The Rules of Working with a Human Resources Department, with Melissa Anzman

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:   

This is “Find Your Dream Job”, a podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List. Our show is brought to you by Mac’s List and our book “Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond”. To learn more about the book and the updated edition that we’re publishing in February, visit macslist.org/ebook.

Thanks for joining us today. This week on “Find Your Dream Job”, we’re talking about how to work with an employer’s human resources department. You may want a gig with a cool corporation like Nike, Google, or Apple. Perhaps, you’ve targeted a big government agency or a nonprofit or maybe your goal is to land a job with a small employer.

Wherever you’re going, one day you will send your resume to a human resources, or HR, department. Many employers rely on human resources staff to advertise, accept, and screen all job applications. Before you get to see a hiring manager, you may have an interview with someone in human resources. Should you try to go around the human resources office and talk to a hiring manager directly? What do you do if the HR people never call you back?

This week, we’ll talk about these and other questions with longtime human resources insider, Melissa Anzman. She’ll share her secrets for what you need to do when working with an HR department, but first, let’s start as we do every week by checking in with the Mac’s List team, Ben Forstag and Cecilia Bianco. How are you two doing this week?

Ben Forstag:      

I’m doing good, Mac.

Cecilia Bianco: 

Doing really good.

Mac Prichard:

All right. It’s good to see you both. Now, in your careers, have you two applied for jobs through human resources departments? What happened next if you did?

Ben Forstag:      

I remember back before email when sometimes on job listings they would say, “Hand deliver your resume and cover letter to the human resources department.” I remember a really cold winter afternoon in Cleveland, Ohio where I went downtown, went into a big office building to drop off a resume, and I got to the human resources department. No one was there.

The door was open. There was a counter, the lights were on, but no one would respond when I was asking like, “Hello? Anyone here?” I ended up just leaving my resume on the counter and walking out.

Mac Prichard:      

You didn’t write at the top, “One we must interview”?

Ben Forstag:

That would have probably gotten me better results than I got.

Mac Prichard:

Okay.

Ben Forstag:

The results I did get were … No one ever called me back.

Mac Prichard:  

Oh. Well, that sounds like a pretty lonely place.

Ben Forstag:     

Yeah. Maybe it was good that I missed that opportunity.

Mac Prichard:  

Yeah. How about you, Cecilia?

Cecilia Bianco: 

Yeah. I’ve done some online applications to HR departments, but I’ve never really heard back from them and I never get contact back until I’ve tracked down a hiring manager on LinkedIn or however you can find ’em.

Mac Prichard:  

Yeah. I’ve had the most success with hiring managers. As Ben was telling his story, a memory that came to mind was going Downtown before a deadline on a Friday afternoon and dropping off my application. It was at the reception desk. The receptionist had two large boxes and they were filled with dozens of resumes and packets. I never heard back from them, either.

Ben Forstag:  

Was one box labeled “Yes” and the other one labeled “No”?

Mac Prichard:   

No, they were kind enough to wait until the doors were closed to do the sorting. We’ll talk about human resources departments because there are ways you can work with them effectively. Melissa knows how to do that and she’s going to be sharing that with us. First, let’s turn to you, Ben. Every week, you’re sharing with us different resources you’ve found. What have you located this week on the internet?

Ben Forstag:   

Today, we’re going to be talking about the website Glassdoor.com. Now, I know we’ve mentioned this in passing last week, but I think this resource deserves a little bit more attention. We’re going to spend a few minutes just chatting about it. Mac and Cecilia, have you guys ever used Glassdoor.com in your own job search or for some other research purpose?

Cecilia Bianco: 

Yeah. I actually look at it all the time. Sometimes to see what employers are posting on Mac’s List and making sure they’re legitimate. It’s just a great resource overall to find out about your local job market.

Mac Prichard:  

I’ve looked at it too as part of my research to figure out what are good salary ranges for the Portland market. As you know … In addition to Mac’s List, I run a public relations company and I want to make sure that I’m offering the best and most competitive salaries I can. Glassdoor is a great way of helping to determine that.

Ben Forstag:      

Sure. Like many things, Glassdoor has its pros and its cons. I want to sort my conversation today around the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good thing about Glassdoor.com is this is an opportunity to get a sneak peek inside the culture, the salaries, the benefit plans, and the general office environment in lots of different companies. You can go onto the site, you type in a company name, you type in a city, and it spits out a lot of information about what people are getting paid at the organization in general terms, whether they like their office environment, whether they would recommend the job to a friend or a colleague and so forth.

