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Contacting the hiring manager directly after online application

  1. Nov 16, 2012 #1


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    I am currently in the midst of job hunting as I am nearing the end of my tenure as a postdoc. I have recently come across an external job posting which greatly interests me, and have applied for the position through the online application process. During which, I was disappointed that there was no opportunity for inclusion of a cover letter explaining how my qualifications would make me a good fit for the position. The resume which was sent was not formatted to be a stand-alone document to highlight the relevant aspects of my research experience and I'm pessimistic that it will garner sufficient interest to merit a follow-up. There is also no method to update my user profile or uploaded resume!

    I do not know who the hiring manager is, nor do I have any contacts within this particular organization (Sandia National Lab @ Albuquerque, fyi). However, a bit of internet sleuthing turns up a likely candidate whom I am debating contacting. On the one hand, I don't want to be over-aggressive or annoying, while on the other hand I want to increase my chances of an interview.

    What would you advise me to do in such a position? If you think I should go forward with cold-contacting the potential(?) hiring manager, how do I ensure that the first-impression doesn't paint me as a nuisance?

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2012 #2
    Tough call. You'll have to determine the possible risk, or lack thereof. The online systems always seem to be designed to screw the applicant, either on purpose or by negligence. I always prefer the direct contact approach. Two stories:

    Story1: I was unemployed once and had an interview. The hiring manager told me I was overqualified, but he was intrigued at my background and would call me in two weeks to discuss how I may fit in the organization. Never called back ("oh, boo hoo hoo poor pitiful me, the hiring manager didn't like me"). After months of freelance work, I worked up my nerve to cold call him back. I discovered he was laid off shortly after my interview. With nothing to lose, I called back and got the company voice mail system. I randomly selected names from the directory until I got a live person. I made my pitch that I was a freelancer looking for work and needed to speak to an engineering authority. After five or six transfers (and repeated pitches) I got the President of the company. He referred me immediately to the Engineering Manager, to whom I made my pitch again. He invited me in the next day and I eventually got contract work from them. Diplomatic persistence pays off.

    Story2: I applied online for a perfect fit job, in fact I had met and hosted the principle for a brief tour of my facilities. No response (again, "oh, boo hoo hoo poor pitiful me, the hiring manager didn't like me"). My wife who is infinitely smarter than I am, told me to re-apply after the job was posted again in 3 weeks. I did. I received a phone call within a couple hours. They told me they were so happy I applied again because the stupid online resume submittal system garbled up my resume and they couldn't get back in touch with me. I got the job.

    Sandia may be a bit more challenging, what with security clearances and all that. If you choose to attempt to bypass "the system" and the typically overly protective Human Resource Weasels, then be sure to have your talking points and "why I'm doing this" story ready to blurt out.
  4. Nov 16, 2012 #3


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    If you're genuinely interested in the job, I would contact anyone who you think may have a say in the hiring. Even a simple phone call to a secretary can sometimes get you directed to the person you want to talk to.

    This is just my opinion, but to me, someone who only submits a resume online and doesn't bother contacting me about a position, is not sending the signal that he or she really wants the job. Of course, I also believe that companies that only allow applicants to apply through an automated process without disclosing any contact info are also not really interested in hiring the best people for the job.
  5. Nov 17, 2012 #4


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    Thanks for your feedback, tygerdawg and Choppy. Neither of you seem to argue strongly against the cold-contact, so the consensus seems to be go for it. Any caveats with regards to the email (i.e., should I write a formal cover letter as the body of the email, or should I keep it as short as possible?)
  6. Nov 17, 2012 #5


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    Don''t waste your time with sending emails unless you are 100% sure you know the right addressee. The quickest way to deal an unsolicited email is delete it without even opening it - then you can truthfully say "I never saw that message" :smile:

    If you want to hustle, get on the phone like the previous two posts said.
  7. Nov 17, 2012 #6


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    I've always been of the opinion that a cold call via phone is a sure way to make a negative first impression. No one likes to be interrupted, or be put on the spot, or take unsolicited phone calls from strangers. If the hiring manager wanted to be called directly, they'd place their contact information in the job solicitation, wouldn't they?
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