Connecting with the Hiring Manager – No Recruiters, HR or Gate Keepers

No GatekeepersLinkedIn is, without a doubt, one of the greatest tools for job seekers in finding hiring managers and potential employers. But if you view it as your primary way of connecting with potential contacts rather than a robust resource for information, you could be making your search more difficult than it needs to be.

Let me explain what I mean as I walk you through a “how to” on connecting with new contacts directly with the information you learn on LinkedIn. First off…


Think of LinkedIn As Your Personal White Pages

I’ve written before about my philosophy that out of quantity, quality is born. The more first-degree connections you have, the larger your phone book.

The tool I highly recommend to all my clients for building a vast first level of like-minded networkers is OpenNetworker. After signing up with them, you will see your connections grow exponentially—as well as your ability to find the people with whom you want an audience. In my case, simply by signing up, my connections went from around 1,000 (which took me almost 4 years to build) to 19,869 in about 24 months…ultimately connecting me to just under 22,000,000 LinkedIn users:

What I am going to walk you through today is only one of the techniques I teach in my Job Search 2.0 Bootcamp. I want to show you how adopting this approach can get you in front of more hiring managers and help you take control of what they’re hearing and seeing about you.


Getting Started

Here are the basics that you need for this technique:

  • The name of the company you’re interested in.
  • The role (you can select more than one if you’re uncertain) to which you would be reporting. You’re looking for decision-makers here, not HR reps or recruiters. In my video, I walk through this step by step. (More information on that below.)


Searching on LinkedIn

Using the above criteria, conduct a search on LinkedIn to find the right point of contact—who you would be reporting to in your ideal role. Write down their full name. If you’re on the fence about who your ideal contact is, take down all possible options you can find on LinkedIn.

Tip: I recommend starting your search as broadly as possible. Run it by company only, and then start adding in criteria like location, title or keywords. It’s always better to cast a wide net to begin with and then narrow your search as you go.


Searching on Google

Next, in order to reach out to this contact on your own, we’re going to move from LinkedIn to Google. If you think you might have a good mutual connection to use instead of making your own introduction, that’s fine. But I recommend using my “litmus test” in the tip below before relying on someone else to get you in the door. You need to know exactly how good an advocate they are going to be.

Tip: When trying to decide whether you should use a connection for an introduction or go it alone, use this easy litmus test: Ask your connection if they’re willing to make a call to the contact you’re trying to reach. If they’re reluctant to do so and only offer to email—or, worse yet, put your resume in front of someone in HR—politely thank them and go it alone. Someone with a solid relationship who bears weight won’t hesitate to pick up the phone. Anything else is simply an introduction with no teeth and a missed opportunity to make a meaningful first impression.

So, using Google, we’re going to find out how to email our new contact at their company address. To do this, simply add the “@” sign in front of the URL of the company you’re interested in in the Google search box. In my video, I use the example of Applied Robotics. You can see below what this search looks like:

You may need to dig through a page or two of search results to find the right format. (I also share some secrets on uncovering hard-to-find email formats in my video.)

Once you’ve found the correct format, use the contact name you found through LinkedIn and apply that format to it. For instance, if your contact is Robert Smith and the format for his company’s email is “first initial, last name @,” then his email address would be “”

You can now reach out directly to this potential hiring manager without being concerned about getting through HR, recruiters or any other gate keepers first.


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Connecting with the Hiring Manager – No Recruiters, HR or Gate Keepers

55 Responses

  1. I always find your information meaningful amd well thought out. I agree with your blog about “Connecting with the Hiring Manager – No Recruiters, HR or Gate Keepers”. The suprise for me is limiting indroductions through people who are willing to call. I will try to get this next time I have need of a contact. My only thought is – isn’t an email contact better than nothing if you can not find someone willing to call your contact?

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    • Harry,

      My problem with readily accepting someone’s offer to email on your behalf is knowing the solidity of the relationship. In the video I comment on this. Speaking for myslef, if someone wanted an introduction from me and I a) think highly of the person asking and b) know the person well (meaning my call/recommendation holds weight) to whom the introduction is being made, I would definitely do it via phone. It not only shows that I truly have a relationship (I would only make a call that I would expect to be received) but I can also have a conversation about why I think they need to talk.

      I could write at great length about the issues I have with email as a primary form of communication. People have a tendancy to write things they wouldn’t say. Not to mention, unless the person emailing is a solid wordsmith, many times the real strength of the request or introduction can be lost. But, the real measurement here is how well they know the person (getting off what might be a rant and back on topic :-)). And, often a person who is willing to email may not be as good (or better) than you being your own advocate…because many think they are more “connected” and “regarded” than they actually are (something I saw happen MANY times in the search business when candidates started name dropping…which is a variation on the same theme).

