It can be awkward when you’re being introduced to someone in a networking capacity as part of your job search. This is also where a lot of job seekers, even executives, miss out on potential opportunities because of how they approach the introduction.

Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes (and chances are you have been in that situation before!).

If you’re in a leadership role at a company and your friend Tom is introducing you via email to his former co-worker, John Doe, how would you feel if John Doe said one of the following to you:

  • “Hi–I can’t wait to hear about what job openings your company has since I really want to work there!”
  • “I’m so happy to get connected with you! My resume is attached. I’m interested in a director role in supply chain management.”

For some recipients, this feels awkward. If the employer doesn’t currently have any relevant openings, that could be the end of the conversation. On the other hand, if there are openings, but the recipient isn’t sure whether John Doe would be the best candidate, her or she might be worried about offending John Doe or offending the mutual contact.

Now what if John Doe simply said he’d be interested in asking you some questions about trends in your industry–10 minutes max? That might feel less intimidating. And then based on the conversation, you might be able to figure out that he actually is an ideal candidate for an opening, and at that point you could invite him to interview for it (or refer him to the hiring manager).

We can think of this as a relationship-building approach.

On the other hand, some executives and managers like the transparency of saying upfront that you’re interested in jobs at their company.

A compromise could be to take a relationship-building approach, while still expressing an interest in the company in a way that’s not aggressive or intimidating.

There’s no right or wrong way, and the way you choose won’t necessarily be the best approach for every person. You’ll have to do what feels right to you in each situation.

Here’s what feels right to me — and what has worked well for many of my clients.

How to navigate networking introductions with grace:

  1. Indicate an interest in chatting with this person and don’t emphasize a job as the objective
  2. Don’t expect too much of their time, and be respectful of their time
  3. Avoid sending your resume (until or unless they ask for it)
  4. Build a relationship before asking for anything; develop a rapport
  5. Talk in person or by phone instead of email (email is OK for arranging a time, though)
  6. Be ready to describe your ideal employer and ideal roles; this will give them a better idea of who they can introduce you to
  7. The other person may offer to help in some way without being asked; if they don’t offer to help in some way, but you developed a good rapport, you could ask if they’d be able to introduce you to someone at a particular company (or companies) of interest, or ask if they know any companies that might be a fit for you based on what you’ve described
  8. You can connect on LinkedIn; and then if they happen to be connected to any people at companies you’re interested in, you’ll be able to see that when you do a search for people who work at the company

For tips #7 and #8 to work, you will need to have a “targeting list” of companies you’re interested in working for. This enables you to have a proactive game plan for your job search instead of just waiting for recruiters to contact you or perusing job boards.

Someone can actually understand how to help you if you say “I’m interested in sales executive roles at CPG companies; who do you know at Nestle, Kraft Heinz, or Kellogg?” versus “I’m open to anything, any industry…let me know if you hear of anything!”

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OK, so you’ve applied for that shiny new job opening… now what? Sit and wait?

What has worked well for other clients of mine is a short, targeted followup, usually via LinkedIn or email. This is assuming that you don’t know someone at the company who’s going to help you out, which is the ideal situation.

Who should you contact?

If it’s a big company with in-house recruiters, I’d go that route and look for the most appropriate recruiter to contact (hint: if the job was posted on LinkedIn, look to see who posted the job on there!).

If it’s a smaller or mid-market company, I’d probably try to figure out who the likely hiring manager (eg., your potential future boss) is. If you’re applying to be the VP of Candlestick Making for North America, is there perhaps a COO you can find on LinkedIn? Or the SVP of Global Candlestick Making?

This does involve guesswork; you’ll have to be comfortable with this being an inexact science. Yes, you might send it to someone who isn’t the actual decision maker; he or she might pass it along to the decision maker, or ignore it.

However, the risk of not reaching out in the first place is that you will be ignored anyway, since research shows you have only ~3% chance of getting an interview by applying online (unless you listed one of their employees as a referral source when you applied or have someone you know at the company advocating for you).

Example of a LinkedIn note to your potential future boss or an internal recruiter:

Hello John,

I just applied for the VP of Candlestick Making position on your website, and just wanted to reach out personally to convey my excitement about the opportunity. I’ve slashed candlestick making costs by 15-22%, streamlined manufacturing processes, and pioneered new candle scents like the best-selling “Rustic Garage.” I would love to talk with you about the value I could bring to Acme Company; I look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,
Jane Doe
[email protected]

Notice how short and concise it is. We’re in the era of short attention spans, so don’t go longer. If you’re sending it on LinkedIn, the recipient can simply click through to your profile to read more about your qualifications. And if their interest is piqued, they’ll go fish out your application from the 150+ other applications in the system.

There’s no guarantee of getting an interview, but at least you’re not just sitting around waiting.

P.S.: If sending by LinkedIn, be sure to include your email address and phone number below your name so they have that handy.

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When I talk to job seekers who have been unemployed for a long time, they often tell me they have been finding advertised job openings online and applying for them as their primary job search strategy–sometimes the only strategy.

