short answer Saturday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s short answer Saturday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Contacting companies in the area I’ll be moving to in a year

My husband and I are in the unique position of knowing that we are relocating for his job in one year. I have begun researching companies in my field in the new area and am enthusiastic about all the prospects.

How should I go about communicating with these companies? Is it wise to reach out with an introduction rather than a formal application because it’s so far in advance? Or should I continue monitoring their job postings? In that case, what if a job is posted six months from now and I have to explain that I wouldn’t be able to move for another half of a year?

It depends. If you’re very junior, reaching out to companies now probably isn’t going to do you much good because they’re probably just not going to care that much (although you should still try to start building your network in that area). But if you’re more senior or have a very in-demand skill, it could absolutely be helpful to start making contacts and building relationships now.

2. Asking for a raise when my manager doesn’t have the authority to approve it

I have been working for my employer for three years. I like the company, and for the past 18months I have been doing a managers post but been paid a normal worker’s salary (as per the conditions of the post advert).

For a while, this was fine, but I now need more financial stability and I feel this is the right time to ask as I have completed my probation period, and I frequently receive positive feedback on my work from managers and external agencies. But how can I ask for a raise when it’s not within my manager’s or his manager’s control? I know they would both support me with this. But I the impression these decisions are made by our head office by someone I have hardly ever spoken to. It’s likely I will have to do it via email and I just don’t really know what to say.

You still go through your manager. It’s up to your manager to make a case on your behalf to whoever the decision-maker is above him.

3. Having mutual friends contact a hiring manager on my behalf

I’m interested in a position in which the hiring manager and I have two mutual friends. Is it too much to have both of them contact her on my behalf?

No, that’s fine to do, but make sure that it doesn’t come across like this. You should also apply on your own meanwhile — and then your mutual friends’ recommendations can be a supplement to that.

4. Getting in touch with a company without using their online application system

If I know there’s a specific company I want to work for, is there an appropriate way to get in touch with HR directly through linkedin? I feel that sending my application into their system through the Taleo site will just end up in my application in a black hole of other applications.

HR will just direct you to apply through their normal channels. However, if you can track down the hiring manager in charge of the area you want to work in (because — in case you are someone who doesn’t know this — a hiring manager is different from HR, very different), you can try sending your application directly to them, with a compelling cover letter. (You should still apply the regular way too, though, and you should note in your letter that you did — because you don’t want to look like you don’t follow directions.)

Plus, if you’re set on this company in particular, you should direct a whole bunch of networking efforts to people who work there.

5. Should I reapply for a job after a phone interview gone bad?

I recently submitted my resume to a firm and received a phone call from them since they wanted some additional information. I got nervous and said some things I did not mean, which made it look like I was not that interested in the job and may not be able to work full-time, when in fact I most definitely would work full-time if offered the position. The HR manager said she would send me an email by the end of this week if she wanted to set up an interview. It is Friday and I have not received an email. I want to clarify/redeem myself and therefore want to add my availability and strong interest in my cover letter and hence resubmit my resume. Should I just submit my resume again or should I withdraw the old one and then send the new resume (since I have the option of withdrawing it on their site)?

Don’t resubmit an application; that’s going to seem weird since you’ve already had contact with them about this very job. If anything, send a follow-up email to the HR manager clarifying whatever it is that you want to clarify. But don’t withdraw or resubmit anything.

6. Who do I follow up with when I interviewed with multiple people?

When you have an interview with several people at one company, how do you determine the “person of contact” when following up? I recently had an interview with a partner in the firm and also the events manager, and then I had a second interview with the same partner and a different associate. It’s been two weeks since they said they had planned to make a decision, but I’m not sure which of the three to follow up with. It’s a small place, so there isn’t much of an HR department either. I was contacted for the interview by an executive assistant.

Follow up with the partner, since you’ve talked with him twice and he’s probably the decision-maker. In general, the decision-maker is the one to check in with. If it’s truly unclear (not the case here), then go with the person you had the most rapport with.

