"I recently ran into a job posting that specifically asked that candidates not call. My gut tells me that I should call anyway. How else am I supposed to find out more about the job? Then again, by calling I'm showing right from the start I can't follow directions. Thoughts?”
This is a classic dilemma that places the candidate between a rock and a hard place. How can you differentiate yourself if you don’t get more information? But if you call about the job, you’re ignoring a request by the employer.
Should you listen?
Yes - you should listen ... you shouldn’t call about the job. Even if the company hadn’t specifically requested it, you shouldn’t call about the job.
In fact, you should never call to learn more about a job. Why would you want to? The job requirements often change, there could easily be pre-selected candidates for the job, and it might not even be a real job.
Instead, you could do yourself a favor, and instead of calling about the job ... why not call to learn more about the company? To learn more about company's problems, goals, roadblocks, or issues? Why not call to learn more about the hiring manager?
Since the ad is for a specific job, you can respect the employers request and not call about the job. The employer didn’t ask to refrain from calling to network, to learn more about the company, to offer leads or contacts to employees of the company. The ad merely asked that you refrain from calling about the job.
So if you’re not going to ask about the job, what should you ask about?
Find people outside of HR to talk to at the company, going through your contacts, your social networks and alumni databases - or use guerrilla job search tactics (see http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/11/guerrilla-job-search-tactics.html). Ask them about their own job, ask about how the company is responding to goals, industry issues, or to the moves of competitors. Ask questions to get below the surface, asking how each of these issues affects your contact’s department and them personally.
If the company is in cost cutting mode, find out what they are doing to cut costs. Cutting back on new programs, customer service, R & D, technology? Or is the company expanding technology to automate processes and reduce headcount further?
If the company is trying to expand revenues, what are they doing to accomplish this? Are they expanding sales forces, introducing new products, launching a new marketing/advertising campaign, selling into new categories, territories or channels? How will competitors react? How will these sales expansion strategies affect the department you’re trying to work within?
If the company is striving to increase profitability, are they pushing high margin products, playing down (or eliminating) low margin products? Is the company using BI strategies to learn more about customers, in an effort to identify additional needs or likely additional purchases? How will these profitability measures affect the department or hiring manager that you’re trying to reach?
Take the information you’ve gained, and stop looking for a job - instead look for problems that need to be solved ... that you already have great experience in solving (see http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/03/would-you-stop-looking-for-job-already.html).
In using this method, you’ll soon notice that you haven’t asked about the advertised job in any of these questions, so you’re still respecting the request in the ad.
It’s interesting that by respecting the employers ad and not asking about the job, you’re able to learn much more and make your resume even more appealing to a perspective employer.
You didn’t really want to ask about the job, did you?
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