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I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for ten million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997, but it took me ages to find my own voice. Now I write for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Stop by and join us: http://www.humanworkplace.com
The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
You can lob resumes and application forms into the Black Hole recruiting portals all day long, and it won’t move your job search forward. If there’s one thing job-seekers know, it’s that trying to get a job through the talent-repelling Applicant Tracking Systems most organizations now employ is a total waste of time.
It’s worse than a waste of time – it wastes your energy. You’re better off putting a stack of paper resumes on the passenger seat of your car and driving down the freeway with the window open. One of the resumes from your stack might fly out the window and land on a hiring manager’s desk. Black Hole recruiting is going the way of the dinosaur, but you can’t wait for the smarter, more human recruiting process to arrive. You need a job now! You have to write to your hiring manager directly.
You’re going to send your hiring manager — the person who may become your next boss – a letter something like a cover letter, but very different in its composition. It’s called a Pain Letter, because it talks about the pain behind the job ad — the thing that’s keeping your hiring manager up at night.
The pain might be unhappy customers. It might be runaway turnover on the staff, or an inventory system that’s so bollixed up no one can tell how much inventory is on the shelves.
If there were no pain, there wouldn’t a job opening. No CFO in his right mind would approve the funds to hire a new staff member unless something was very broken. That’s good news for you!
You’re going to send your Pain Letter straight through the mail to your hiring manager’s desk, avoiding the Black Hole recruiting portal completely. You’re going to send your Pain Letter in the same envelope with and stapled to your Human-Voiced Resume. This means that you’ve got to identify your hiring manager by name, and get his or her street address. The address is easy – it’s the company’s location.
Even if your hiring manager works from home, once you send your Pain Letter and Human-Voiced Resume to the organization’s headquarters or their facility in your town, they’ll route your letter to the correct manager because his or her name will be written front and center on your envelope.
In our research we are able to find the hiring manager’s name about ninety percent of the time. It’s difficult to do when the hiring organization is IBM or some other enormous corporate behemoth where hundreds of people share the same titles. When the organization is even a little bit smaller, it’s fairly easy to find your hiring manager. If you try for a while and can’t find the exact person’s name, go up the organization chart.
Don’t write to the CEO, who has a fearsome administrator ready to throw your carefully-written Pain Letter straight back into the same Black Hole you were trying to avoid. If you can’t find your own hiring manager, write to the head of your function inside your target employer — the CMO, CFO or CTO, for instance.
Here’s how to use LinkedIn to find your hiring manager’s name. Navigate to the Advanced People Search page on LinkedIn. You’ll see a Search bar at the top of most LinkedIn pages. Next to that bar is the word Advanced. Click on that word and it will take you to the Advanced People Search function of LinkedIn.
On the left side of the Advanced People Search page on LinkedIn you’ll see search options including Keyword, First Name, Last Name, and so on. You don’t know your hiring manager’s first name or last name. That’s what we’re trying to find out. You know the company name, so put that into your search, and now start trying job titles.
What will your hiring manager’s title most likely be? If you’re a Purchasing Agent, your hiring manager will be called Materials Manager, Purchasing Manager, Procurement Manager, Supply Chain Manager or Operations Manager. Try all those titles in subsequent searches, and then try the same titles with Director in the place of Manager, and try VP as well if you want to.
Within a half-dozen searches using the employer name and trying out the most likely titles you will find your hiring manager’s name more often than not. If your hiring manager is not a LinkedIn user, don’t fear! We have two more tricks up our sleeve.
Go to the company’s own website and check out their About Us section, looking for Management Bios. If the organization is large enough that your hiring manager isn’t listed on the Management Bios page, his or her manager or boss’s boss will be. That’s the function head we spoke about earlier — the CIO or CHRO, for instance.
You can also search for your hiring manager’s name using Google. Just conduct a Google search using the company name and each of the titles you imagine that your hiring manager might have. Easy peasy! Anything you can do to get your Human-Voiced Resume and Pain Letter to your hiring manager is worth the time and trouble it takes to do it. The worst thing you can do to your resume is to toss it into the Portal of Doom to sit and dissolve into electrons while somebody else gets the job you’re more than qualified for.