Confessions of a Covert Jobseeker: Why Stalking is Not a Bad Thing
Last time we heard from K, she was hiding from her manager on LinkedIn while she conducted her covert job search. She promised us a tale of how to do the same on Facebook, but has since hit a low point and decided that more drastic measures had to be taken in order to find a new job. We neither condone or recognize K’s methods, but do think of her as a badass.
I am tired of waiting for the magical call that will instantaneously turn my job search into a job offer. I think it’s time to stalk the hiring managers. I’d been searching for weeks and I was beginning to lose heart. The minute I’d see a perfect job pop up in my search alerts on LinkedIn, I’d be the first person to apply. Sometimes I’d get an email inquiry about my experience and qualifications; once I got a screening call from placement agency. But no one yet had invited me for an interview. I was growing desperate so I turned to someone who had more experience on the hiring side of things.
Cameron is a banker with 8 years experience in the financial industry. He started as a teller and worked his way up to manager of a branch. For three years he was in the top 2% for highest sales in the whole company. He was also the youngest employee to receive this honor. He is also my high school best friend.
One Saturday I took an hour to talk to Cameron, not about how to improve my resume or where to find jobs. He was manager of his branch for more than four years so who better than him to tell me about what goes on in the mind of a hiring manager?
At the time, I found a job on LinkedIn that I was really gunning for. I had a mutual contact make a virtual introduction to the Recruiting Manager at this company and I sent him my resume. He told me he’d send it to the Hiring Manager but I hadn’t heard from anyone in more than two weeks. I wanted to ask Cameron what to do at this point because I figured that a phone call would be far too passive.
He proposed something a bit crazy: he suggested I show up and make a personal visit to the office. I’d never done anything like that but he said he was a big fan of this technique. He mentioned that some of his memorable and successful candidates were the ones who’d show up to his branch and made the effort to stand apart from the pile of resumes.
He said, “As a manager, you stare at the pile and wish that the perfect candidate would jump out of the stack and make the job easier.” A visit would transform your candidacy from a name on a piece of paper to a walking, talking, interested candidate. He went on to say, “He who makes the most noise- gets the most attention.” He encouraged me to make that noise.
We formulated a plan to jumpstart my halted candidacy. The goal was to find out the name of the Hiring Manager. I had only been emailing with the Recruiting Manager so I needed him to tell me that name. I wasn’t sure which office the Recruiting Manager was located in. I called the main office where the job posting was located and specifically asked for his direct line and if he was located at the Bay Area office. The gatekeeper/receptionist was an expert and didn’t fall for my innocent request. She ignored it and simply re-directed my call. I got the Recruiting Manager’s voicemail.
I was disheartened and pinged Cameron right away. I didn’t want to leave a message but wanted to get the Recruiting Manager on the line. Cameron said that the Recruiting Manager’s voicemail was a great tool to get a sense of who I was dealing with. I wanted to call again and listen to the voicemail but I didn’t anyone to get suspicious of me, so I tasked my brother to do it.
I asked him to write down verbatim what the voicemail said so I could scrutinize it, but he did something far more ingenious. While he called, he put the call on speakerphone and recorded it on his iPad. Again, the receptionist was not forthcoming with the direct line or his location. But I did at least have the recording of his voicemail. The recording was standard and no phone number was left.
Discouraged I went back to Cameron. He commented, “Gatekeepers have to eat too. Call during lunch hour to see if you get somebody else who’ll tell you that information.”
The next day I called during the twelve o’clock hour and got a very nice young man. I asked politely if said Recruiting Manager was on-site and he confirmed that he worked out of the Dallas office. He however did not give me his direct line. I was left with no choice but to leave a straightforward voicemail, “This is K, please call me at this number…”
I don’t know if he will ever call me back, but this exercise and the string of events that ensued have taught me one thing: you have to be bold and you have to be different. It has drummed up the confidence that sometimes gets lost during the drain and desperation of a job search. You have to make noise to catch attention.