Q. I’m being blocked by HR in too many companies and I can’t get in and interview for positions I am qualified for. I have been told by many people not to make enemies with HR, but what else can I do to get my foot in the door?
A. Human Resources’ ultimate goal is to determine who is the most qualified candidate for the role. They may be overwhelmed with the volume of requisitions for open jobs or pay less attention to certain details the role’s hiring manager might have more interest in. They do not have a personal goal of blocking you out, and are too busy to make enemies of job seekers. ,
Many candidates believe they can “do the job;” however, their resume says otherwise. HR is looking for the best, proven candidate with the skillset, not someone who might be capable. So first, be brutally honest with yourself. Does your resume articulate that you have demonstrated the skills to excel in the role? If not, you need to find another path to get your resume and your name and story into the hands of the hiring manager.
If you think your resume and cover letter will get you an interview, you’ll be wrong more than 50 percent of the time. The most effective candidates know that every job search method has to be used. Getting your resume into the applicant tracking system of the company you are interested in working for is a must no matter which additional efforts you will use. This increases your chances of getting interviewed by finding out more about the hiring manager. Where did she or he used to work? Do you have overlapping educational backgrounds? How many and which level of LinkedIn contacts do you share?
Start communicating with these contacts on LinkedIn to gather information. Most people attempt to get introduced right away, but the better understanding you have of the needs of the manager, the qualifications of the successful applicant, and the fit within the organization, the better chance you have to be the person getting the offer. Make sure you understand what the hiring manager needs in the role by getting connected to others who work in the group, or who have worked for the manager previously. If you have strong relationships with these links, meet with them in person, or at least communicate by phone or Skype. Build these relationships so they can be your guide into the organization, and act as your sales team.
Once you have all this information, work the right language, accomplishments, and responsibilities into your resume and cover letter. Only then do you want the two strongest links to pass on your materials to the hiring manager directly. This route is often successful. After meeting with a hiring manager, or if a hiring manager expresses interest in you, most often you will still be sent back to HR. HR wants to see a track record of stability, so they don’t have to fill this role again in a year. They want to know that you’ll fit into the culture and won’t be an employee relations issue in the future, and they are the people to make sure your compensation fits into the right pay band.
Remember, HR is not trying to deprive you of a job; they are simply trying to match the best candidate for the opening they have been asked to fill. Perfect your resume and reach out to internal contacts for help—the best job seeker gets the offer, and when that job seeker has the right skills, it’s a beautiful thing.
-Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner, Keystone Partners