You can see the salary ranges for different job titles both nationally and specific to your city. As we know, the same job title could have vastly different salaries in New York City versus Portland, for example. You can learn about the hiring procedures through people who have been interviewed, find out what the interview process look like in terms of … Was it a phone interview? Was it in person? Were they grilling you with real hard questions or was it a “get to know you” kind of process?

You can find out how candidates were recruited, whether it was through sending in an application online or they were recruited by a recruiter or at a job fair and so forth. That last piece is really important because if you want to work for an organization like Nike, for example, you might find that sending in an application through their HR system is really not the best way to get a job there. The best way is through a job fair or to talk to a recruiter.

Even if you’re not looking for a job, you can use the salary tool to see what other people with your job title are getting paid. As we just mentioned, this is really valuable if you’re looking to negotiate for a starting salary or for a pay raise. You can show what your comparables are and say, “This is what the market rate is.” Mac, you just mentioned using those comparables to set salary ranges, so it sounds like this is something that you’re familiar with job seekers doing.

Mac Prichard:   

It is. Employers, as I mentioned earlier, look at it too because … When you’re hiring staff and you want to keep people onboard, the old role is true: You get what you pay for. You want to make sure that you’re offering the most competitive wages and salaries you can and doing this kind of research will help you do that.

Ben Forstag:  

That was the good part. Now, we’re going to be talking about the bad part.

Mac Prichard:   

Okay.

Ben Forstag:    

Glassdoor.com … It really works best for larger organizations. It’s not much help if you’re applying to a small organization with just a handful of employees. I took the liberty of looking up Mac’s List. We’re not on there. I looked up Prichard Communications, your other firm, Mac. They’re not on there.

Mac Prichard:   

Okay.

Ben Forstag:    

Nike’s on there, Intel’s on there … A lot of big Portland firms and firms all around the country and the world are there. The reason for this is because all the data they have is submitted by actual employees or former employees. The larger your workforce, the more likely you’re going to have people submitting information about you online.

Also, Glassdoor is not great for nonprofit organizations. I looked up several nonprofits that I’ve worked with and only one of them was listed there. If you’re looking for nonprofit backgrounds, probably a better place to start would be on the 990 forms that you can find on places like Charity Navigator. That’s how you would find out what the executive director is being paid, what other high level executives are being paid within organizations.

Mac Prichard:   

Why do you think that’s so, Ben? Is it a reflection of the size of many nonprofits? Is that why we’re not seeing them pop up on this site?

Ben Forstag:    

I’m guessing so. A vast majority of nonprofit organizations are pretty small. We’re talking less than five employees. The same rule that applied to the for-profits: The more employees you have, the more likely you’re going to have reviews online? It applies for nonprofits as well. Much of the data, as I mentioned, is provided by current and former employees, so the data tends to be a little bit skewed either very positive or very negative. Not a whole lot right in the middle. You ready for the ugly?

Mac Prichard:  

Sure.

Ben Forstag: 

Okay. The ugly is, if you spend too much time on Glassdoor, you start finding that some of the reviews are very, very negative. People really slamming their former boss or the former organization. They had a bad experience at a company and so, they just want to take revenge. All the reviews are anonymous, so people feel that they can go out and just write whatever they want.

Now, one organization that I worked with in the past was listed there. It was a small organization and there was a very negative review of that organization. There was enough data in this anonymous review that I knew who wrote it. I would suggest if you have something negative to say, think twice before you write anything on Glassdoor.com, especially if you work in a real small organization.

You don’t want to burn bridges if you don’t need to. If someone can identify you through any information you leave on that site, that really destroys any kind of professional credibility you have moving forward. Certainly you can’t use that organization as a reference anymore. That’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of Glassdoor.com.

Mac Prichard:  

Thank you, Ben. Do you have a suggestion for Ben? Write him and we may share your idea on the show. His email address is ben@macslist.org. Now, it’s time to hear from Cecilia Bianco, our community manager. Cecilia is in touch with you, our listeners, throughout the week and she joins us to answer one of your questions. Cecilia, what do you have for us this week? What’s the question of the week?

