Should you try to by-pass Human Resources in your Job Search?

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Yes and No.  The Human Resources department exists for a legitimate purpose and when run efficiently, it helps to streamline a lot of personnel related processes including hiring, making it possible for a lot to be accomplished in scheduled time.  On the other hand, if you are one of the many that do not get called back after making multiple applications, then maybe it is time to re-direct your application from  HR to the hiring manager.  While HR has its functions, for many individuals, going through HR may also mean that you will never get that interview.  The following are 3 reasons why it may be a better option to approach the hiring manager directly.

1.       Human Resources department perform pre-screening functions that may leave out qualified candidates

For most positions, the number of responses can sometimes be extremely overwhelming.  It therefore makes good business practice for the HR department to automatically pre-screen resumes that are sent in response to certain jobs. The HR department accomplishes this by entering job-specific questionnaires into the micro-selection software; most of these already exist as part of the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) software which they use to manage the hiring process.  When the HR personnel use good questionnaires, the ATS serves to automatically screen and select candidates as they complete the online application process. However, if the questionnaires do not accurately reflect the job in question, one of two things may occur; 1) the ATS may exclude certain resumes during the selection process, which means that those candidates, no matter how qualified, may never get a chance to interview for the job; or 2) the recruiter may decide to manually screen the candidates, which means that each application will be manually reviewed by the recruiter.  Depending on the number of responses received, it may be impossible to review every single resume resulting in the exclusion of a good number of candidate applications.  A significant number of HR departments are using the ATS more effectively today; however, there remain a considerable percentage of excellent candidates that are lost in the screening process.  Going directly to the hiring manager may mean that your application will actually get looked at.

2.       The hiring manager and the department where the job requisition originates from, are the ones that feel the “pinch” caused by the open position, not the HR department

Although the HR personnel work hard to meet the hiring needs of different departments; depending upon how effectively a particular HR department is at handling job requisitions, how many job-requisitions they are handling and the priority level of the requisitions, a particular job-search may seem to be stalled at various stages during the job-search process, even though it is receiving a good number of applicants.  The department from which the job requisition originates is left meanwhile to cope with open position.  This may mean scheduling and work-load problems as well as not meeting certain objectives for the department.  When you approach the hiring manager directly, they are better able to evaluate your credentials to know if you qualify for the position; and if you do, they can push you through the HR process making it more possible for you to get an interview, and for ultimately for the position to be filled.  This is definitely not to say that HR cannot effectively evaluate your credentials, but since the hiring manager is one with the need, they have a better definition of the candidate that they are looking for.  Going through the hiring manager can definitely speed up the hiring process. 

3. The hiring manager is the “decision maker”. 

Since it is up to the hiring manager to offer employment (even though other executives may also be involved in the decision-making process), getting in front of them up-front may not just mean that you may be included in the search, but it may also save you a lot of time.  This is because, if they determine that you application fits the profile for the candidate they are searching for, this increases your chances of getting hired, whereas if this decision was made by HR, they will still need to run candidates through the hiring manager before final selection.  Further, if you do not fit the profile, you will know almost immediately, that way you can re-focus your efforts on other possible employment. 

It is also important to mention that while HR may be searching for the perfect candidate, the hiring manager is attempting to fill a need.  The hiring manager is therefore less likely to exclude candidates by using certain filters and labels which the HR department is trained to use, such as “over-qualified” “over-educated” “under-experienced” and so on.  The hiring manager is more likely to look at your credentials from a “needs” perspective, and determine if you can offer the services that are needed.  They may even initiate a call to you and pre-screen you before giving you directions on how you should proceed with your job-search.  You most likely will be routed back to HR to make a formal application, but by now you have an inside referral – what could be better than that!

You must bear in mind that getting to the hiring manager may be difficult, and sometimes impossible depending on the industry. Human Resources and Executive assistants exist as gate keepers to protect the hiring manager from getting inundated with unscreened and unsolicited resumes or applications, still a good number of individuals develop creative strategies that help them get through these temporary blocks. You can too!

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