Too many times, external candidates look at human resources as the enemy. You know, that person tasked to weed out candidates. The truth, actually, is that if you play your cards right human resources contacts can be great advocates.
Here are some tips that will help you network with human resources contacts at target companies.
Your goal: build meaningful relationships with HR professionals that will serve as champions for your job search.
Identify a company, then use Google and LinkedIn to slowly start moving in an ever-closing circle around the human resources contact. Who do you know within your circles that intersect with the circle of the person you are trying to reach? It’s ok to ask your network for introductions or to pass one along to the right contact.
Contact Them Before the Opportunity Opens
Smart career managers know that becoming a known quantity before the need arises is one of the fastest ways to track into a company. People like to hire people that they already know and like. So before a target job opens, if you are already known as a quality candidate to the human resources person, you can rest assured that you’ll have a better chance of making it to an interview.
Did you know that many companies offer incentives to employees who refer candidates to the company? The mindset is that like attracts like, so if the current employee is a top producer, then generally, they are more likely to associate with other top producers.
That alone carries a great deal of weight and gravitas with human resources departments, especially when an employee forwards your information to them with an implicit endorsement. With that kind of introduction, human resources managers are much more inclined to lean favorably in your direction.
Hang Out Where They Hang Out
Many human resources folks are members of professional human resources organizations (Society for Human Resource Management – SHRM) and local chapters. So if the local chapter is hosting a social event, why not sign up to attend as a non-member just to mingle in a low-pressure situation? It’s a great way to connect. Chances are, someone at that event can introduce you socially to the key human resources person at your target company.
Schmoozing requires deft skill in shaping a conversation. But also, be cognizant that you aren’t the only one demanding the time of human resources contacts. So if that little voice in your head starts telling you that you are monopolizing the time of the human resources person, then it’s time to break off the conversation and offer to follow up at different time.
Walking in their shoes is a great way to gain perspective they goes through day in and day out. Human resources is a tough job; it involves handling internal conflict, negotiating salaries, administering benefits, dealing with injuries / hazards, risk mitigation, potential reduction in workforce, and trying to retain and recruit top talent.
So really, in a lot of ways, human resources is a thankless job. Most of the time, human resources managers don’t get a lot of recognition or gratitude. Anything you can do to thank them for their efforts can go a long way to winning them over.
Understand that Human Resources is Only One Piece of the Hiring Puzzle
There are usually several layers of decision-making for each hire. Sometimes, there is a recruiter / headhunter involved, a hiring manager, and even executives. Each of the above approaches in building relationships within the target company should be applied to those layers.
In short, it’s important to find as many inroads as you can to build up your credibility with the organization. Human resources contacts are the perfect place to start.
After all, you never know where your networking efforts might lead.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Pathfinder.
About the Author: Dawn Rasmussen, CMP is President of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, a provider of results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. Dawn is also the official “Get the Job” columnist for One+ Magazine distributed to over 26,000 meeting professionals worldwide and Talentzoo.com, a job resource site for creative and marketing professionals. Dawn is also a career expert on Careerealism.com – a top 10 world-ranked career advice blog. Follow Dawn on Twitter!