Cecilia Bianco: 

Oh thanks, Mac. Our question is, “How should I prepare to negotiate my salary?” The main piece of advice I have for this is to do your research and go into a negotiation extremely prepared and knowledgeable. Ben’s resource this week is actually a great place to start. Glassdoor, Salary.com, and other websites like these allow you to see what other people in your role are making. You can compare your offer to the local market and see how it matches up.

As Ben mentioned, you can search nationally and locally, so always try to narrow it down to salary specific to your city. Sometimes they don’t have enough information to provide an average, but it’s still a good practice to always check. Then, an easy to get good local information is to ask your peers, family, friends, really anyone you’re comfortable discussing this with in your professional network. That can help confirm or support your online research, too. Ben and Mac, I’m curious if you’ve used research like this when you’ve negotiated in past jobs.

Mac Prichard:   

Well, I have to say … As the two of you speak, I’m just reflecting on the fact that you both have anniversaries coming up after the holidays.

Ben Forstag:

Speaking of which, Mac …

Cecilia Bianco: 

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:   

As your employer, I better check out these sites and get ready for those meetings after the Christmas holidays, but seriously … I am serious on that. I have used research like this in negotiating with employees or when I’ve had jobs myself and have approached employers. It’s good to have the facts in your corner when you’re making the case for either a higher salary for starting a position or for an annual adjustment. How about you, Ben?

Ben Forstag:

I haven’t. I wish I had this data like three or four years ago. When I moved from Washington DC to Portland, I really struggled because I got a job offer, but because the cost of living is so different between those two cities, it was really hard for me to evaluate what my value was. I was making one amount in DC and for the comparable job in Portland, the job offer said the value was significantly less than what I was making in DC. I just didn’t have the data behind me to justify whether that was a good offer or a bad offer.

Cecilia Bianco: 

Yeah, definitely. It’s really important to know the local market. Then beyond that, I think it’s important to think about the job you’re negotiating for specifically. Reflect on how competitive the applicant pool was and if the employer’s been hiring for the position for a long time. Basically, the harder it was for the employer to find you and hire you for the job, the more negotiating power you’re going to have.

I know negotiating can feel really uncomfortable, but it’s important to get paid what you believe you deserve. Just prepare yourself to really make it easier because the more prepared you are, the more confident and ease you’re going to feel when you start negotiations. Mac, from your point of view as an employer, what types of research or negotiation tactics do you feel are effective?

Mac Prichard: 

I always find it persuasive when someone shows me data for salaries for comparable positions in the local market. It could come from the websites that you cited. I also hear from readers all the time that they often look at Mac’s List not because they’re looking for work, but they’re curious to know what jobs like theirs are paying. Visit websites and job boards to pull those kinds of figures and I think you’ll be much more effective in making your case.

Something else I want to say about negotiating salaries … There’s research out there that shows that men are more likely to ask for higher salaries when they are negotiating for a job for the first time or for raises than women. I think the employers expect to hear those requests, so I encourage you whatever your gender. Do your homework. Take some time to study negotiating techniques. It’ll pay off because once you’re in a job, you’re setting a base, a foundation, that will likely be that, a base, for several years upon which annual increases will be made. Don’t be afraid to be assertive.

Cecilia Bianco: 

Yeah. That makes sense. I think that one thing we commonly see is that people undervalue what they bring to the table, especially after a long job search or they’re just afraid to miss out on an opportunity because of what they want to be paid. Really, as Mac just said, it’s better to talk it through in negotiations with an employer rather than accept the job at a salary that’s going to make you feel undervalued through each raise because you’re not going to get a twenty percent raise ever, likely.

It’s better to do it when you’re just starting. The worst that can happen is that they say no and you have to compromise. Don’t forget that you can also negotiate for better benefits if the salary you want is really just out of reach. Mac and Ben, anything to add? Any last tips?

Mac Prichard:   

I think … Any candidate is at their most attractive to an employer when there’s an offer on the table. That’s the time to … As you say, don’t be afraid to ask. The worst thing you’re going to hear is no. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it.

Cecilia Bianco: 

Yeah. That’s true. If you’re interested in more tips on figuring out how to talk about your value to an employer, you’ll find several blog posts on Mac’s List if you search for “salary negotiation”.

