February 2, 2015
Have you ever looked at a company’s career page on LinkedIn and seen contact information for a recruiter at that company? Did you think it was inappropriate to contact that recruiter because you had never met?
This is a common thought process among entry-level job seekers, but it shouldn’t be. It’s okay to reach out to company hiring managers and recruiters through LinkedIn, even if you’ve never met. A hiring manager from Archer Daniels Midland named Natalie that contributes to jobipedia.org said, "I think it is perfectly acceptable to connect with prospective companies via LinkedIn, that is what it is out there for, and a great way for you to build your network."
Being proactive on LinkedIn will make you stand-out
Hiring managers can receive hundreds, sometimes thousands of resumes for a single position. Being proactive in your job search and connecting with companies that interest you is a great way to stand out against other candidates. Jillian, a hiring manager from DuPont that contributes to jobipedia.org, said, "If you’re going to take the time to search me out and email me your resume, I will look at it."
However, you need to be mindful of whom you are contacting. Make sure to contact the appropriate person by looking at their role within the company. Most will have a qualifier in their title like "Early Career Hiring" or "University Relations" or "On-Campus Recruiter". Be sure not to email someone with a senior title. It’s unlikely they are the right contact for you and this won’t make a good initial impression.
Make a strong first impression
When you reach out to a hiring manager on LinkedIn you’ve never met, make an enticing first impression. Treat the email or inMail like you would a cover letter. Don’t have any spelling or grammar errors as this will cause the hiring manager to disregard you immediately. Be specific, brief and honest. A hiring manager named Rodd from Gap, Inc. that contributes to jobipedia.org said, "When writing to someone, tell them up front why you want to connect -- whether it’s to learn about a job, a company or to reach another connection."
Similar to your resumes and cover letters, the more specific you can be about a particular job opportunity, the better positioned you are to be taken seriously and considered for the role. A hiring manager from Merck, Inc. named Kelly that contributes to jobipedia.org said, "Prove that you are interested in a specific position by knowing about the position and not just sending random requests about any old open position."
Like any initial steps when you network, you are probably going to need to follow-up. Don’t hesitate to follow-up on your outreach, but be sure you don’t bombard the contact with emails. Jonathan, a hiring manager from Avery Dennison that contributes to jobipedia.org, said, "A key component to networking is follow up, however I suggest limiting the number of times you follow up with someone."
Be respectful and understand that the individual you’re contacting has a variety of responsibilities and priorities. So don’t hesitate to follow up after a week. But if you haven’t heard back after a couple follow-ups, you should focus on the other people you’ve contacted.
LinkedIn is a networking website, so use it that way
You should take every advantage of the networking tools built into LinkedIn. Search for a company where you are interested in working. From that landing page, go into the company’s career section. Be sure to "follow" the company’s career page to receive notifications and alerts. These can include job opportunity alerts and invitations to events or career fairs where a company recruiter or hiring manager will be attending. You can also look into the section "People at [Company]". Using this channel on LinkedIn, you can keyword search to identify the appropriate hiring manager or recruiter you should contact about a specific job opportunity.
Reaching out to someone you’ve never met can be, understandably, a little overwhelming. No matter your hesitation, it’s worth the time. You want to make every effort possible to improve your chance of being considered for an available position and invited to interview. And while there are some horror stories about reaching out on LinkedIn, those are likely the exception. If you stay polite, brief, respectful and honest, you shouldn’t be worried about reaching out through LinkedIn.