Race to the Top: Using Who You Know to Get Hired

By: Lilyanne McClean

Q: I am applying for a job at a large company in Houston. Should I use my personal contacts to try and help me get the job?

A: The short answer is “yes,” but do so carefully and try to use contacts who can really speak to your skills and make it clear you will be an asset to the team. Here are some specifics:

First, be sure to complete the required application, online or otherwise, before bringing your contacts into the process. If someone calls on your behalf before you have covered the basics, it will NOT help your cause.

Second, use the right contact for the job. Your probably have contacts that know different things about you. Choose the contact that can speak to the skill that is a core part of the job you are applying for. It’s not enough for people to say you are a nice person. Your contact has to be able to highlight your professional strengths. A previous employer typically ranks high with prospective employers.

Third, put your contact who already knows the hiring manager at the top of the list. This is the best way to go. If someone is taking a call or receiving an email from someone he or she already knows well, it won’t feel intrusive. Hiring is a very big part of any manager’s job. He or she has to own hiring decisions, and answer for the employee for years to come – so hiring is taken seriously. Also, be sure to tell your contact about the job requirements. Help him or her to help you by sharing with them information you have read or otherwise learned that will be useful. One great sentence in an email that speaks to the core part of the job can go a long way.

A word of caution: don’t overdo it. If you have everyone you know calling the hiring manager or the HR representative, you can wear out your welcome. Let some time pass in between the calls.

Using contacts effectively is important, but so is having a great resume, filling out the application completely, having strong references and doing a great job during the interview. All of these require equal attention. And, personally, I’d say that if you don’t have a personal contact and you have done everything right, you will not be behind.

Lastly, be patient. Hiring talent takes time and nine times out of ten, the slow pace has nothing to do with you. Stay positive and focused on putting your best foot forward.

Lilyanne has worked in corporate America for 25 years and has supported eight CEOs. She wants to answer your career questions – so you can get ahead at work. Email your questions to Lilyanne@racetothetopcareers.com, rttcareers@gmail.com or through your favorite connection to the Houston Forward Times.