Mac Prichard:   

Well, thanks, Cecilia. If you have a question for Cecilia, you can email her. Her email address is cecilia@macslist.org. The segments by Ben and Cecilia are sponsored by the 2016 edition of “Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond”. We’re making the complete Mac’s List guide even better by adding new content and making the book available on multiple e-reader platforms.

When we launch the revised version in February, you’ll be able to access “Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond” on your Kindle, Nook, iPad, and other digital devices. You’ll also be able to order a paperback edition. Whatever the format, our goal is the same. To give you the tools and tips you need to get meaningful work. For more information, visit macslist.org/ebook and sign up for our e-book newsletter. We’ll send you publication updates, share exclusive book content, and provide you with special pre-sale prices.

Now, let’s turn to our expert guest, Melissa Anzman. Melissa is a certified executive coach who helps people get on the right career track and enjoy success in the workplace. She’s worked with hundreds of people to grow their careers to the next level. Before starting LaunchYourJob.com, Melissa spent thirteen years in the corporate world as a human resource leader. She’s also the author of “How to Land a Job: Secrets of an HR Insider”. Well, Melissa, thanks for joining us today.

Melissa Anzman:  

Thanks so much for having me, Mac. It’s always fun chatting with you and your team.

Mac Prichard:   

Yeah. It’s a pleasure to have you here. Well, let’s turn to our topic today “human resources departments”. I have to say, Melissa. When I was doing my homework, I was looking online on this subject and words like “guards”, “gatekeepers”, and “black hole” kept popping up when I was searching under “human resources” and job hunter-ing. Why do you think human resources departments have that reputation?

Melissa Anzman:     

Yeah. It’s definitely one that’s unfortunately common and not very flattering of a distinction. Human resources departments get a bad rap because they really are sort of the face of a lot of behind the scenes work. When you’re applying to a job, there’s one person in HR that you’ll talk to usually when you need help with the application, another person in HR takes care of it and then, there’s that comp, compensation person, who does sort of the … What your offer’ll be and so on and so forth.

A lot of times, HR gets a bad rap when it comes to the hiring process because they are the gatekeeper in that they’re the first line of defense to get your foot in the door at a company. As you’ve learned in a previous podcast with Jenny, with Job Jenny I should say, Jenny Foss, the first step is usually the online application system. A lot of times we blame HR, who are people, for things that something a system may have kicked in or kicked out.

Mac Prichard:    I’m glad you brought that up because HR departments aren’t going away, so we have to work with them whether we’re hiring managers or applicants. Let’s talk about how you do that and some effective strategies. Let’s start. How do you recommend listeners approach an HR department? What’s a good way of getting started?

Melissa Anzman:    

Absolutely. There is a science to working with HR. Unfortunately, the science is going to be tweaked a little bit depending on the company and the size and all of that fun stuff. There’s sort of three ways that you can work really well with them in order to get your foot in the door, in order to move along in the hiring process, and so on. The most important one is understanding and realizing your own personal value proposition.

HR … If you sort of put your feet in their shoes, HR gets a ton of resumes. Lots of qualified candidates particularly for super cool awesome jobs, right? They’re also getting those resumes and applications from people who are cream of the crop. Top tier, high potential, great talent. It’s up to you to market yourself and really showcase for them. Make it easy for them to say yes to you. Know what value you bring to the table and tell them that early and often and repeatedly during the process.

Mac Prichard:   

What are some practical ways that people can do that? I’m an applicant, I’m not afraid to bang my own drum, or toot my own horn, rather. How can I do that? I’ve got to fill out a form, I may not be able to get somebody on the phone. What have you as being on the other side of that door inside an HR department seen work well?

Melissa Anzman:    

Your resume is your first tool if you’re going to go blind. I would say the thing on your resume is I don’t want to read a bullet point list of skill sets you have. That doesn’t help me as an HR person. What I want to understand … I want to see results driven, metric driven information on your resume of what you’ve done. That whole “show, don’t tell me” is so important when you’re applying.

Another way you can do that is how you follow up. That’s sort of the second thing of networking and outreaching. How you follow up, you have to consistently reinforce your value proposition. This is why you have to meet me before you move any further in the process. If you can convince an HR person to do that, you’ll go far along because they are sort of that gatekeeper.

