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I think I'm an excellent fit for the job I've applied for, but I have reason to fear that my application will simply "get lost in the pile" because of the person who seems to be in charge of the hiring process (let's call him Steve).

And so I am considering reaching out to other employees or perhaps even the founder/boss of the company (it is a small start-up). In particular, I would like to better explain to someone else how and why I would be a valuable addition to the team.

I am wondering if this would be appropriate and how one might go about this.

(By the way, there is only one other employee that I've had any sort of contact with and only through their website's forum and a brief email exchange following our contact on the forum. He seems very intelligent and fast-moving. He also seemed to be impressed by a piece of work I did using their platform -- though of course it could be that he was just being nice/polite. Should I perhaps attempt to speak with this employee?)


To elaborate on my exchanges with Steve: I applied for the job as usual by sending in my CV and a cover letter. It took a month before Steve responded, expressing interest and asking me to tell him more about myself and how I would fit with the company.

I gave an admittedly (very) lengthy reply in a PDF document, but clearly organized in upside-down newspaper fashion. That is, with the most important stuff first and the least important stuff last (so for example, the end of the document contained trivial typos and broken links I had come across on their websites and documents). I fully expected that Steve would read at least the first page or two of my document.

It took another week before Steve responded, saying he'd like to take more time to review what I sent him, but would like to go ahead and schedule an (online) interview for the following week. He asked for my availability and I responded promptly. But it then took another week before Steve responded suggesting a date and time for the interview.

I've finally (just) had this first interview, which lasted about 20 minutes.

For most of the interview, I operated under the assumption that Steve had at least read the first page or two of what I sent him; and that I was simply fleshing out or elaborating on what I had already said in that document. He often seemed confused about what I was talking about and repeatedly asked me to explain myself.

It was only towards the end of the interview that I realized he hadn't spent any time reading my document at all or learning about me or my previous work. This is because near the end of the interview he said, "Oh usually we give some 'homework' to interviewees."

Whereupon I pointed out that, as already mentioned on the first page of my document, I had already taken two days to create two little rudimentary projects on their platform. Then he said, "Oh OK. Then let me take the time to look at them. I'll also speak with the rest of the team."

So it appears that Steve did not even spend 5-10 minutes studying me before the interview. And now he will report to the rest of the team about our interview. I am therefore concerned that he will not correctly convey to the others how and why I will be able to contribute.

I believe that if I can get the ear of some other employees in the company, I will be far better able to explain how I will add to the team. I am thus thinking of contacting others in the company.

One possibility I've thought of is to politely ask Steve if it would be OK if I spoke directly to someone else. But from past experience, it will take at least a week (if ever) before Steve replies to this request. So I don't know if this is the best action for me to take now.


Clarification asked for in comments: Yes this was a position with a title and a detailed job description in their posting. (What was a little strange though was then when Steve first got back to me, he asked me to explain a bit more about what work I've been doing and how I can contribute. He specifically pointed out that this would not necessarily have to be along the lines of the job description they put out. So it seems like they aren't entirely sure what they want, which I guess isn't uncommon for a small start-up.)

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    Doesn't sound like a position they are actively trying to fill, they advertised a vacancy? – Kilisi Aug 11 '18 at 4:04
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    Are you desperate for this particular job? Personally, I would be looking elsewhere. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Aug 11 '18 at 7:16
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    If they wanted you, you would have heard by now. "Reaching out" will just make you seem desperate, and slow to take a hint. – Michael Harvey Aug 11 '18 at 9:25
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I gave an admittedly (very) lengthy reply in a PDF document ... I fully expected that Steve would read at least the first page or two of my document.

First off, this sounds like a mistake. HR people tend to be very busy and often get swamped by applications for open positions. They don't have a lot of time to spend reading each document, so it's very important to be concise in your communications. What I would have done would have been to send him back a 1-pager describing the top 3 things that I think would catch their attention. If those don't work, then it's not likely items 4-11 would do so either. I'm not too surprised that he didn't read your thesis as to why you are a perfect fit for the position.

It took another week before Steve responded, saying he'd like to take more time to review what I sent him, but would like to go ahead and schedule an (online) interview for the following week. He asked for my availability and I responded promptly. But it then took another week before Steve responded suggesting a date and time for the interview.

The recruiting process can often take some time, so it's important to be patient. As was mentioned in the comments, it doesn't sound like this company is in much of a hurry to fill this position, in which case there probably isn't much you can do to hurry them along. My advice is to keep on looking at other opportunities and, if something happens with this one, then great - roll with it.

As far as reaching out to people within the company (or even the owner): this is basically about networking. If you know someone in the company, or you know someone that knows someone, then I don't think it would hurt to contact them. But, if not, then I think you should be cautious about making unsolicited calls/e-mails, especially to the owner. I think, if you start doing that, there is a risk that you will come across as either 'pushy' or 'desperate', neither of which would be in your favor. Again, it seems like this company is not rushing to fill this position and, for all you know, they may be looking at two dozen other candidates who are all qualified. The reason the HR person is there is so that the Boss doesn't have to deal with all that personally.

I think it is different if you have some contacts, as I said. Otherwise, you could look to 'engineer' opportunities to meet the Boss - perhaps if there is a relevant conference nearby that it is likely they will attend, for example. But, otherwise, I think you need to be patient and let the HR guy do his job.

Edit: One other thing to add is that I think it's very important that you don't give anyone in the company the impression that you think the HR person is incompetent. That will only reflect badly on you.

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When my small business was hiring, sometimes I ran the process myself and sometimes I asked someone on my staff to do it because I did not have time. Let's assume for a moment that Steve is genuinely bad at his job. (I don't think he is, but it's not relevant.)

When you go around Steve and contact me directly you're saying:

Hi, I know you decided that Steve should be handling this, but I know better. Even though I don't know your schedule or workload, why you're hiring, or whether you have good candidates already, and even though I have only spoken with Steve for 20 minutes, I reject his ability to be the one who processes my application and I think the head of the whole company should stop what they're doing to read my lengthy PDFs and give me the opportunities I deserve.

That is probably not what you intend to say, but it's what I'll hear. I'm busy. I chose someone to do this. If the person I chose is terrible at this, we'll hire the wrong person or not manage to hire anyone, and I will eventually take that task from Steve and do it myself or delegate to another person. But that's my decision. Not Joe Random Applicant's decision.

There may be a firm out there who admires your initiative and persistence. You probably have little to lose. But at my firm, this would completely torpedo any chance to work with us ever. Just so you know.

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So it appears that Steve did not even spend 5-10 minutes studying me before the interview.

Seems like a lot of time. I am selecting people for technical interviews and do technical interviews. An average application gets 2 minutes for the first decision of cutting CVs out, then maybe 3-5 more if it is interesting. So 10 Minutes of time until the first technical interview seems absolutely right. Everything beyond 400-800 words of continuous text will not be read. Trying to impress by writing novels about your life may have left a bad impression with Steve.

Contacting other employees could leave an even worse impression, but that depends on the company culture.

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