7. Why is this offer taking so long?

I’ve been looking to move away from my current company and have interviewed with a multinational for a position that has much better future projections. The whole process was dealt with through a specialist recruiter for the sector I work in (linguistics). I received a verbal offer via the recruiter, which I verbally accepted, subject to seeing the specific terms (mainly bonus structure that the recruiter was unable to give me clear information about). That was two and a half weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been given various excuses as to why the contract (or even a written offer) has not been prepared and sent to me: namely, administrative delay and the HR manager on holiday.

My only point of contact is the recruiter – I have no direct contact with HR at the company. I really don’t know what to make of it. On the one hand, I think that they have no logical reason to be stalling or wavering on their offer; on the other, I just can’t see why they have not been able to send me some kind of document in the last 18 days. Is this normal? Am I being played? It’s starting to put me off the whole idea of the company as I see it as exemplary of how they operate.

Believe it or not, this isn’t that unusual. It takes some large companies a really long time to put together formal offers. And if the HR manager has been on vacation, that could absolutely hold things up. Ask the recruiter for a sense of the likely timeline, and meanwhile, keep up your job search. I don’t say that to alarm you — again, this isn’t that unusual — but just because you should always keep up your job search until you have a formal, written offer that you’ve accepted.

{ 23 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    I’ve been planning to move across the country for the past year. We planned a visit a few months before (this just happened; we still haven’t moved yet). I sent my resume and a cover letter to a couple companies I was interested in, explaining why I was interested in the company and that I’d be relocating there on/around a specific date, why my experience could be a good fit, and to see if they’d be willing to meet with me to discuss future career opportunities. For both companies, I received a call or email within a day or two and both agreed to meet with me. I don’t know if this is great advice yet, because I have no actual job (I don’t think many places who already aren’t hiring would hire for a move that is 3-4 months out), but I made some good contacts in my (very small) industry. I wouldn’t recommend this for just any company or any industry necessarily, but mine is quite small and just having experience in it tends to be an asset.

  2. Kit M.*

    This is only tangentially related to this post — but if a job ad says who that position would report to (e.g. “reports to Director of Stuff”), should I necessarily address my cover letter to that person? Or is there a chance the Director of Stuff is not doing the hiring?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sure, they might not be, but it’s still reasonable to address your letter to them. I can promise you, no one cares who you address your letter to as long as it’s not weirdly out of the realm of possibility.

      1. Kit M.*

        I can promise you, no one cares who you address your letter to as long as it’s not weirdly out of the realm of possibility.

        Bless you!

        1. Kit M.*

          As in, “Bless you for being the voice of reason in an internet full of fear-mongering job hunt advice,” not as in “That sentence sounded like a sneeze.”

  3. Anonymoose*

    Re #7 – I love that you always remind people to keep looking. That is such good advice. After an economic layoff and 4 months of unemployment, I had an employer tell me an offer was imminent. This was a few weeks before Christmas. I was so relieved and excited — but I did not stop with the search.

    January came…and went. February came…and went. Every time I checked in I was apologized to for the delay, reassured that they intended and wanted to hire me, asked for continued patience, and told that they hoped to have an offer ready “in the next week or two.”

    Finally, in March, I was told that the position had been moved to a different manager, who was now going to start from scratch. I was encouraged to resubmit directly to this gentleman, which I did. He never responded, so a couple of weeks later I followed up. He replied with two words: “No interest.”

    It was a pretty devastating conclusion, but not as devastating as it could have been, had I put all of my eggs in that basket and sat idle for weeks — which eventually turned into months — awaiting the promised offer which never materialized.

    1. Jamie*

      That sucks – I’m sorry that happened to you.

      Stuff happens, but there is zero excuse for that.

      1. Anonymoose*

        Ah, this was 4 years ago, and I am glad now in hindsight not to work for a person who would treat someone that way. It was a bullet dodged, IMO. Plus, I love the company – and people – I currently work with. Everything works out.

  4. Karl Sakas*

    #1 (Relocating in a year) — You should also reach out to volunteers on the board of local trade associations in your industry. Board members tend to enjoy networking and meeting new people (and they’ll probably want to recruit you to join the association when you move).

