You found a great job online.
You want to apply.
Trouble is, you don’t want to get lost in the crowd of applicants. You know that many people will have at least your base qualifications, and though your resume is terrific (you got a professional to help you write it), you know that it still might get overlooked.
You need to talk to someone in the organization; someone on the inside who knows you applied and can look out for your materials. Maybe the hiring manager herself!
Except you have looked on the company’s website and can’t seem to figure out whom to contact. You scoured LinkedIn, but with so many titles, you’re lost. The easy first line of connection would be the recruiter who posted the job. But this job doesn’t list one.
What to do…?
It’s a situation I’ve been in many times—and not always because I was looking for a job.
I was a reporter for newspapers and journals for more than 20 years. I had to do a lot of research. A lot of that required finding people to talk with.
When you’re in the journalism profession, you learn fast that you have a deadline, and you have to find the right person to speak with. You have to turn over every stone you can identify.
Here are five great ways you can benefit from my experience to track down an elusive job contact:
1. Start with the clues.
Job postings often are short on distinguishing information. A lot of them sound alike. But quite often, the post will discuss where in the organization a role is “housed.” It might say, “Reports to the Regional Sales Director.” Or it might say the name of the team or division you would be part of.
But you also might already know where to look, because you have worked in the industry for a while.
2. Use all the search tools available.
God, we’re lucky! I can remember working a big story about a guy on the run suspected of murder. He was not in our state. Our news bureau was in a tizzy trying to track down information. We had to use a lot of creativity, including calling reference librarians in other cities asking them to look up addresses and numbers of the guy’s former neighbors (in paper directories) so we could call them.
Now we have Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other tools to help us find people. Use them—especially LinkedIn (because it’s a business platform). Try different combinations of the role-title key words. People have different ways of labeling themselves.
You can also:
- Check the company’s website to see what the chain of command looks like.
- View the company’s YouTube page (if it has one) to see who has been mentioned.
- Google the company to see if it’s mentioned anywhere and who is mentioned.
- Check your local library for access to business publications. Do a search for your target company using the key words that apply to the specific department or its work.
All of this probably will help you make an educated guess.
Oh, and: Call the company and ask! (more about that below…)
3. Ask your network.
Consider people you already know in that industry. You might have met peers at an industry event. Perhaps a former colleague has a connection to that company (maybe they work there!).
Here’s a deeper dive:
Don’t overlook vendors who have done business with your target company. You may already know of most common B2B suppliers or contractors in your industry. Talk to someone who works for one of them. Search your LinkedIn connections for possibilities.
Look at the company website. Company information about customers, suppliers and market partners are often in press releases and investor presentations.
You can also consult a reference librarian in your city for help searching a company’s SEC filings using tools like Edgar Online or LexisNexis. You will finds lots of information in these!
4. Look up people who used to work there but have moved on.
People who are no longer associated with companies often feel much “looser” about discussing their ex-employers. (You might also get inside intel.)
5. Got a name? Look for or guess the email address.
Use LinkedIn to check their contact information.
You can also:
- Read the whole profile! Is the person on a local board? Find that organization’s website. Sometimes, board members are listed along with emails or phone numbers.
You can contact that organization, too. You can always use your interest in the cause and this person’s involvement with it as your reason for that inquiry.
- Visit the company website: Personnel might be listed. Barring that, you can see how the company structures its email addresses for other people (for instance Sue.Smith@acme.org) and use that same structure.
- Google: Check to see if that person has ever given a presentation somewhere. Often, a bio will list the person’s email address.
- Ask: Call the company. If you actually get an operator, say, “Hi. I hope you can help me. I contacted X division the other day to speak with (name of contact or title), and I cannot find their email! Can you tell me what that is? I’d really appreciate it!” You can also say, “I cannot remember their extension! Can you transfer me?”
Here’s another tactic that can work:
Call any department. Ask for the person you’re trying to find. Then you can say, “Oh, I’m terribly sorry! (Because it’s the wrong department.) Can you transfer me/tell me that extension? I’d be grateful!”
Above all, keep trying.
If you persevere you are bound to find someone over your target role or close to it. Speaking from experience, there’s always a way! And it can make a huge difference in the length of time you spend looking for that great new role.