      So, I stand by the phone call litmus test. If someone is willing to call, they more than likely have a realationship worth leveraging. Otherwise, you need to ask yourself: who is a better advocate for my search – them or me?


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  2. Great Advice!

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  3. Thanks Kevin,
    Brief and to the point.
    I have had problems in the past, trying to find a contact person’s e-mail.
    This will undoubtedly come in handy. Simple, yet we don’t think about it!

    • Joe,

      Let us know how it goes for you!


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  4. Great tip. Learnt something new and useful about Google and LinkedIn.

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  5. Well done Kevin, but, could you go into more about what to say to the hiring manager after you find out all the necessary information about him?

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    • Peter,

      Thank you…and that is part of what I will tackle in next week’s blog. Stay tuned!


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  6. Kevin, as usual, this is well thought-out and practical advice. First, great tip on the search and figuring out the email address. I completely agree that the phone call….and preferably not leaving a voicemail…is the best way to introduce someone who is worth the call. Thank you for this….looking forward to what you would say to the hiring manager in the next installment!

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  7. Great ideas, Kevin. Thank you for sharing so many really useful tips and techniques for jobseekers. This will certainly open up the hidden job market for them.

  8. Kevin,

    Thanks for the beneficial and useful tips on successfully circumventing the gatekeepers and reaching the intended targets. Like Peter, I’m interested in your advice on engaging the hiring manager once you’ve identified him/her. Keep the solid advice coming.

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  9. Great advice, Kevin. Your litmus test makes sense and is a great guideline. Looking forward to your next steps. Thanks very much for sharing.

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  10. It does not matter if you have a network 17,000 people verses 50 people. Who could possibly follow or connect with them all? The quality of the relationship is key, not a bunch of loose, impersonal connections purported to be made through “people you know and trust.”
    Such a network accumulates a flood of daily impersonal SPAM messages, so much so that many will attest they have stopped routinely checking their social media accounts.

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    • Roy,

      I agree with you – quality of relationships is what matters. That is why I am suggesting you change how you look at LinkedIn. The virtual connection with someone isn’t the relationship, it is merely a way to broaden your awareness of who is out there…so you can find the people with whom you want to connect. I’m also not suggesting that you leverage these connections like you would a relationship (exactly why I offer up the litmus test). I believe we are all our own best advocates….and, if one doesn’t believe this I think a larger issue lies beneath the surface.

      Sure, I get a few more LinkedIn emails than other (I am assuming). It is also a byproduct of putting yourself out there and networking in a larger, more transparent and public way. And, as far as spam is concerned – garbage in, garbage out. But, when I want to find someone I can do it quickly and connect with them on a meaningful level. That latter part is up to me and has zero to do with whether I have one or a million connections.

      Thanks for your comment and I look forward to “seeing” you on the blog more!

      Building Your Success,


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  11. “Connecting with the Hiring Manager – No Recruiters, HR or Gate Keepers” is very hard, Kevin. Hiring Managers don’t have a time to use Linkedin or to read scientific investment books I wrote. If You have contact with some Hiring Manager, I have a team of Croatian investment experts with Ph.D., my education and CFA designation. We are ready to work in Croatia for $1.500,00-$2.000,00 net monthly salary. Some of us are willing to move to GB or USA for $2.000,00 with paid expenses (accomodation and food). Kind Regards, Tomislav

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    • Tomislav,

      You hit on a few points here that I’ll be covering in the coming blog posts…so hang tight, my friend.

      Building Your Success,


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  12. There is an article on the web that describes etiquette in networking or ( and important appropriate choices you should make in these personal relationships. It could probably be pasted to the side of everyone’s monitor for reference or should be memorized to keep your network alive.

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  13. I only saw the text, not the video but want to say – YES! I can’t understand why more people don’t use that approach. However, I wonder why you suggest emailing the person rather than talking to them directly? I usually recommend to my clients to speak to them directly and set up a meeting/information interview.

    • @Isabella – I couldn’t agree more! The aim here is to make a connection and start the “know-like-trust” process sooner rather than later. Conversations (phone or, ideally, in person) are the preferred way to communicate every time!

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  14. Great advice!! thanks for sharing…

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  15. Hi Kevin,
    You will probably touch on this in your next blog, but what would you recommend when you already know there is a specific need or job posting and you know who the hiring manager is? I get the feeling your approach assumed there is no “public” position to be filled and hence you are really networking, but I wonder what is the best approach when there is a specific public need, where there is some internal deadline to be met and when companies already have an internal “referral” system in place.

    On a side note, been reading your blog now and your insight really throws a sensible light on a very obscure industry so many thanks.


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  16. Hi Kevin

    Great advice thanks. One question though. On getting through to the hiring manager how do you counter when he/she says that there are standard hiring procedures to follow and I should go through HR?

