One of the most powerful ways to use LinkedIn for job search is to proactively contact managers who could, now or in the future, give you a job. In this post I’ll discuss how to reach out to a hiring manager on LinkedIn, either to express interest in a current opening or to seek an informational interview.
Using LinkedIn to Find the Hiring Manager
What if you don’t know the hiring manager’s name? Here’s how you can figure it out, or make an educated guess. The good news is, if you reach the wrong person there’s a good chance they’ll pass you on to right one.
Use LinkedIn’s advanced search feature:
- In LinkedIn, enter the company name in the search field.
- Once at the company’s LinkedIn page, click All Filters in the row of buttons across the top.
- In the filter, fill in any information that will help you find the manager, such as their location if you know it, and especially the Title field under Keywords. In the Title field, enter a keyword that’s likely to be part of their title, such as “sales” for a sales manager. If the company is large, you may get a very long list of results. Experiment with narrowing it down by refining your search.
- Read through the list, make some educated guesses and prioritize the list according to who is most likely to be your hiring manager.
- Reach out to the top manager on your list as suggested in the rest of this post. (If you’re in a hurry, you might reach out to your top two. But, never spam the whole list—that’s a quick route to becoming known as a pest.)
- Wait a week or so, and if you haven’t heard back, try the next person on the list.
(And of course, you can also search via other resources such as the company website or word of mouth.)
Meanwhile, pursue informational conversations with others in the company (such as people who work in your specialty or something related) who might be able to give you insights into the company culture, hiring practices and so on. These contacts could also help you reach the hiring manager.
Use a spreadsheet, chart, or contact management system like Jibberjobber to track of who you’ve contacted, when, any followup action needed, and the results. Being organized is crucial for an efficient, effective job search.
Channels for Reaching Out to the Hiring Manager
Once you’ve figured out who to approach, here are a couple of ways to communicate with them via LinkedIn.
Messaging via LinkedIn Groups: You can message anyone on LinkedIn–for free–if you have a LinkedIn Group in common.
- In the manager’s profile, look under “Interests” to see what groups they belong to.
- Join one of their groups. (This may involve a delay while you wait for approval, so join more than one for faster results.)
- Once you’re a group member, go to the group’s page. At the top of the righthand column you’ll see a box about the members, and at the bottom of that box there’s a little, inconspicuous “See all” link. Click that and search for the manager by name.
- Click the Message button.
Connection Invitation: If that doesn’t work, go back to LinkedIn and try inviting them to connect. Always include a note. Once they accept your invitation, engage with their posts, if any (by liking, sharing and/or leaving intelligent, positive comments).
If there’s no open position yet, continue building relationship in this way for a while, then ask for an informational meeting.
If there is an opening, follow the instructions below:
Writing a Message to the Hiring Manager after Applying to an Opening
First, go ahead and apply as directed in the job posting. The next day, send a very brief message to the hiring manager (not HR), in which you let them know you have applied, mention a couple of your key selling points, and say you look forward to discussing the job with them at their convenience. (Or make a follow-up phone call instead.)
If you don’t hear back, don’t assume you’re being rejected. They may have simply overlooked your message, or they may prefer not to engage with job seekers who haven’t yet made it past their company’s HR screening process.
Meanwhile, make efforts to connect with other company insiders, who may be able to give you useful insights and referrals. If anyone fails to respond, don’t take it personally, just give yourself a pat on the back for your effort and move on to someone else.
If There Are No Current Openings
The messaging steps listed above can also work for requesting an informational interview with a hiring manager. If you do this and make a good impression, the next time there is an opening you may find yourself interviewing for a job that hasn’t even been posted. That means little or no competition!
Now that you know how to reach out to a hiring manager on LinkedIn, get ready to wow them in your interview.