Ask the Headhunter: Why you should tell employers, ‘I don’t fill out job applications’

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 27: A job seeker holds a job application during the San Francisco Hirevent job fair at the Hotel Whitcomb on March 27, 2012 in San Francisco, California. As the national unemployment rate stands at 8.3 percent, job seekers turned out to meet with recruiters at the San Francisco Hirevent job fair where hundreds of jobs were available. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Let your competition play the application game, writes jobs guru Nick Corcodilos. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e 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.


Question: What would you do if you were interested in a position that clearly states:

All applications must include a cover letter stating salary expectation. Any applications submitted without this information will not be considered.

Would you apply? Would you apply but not include salary expectations? Thanks! Keep up the great work!

Let your competition play the application game.

Nick Corcodilos: I’d click out of the job application altogether and use my internet connection to track down people who work at the company and find out who the manager is who needs to fill the job.

Then I’d call the manager — on the phone, no email — and ask a question only the savviest people ask a hiring manager:

When you hire someone to fill this job — what’s the one most important thing you want them to fix, improve, accomplish, do to make your business more successful? Because I never apply for a job unless I know what the manager really needs a new hire to do first and foremost. And if I can’t put together a plan showing how I’d do that, I won’t apply.

(What’s at the heart of this statement? See “What is the single best interview question ever?”)

A smart manager will answer that question immediately — and you will have set yourself apart as the best candidate. Tell the manager you’d be glad to come in to talk, but you’ll send a resume only directly to the manager:

Sorry. I don’t deal with personnel departments. They don’t really understand the work I do, so they can’t judge me. I talk only to managers, and I arrive ready to talk shop. We’ll talk salary only if I can convince you I’d be a profitable hire. If I can’t do that, then you shouldn’t hire me.

Let your competition play the application game, and let the HR folks go diddle those cover letters while you’re interviewing for the job. And if the manager doesn’t understand what you’re talking about, run to the next opportunity, because that company isn’t looking for people who demonstrate initiative. In other words, the company is in trouble. (How can you know what your salary expectation is if you don’t know what the manager needs you to accomplish?)

READ MORE: Job interviewers shouldn’t be asking for your salary. Here’s why

Dear Readers: Do you really think job applications are the way to stand out and to win a job? I know it’s scary to call people and get introduced to managers — but is there a better way? I don’t think so.


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,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

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