Here are three problems I see with that.

1. The job you’re applying for might already be filled or almost filled.

Companies often keep a job posting up after for a while, even after they have a finalist, and sometimes even after the position is filled.

Even if the hiring manager has chosen the finalist, it’s not a done deal until the finalist accepts the offer, the employer does a background check and employment verification, and the employee starts work. This process can take weeks, and the employer may keep the job posted as a sort of “insurance policy” in case things don’t work out with the finalist.

Also, some recruiting firms and employers like to get their money’s worth out of paid job postings and continue collecting resumes for their database for the full 30 days or 60 days included in the fee they paid to the job board–even if they filled the job in the first two weeks.

2. The job might be spoken for before they’ve even posted it.

Hiring managers (eg., department/division heads) sometimes know from the start who they want to hire for a job (perhaps a networking contact, former colleague, or enterprising job seeker who cold called them effectively).

However, many companies have requirements that all jobs need to be posted no matter what. So you apply, but you never really have a chance–and there’s no way to know that. Even HR doesn’t know sometimes!

3. The competition for the job will probably be fierce.

Even though the job description might seem like it was written just for you, there could be 150 other people reading that job description thinking the same thing. Advertised job postings on the internet attract hundreds of candidates.

Despite the media’s constant crowing in 2019 about the “tight labor market,” there is still plenty of competition for desirable, high-paid leadership roles. If you want an entry-level job, you’re in luck. If you’re pursuing a manager, director, or executive role, expect competition.

I’ve had many clients get selected for interviews out of large applicant pools, so it is possible to make the cut with a strong resume and recent, relevant experience for the role. But clearly the odds aren’t in your favor when you have hundreds of competitors.

The bottom line

There’s nothing wrong with applying for advertised openings. DO apply for the ones that are a good fit. But the reasons above should compel you to not rely on advertised openings as your primary job search strategy. You have the best chance of getting results quickly if you use multiple methods for job searching, particularly leveraging relationships.

When you incorporate networking and introduction strategies, you move your job search out of reactive mode and into proactive mode.

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How to email a hiring manager

Reaching out directly to a hiring manager when a company isn’t advertising an opening is a great way to network.

You can position yourself as the candidate of choice for the company’s next opening.

Also, if the hiring manager likes you, he can possibly create a job for you; this happens more often than you think!

Note: When I say “hiring manager,” I’m talking about the department head or division head or executive who would be responsible for hiring you.

If you’re a marketing director, this could be the marketing VP or CMO.

I’m not talking about human resources professionals. (Unless you’re in HR yourself.) The folks in HR usually don’t have time to network with random people!

Now, if it’s a company with an in-house corporate recruiter, by all means reach out to whichever in-house recruiter seems to be relevant. But many small and mid-market companies don’t have in-house recruiters.

Find the hiring manager’s name

So, the first step is finding the hiring manager’s name; here are some ideas:

  1. Brainstorm what the hiring manager’s likely title would be. This is usually more difficult in a large, complex Fortune 500 company. You could approach the person who would be your boss, or that person’s boss. You’ll need to think about what level you would likely be in at the company to figure out who your potential boss and boss’s boss would be. If you would be a director, you’d probably, but not always, report to a VP. In a larger company, you might report to a senior director, or in a smaller company, a director will sometimes report to the CEO or another C-level executive.
  2. Once you have a few ideas for possible job titles of the hiring manager and hiring manager’s boss, do a search on LinkedIn or Google. You’d be surprised how often a Google search for the company name and division head’s job title will pull up a web reference to the person–and there you have your name.

Contact the hiring manager via LinkedIn

Once you know his or her name through your research, you can send an InMail on LinkedIn if he/she has a profile on LinkedIn. Yes, you need a paid account to do this. You might be able to get a free upgrade.

Also, if you share a LinkedIn group with the person, you may be able to send a message for free. (Hint: if you don’t share a group, check to see if he belongs to any groups you could join.)

How to find the hiring manager’s email address

If you already know someone at the company (past or current employee) and know the person’s company email address, you’re golden.

Within any given company, all the emails usually follow the same format. So all you need is to find out one person’s email address, and you should be able to find out the hiring manager’s email address.

Here’s an easy way. Do a Google search for the company’s domain name with an “@” in front of it.

Let’s say, for example, that the company’s website is Obviously, the company’s email accounts will all end with So just type the following into Google:

More often than not, you should be able to find someone’s email address in the results that come up. Doesn’t matter whose it is! It will reveal the company’s email scheme.

Based on the results, let’s say you determine that the scheme is [email protected].

If you want to confirm whether the mail box exists, one neat tool is (However, you can easily skip this step.)

Use a web app to look up the info

If you can’t find any evidence of a company’s email scheme through your Google searching and don’t have luck with, here are some other tools that can provide you with access to some emails for free (not everyone on the planet is in their databases, but you can try and see if the person you want is in there).

Emailing the hiring manager: just do it!

