Job-hunters have a number of hurdles to surmount, but one of the greatest is this: how do you get a name inside a target company? When you want to send a letter of inquiry to a company (about a job), you really want to find the right person's name, in order to contact him or her. If you can't find the right person, you want to find someone who can put you in touch with the person you seek. Here are ten ways to find a name inside a company you are targeting.
1) Look on the company website, under About Us. There should be Management BIOS section. Either the VP/leader of the function you're interested in (e.g. Marketing or Engineering) or the VP/leader of HR is a great person to call or write to. Both of those people should be listed on the website (although a lot of the time, the head of HR is not shown in the Management Bios, because HR is often a second-class citizen, function-wise, sad to say).
If the company is enormous – say 10,000 employees are more – the very lofty manager whose bio is on the website may be too lofty to do you much good, unless you are interested in an executive position. If that�s true, you need a closer-to-the-action person who will not pitch your resume (hopefully) immediately upon receipt.
2) Use LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com), searching on the target company name, to find people who work there OR who used to work there OR who do business with the company now. Make contact with one of these folks (via a mutual LinkedIn connection) to express your interest in communicating with the correct person at your target company, about a job.
3) Use a WorldWIT email group (like DesertWIT in Nevada or DutchWIT in the Netherlands) to get contacts in a target company. WorldWIT membership is free (sign up for your local chapter at www.worldwit.org – full disclosure, I lead the group) and the members are full of helpful advice and contacts.
4) Use Google to find someone appropriate at the target company. Try a search like Apex+Foods+marketing+director. Try a bunch of different things. You�ll find media profiles, reports of Apex Foods managers speaking at events – a ton of stuff, very likely. It�s actually pretty easy to collect names inside a company. The key is to get the appropriate names, and of course, to contact people who still work for the company.
5) Also use Google�s Blog Search functionality to locate people. Lots of stuff shows up on blogs that wouldn�t make it into typical Google web-search returns.
6) Check out the online archive for the local business paper in the city where the company is located (that is, the location that you�re interested in joining.) Sometimes you have to pay for a subscription to access the archives. If you buy and read the paper frequently anyhow, you might want to go ahead and pay for a subscription, if it will help you get the job you want.
7) Also search the archives at Yahoogroups.com to see any mentions of the company and its key folks, the ones you are seeking contact with, in any of the Yahoogroups discussion lists. Current or recent job postings show up like crazy in Yahoogroups archives, and if they�re current, the person who posted the job opening is almost certainly either the hiring manager (or connected to the hiring manager) or the assigned HR person. The only exception arises when a random (unconnected) employee of your target company posts a current job opening on a Yahoogroup that he or she belongs to, just to be helpful. That�s okay – if you contact this person about your career interest, he or she will understand why you did so (as long as they remember posting that job on Yahoogroups)!
8) Go to the website of the most relevant/logical association for the person you seek (in other words, the association that he or she would most logically be a member of), and search the site of the local chapter. Here�s an example. If you want to reach the PR manager at Apex Foods, and you�re located in Tallahassee, visit the PRSA website, Tallahassee chapter, and look for anyone who�s a member who works at Apex Foods. Most likely it will be someone in PR at Apex!
9) Back on the company�s own website, review what they say (if anything) about Community Involvement and local causes. There won�t be tons of detail on the company�s page – just, most likely, a link to the site of the charitable organization they support. Then go to the website of that charitable organization, and nose around for information (name and title) of representatives from your target company. For instance, if your target company is a big supporter of a kids� toy drive, someone from the company will very likely show up on the toy drive group�s website. Then you can contact that person by phone (I doubt that you�ll find an email address) to ask for help in locating the person most closely related to the kind of career opportunity you seek.
10) Lastly, go to your alma mater�s alumni website, and search the database for a current employee or alum of the company you re targeting. Contact this person, letting him or her know your connection (you went to school at the same place and you both have made contact information available to fellow alums – otherwise, your message would be spam) and ask for his or her help in locating an appropriate person to talk with about your job search, at your schoolmate�s employer.
These tips should get you going on your search for the right individual at your next employer. If you can't get to the exact individual you want, you'll stll be a lot better off than sending a letter into the abyss that is Human Resources. Don't be put off if your research is a little time-consuming: it's worth it! Getting your resume to someone connected to the job opening is about a million times more powerful than sending it into the big mailbox in the sky. Here's to your next interview!
Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of WorldWIT (www.worldwit.org), the world's largest online community for professional women with over 80 chapters in 26 countries. Liz is a 25-year corporate HR leader and workplace expert. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.