This is the exact question I received from one of my personal job search coaching clients this morning. He is currently starting to get in touch with HR people and recruiters for his career transition in Geneva but did not know how to reach out to HR people in his network and others at companies he is interested to work at.
I believe that you may also be interested in an answer and therefore I will go into details in this article.
When you want to reach out to HR people you have to realize that they are working in a different profession than you (except of course if you are working in HR yourself). Therefore you need a different approach than when you reach out to peers or people in the same industry.
Contacting peers is usually easier for most people because they are facing the same issues, talk the same business language and have more interests in common.
I believe reaching out to HR people is not that difficult, you just have to understand a few things to increase your chances of a successful contact.
Your Relationship With HR
If you have the person you want to reach out to in your network already, great. It makes it much easier to introduce yourself as you are already connected and simply get in contact with that person as you have not been communicating for a while.
If you don’t know the person you want to reach out to yet, you need to be a bit more creative.
To successfully connect with HR people in Switzerland, you need to understand a few things about them first.
HR people in recruitment functions today act more and more as gatekeepers to protect the hiring manager from having to interview 100 applicants. Some are merely processing CVs all day long and are completely overworked and overwhelmed with the amount of CVs they have to handle, especially if they are mainly working in a recruitment function.
Of course there are the exceptions and I have met some of them during my career.
Your goal to be successful in reaching out to them is to help them to help you. This means you need to understand their needs and desires and then fulfill them.
The Needs of HR
The job of HR in a recruitment function is to select the best candidate for the job in the most economical manner, especially at large corporations. This means trying to reduce costs, increase automation and implement systems to be more efficient. Because recruitment can not be done by a machine (even though some companies think so and try it), HR still needs to do a lot of manual work.
Your job in the beginning of the process is to make it clear for HR in their own business language why you are the best candidate for the organization. I said for the organization and not for the job because in many cases there is no job available when you reach out to HR.
However, when you can show the HR person why and how you can benefit the organization and communicate it in a way that relates to their needs, you are very close to getting job interviews everywhere.
If you can communicate your values and establish an emotional connection with the HR person, you have made it into the top 1%. In other words, you must communicate your WHY and HOW over your WHAT.
In case you want to make your communication with HR more effective, download the Communication Excellence Workbook here if you did not already do so.
If you are an HR professional yourself, keep communicating in your own business language.
However, if you are working in any other profession, you need to adjust your business jargon. Throwing a bunch of technical expressions or certifications only people in your industry or profession understand, won’t help much when talking to HR. You need to find a way to translate these features into benefits.
YOU vs. Software
Think about why you buy a software. Do you buy it because it has all the functions or do you buy it because it gets the job done and gets results? The more expensive the thing you are purchasing is, the more you buy it because of the benefits and not because of the features.
When you look at the financial statements of an organization, which costs are almost always the highest? It’s the human capital, it’s you. So therefore you should always communicate your benefits over your features.
As always, follow up is the key. I could tell you tons of stories (because I love stories) of people I know and worked with who succeeded only for one reason, because they followed up over and over again.
When you get in contact with an HR person or with anyone during your job search in Switzerland, in most cases there will be no job and there will be no positive answer. I think it already helps a lot to have no expectations and to be aware of this fact.
I believe that when you decide to reach out to somebody once, you have to be willing to reach out to them a second and a third time even if there is no answer.
You can find some great follow up message templates in the Ebook Career Excellence Through Relationships.
Am I Not Annoying or Spamming People?
If you call somebody 15 times a day or send somebody an email every single day without their permission to do so, then yes, you are spamming.
However, if you gently reach out to people every 10 days or so with a phone call or email without creating any obligation for them, it’s not spam. It’s called professional follow up or put simply, one busy professional trying to reach another busy professional.
It’s not so much about the frequency of the contact that is unpleasant for others, it’s about your intention and how you communicate.
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