Whether you’re on the hunt for your next dream job or you’ve already applied for it, you might want to network with those who have hiring powers. Managers and directors are usually publicly available, but should you reach out? It’s not as cut and dry as you may think.
Most times, hiring managers and recruiters aren’t interested in connecting with potential candidates, although many will connect after getting hired. But if you still want to reach out, here’s how to do it.
Find the right person
It’s not always easy to find the person who makes hiring decisions, but that should be your first stop.
Read more: How to research for a job interview
“First, job seekers need to make sure it is the hiring manager,” said Andrew Seaman, senior news editor for job searches and careers at LinkedIn. “Sometimes it’s hard to determine who is actually making the hiring decision for open roles.”
You can search through the company’s LinkedIn page and find human resources directors and recruiters. It’s fine to look through profiles even without connecting — it’s a good way to see who does what at the company.
But before you reach out, make sure the timing is right.
Find the right time
You probably shouldn’t do anything if you haven’t applied, applied and haven’t heard back, and in some cases, even if you’ve had the first interview. You have better odds if you have some connections in common rather than how far along you are in the process.
“A job seeker can probably take the leap and connect with a hiring manager on social media if they have mutual connections or know of each other,” he said. “Even then, I would recommend sending a note saying they’re applying for a job and would like to ask the person a few questions.”
Read more: How to make professional connections online
But you shouldn’t wait until a role opens up to start connecting. Seaman said you can do it early on in your career.
“In an ideal world, job seekers should have a list of target companies they want to work for during their careers,” he said. “Then, they can start networking with people — not just hiring managers — at those companies through social media, email or over the phone.”
Find the right platform
If you’ve found the right people you want to connect with, which platform did you find them on?
“Job seekers need to be mindful about where they’re connecting with hiring managers on social media,” Seaman said. “I’d pick a single platform and make it one where they’re presenting their professional self, such as LinkedIn. Not platforms where they’re posting personal items like pictures of their family or vacations.”
Read more: 5 important steps to take as a new hire
If you see lots of personal posts, find a medium that’s a little more in line with the work this person does. If one day you get hired and become work buddies, you may consider sending a friend request to their personal social media accounts.
Find the right message
After you’ve found the right person, right time, and the right place, make sure you’ve written the right message. Steer clear of the auto-complete messages and instead be direct with your intentions. Let them know you’re interested in an opening at the company and want to know more about the role and culture. Here's how.
Use their name, the company, and their role.
Briefly mention why you’re reaching out.
Discuss your work history and how your experience is relevant to the open position.
You can leave the conversation open for a response, but don’t be upset if you don't hear back. Remember that you’re probably one of a few people interested in jobs at the company, and hiring managers hear from many different potential employees. It’s business; not personal.
Read more: How to negotiate your first salary
If you’re skeptical about sending connections, there are other ways you can get noticed, like:
Follow the company. Find the potential company on social media and follow them wherever your professional profiles exist. For instance, you might post professional stories on Twitter or LinkedIn. Use those places to follow the company you’re eyeing.
Reach out to current and former employees. If you’re friends with someone who used to work at the company, find out why they left. Also talk to current employees to find out about salary, benefits, work-life balance, and career trajectory. If you hit it off, they might be able to send personal referrals to hiring managers. Sometimes, it’s about who you know, not what you know.