Should You 'Friend' a Company Contact For a Job?

Facebook may not be the best means of contacting tangential company connections.

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Suzanne Lucas

I am trying to get hired at a telecommunications company as a collections manager. I've already submitted my resume, but with the tough job market, I'm trying to get an edge and have no contacts for an 'in.' However, I checked jobster.com, glassdoor.com etc. and have found a local contact, albeit a stranger. 

Is it too invasive to try contacting them via facebook/myspace (they have both) and try to garner some getting-hired tips, maybe even the name of the hiring HR manager? I don't want to be too pushy but feel like it would also display my resourcefulness, integrity and determination to get the job.

You know, I get friend requests all the time at my Evil HR Lady E-mail address. I ignore every single one of them. Why? Because if I don't know you well enough to give you my personal E-mail address, I'm not going to friend you in any of those social networking situations.

Others will disagree with me, but I think that sending requests on Facebook and MySpace--which are, in my opinion, for social interactions--to people you have never met is creepy. I don't like it at all. In order for them to respond, they have to let you into their personal space, opening up all types of information to you. Quite frankly, I don't want people I don't know to have access to pictures of my children and my current status. (If you're terribly interested, it's "Suzanne Lucas wants to throw away yogurt containers." I live in Switzerland where recycling is mandatory and my family goes through yogurt like you wouldn't believe and I'm tired of washing out yogurt containers and hauling them back to the grocery store so they can be recycled. Now you have no need to be my friend at Facebook as you know everything about me.)

Now, I think there is a difference between the purely social sites and LinkedIn, which is business related. If the person has a LinkedIn profile, you can contact him there. Much less creepy and no discussions about yogurt. However, you're under the erroneous assumption that what you need to get is the name of the hiring HR Manager. HR is great. I love HR. I intend to spend my entire professional life in some HR related capacity. But, knowing the HR person won't really help you get hired. What you really want to find out is the actual hiring manager. The person who would be your boss. That is who you want to contact.

Let me ask you another question. You say you want to apply for a management position, yet you have no industry contacts. Why would I want to hire someone to manage people who has no experience in the industry? If that is true, you may need to set your sights a bit lower. If you do have experience, you must have some contacts. Former coworkers and bosses must still exist somewhere. Contacting them makes a lot more sense.

But, if this person really is your only "in" (albeit a lousy one) in the industry, take the contact information you found on the job site (not Facebook) and contact the person that way. If he listed an E-mail address, send an E-mail. If he listed a phone number, call it. Explain that you are very much interested in working for their company and you found his name at jobster, and could you possibly take 10 minutes of his time to ask about the company?

Be prepared with questions to ask before you make the phone call or send the E-mail. You don't want a positive response and then you having to say, "ummm, can we meet next Tuesday? I'm not quite ready." Keep in mind, if you are asking for an informational interview, keep it informational. Don't thrust your resume at him and ask what openings are available. Managers really dislike that kind of behavior. It will not help you get the job. Be honest about your purposes, but don't try to be a friend to someone you don't know.

Suzanne Lucas has nine years of human resources experience, most of which have been in a Fortune 500-company setting. She holds a Professional in Human Resources Certificate from the Society for Human Resources Management. She blogs at Evil HR Lady.

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