Career experts always tell job seekers to address their cover letter to the hiring manager—but all too often, that name is pretty difficult to come by. If you can’t even find out who’s behind the job posting, how will you research them before your interview? And what do you do once you know their name?
Let’s start with figuring out who the hiring manager is for the specific position you’re applying for:
Use Google. Search keywords in quotations such as the company name, department name, or position title to bring up relevant results. They may have divulged the hiring manager’s name in a previous job ad or company release. You can also try company directory websites, such as Jigsaw, to see if the contact’s name is listed there.
Look to LinkedIn. Company profiles on LinkedIn are quickly becoming more valuable to job seekers because of the information publicly available. You can often learn how many people work for the company, their names and titles (if they’re public), traffic stats, and more.
Tap your network. Chances are you know someone (or they know someone) who works for the company. An easy way to determine this is to look through your contacts on networking sites to see who you know (and who they know) who can help you figure out who might interview you.
Scour the company website. Go to the official company website and look for a page detailing employees. This is typically under “About Us” or “Our Team.” It may also be useful to look at the company blog or press room section, as many organizations write about recent news on those parts of their website.
Call. Although you shouldn’t call the hiring manager directly (they’re often too busy for a phone call), it doesn’t hurt to call the front desk or switchboard to ask for the name of the hiring manager. Ask politely to whom you should address your cover letter or application submission. If the receptionist isn’t receptive, try calling after hours and listen to the directory for the right name.
Perhaps, through one or more of those tactics, you’ve discovered the name of the hiring manager. Now here’s what to do to learn more about them:
Do another Google search. Type their name in quotations to see the top results for that person. What comes up? Maybe a personal website, or an award they’ve won? Read through the relevant results to learn more about the hiring manager and discover the type of professional they are. Make note of anything that could be useful during your interview, especially interests or experiences you have in common.
Check out their social media profiles. Do they have accounts on any of the major social networking sites? Sites like Gist pull all of that information in one handy place. You can learn a lot about a person from these profiles and the updates they share. If you’re lucky, they may even have shared information about previous candidates and interviews.
Visit their blog or personal website. Most career professionals now realize the value of maintaining their personal brand online—and, in turn, many are creating personal websites and blogs to showcase their experience, skills, and insights. You can learn a lot from their biography section or through reading recent blog posts.
It pays to do your research prior to an interview opportunity. Not only should you learn as much as possible about the company and position, but knowing more about the hiring manager can be beneficial, too. After all, you may discover a personal connection that gets you to round two!
Do you have additional ways to research a hiring manager before an interview?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010) and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.