A few readers requested more information about how to get in contact with people making the decisions in the companies. Therefore I am writing this article to make sure everybody can profit from the answers and advice.
The importance of getting in contact with decision makers
To get ahead in todays complex world of recruitment, it is crucial to build and leverage relationships and get in front of the right people. This can be very difficult if you don’t know how to do it and where to start.
At the end of the day, as the name says, the decision maker will decide if you get hired or not. Therefore it is important that he or she knows who you are and what you are able to do.
Who are decision makers
I will talk about three different types of decision makers here and separate them into groups.
1. Line Management
This is your potential new boss or bosses boss. Most of the time, this is the person that will make the final decision about the hire. For this reason these people are the most important ones but not the easiest to connect with. Many of them are extremely busy and you need to offer real value to persuade them to talk to you or have an informal meeting with you.
If you are going through the conventional way of applying for a job, this is the first person you need to convince that you are the perfect match – Not just for the position but also for the company. Many of them work with hundreds of candidates every week and are overloaded with work. It takes a lot of great communication skills in your email, cover letter, CV and on the phone to stand out but if you do, chances are good that your CV will end up on the table of the line manager.
3. Project or Program Managers
These people are running and managing the big projects and therefore need resources all the time. Many times, they will allocate people to their projects from within the organization. However, in some cases they will need to hire from outside.
Mostly, when they require full time employees from outside of the organization, the department heads will hire them into their teams.
However at large companies, if they require somebody for a project only for the next 6-24 months, the new project worker will directly be hired by the project or program responsible on a temporary basis. It is always important to know these folks as they make change happen and are up to date on the latest projects.
So these are the three categories I suggest you focus on. If you get in contact with them, sooner or later, they will either have job openings themselves or know somebody that might.
Once you found the people on Xing and LinkedIn, it is time to connect. You could either just send them a request with the generic message, which I don’t recommend, or draft something yourself. It should offer some value already or mention something in common.
Here are some examples of connection requests:
As you and me both work in the Software Deployment area, why don’t we connect for future collaboration.
I have worked with IBM as a System Integrator in my last project. I’d like to connect, maybe we have a possibility to collaborate in the future.
I am sure you can come up with ways to connect. It is very easy to do but should be done in a professional manner because it is the first impression the other person has of you.
In the last few weeks I noticed many people adding me on LinkedIn with the text “Because you are a person I trust, I’d like to add you to my network”. Well, it is somewhat nice to tell me that but why do you trust me? And why does everybody has the same message? Please make them a bit more customized.
It is very important to send an initial message to your new contact to express about what you are looking for and what value you can offer. Here are some ideas:
Thank you for accepting my connection request. In my last project I have been working on XY. If you think some of that knowledge could be beneficial for you please let me know.
Thank you for accepting my connection request. I saw that you used to be the Head of Application Development at XY from 2007 to 2011. In my last position at XYZ I was able to reduce/enhance/tweak/tune/ XY and the impact was…..
If there is anything I can do for you like adding my knowledge to your projects, I would be glad to help.
I have not been very specific in the last message because I am not an IT expert and don’t know enough about the matter to give such detailed examples of technologies or software.
The important message here is this:
Read through the profile of the person you are connecting to with open eyes for details. Note the common ground or similarities you have. This can range from as general as industry or profession to as specific as company or detailed skills.
Once you sorted out these points, draft a message that connects the two of you. I suggest doing either of these two things in the message as drafted above:
1. Provide great value
Offer your knowledge, connections or whatever you would offer in a job when that person employs you.
2. Show your accomplishments
Like in the second example message above, show them what you achieved in your last positions and where you took the lead. This is a great message to communicate because what employers really are looking for are not the skills but the results and accomplishments that the skills lead to.
As mentioned in other articles, most people never follow up. Less than 5% of all people apply follow up but this is not restricted to applications only. When getting in contact with decision makers it is also important to follow up. It is already a small number of people getting in contact with them initially but the number is even smaller when it comes to following up.
I suggest you follow up with a message after 1-4 weeks depending on how comfortable you feel with it.
There are several ways I suggest you do this:
1. Use a current event
If there is an event happening i.e. an IT or Science conference somewhere in your country or anywhere in the world, ask them if they will attend. This is especially effective if you are at the event yourself. If both parties are there, suggest you meet up during or after the conference.
2. How can I help you?
Tell them that you wanted to see how things are going in business and that if there is anything you can do for them, they can always get in contact with you.
3. Use current news
I hope you are reading your industry or your professions news on a regular basis. I don’t mean the weather or sports section, I am taking about high quality news about what is happening in your profession, who are the shakers and movers and what is changing.
If you do, there might be information available that the person you got in contact with could profit from. You will not be sure 100% because you don’t know them other than having their LinkedIn or Xing profile in front of you. But use your best guess and gut feeling to evaluate what information could be interesting.
Let’s take the recruiter at an agency as an example because here I can talk from experience. If a candidate sends me information about a company moving their headquarters from the U.S. to the area I am recruiting for, I want to know that. Chances are I am missing the information because there is so much going on in daily business. If you provide me with such information I will want to return the favor by helping you.
On the other hand if you send me an article that the Facebook stock price is still declining, I won’t really care about that information because it’s out of context.
Become an information hub for others. Provide your network of contacts with information that helps them make their life easier.
The most important thing is to not being scared of getting in contact with them. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen? Then ask yourself what is the best case (i.e. they will employ you in your dream job). The more people you get in contact, the better your chances are you get a response and an informal meeting. Always put the quality of the message before the quantity.
If you have trouble with any details or the process of getting in contact with these people, I can help you with my career consulting services.
Three things to do today:
What can you do to get ahead of the other job seekers today?
1. Search for 10 people to connect with and apply my suggestions above
2. Search for large events in your area that are happening in the next 2 months and sign up for at least one
3. Share this article with your network and spread the word to help your friends