To do that, you just have to showcase who you uniquely are. It’s your approach, it’s leveraging all the tools in your toolbox. If you’re online, making sure that you’re positioning yourself as a subject matter expert in that field. If you’re using just a resume, it’s super detail oriented, data driven, metric driven information, so that the HR person is not guessing your capabilities.

You also have a great platform on LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows them to research you whether it’s for a first time or they’re just looking or they’re a sourcer or maybe they’re following up on a resume. You really want that to be a good calling card for you as well.

Mac Prichard:   

Know your value, document it with metrics, facts, and figures, and put that in your application, but don’t stop there. Look at the other opportunities you have online to make your case through your LinkedIn profile as well as demonstrating your expertise, your leadership, in the field through blogging or participating in forums. Tactics like that. Is that step number one?

Melissa Anzman:  

Absolutely. That is step number one. I would just like to say one more thing on that. When you’re writing anything that goes towards your value proposition, make sure each sentence answers the question, “So what?” Why would the resume reader or the HR person care about that sentence or bullet point or metric or whatever that is? Get really tight on your messaging because you don’t have a hundred times to make an impression. You really have one. Be super clear and concise and efficient with your words and answer “So what?” every time.

Mac Prichard: 

Great advice, Melissa. Now, what’s the next step? The application’s in, the online platforms are in good shape. What should an applicant be doing next to connect with HR and get beyond them and in front of the hiring manager?

Melissa Anzman:            

Yeah. The second step is one that I personally dreaded for a long time myself. It’s kind of the tried and true step, but it’s about networking and outreach. I think the word “networking” in this instance is a terrible fit because what you have to do is you kind of have to pursue or make some outreach or try and get on a first date essentially, right?

You’re trying to get this HR person interested enough in you that they want to date you, that they’ll ask you out. To do that, you don’t just send an email to someone. Although now, you probably do less than that with all the apps out there, but when you’re talking about work, you have to follow up. I don’t mean you send an email to the careers@entercompanyname.com website.

You spend … It takes ten minutes or so on LinkedIn and Google to find the email address of a hiring manager or find the email address of the recruiter. You send them a note and you express your interest. You think about your value proposition and you show it to them in your email super short and sweet. Let them have their contact information. You’ve sort of opened the door for a first date.

Mac Prichard: 

Melissa, I just want to pause there because I can imagine some listeners saying, “Okay. All I have is careers@mydreamcompany.com. How do I find the name of the recruiter or the hiring manager? I can figure out how to get their email address once I know the name, but what’s the secret to getting that name?”

Melissa Anzman:  

Yeah. I mean, getting the name is hard and I have some suggestions on a post that you can definitely include in the show notes, Mac. Essentially, you have to think like a researcher here. This is kind of a skill that went to the way … I’m going to sound really old now … Went to the wayside with the internet and Google.

You need to do your research. That’s about searching for the company … Here’s how I’d do it on LinkedIn. I’ll search for the company and I’ll put sort of the company and the department that I’m interested in, or the department and recruiter. Then, you’ll see a list of names that pop up that fit that thing and you want to filter it down to “current”, etc, etc.

When you start looking at profiles, LinkedIn gives you some suggestions on the right-hand side. I tend to find the suggestions to be super helpful because good recruiters in particular usually have their “I focus on this area at this company.” You can usually find pretty easily the recruiter’s name by just narrowing it down on LinkedIn in that regard.

Mac Prichard: 

Good. That’s step number two. You’ve found the person you want to connect with, you’ve thought about ways to network with them and reach out to them directly, and make that case. What do you do next, Melissa?

Melissa Anzman:      

The next thing is something that people forget. Just completely forget. That’s really understanding and knowing your audience. Not all people on the hiring process timeline or the candidate experience are created equal. When you’re dealing with a front line, so the first point of contact recruiter, they don’t know details about the job you’re trying to do.

What I mean by that is they don’t know the nitty gritty details of the technical aspects of your role. They have fifty, sixty … I don’t know, hundreds sometimes, at some companies of requisitions open across their table. Their expertise is to recruit, not to know your department. When you talk to them, they are looking for culture fit, your personality … They’re trying to understand if you have the basic skills for the role, so you’re using the right jargon and words that describe the position as someone else has described it to them.

They are not at all interested in knowing about the super nitty gritty details that make no sense to anybody outside your industry or your position much less, during that process. As soon as you start talking to that person around things that make no sense to them, you’ve lost them. They’re already tuning out.

