Watch CBSN Live

Don't let your resume fall into the HR black hole

(MoneyWatch) Dear Evil HR Lady,

I recently applied for my "dream job," if you will. I have been working part-time at an office after being placed by a temp agency after being laid off last year. The good thing is that the office has close affiliations with the organization I applied with.

I REALLY want this job. I don't know if calling HR is a good thing since HR is "evil" and telling them how much I want this. I actually spoke with a man who is a recruiter who did give me feedback on a resume. However, I wasn't bold enough to ask him about the job I applied for.

I have glowing references from managers and supervisors. Plus, I'm employed. I feel like throwing my hands up in the air if I don't get my resume forwarded and saying, "What else do you WANT? What?" Is there a way I can get past the gatekeepers at HR to have them send my resume? I know if it got to a hiring manager I would have a good shot. It's always just getting my resume there.

First of all, drop the "dream job" terminology. Yes, some jobs are better than others, but when people get caught up in the concept of a dream job they fail to see if this job really would work for them. Additionally, lots of dream jobs turn into nightmare jobs -- just because it's a good company doesn't mean the manager is good or the coworkers aren't prone to backstabbing.

Second, you are right -- in order to have a chance of getting the job you need to get past HR and to the manager's desk. Managers make the final decision. That said, you may be a little late, since you've already applied. Now, it's a good thing to follow the procedures in the job listing. If the posting said "submit your resume via this online form" or "email your resume to" and you did that, that is correct. Trying to call HR or find out the recruiter's name will probably not help your cause.

What would help your cause, though, is finding out who the hiring manager is and speaking to that person directly. Staffing departments are often filled with fairly low level HR people who don't truly understand the ins and outs of every department. They work off a job description that is (undoubtedly) poorly written, and if they can't check off all the boxes on your resume, your resume gets trashed. A hiring manager is more likely to be able to see things that don't match exactly but that will work for his department. He may even see something on your resume that he really would like in an employee, but didn't think about before writing the job description.

You currently work for a company that has contact with this dream company. This is where your networking comes into play. Granted, since you currently have a boss, it can be a little more difficult to go to this person and say, "Hey, I want to leave this company and go to my dream company. What can you tell me about the manager for this position?" Now, with some managers, this is a fine discussion to have and may even result in help -- especially since you are currently only part time (and presumably want full-time work). That depends on your relationship with your manager.

But you should ask around and try to make contacts at your target company. If you can find the name and email address of the hiring manager, you can email that person and let him know that you've applied for the job and that you're very excited about this opportunity. Your email should be written much like the cover letter you submitted with your resume. (And you did submit a cover letter, right? If you're unclear on cover letters, Hiring expert Alison Green has extensive help on how to write a quality cover letter.)

What you can't do is start calling HR and telling them you want the job. Once you've applied, they know you want the job. No one applies for jobs because they don't want it, so it's not like your resume is sitting in a pile just waiting for a phone call. And recruiters tend to find phone calls annoying because they have to stop what they are doing, and pull up your information just to have what can be an awkward conversation (Just because you think it's a perfect job for you doesn't mean that they think you are perfect for them.) So if you can't take it any more and want to follow up, send an email.

If you do get invited for an interview, follow headhunter Nick Corcodilo's advice and ask if they can tell you a problem the company or department is facing and explain that you'd like to present your proposed solution in the interview. This will be far more impressive than any answer you could give to "tell me a about yourself" or "tell me about a time where you solved a problem."

 If you don't end up getting this job, you need to change your strategy for your next job hunt. Start talking to people now. Speak with people who are doing what you want to do. Let them know you exist so you'll be first in their minds when a position should open up.

Have a workplace dilemma? Send your questions to

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.