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Ask The Headhunter: Be Fearless -- Don't Accept HR's Rejection for a Job
Don't be afraid to break through human resources to make contact with a manager -- if you're qualified. Flickr user David Blackwell
In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees -- just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.
Nick Corcodilos: This week's Q&A is an excerpt from my PDF book, "Fearless Job Hunting, Book 4, Overcome Human Resources Obstacles," available on my website.
In a recent column, we dissected a rejection letter received by a reader. Now let's talk about what another reader might do after receiving a rejection notice.
Question: 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"?
Nick Corcodilos: 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; Get past the guard.
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.
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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 and paid me.
There are risks to 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. But don't walk blind on the job hunt because if you do, you'll run into every single HR obstacle.
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 your getting hired would be the best argument for HR to accept you.
That said, how do you do this? It's simple, though not easy.
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. (Don't know where to start triangulating? Try this: "Meet the right people.")
The more direct approach is to email 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. 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.
Did you ever go around HR after a rejection? What happened? If you've never done it, would you try it now?
Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth "how to" PDF books are available on his website: "How to Work With Headhunters...and how to make headhunters work for you," "How Can I Change Careers?", "Keep Your Salary Under Wraps" and "Fearless Job Hunting."
Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!
Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.
This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown -- NewsHour's blog of news and insight.
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