Mac Prichard:   

Okay. Technical skills matter, but save that for your conversation with the hiring manager. I just want to clarify, Melissa. When we’re talking about recruiters, we’re talking about people within an HR department who are tasked … Whose job it is to recruit people for that company. We’re not talking about headhunters who might be under contract working outside the company.

Melissa Anzman:              

Absolutely. Sorry for that. Yeah. When I say recruiter, it’s always that internal resource within HR that’s responsible for getting people in the door for the role.

Mac Prichard: 

Okay. Now, I’m often asked, what about just bypassing HR altogether? I think sometimes people think, “If I could just go around the HR department and get in front of the hiring manager, all my problems would be solved.” What’s your reaction to that?

Melissa Anzman:  

Well, it’s hard. There isn’t a one size fits all there. I would say be very careful if you do that, right? You’re not going to be creating any friends or anything of that regard to do that. Also, at most companies particularly in different states and just sort of what state laws are and all of that fun stuff, you do have to go through the official hiring process to get an offer.

I am all for you making that first connection, that first introduction, that first outreach, whatever it is with the hiring manager directly, but you should also instantly get on the right train. What I mean by that is get onto the process that the company wants you to go through. If you’re a great candidate and you’re sort of someone that that person, the hiring manager, loves anyway, it’s going to make no difference other than the fact that you’re going to actually walk into a company with friends instead of having HR as an enemy.

Mac Prichard:   

Okay. I also hear from people who ask me, “What can I do after I’ve applied for a job and I get a rejection letter from HR? Should I call the human resources department? Should I still try to reach out to the hiring manager?” What options do people have at that point in the process?

Melissa Anzman:

Well, I think it depends on how far along in the process you got. If you just applied and got an auto-generated email or even a personal email saying, “Thank you for your application. We’re going in a different direction”, that’s where the conversation should end. There’s nothing you can glean from it. Maybe it was an internal candidate that they hired, maybe you were too late in the process. I mean, there’s just so many things and they’re not going to tell you. That would be that case.

If you’re further along … Let’s say you’ve been interviewing with them. You’ve seen somebody in person or you’ve talked to someone in person. I don’t really recommend that you continue the conversation unless something odd happened. Maybe you’re just sort of not feeling like you got closure or an answer or something like that, that would be the only case where I would say continue.

Usually, they are restricted by some laws to tell you what went wrong in the interview process, right? They are going to be very careful if you ask them that question. They’re not really apt to helping you improve your interviewing skills going forward unless you created a good rapport with that recruiter.

Mac Prichard:  

Okay. Now if you are invited in for an interview, often you start with the human resources department and then, advance on to a conversation with the hiring manager. Are those two different conversations and should people prepare for them in different ways?

Melissa Anzman: 

Absolutely. They are night and day different conversations, or they should be. If they’re not … Take a step back and level set yourself going forward. When you’re interviewing with HR … You need to talk about you and yourself and your personality and your strengths. That kind of focus. Really high level, “I’m a fit for this organization.”

When you move to a conversation with the hiring manager, they’re thinking about different things. They want to know … Can you do the job? They’re going to ask themselves what a pain or not pain you will be to manage. I know I’m not supposed to say that, but it’s true, right? When we’re trying to hire someone, we’re like, “How much work is this going to be for me?”

You want to make sure your conversations are geared in that regard. They also want to understand more about you as a person. What makes you tick, what motivates you, if you would fit on the team that’s already there, as well as those technical skills. It’s a very different conversation with the hiring manager than it should be with HR.

Mac Prichard: 

What’s the best way to follow up on those separate conversations?

Melissa Anzman:   

I always believed in a thank you note. I have a little template on my site which, again, feel free to include, of when to send an email thank you versus when to send an actual thank you note and when in the process. Any time you talk to or meet with somebody, you absolutely need to follow up. Email is a little bit more instantaneous, so that’s great for a lot of different situations, but there are definitely some levels and some roles that you want to write an actual handwritten thank you note.

Mac Prichard:   

We’ll be sure to include a link to that page in the show notes. We’re coming to close of our interview, Melissa. What are some other things that our listeners should think about?

