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I work in the software/hardware high-tech industry in the US. I have been looking for career opportunities for a few weeks. I was contacted by a recruiter (working for the company) a few weeks back about a position of interest. My first phone interview with the would be hiring manager is scheduled in a couple weeks. In looking at my network on LinkedIn, I found that one of my 1st degree connections (colleague in different company) knows the hiring manager for the position I am interviewing for. I keep hearing on career development websites that "Networking is everything" and "who you know" matters. So my question is to test this adage:

Is it OK for me to ask my LinkedIn connection to drop a few good words about me to the hiring manager? If yes, what would be an appropriate time? Before the first phone interview or after? What other strategies can I use with this connection I have found?

P.S. This is the first time I have found a close connection to the hiring manager, so I want to make sure that I don't miss this opportunity.

  • Isn't that generally about "getting a foot in the door", though? The company has already expressed some interest in you - enough to schedule a phone interview, at least. So you already have that proverbial foot inside the door. I'm not sure how much having a good word put in for you at that point would matter, since at this point they will be trying to evaluate you rather than sifting through a pile of resumes trying to find which ones might be good candidates. – a CVn Mar 28 '13 at 22:28
  • @MichaelKjörling: true, but more persuasion the better..... – Greg McNulty Mar 28 '13 at 22:39
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    Evaluating a person from just an interview, and a phone interview at that, is extremely difficult. Some people are awesome at interviews but suck on the job, while others suck at interviewing but blow people away on the job. Anyways, if an interviewer already has a good recommendation from someone they trust then that could potentially have a huge influence. Do they hire the guy that was good but unknown or the guy who was also good but has a recommendation from someone known? The only thing to be careful of is if the hiring manager isn't impressed by your friend then it could all backfire. – Dunk Mar 28 '13 at 22:49
  • @Dunk: good point, if his friend is not on the bosses good side then to the boss, that is just another person on his bad side..... – Greg McNulty Mar 29 '13 at 0:30
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First, I'd ask your LinkedIn connection how well is the hiring manager known? For example, have their worked together for years or do they play poker a few times a year? Just because there is a connection on LinkedIn, don't assume you know what the relationship is.

Secondly, have you considered asking the connection about the hiring manager to get some information about the person? This could be an opportunity for you to be well prepared going into the interview that is something you didn't mention that I would consider useful here.

Thirdly, assuming that the connection and the hiring manager respect each other, the time to have the words dropped would be after the initial interview, at least that worked for me. In getting my current job, a mutual acquaintance discovered I had interviewed for a position and passed along a good word without my doing anything so at times it can definitely be a good thing. At the same time, don't overlook other ways to utilize this opportunity.

There could be value in having the word dropped before the interview though I'd suggest in this case make sure the LinkedIn connection knows your strengths and what areas are worth mentioning as this could well backfire if the person messes up in passing on a recommendation. For example, if you are developer and the LinkedIn connection goes into detail describing your awesome marketing skills, that could go over poorly. Thus be careful what information is being passed along so that you are being portrayed properly to help get the job.

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    I would strongly recommend the good word prior to the interview. We've hired people in the past based mainly on getting a good recommendation from someone who a team member knew and confirmed that they would be a good fit. And we've not hired for the same reason. It is a far less risky hire to take that route even if the person isn't particularly impressive in the interview. Without the recommendation there are probably some people we ended up hiring that would have not even received serious consideration because they weren't good interviewees. – Dunk Mar 29 '13 at 20:24
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I think it is not necessary to do this, because the idea of creating connections is so that the recruiter has an independent and reliable source of information about who you are as a person and a professional. They will find enough professional and personal referees, so it is more important to maintain good relationships and have a presence rather than getting people to write recommendations and give endorsements at the time of the interview.

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