    Best regards

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  17. Having little or no results from working through the online app process or even using referrals within the company/organization, I like the idea of going directly to the hiring manager. And yes, with Linkedin and web searches like the one suggested here, it’s relatively easy to find that person. But the big questions are – now that you have the name and their e-mail address or their phone number (or both) – what’s the best way to contact them and what do you say? I’m waiting with bated breath for your next article…

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  18. Well done Kevin, but, could you go into more about what to say to the hiring manager after you find out all the necessary information about him? Because in my case I use to report to Sr Director and/or Vice – President. I contacted some of them after getting their contact, and only one responded asking me to contact the HR department.

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  19. Kevin,

    Good video. I liked the google search advice. Personally, I prefer starting out with an email first than picking up the phone. Here’s why:

    a. People tend to shy away when you call them. Sometimes, they may ask you too many questions such as how you found them, etc.
    b. Through email, you can set up a convenient time to discuss opportunities. This way, you’re considerate of the potential employer’s time — a good first impression.

    Another good thing is you don’t have to wonder when you would heard back if the call kept going to their voicemail, but a similar thing could happen on emails too — people have a choice of not replying (not interested) or saying, ‘it went to one of my spam folders, sorry!’.

    Apart from smooth talking, how do you get them genuinely interested in your first correspondence?

    Thanks in advance,

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  20. Kevin,

    Love the discussion. As a job seeker, it was difficult for me to remain objective about this approach. You made a great point about the initial contact being by phone as opposed to email. However, I have been in the hiring manager’s position and had a very difficult time managing the resource shortage while trying to find the right employee to take the role. It appeared that this advice considered the issue from the seeking employee’s perspective, but the recruiter and HR actually have an important reason for being there. I appreciated it when someone put prequalified resources before me especially when under pressure from competing priorities. Then, I was able to focus on the issue of how the candidate fit the project or team and interviewed fewer people to get the best available rather than the most aggressive individual.


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  21. Good solid information, direct and to the point. If everyone uses LinkedIn, the ones who will get jobs will stand out by using these techniques. I know others who are looking for work. Do you mind if I tell them that they should visit this website often?

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    • Rodney – thanks much! I also appreciate you helping to spread the word. The best place to send fellow job seekers is It’s packed with tools anyone can put to use today (and get results) in their job search.

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  22. Maybe you shouldn’t write off internal recruiters, we may just be the ones who can actually make recruiting for the company easier than dealing direct with the hiring manager

    Maybe we are the ones who have full information about the role, team structure, ethos, access to diaries to book interviews and be able to reply to your CV submission within an hour rather than having to wait for 24 for the hiring manager to come back to you

    This idea that internal recruiters are gatekeepers and are there to make recruitment consultants jobs harder is outdated, a lot of companies are bringing in internal recruiter to assist with the recruitment and utilise all tools at their disposal, including recruitment consultants

    The partnerships (yes I have partnerships with my recruitment agencies) are mutually beneficial, I am aware if we want to have the best talent in this business we need to work with the best recruiters in the business and be able to move quickly to secure that talent

    Maybe if you build the relationship with the recruiter, you may then have a much better chance of recruiting for that client.

    What would you rather, speak to 1 person regarding all roles, or be chasing 3 hiring managers whose priority is their clients

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    • Nick, it’s not a matter of not diminishing relationships with recruiters, but rather advising my readers and clients as to where their time and energy are best spent. Develop a relationship with a recruiter or with a hiring manager? No matter how great the recruiter thinks you are, they cannot hire you. Can they serve as a catalyst to a meeting or even influence to a small degree. Yes, but their stamp of approval a job offer will not make.

      And to your questions about connecting with a recruiter or a hiring manager? A hiring manager, hands down – every time. Win their hearts and minds and they will hire you. Even if they don’t hire you, accomplish this and they will refer you. To which I would ask you, what recommendation will another hiring manager value more: a recruiter or a peer?

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  23. Kevin, I thank you for wonderful information found in this post! Your approach, illustrations and suggestions are spot on and will be very useful in getting that coveted position!

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  24. As a college career counselor I tried to contact a recruiter behind a job listing. For two hours. This was a large company and I finally got a maintenance person to answer a number I found. He had no idea whether the company was even in the building. A former corporate recruiter, I understand that lean human resources staff don’t need lots of job hunters calling to make sure their resume was received or trying to start a conversation. A lot of times it just isn’t realistic to find a contact.

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  25. Hello Kevin,

    Thank you for your free webinar. I am enjoying learning about the new methods but my concern is how most hiring managers react to the new methods and how companies react to working around their HR departments when those people are payed to do a certain job.

    In the beginning of my job search, I applied for a job I thought would be a great fit. I got a call from someone in HR but then it didn’t go further than that. Not knowing the true reason, I decided to figure out who the hiring manager was and him a nice cover letter and resume. I followed up a week later and his admin redirected my call back to HR. This tells me that there are companies out there that value to role their HR plays and don’t want you working around them.

