In many companies your main channel of communication will go through human resources. Mainly in smaller companies you might deal with the hiring manager directly. This chapter is more about how to deal with the human resources representative to increase your chances of landing the job offer.
Human resources is usually responsible for finding qualified candidates for the position and to pass on the resumes to the hiring manager. The job of human resources is done when a candidate has been found and the hiring manager wants that person to be hired (after the interview process, of course). So, HR has significant interest in getting people in and interviewed.
Here is the short version of this chapter: Make HR your best friend!
Your back-and-forth communication with the HR representative is as critical as your interview. If you treat the HR representative the wrong way, you are losing an ally inside the company.
Always respond quickly to emails or phone messages that you get from human resources at the hiring company. HR is not only getting you in; they will also bring in your competition. If you can shine here, your competitors might look less appealing. Fast and effective communication with the HR representative can open doors – even if there is some hesitation at other parts of the hiring company.
Here is an example of a situation that I recently ran into. I had applied with a company. The interview process started with a phone screening conducted by the HR rep. The interview/phone screening went well and she booked another phone interview with the hiring manager immediately during the call. Within 60 minutes of the phone screen I had sent my personalized follow-up/thank you email to her. I got a friendly reply from her later that day.
2 business days later I had a 30-minute phone interview with the hiring manager. This case was a bit different from other companies. I usually follow up with the interview partner and send him/her a thank you email within a few hours after the interview. Here it seemed obvious that all communication would have to go through the HR representative.
So, I sent her a nice follow-up email thanking her for making the arrangements for the interview. I briefly reiterated my experience of the interview and (very important) pointed how much I was interested in moving forward. Then I politely asked her to let the hiring manager know that I enjoyed the interview and to let her know about positive experience and that I was thankful for the opportunity to interview that day.
The HR rep sent me a friendly, personalized response. All was good, but I did not hear back for 4 days. On day #4 I emailed the HR rep asking if she would need any additional information from me and that I would be happy to supply whatever they eventually needed. Again, I received a personalized response and a day later I got a call to make arrangements for an in-person interview.
Immediately after the in-person interview, I emailed the HR representative with a follow-up/thank you email and received a friendly response. 3 days later I received a job offer, but it came in below of what I was looking for. The HR representative and I discussed the offer and I countered with something where I would be able to accept the offer. She took my counter-offer and went back to the hiring manager for discussion and review.
A day later she called me back, but their offer still did not meet what I wanted and I explained that I would have to say “No” and decline their offer. We discussed this back and forth on a very friendly level, but I stood firm and the negotiations broke down.
I knew that this was less a problem with HR, but more on the side of the hiring manager. She just did not want to go high enough and that was fine (well, a bit disappointing too) for me. Here is where most people would have given up. I drafted a super-friendly email to the HR rep. I emailed her how much I honored her efforts and that I was very thankful for how she had handled the entire situation from the very beginning to the very end. I gave a quick summary of why I could not accept at the current offer level and how sad I was about not finding common ground. I pointed out that even though we did not meet at the same level, that I had enjoyed the interview and that I was still very excited about the opportunity.
Believe it or not, 3 days later I received another call from them and they made me an offer at the level I had asked for.
While I cannot necessarily prove that my last email helped, it definitely did not hurt. I had not asked for a more money than what I was making at that time and I gave a very solid reason why I could not go below a certain requirement. As long as you can properly explain a certain decision, most people understand. By kind of becoming friends with the HR representative (you know what I mean by saying that) I build up an ally inside the firm. When things hit the wall, having a friend on the inside can be invaluable.
Again, I am trying not to leave anything up to chance. I work the system where I see a fit, and if I can shave off another couple of percent off my competitors and present myself as the better candidate, I do it. Don’t take this the wrong way – I am neither greedy, mean, or have no regrets. I treat people with all the respect they deserve. I am honest, fair, and friendly. I am not cheating my way into an interview, nor do I cheat during an interview. But why should I leave things up to chance if all it takes is a few friendly emails?