring manager, remember?) … but to an information source.
When you eliminate the resume pass, replacing it with an information introduction, you’ll make much greater impact from all your inside company contacts – even the wrong contacts.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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