This week’s Q&A is an excerpt from Fearless Job Hunting, Book 4, Overcome Human Resources Obstacles, $6.95 (PDF, instant download).
In the August 13, 2013 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader wonders when human resources (HR) will call him about his application:
I’ve applied for a job for which I easily meet all the criteria. I even have several “value add” items in my past that make me an extra good candidate. But I have not been invited for even a preliminary interview. They sent me a rejection. Should I just give up, or is it acceptable/advisable to contact the human resources office and essentially say, “I can’t believe you’ve overlooked me!”
The company didn’t turn you down, the screener did. When a human resources person rejects you, it’s like having the gardener tell you not to bother coming around a girl’s house. What does that tell you about whether the girl wants to date you? Nothing.
Now, some of my HR friends will want to slap me for telling you this. After all, many HR representatives put a lot of work into interviews, and they expect their conclusions to be respected. I understand that. But no matter how good HR is at interviews, if you think you need to talk to the manager directly to make your case, it’s your prerogative. You must take action.
I’ve placed candidates whose resumes were buried in the HR department’s files for months. After HR stamped the application NO, the hiring manager paid me tens of thousands of dollars to hire the candidate.
I’ve also had HR departments come running to me after the fact, claiming no headhunting fee was owed “because we already had the candidate’s resume.” Yes, but HR failed to interview and hire the candidate. Because I delivered the candidate and facilitated the hire, the hiring managers always thanked me and paid.
There are risks in doing this. HR will try to cut you off if it learns that you “went around,” and depending on the hiring manager, HR might succeed. That’s HR’s job. So take it with good humor. You can be respectful and still be assertive.
Is another shot at the job worth HR’s ire? I say yes. If you get hired, you’ll have plenty of time to placate HR, and the fact of getting hired is the best argument for HR to accept you.
That said, how do you do this? It’s simple, though not easy.
- You must identify the hiring manager who owns the job.
- You must make contact.
- You must show that you would be a worthy hire.
My suggestion is to triangulate — find two or three people who know the manager personally, and ask them to intercede. Ask them to introduce you, to urge the manager to contact you (“Don’t let this candidate get away!”), and to facilitate a meeting. Having lost a round with HR, you need to win one with somebody the manager trusts.
The more direct approach is to e-mail or call the manager. Be brief. Be ready to discuss ways to improve the manager’s operation. But don’t just ask for an interview or suggest that you should be interviewed. Prove that you are worth meeting. How? That’s up to you. If you can’t figure out how you could make the manager’s department more successful, you should not make the call. (See Fearless Job Hunting, Book Three: Get in The Door (way ahead of your competition). Your presentation must be compelling, because I don’t believe in wasting any manager’s time. If you’re not compelling, then our buddies in HR were right to reject you.
Don’t accept HR’s rejection letter if you think you offer something the manager needs. Go for it! Just be smart and ready.
Wonder what HR would say if you actually did this? On pp. 17-20 of Fearless Job Hunting, Book 4, Overcome Human Resources Obstacles, an HR manager responds to my advice and the fur flies!
Did you ever go around HR after a rejection? What happened? If you’ve never done it, would you try it now?