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I've personally used several methods for initial contact to potential employers, including phone, LinkedIn, email, and website contact forms. I've actually gotten work due to making initial contact via phone for a job that was listed publicly. I was told later that it impressed the boss man. It helped express my interest, and set me apart from the field of applicants who most only applied online. I mainly wanted to know if the job was primarily JavaScript, and it was, so I applied.

When applying to employers who do not have specific positions listed, obviously writing cover letters and finagling resumes for companies that might not have matching positions available can be a huge waste of time, so at least in this case it seems like initial contact via less formal methods seems like it would always make sense... I would like anyone to weigh in for reasons that make that not a fair assumption.

BUT, for positions listed, especially when applying heavily, there may be questions a job seeker would like to ask before applying, so as to reduce time spent applying for work that may not be a fit. Is it appropriate to make contact informally before a formal application? I would wonder if employers might get overwhelmed if many applicants do this. I wouldn't want to take myself out of the running right at the outset by annoying an employer with questions about a job opportunity.

  • I was told later that it impressed the boss man. May I ask when, in what industry, and for what size company? – BSMP Jan 21 at 4:58
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    In my experience, your strategy is absolutely excellent! There are many reasons for that. Don't stop doing it. Only stop calling that person if they tell you "I don't have the time to talk to you. Please don't call me again." That may happen, but overall the benefits of that strategy far outweigh any of the potential problems. I am posting this remark as a comment since you seem to be seeking an answer that focuses primarily on the negatives of this strategy. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 21 at 5:30
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    @StephanBranczyk I completely agree with you, and in my view, even if this strategy has any negatives, it is massively outweighed by the benefits. – Sourav Ghosh Jan 21 at 6:10
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Plenty of things are acceptable in this space

I've cold inmailed alumni on LinkedIn, sent out emails, been referred though mutual connections, etc. Cold calls would be less acceptable because a phone call requires an immediate response while a LinkedIn message can be handled at a convenient time, but I also say this as an introvert who hates being disrupted in the middle of deep work. I have friends who are much more open to it and would be impressed by it, so results may vary.

On LinkedIn, I have had a 98% success rate in terms of a favourable response (I can only think of one person who did not reply with answers to my questions). A guy at Microsoft wrote about 500 words of advice for me when requested through a friend.

The fear of overwhelming an employer is really only applicable to the entry level jobs in very desirable fields, but even then, it is only the celebrity employees who are overwhelmed. And even then.... The number of people willing to make cold approaches even when invited is low.

I have my own niche where I am that relative celebrity and even with thousands of people in that particular space, I might get a message from someone once every month asking for advice, guidance, or a connection to someone else. That particular space is also filled with people from cultures where more forward initiation of discussions is acceptable. I have made a bunch of friends from those connections, so am certainly not bothered by them.

Things I have done which have always been well received:

  • Written letters (I write physical letters which I send in the mail because more often than not, I get a very detailed response back).

  • Sent InMails.

  • Sent emails.

  • Asked a friend to make the introductions

Some of it may also depend on your field. I do innovation and software development, areas where people are excited to get to know you (and hire you). Your reception may be a bit more frosty if it is for an accounts payable position simply because that is not as trendy.

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    Want to add that the reverse of your position (though probably for you as well, what with what you do) is also unwelcome: the amount of InMails, phone calls and messages with "are you open for a call" are quite unwelcome. That is, as a developer of a bunch of years and developers being in high demand. I've taken to removing any contact details and leaving the only option being the platform's messaging systems (e.g. InMail on LinkedIn) to avoid spam. Check it once a week for anything good now... – rkeet Jan 21 at 7:36
  • @rkeet oh, recruiters... I'm a bit junior to get a high level of spam, but it is still get something at least once a week. I am more annoyed at the number of them desperate to schedule a call right away and then ghosting. – Matthew Gaiser Jan 21 at 7:58
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TL;DR - Anything that can potentially save time and resource for both the parties in the hiring process, is usually welcome.

To elaborate:

If as an applicant, you are not sure of the job role and responsibilities, it's always better to reach out to the recruiter / point of contact for the job / opening and get clarification, before you submit your application. This is useful for two reasons:

  • You save your time by not going through the process of making an application.
  • The company / recruiters save time by not needing to scan through your application and profile, only to find out it's not a match. Worse case, if somehow the check is not thorough, it may advance to an interview being scheduled and this mismatch might be discovered during the interview, causing more wasted time and resource.

All in all, please ask any questions that can hep you and the organization save the unwanted work. Any half-sensible organization would welcome that approach.

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