    Given this experience, I want to know how one goes about determining how to proceed. Should one play it safe by applying directly via HR and then reaching out to the hiring manager if there are no positive results with HR or just disregard that initial experience and always go straight to the hiring managers.

    If you have any thoughts about this issue, I appreciate your sharing them.


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  26. Hi Kevin

    I think I may have misunderstood your post, I was taking it that you were advising recruitment consultants not potential employees

    I do play a part in recommending new employees and influencing managers on who to meet and they listen to my advice but yes ultimately the buck stops with the hiring manager

    So taking it from the employee point of view you are right


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    • Nick,

      Thanks for your post back and clarifying!



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  27. Some hiring managers aren’t familiar w/ employment law which can create legal liabilities. HR departments have expertise in these areas and help minimize litigation risks. Many companies require all hiring processes be handled by HR & encourage managers to forward any resumes to the HR department. We’re also very invested in hiring the best possible candidate. And while we may not be the ultimate hiring manager, we influence the decision based on preliminary screening, interviews and background checks.

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  28. Martin Buckland resume expert is quoted as saying
    “Some people are so smart they market themselves as a product both online and offline, the others are so dumb!” According to Martin, you should tweet yourself to a job. Last month he had 7 clients land senior level jobs due to their tweets. As well others have landed as a result of marketing themselves on Facebook.

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  29. I have met may interesting potential employees through linkedin to me if you take the time to do the research and contact me you are taking initiative and who would not want a self starter and motivated person as part of their company.

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  30. WOW, quite an eye opener. I’ll definitely use some of the information I’ve learned! THANK YOU!

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  31. Very nice tip. I like the simple matter of fact style that you use. Everybody should be so straight forward.

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  32. Thank you, Kevin. Your advice confirms with me that I am in a right way, which also encourages me to keep going even without any result at this moment. This is a kind of networking, right?

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  33. Thanks for the advice, Linkedin is a great tool for connecting with companies and helps me connect with HR professionals and keep up on new labor laws for my Federal labor law posters.

    Jessica at #
  34. Hi Kevin,
    Thanks for the great advise. One question: several people at LinkedIn already contacted and advised me to send my CV to them. They told they have a position for their clients that might suitable for me. But they don’t want to tell me what company of their clients?
    What do you think about it?

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    • You are working with a contingent recruiter. There are several reasons they aren’t telling you who the client is before they present you:

      1) They have no exclusivity with the client. This company is probably working with more than one recruiter and none of them get paid unless one of their candidates are hired.

      2) If they share the name with you, they fear you may end run them and go directly to the company.

      3) If they share the name with you, you may tell someone else (this goes back to #1). This is the least likely of the motivations since, if you get an interview, you will find out the company name.

      Hope this helps,


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  35. Thanks for the article and video. When you refer to a hiring manager, that will likely be my new boss, right?

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    • Exactly. Good luck!

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  36. Though Linkedin is a fantastic tool for those quality connections you make, I prefer to use twitter to gain the a vast quantity of like minded followers then filter the quality to my linkedin account.

  37. Good article, but one key point missing that I keep writing about on other sites.

    The thing that more and more people keep missing when applying for jobs is the use of the phone. Rather than firing out emails, the phone really is your best friend. Wherever you see a phone number for a position that you’re interested in, call the recruiter! Later on that week, call them again and then call again the following week. Try to build a relationship; let them get to a point where they remember your name. This is what people were using before recruitment sites were popular and it still works to this day.

    Keith at #
  38. I tried tio reach out to some important people through my connections on LinkedIn. Then, they contacted their connections who sent emails to the people of my interest. I never got anything back. So I think you might be right–it’s better to go alone and send InMail.

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  39. I really think this particular blog , “Connecting with the Hiring Manager – No Recruiters, HR or Gate Keepers
    | Career Attraction”, especially compelling and the blog post ended up being a superb read.
    Thanks for the post,Emelia

  40. You’ve got one of the best sites.

  41. Nice to see this in print, Kevin.

    I’ve been coaching job seekers for some time now to use LinkedIn/Google to ID HA’s.

    From there I coach them on how to either go around or some cases, actually use an executive’s gatekeeper to get their resume on the HA’s desk.

    Once they are on the phone with that person it is time for the elevator pitch and a request for a ‘short visit’ (never say “interview”).

    My position on this is that I’d rather have two out of ten hits using this process vs. getting a zero response from a company after applying online and having their resume subsequently buried by a company ATS.

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  42. There are so many tangible examples of how online
    networking, especially LinkedIn can, has and does open doors and connections.
    Take a look at this article I came across that talks about 4
    Ingredients Missing From Your Social Media Resume?

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  1. Connecting with Hiring Managers « 40plusdc blog -

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