    You can get the inside scoop on the local reputation of the companies you’re enthusiastic about, which can help you better target your outreach now and in the future (including firms to pursue and firms to avoid).

    Not everyone you contact is going to have time or interest in helping, but you might be surprised at how many people do. Good luck!

  5. Chocolate Teapot*

    7. It took nearly 4 months from my initial application to get my current job. Thankfully I did get updates from the recruiter, even if it was only to say that there were no updates, and I kept applying for other things during the same period.

  6. Anonymous*

    This is slightly related to #4…. And I’ve been meaning to ask this question. Not sure if it’s been covered before…

    I recently went on one of those applitrac systems and I’m in the process of applying for a position. In the job announcement it also lists the hiring manager contact info–just in case applitrac is unable to download certain pieces of information .

    My question is when contacting in general by email should the body of email be ‘the cover letter’ so as to not be too redundant or should the cover letter be attached in the file w/ the resume. I usually just send a quick to the point email with a salutation, my interest in x position, and ‘attached you will find my cover letter and resume’ then a closing

    I could be over thinking this stuff…

    1. Sydney*

      If the cover letter is short, the body of the email is fine. If the cover letter is more than a few paragraphs, then attach it.

  7. AA*

    #7 – I was contacted by an inside recruiter at the end of Jan. I had a phone interview with the recruiter immediately and an interview with the HM and 2 managers the next week. I followed up that week with requested work samples. Then nothing. After mentally moving on, they called me (3 wks later) and the recruiter said an offer would come soon. He called at the end of that week to say they wanted to have me meet with one other person, but we would have to wait due to travel. Turned out the HM and I were going to the same conf. so we met there, but I still had to meet the other person. That took 2 more weeks and happened Mar. 20 — after them reaching out cold to me about a month before. I should finally know something next week.

    It takes an insanely long time. I really feel for those of you who are unemployed & going thru this. It cannot move fast enough.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      And then, have you ever been in the position where the interviewers say something like “we need somebody to start straight away”?

      In which case, why all the faffing around and delays? In one case, I was politely explaining the length of my notice period (here it is defined by law based on how long you have been in the job) and got pursed lips as if to say, couldn’t I start sooner?

  8. Gmac*

    I’m the poster of #2. My dad has suggested I mention my personal circumstances have changed.. Now that I’m getting married decisions as to where I work would not just be made by myself they would be made as a couple? Is this a good idea?
    My manager said to email his manager we have a good working relationship so is this ok? I’m still unsure of how to word it.. I have a deep fear of emails as I apparently have a past history of being abrupt!! (Trying to avoid coming across as “just gimme more money yeah?!”) lol

    1. Kat A.*

      + Gmac,
      No. Do not do this. It has nothing to do with whether you deserve or whether they are able to give you a raise. Your personal circumstances don’t matter, it’s whether you earned a raise by the work you do. Also, it comes across as unprofessional.

  9. -X-*

    On #1, even if you don’t contact the companies, begin following them now. Check their websites and job ads often – you you may get a sense of how often new positions open open. Follow them on Twitter, LinkedIn etc.

  10. Rory Trotter*

    Great post, Alison.

    To your fifth point, I agree with you that the candidate definitely won’t want to re-submit here. The best thing to do is to send an e-mail clarifying whatever it was that he/she meant to say in the interview. This can actually go a long way with some recruiters… I’ve given people I’d written off in phone screens a second look after reading a strong e-mail post interview.

    Thanks for sharing, and keep writing.



  11. OP #7*

    Hi, I’m the OP of the last question. Thank you Alison for your advice, and thank you commentators for sharing your experience.

    I think my big mistake was to mentally start packing my bags as soon as I got the verbal offer. Back to the job search I think!

    Will let you all know if/when I finally get the offer.

  12. OP#3*

    Alison, thanks so much for answering my question! I was scared of coming off as too pushy–but I ended up being contacted for an interview after having the mutual friends reach out on my behalf. So it certainly got the intended response. Love the site.

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