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Column: Should I reapply for a job if I didn’t even get an interview?

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: Can I reapply for a job if there are vacancies/spots still open after my application has been turned down?

Nick Corcodilos: Of course you can. But why would you want to? Fool me once, fool me twice — you’ve already learned this company chews up applications and spits them out without even talking to the applicant.

Please consider: The hiring manager doesn’t even know you applied and has never seen your resume! A personnel clerk who has no expertise in the work you do (or in the open job) put a big X on your application.

But there’s a smart alternative: Go around Human Resources. Go around the job application form.

Go around the system

The conventional advice on this problem is that if HR has already rejected you, you shouldn’t waste your time. But that’s like running a race and giving up when you hit the first hurdle.

HR doesn’t control the jobs, and don’t let their officious posturing convince you that they do. They control the applications — so don’t go that route! Don’t take no for an answer until you hear it straight from the hiring manager.

Get in the door without an application, and without facing the “job application meat grinder software.” Here are the basic steps for going around the system — though they are not for the meek.

1. Throw out your resume

The average time a manager spends reading a resume is six seconds. It’s not a good way to get in the door. (See “Tear your resume in half.”) Don’t use a resume.

2. Don’t apply for jobs. Find problems to solve

You have millions of competitors applying for millions of jobs, so stop competing with them. Don’t submit job applications. Instead, read the business and industry press. Find a handful of companies that have specific, well-publicized problems. Decide how you can help solve those problems. (If you can’t figure that out, then that company or job is not for you.)

3. Find the managers

HR will tell you you’re not allowed to contact hiring managers directly. That’s the best reason to contact the managers directly. But don’t ask the managers for a job. Talk shop. Explain that you’ve learned about their problem. (See “How to get to the hiring manager.”)

4. Offer a solution

Whether in person, by phone or email (in that order of preference) briefly explain to the manager how you can help solve the problem. Outline your solution in three to five steps. Don’t give all the details — but your summary had better be good.

5. Ask for a 20-minute meeting, not a job interview

“If you’ll spend 20 minutes with me, I’ll show you why I’d be a profitable hire. If I can’t prove it to you in those 20 minutes, I will leave.” Yes, that’s no easy task. But if you can’t show in 20 minutes why you’re worth hiring, then you have no business in that meeting. Of course, you will have to present a more detailed “proof” if the manager is impressed.

Everything else is a waste of time, designed to make busy work for HR that looks like productivity. You can and should apply for a job you believe — and can prove — you can do. But don’t waste your time applying on a form to the HR department.

For more about this approach to landing the job you want, please see “Skip The Resume: Triangulate to get in the door.”

Now get to work, because doing what I suggest is hard work — as hard as that great job you want. So do the work to prove you can do the job.

Dear Readers: I’d like to hear from those who are willing to invest the time and effort to try what I’ve suggested. Any takers?


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 © 2019 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

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