By Joyce Lain Kennedy

DEAR JOYCE: In response to online job postings and print ads, I usually send a cover letter and resume to the directed recipient, which I assume is a headhunter or a recruiter in the employer's HR department. I am an experienced project manager. A professional friend suggests I skip this step and instead go directly to the hiring manager who will make the hiring decision, assuming I can get the manager's name and contact information. What do your best expert sources say on this question? -- F.T.

It's complicated. But CEO John Lucht is the smartest man in the job-hunt room on the "go direct or not" issue. Here's the essence of Lucht's opinion.


If you go direct, you bypass the obstacle course of being processed by the HR personnel who screen your resume. If your resume looks like a match for the open position, a recruiter will interview you by phone and, if that goes well, interview you face-to-face. And if that also goes well, the recruiter will endorse you and pass you on to the decision maker. Maybe.

The process often stalls in a crowded marketplace. Job postings and ads bring in hundreds or even thousands of replies. Of those, dozens or even hundreds of candidates present exactly the right experience. With so many highly qualified candidates, almost all of them will never be presented to the decision maker, even when they fit the specs perfectly.


If you go direct, bypassing the HR screening process, you risk offending HR staff by deliberately undermining their authority. You want to snatch your resume out of the pile to get the attention you deserve, but you don't want to make enemies in HR who may later be involved in your evaluation and hiring.

Solution One.

A member chose this approach: "The ad named the company and directed replies to HR, which I did. Then I used the company's public info to identify the hiring executive and decoded their e-mail address system (check out press releases). About a week later, I sent the hiring exec a direct e-mail. It said, 'Just wanted to be sure you got this,' and mentioned my very specific same-industry experience. I attached the letter and resume I'd sent to HR." Outcome: "I got a response and an interview appointment the same day."

Solution Two.

Avoid affronting HR staff, but seize on the knowledge that the job exists. Instead of e-mail, send postal mail to the decider. The letter says, "Do you need --" and does NOT say, "I understand you have an opening for --." Your timing, of course, is extremely fortunate. The decider may respond to you directly. But even when the decider merely passes on your communication to HR for processing, it will get respectful attention coming from a company manager, and does not reveal your end run.

Read the finer points about the best ways to search for upscale jobs on; annual membership is a bargain at $94.


You suggested that one of the ways to avoid sending your online resume into a cyberspace black hole is to go direct to the hiring manager. You listed several suggestions on how to track down the name of the hiring manager and get his or her e-mail address. I found several hiring managers by using your suggestions, but I still have two prospects I can't identify. Other suggestions? -- M.D.D.

LinkedIn, a social media company with 65 million members, is the leading business networking hub on the globe.

Although free LinkedIn accounts continue, the company recently rolled out a pair of premium accounts that may be of special interest to you: Job Seeker, at $30 per month, and Job Seeker Plus, at $50 per month. Among the useful services offered by both account options is the ability to send "InMails" straight to hiring managers who aren't in your network.

The overnight buzz on these two premium accounts designed for job seekers ranges from "worth every penny" to "wait and see." If you try the premium accounts, let me know your results.

Find details on; click on Jobs, then on Job Seeker Premium.

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