John Amodeo has been in the business of recruiting IT professionals for nearly two decades, but since losing his job as recruiting manager for BP this summer, the tables have turned for him. While many IT professionals are staring into the black hole of an anonymous online job application process, Amodeo has interviewed in-person with 19 companies in just over a month's time during his job search. He is still looking, but says his success in getting so many interviews is largely due to his focus on finding out who the hiring managers are and reaching out to them before the interview.
With the onslaught of job applicants and the impersonal online application process for IT positions, making that personal contact can be tricky. If you're applying for a job online, you can almost be sure you won't see the name of a hiring manager listed along with the open position. "Most companies don't want to make that information public because they don't want their hiring manager swamped with resumes," says Hal Gueutal, Associate Professor of Management at the University of Albany and co-editor of the book, "The Brave New World of e-HR : Human Resources in the Digital Age."
Here are some tips on finding hiring managers and how best to deal with them before and during the interview.
Do Your Due Diligence
It may not be apparent who the manager behind a job posting is, but there are ways you can go about figuring it out, says Amodeo. First off, take the time to investigate your own network of colleagues and friends. Fortunately for the IT industry, people work hard to stay well-connected online and so it's just a matter of putting in the time and effort to reach out to people you know. Amodeo uses LinkedIn to mine companies for managers' names and titles, working backwards to figure out who might be behind a job posting and then getting those people in his network. When he first started his job search, he sent personalized notes to 450 contacts in his professional network, soliciting advice on where to look for job opportunities and hiring managers.
Professional organizations can also point you in the direction of a hiring manager at a particular company, says Gueutal. Check out their membership lists, solicit advice in chat rooms, and get plugged into specialty groups in your area of expertise, he says. Often, making those virtual connections can lead you to the right person and help you learn more about other people's experiences interviewing for a particular company. Gueutal suggests tapping into resources like faculty from your alma mater, alumni, and former co-workers from previous jobs to see if they know anyone at the particular company you're pursuing. You can be confident that your contacts in the IT world are well-connected. Make use of those connections. "It's all those informal channels that typically work out," says Gueutal. "Personal contacts are still the best thing you can have."
You've Got a Name. Now What?
If you know someone who knows the hiring manager for a job your interested in, be sure to leverage that connection by emailing or touching base with a phone call. But keep in mind that if you've gotten your hands on the name and number of a hiring manager online, you probably aren't the only one. Howard Adamsky, author of the book, "Hiring and Retaining Top IT Professionals/The Guide for Savvy Hiring Managers and Job Hunters Alike" cautions against being overly aggressive when making cold calls. Still, he says, it's always worth it to pick up the phone and let them know you're interested.
Amodeo attributes half his interviews to doing just that. Because there's such a large amount of technology related resources online -- from blogs to forums to user groups -- chances are you can make a personal connection with people by commenting on their blog or reaching out to them about something they've written.
Before You Meet
The real work comes after you've landed an interview. Beyond getting to know the company, take the time to do a thorough Internet search on the person conducting your interview, says Adamsky. Start with their company bio and LinkedIn profile. If they are tech-savvy, chances are there's lots you'll be able to learn about them on the web from articles to twitter streams. If they have written for publications or have a blog, be sure to take the time to read through those sources too. "If you do that for a half an hour, you can get a well-rounded understanding of people," says Adamsky. "It opens up avenues of conversation."
Making the Most of Face-time
The tech-savvy have more in common than just a knowledge base; there's often a remarkable overlap in personal interests too, says Chandlee Bryan, New York-based career coach and former Director of Career Services for Dartmouth College's Thayer School of Engineering. Those similarities in interests can help break the ice in an interview.
Have some conversation starters in mind when it comes to reaching out to and eventually meeting your potential manager face-to-face, says Adamsky. It's not just work-related details but those personal ones that can help. It won't make or break whether you get a job but knowing personal tidbits can help you feel more at ease before and in the interview. "If a person is a Yankees fan, or a METS fan or they collect stamps, I want to know," he says. "It gives you a greater comfort level because it gives you a sense of who you are talking to."
Tapping into your personal and professional IT networks can help you get to know a company and the hiring manager behind a job. Be sure to do your homework before you walk in the door: Research the company and try and find out as much as you can about the person interviewing you. The more you know, the better you can position yourself for the job. "You have to see yourself as the product you are trying to sell," says Adamsky. "We do best when we know who it is we are selling to and can get a feel for where they've been and what they are all about."