What do you do with mail addressed to Current Resident or worse yet, letters written to Whom it May Concern? I usually assume that if the sender wasn’t concerned enough to figure out who to address the letter to, I don’t need to concern myself with reading it. A lot of employers feel the same way when they receive cover letters addressed to Hiring Manager, Human Resources, or To Whom it May Concern. While employers try to remain as anonymous as possible in a world where any one job posting can be viewed by tens of thousands of job seekers on the web, you would be amazed by how often you can turn “confidential” job postings into someone to address your cover letter to
Taking a job posting without a contact name or tougher yet, a confidential job posting, and transforming it into an interaction with a real hiring manager can take some detective work. Here are a few quick tricks that will either help you find a name or get you closer to one:
- Job postings on the web like all other web content, tend to appear in multiple places, however, the information may vary slightly from place to place. For example, an employer may reveal more information posting on a page for professionals in a specific field than they might on an all-purpose job board like Monster. Choose a snippet from the job posting, put it in quotation marks and search for it using Google. This will find all of the job postings on the web with that exact phrase. For best results, try to pick an unusual phrase. For example, if the posting mentions a specific type of report in Goldmine, that is going to be more likely to find matching results for that job posting than the phrase, “detail-oriented sales support with a ‘can-do’ attitude.” Sometimes, this will lead you to a version of the posting with the name of the hiring manager or contact.
- Call and ask. Most job postings will plead, “No phone calls, please!” They aren’t just playing hard to get. They really don’t want extra phone calls, but we get what we get, not what we want, right? When you call, try to be ready to ask for the name of the head of the department you plan to work in. If you don’t even know what department the position is in, read on; you need to do more research. Don’t grill the receptionist on the status of the position and don’t demand that she connect you with the hiring manager immediately. Antagonizing the person who answers the phone is not going to get you information any faster and has a good chance of short-circuiting your job search.
- If the company name is provided and you can kind of figure out the department, try searching for the company on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). A company search on LinkedIn will pull-up a list of everyone on LinkedIn who has worked or currently works at that company. Browse through the names and titles and see if anyone there might fit the bill of who you are looking for.
Remember to take the time to address your cover letter to an actual individual. Taking this extra step and doing the research will help you stand-out from other job seekers. It will also help you find out more about your boss-to-be.