At this point, you can just go for it–send the person an email or LinkedIn InMail and see what happens. My preferred method is an InMail, so that the recipient isn’t wondering “How did he get my email address?”

Either way, make sure the message is a brief, concise, and thoughtfully worded cold networking letter.

Yes, it might not be a valid address for any number of reasons, or the person might not be paying attention to his LinkedIn InMails, or maybe the person has left the company and won’t receive it. Who knows. Who cares? Just go for it. You don’t have anything to lose.

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Beware of fake recruiters

Unfortunately, there are always going to be con artists who will try to prey on job seekers who are eager to land their dream jobs–and even the savviest of executives have been hoodwinked by slick, sophisticated recruitment cons.

You’re probably wondering what someone’s motive would be for posing as a recruiter or employer. The motive usually comes down to some sort of theft or fraud, though the exact nature of it varies.

They might want to gather as much information about you as possible so they can steal your identity. Or, maybe they want to gain your trust, then convince you to buy something from a website (which, unbeknownst to you, they’ve set up themselves with the intent of capturing your credit card number and then using it fraudulently). One scam asked job candidates to send an iPhone to them so they could install apps needed for on-the-job training.

Many of us are trusting people, and if someone approaches us with a well-written LinkedIn message or email, it’s natural to believe it.

However, here are some sobering realities:

  • It’s very easy and cheap to set up a professional looking website nowadays. Any con artist can do it with a minimal investment.
  • There are white collar criminals who are smart and articulate. Sounding educated isn’t proof of honesty.
  • Someone can easily create a LinkedIn profile containing untrue information (and LinkedIn contains tons of fake profiles). There are no LinkedIn Fact-Checking Police on patrol, ready to arrest people who put fraudulent credentials on their profiles!

So, when recruiters contact you, how do you know if they’re legitimate? Here are 9 things to look for.

  1. LinkedIn. View the recruiter’s LinkedIn profile. If you can’t find a profile for the person, ask for a link to it. If the person doesn’t have one, or you can’t find it after extensive searching, that’s a huge red flag. Virtually all recruiters today are using LinkedIn. Inspect the profile carefully. It should be detailed and have information about the recruiting work performed. Also look for recommendations. If people have recommended the recruiter, that’s a good sign that it’s probably a legitimate profile. However, be sure to view the profiles of the people who recommended him or her. Do they have recommendations, too, or do their profiles appear to be hastily created? Remember: number of LinkedIn connections isn’t proof of legitimacy. Someone can create a fake profile and pay someone offshore $1/hour to add hundreds of connections.
  2. Email. Is the recruiter using a company email, or a Gmail or Yahoo account? While some recruiters do have personal accounts that they may use sometimes for business, bear in mind that anyone can claim to work for Korn Ferry–and if they’re not emailing from a Korn Ferry email account, how do you know they really work there?
  3. Company research. If the recruiter is with a boutique recruiting firm, do your research on the firm. Visit its website and read the staff bios. You can also use ICANN’s WhoIs lookup tool to find out when the domain was registered, and to whom. Only registered within the past year? I’d want to know more about the firm’s team if it’s that new. If it’s registered to someone different than the listed principals of the firm, that might be worth looking into.
  4. Photographic evidence. Use my favorite trick from the TV show Catfish, and do a reverse image search on for the recruiter’s photo so you can find out if it turns up on any other website. If it’s a stock photo or is on a social media account with a different name, that proves the recruiter is a fake!
  5. Unusual requests. This can include requests to: pay a fee of some sort; fill out a job application; optimize your resume for the employer’s software; provide details such as a driver’s license, social security number, or account login information; a request to mail them something of value; and the list goes on. Remember that employers use recruiters to find top candidates for hard-to-fill positions. A legitimate recruiter wants to make it as easy as possible for these candidates, so why would a recruiter ask you to jump through extra hoops? It doesn’t make sense.
  6. Third-party validation. Look for outside validation of the recruitment firm’s legitimacy. This can include media coverage of the firm and its principals, and participation in professional associations.
  7. Recruiter’s background. If the firm seems new, research the background of the recruiter. Fish around on the web.
  8. Location. Look to see where the firm claims to be located, and where the recruiter claims to be located. Look up the address on Google Maps and Google Earth to see what it looks like. Ask if they work from that city, or from somewhere else. You could ask a question intended to see if they actually know about the city they claim to be in.
  9. Grammar and spelling. Grammatical mistakes and spelling errors are a major red flag. Just bear in mind that some con artists actually do use impeccable grammar and spelling, while some legitimate recruiters make a mistake now and then.

Any single one of the items above wouldn’t necessarily be proof that someone is a con artist. You’ll have to use your best judgment to decide whether there’s a strong enough likelihood of fraud that you’re better off not dealing with this “recruiter.” I don’t recommend confronting or accusing the person; if you’re dealing with a criminal, that could put you in danger.

And remember: When talking to anyone who claims to be a recruiter, find out details about the job and company. Some candidates are so eager to find an opportunity that they provide their resume before finding out any details. You have a right to ask questions first.

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