Most job seekers send their resume to Human Resources. That’s a good start, but they’re likely to receive a couple of hundred resumes. I’m going to tell you how to get your resume in front of the hiring manager – your potential boss, the person who will be deciding who gets hired. You’ll have much less competition!
Let’s say you want to apply to a posted position at XYZ Media. Go ahead and apply to HR as directed, but also send your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager – and maybe even make a follow-up phone call, unless the posting specifically forbids it.
The tricky part is that the posting doesn’t list this person’s name. How can you find him or her? Here are some clever strategies.
- Call the company’s main number, and if you get a live person on the line, ask them in a polite but confident tone, “Can you please tell me the name of the person in charge of ________?” (Fill in the blank with the department you would be working in.) If you get a voicemail system, try step #2.
- A more stealthy tactic is to “accidentally” call the wrong department, apologize, ask for the correct number and go from there.
- See if the job posting states what title the role reports to. That’s an important clue. Proceed to the next step.
- Do an advanced web search. (You can get there by searching for “advanced search”!) Let’s say you want to find the VP of Sales. Fill in the blanks as follows. All these words: “XYZ Media” sales – This exact word or phrase: “vice president” – None of these words: free. (By eliminating the word “free” you eliminate junk sites such as resume distribution services.)
- Do an advanced search on LinkedIn. Type in the hiring manager’s likely title, the name of the company, and any other information you know.
- Search the company’s website. Look for a page called “Who We Are” or similar.
- See if you have any LinkedIn connections who might know the manager’s name.
- Search online business directories such as Standard & Poor’s (“S&P”) or Manta. Directories are usually somewhat out of date, so whatever information you find, try to verify it elsewhere.
- Set up a Google Alert for the job you want using a keyword string such as: Marketing Manager position available XYZ Inc. The job may be circulating on social media. If you find it, see if you can connect with the person who posted it. They may be able to tell you who the hiring manager is.
- In LinkedIn, work on making new connections at your target company. Look for employeees who have positions related to the one you’re interested in, especially people with whom you have something in common, such as a LinkedIn Group (this is a great reason to join groups) or an alma mater. Refer to that in your invitation message. Once connected, build relationship with them over a period of time by commenting on their posts, then suggest having a brief conversation.
Key Point: In the end, if you have a name but you’re not sure it’s the right person, go ahead and send them your resume. If you’re wrong, you haven’t done any harm and there’s a good chance your resume will be forwarded to the right person.
And that’s how to get your resume to the hiring manager. Now, if you really want to stand out, see my infographic on how to follow up with a phone call. This post was originally published in 2019, and has been updated.