A reader writes:
How much effort to connect directly is too much when applying to positions?
I am getting the impression from feedback that supply and demand means employers have to sift through many more applications than they have time to process in any depth. So personal contact / networking and briefer applications may have a better chance of getting through than more detailed applications capable of standing on their own, sent into HR email / online talent management systems’ black holes.
However, I have found results haphazard when doing things like finding/emailing the hiring manager, following up after a week or two, contacting people on LinkedIn to connect, etc. for positions where there is otherwise a strong fit to requirements — in other words, when the application could adequately express my merits.
What are your thoughts on acceptable methods / frequencies and deciding factors to back off or escalate? I have read mixed comments from employers in articles like yours — sustained efforts just annoy some managers, others find the tenacity a selling point.
The extras that you’re talking about make sense when you have connections to the employer, or your connections have connections there. In that case, it makes sense to reach out directly to the person you know there, or to have people you know with connections there reach out directly on your behalf.
But if there’s no personal connection, then you’re generally not going to do yourself much good (and in many cases will just annoy the hiring manager).
Notice that this is a good argument for building those connections before you want to apply for a job somewhere — because if you try to do it after you’ve applied, you will blend into the mass of people who are all trying the same ineffective tactics in order to get their applications noticed.
But assuming you don’t have connections to work with a particular job, then the way you stand out is by being a great candidate: having a resume that shows a strong track record of getting results in the areas that they’re hiring for, writing a compelling cover letter that doesn’t simply regurgitate information they can find on your resume, and being professional, friendly, and responsive when they contact you.
Honestly, very few hiring managers value “tenacity” in the job application process. More often, “tenacity” reads as pushiness. And the hiring managers who do respond to it — and yes, there are some, although they’re in the minority — are precisely the managers you don’t want to work for: They’re the disorganized ones, the ones who don’t value hiring the right person enough to do their job without prompting from a candidate, the ones who respond to gimmicks or flashiness over merit when you’re working for them. Guess what your quality of life is going to be like on that job? You really don’t want to screen for them by your behavior in your job search.
Job seekers need to get rid of this idea that they’re supposed to demonstrate “persistence” or “tenacity” in the job search. I know there are self-appointed “experts” out there telling you that, but the reality is that — unless you’re in sales* — that’s not what good employers are looking for.
It’s time to stick that idea in a time capsule and bury it deep in the ground … possibly along with the “experts” pushing that idea.
* Possibly not in sales either, as you’ll see in the comments.