Melissa Anzman: 

Yeah. I would just say when you’re interviewing, we have a tendency as we’re very nervous in an interview to ramble on. It’s a skill you can absolutely learn and get better at. I always recommend that you practice what I call “STARS”. That’s a pretty typical term, but it means everything that you answer, every single answer in a interview conversation can be framed around a specific situation or task, the action that you took, and the result to the company for it.

That’s only three sentences if you want to be super efficient to get your point across. By doing so, not only are you adding a lot of value to the conversation and making that HR person or the hiring manager love you because they know you know what you’re doing, but you’re also keeping them engaged in the conversation, which has a lot longer of a tale for your winning, I guess, through the process … Through your success through the process, I should say.

Mac Prichard: 

That’s terrific, Melissa. I know that we’ve been talking about human resource departments, but … Would you have different advice if an agency doesn’t have an HR department, particularly, the smaller employers? Are there things that would be appropriate to do that you haven’t described here?

Melissa Anzman: 

Yeah. I mean, I think when an organization is smaller and don’t have the HR resources, usually the hiring manager or someone else is managing the process. You’re almost cutting out a middleman a lot of the time, which is great, which is in the favor of the candidate every single time. Instead of following up with HR, go directly to the person that you should be working with or outreach directly to the hiring manager because you have that opportunity.

I would still say make sure you know your audience in the interview process. It may not be an HR person, but maybe you’re meeting with a finance person who’s going to care a lot about a lot of different things than your hiring manager. Just keep that in mind, but it will play out a little differently by cutting out a middleman.

Mac Prichard:   

Great. Well, thank you, Melissa. You can find Melissa online at LaunchYourJob.com. You can also buy her book “How to Land a Job: Secrets of an HR Insider” at her website and on Amazon.com. We’ll be sure to include links to your website and your book in the show notes. Thank you again, Melissa, for joining us.

Melissa Anzman: 

Thanks so much for having me, Mac.

Mac Prichard:

We’re back with Ben and Cecilia. What did you two think? What were some of the most important points you heard Melissa make?

Cecilia Bianco: 

I got a lot out of that. I think she has … An inside view that we don’t hear a lot, particularly about not going around HR. Sometimes we hear it’s a lot easier if you can get straight to the hiring manager, but clearly that will do more harm than good in the end if you get the job. I thought that was a really important tip.

Ben Forstag:  

I liked that she outlined the process to work with them because I think, in my perspective, it’s always been if you send your job application to “careers@”, it is the black hole. Nothing’s going to happen to it. I’ve just stopped doing that in my own job searches, but it does sound like there is a process and that if you follow the right steps, you can get some traction going through HR.

Mac Prichard:   

Yeah. I think that’s an important point and to know the process. There’s a leadership talk I attended once at a conference. The one thing I remember … It was delivered by a retired US Naval Officer. He said, “Learn the system and make the system work for you.” Having that insider perspective, Cecilia, I agree is really important. Knowing that process and doing the homework to uncover it and understand it can pay benefits for you down the line.

Good. Well, thank you all for listening. We’ll be back next week with more tools and tips you can use to find your dream job. In the meantime, visit us at macslist.org. You can sign up for our free newsletter there and you’ll find more than a hundred new jobs every week. If you like what you hear on our show, please help us by leaving a review and rating at iTunes. This will help others discover our show and help us reach more job seekers. Thank you for listening.

You may want a gig with a cool corporation like Nike, Google, or Apple. Perhaps you’ve targeted a big government agency or a nonprofit. Or maybe your goal is to land a job with small employer. Wherever you’re going, one day you will probably have to work with an HR recruiter.

For many job seekers the human resources department can seem like a black hole–a place where applications disappear without a trace. But there is a science to working with HR; and, when you know how the process works, a human resources department can be your gateway to a great job.

This week’s guest, Melissa Anzman, shares the inside scoop on how to best work with HR recruiters and personnel departments. After 13 years in corporate human resources, Melissa started a new career as a job advisor, author, and business coach. Melissa shares her tips on how to navigate the HR hiring process and make it work to your advantage.

This Week’s Guest

Melissa Anzman is the founder of Launch Yourself and the the author of How to Land a Job: Secrets from an HR Insider. HE has helped launch over 75 businesses has worked with over 300 individuals, teams and emerging entrepreneurs since 2011. She helps her clients maximize their potential and turn their “aha moment” into action.

Resources from this Episode