The hiring manager for any particular job is usually the person that requested the opening be made on the team and almost always the supervisor the eventual hire will report to. Hiring managers play a key role in the interview process and define the responsibilities and qualifications required of candidates. Their opinion is heavily weighed when a decision is made, so knowing who the hiring manager is and using that information to your advantage is a great way to give yourself a leg up.
Who are they?
To find out who your would-be hiring manager is, the best place to start is the job description. Often, descriptions include statements like “under the direction of the [job title]” or “this position reports to the [job title]” or any similar statements. At the very least, you should be able to infer what team you’ll be working on. Once you have this information, take it to LinkedIn.
Use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search function to enter the company details and the title of the person you’re looking for. If you don’t know the title, enter a relevant keyword or use trial and error to guess it. For example, a human resources coordinator would typically report to a human resources manager.
From here, use context clues and job titles to find the right person. Don’t hesitate to click into their profiles for more information – it’s not as big a deal for them to see you looked at their profile as you may think.
But who are they, really?
Once you find the right person, it’s time to gather information about them. What was their career trajectory? Have they spent a good chunk of their working life with the company? Are they big promoters of the company? Are they thought leaders in the industry?
You can find all this information, and more, online. LinkedIn will give you their resume. If they have posts on LinkedIn or personal blogs, read those to learn more about their views. Find their Twitter accounts and see if they actively Tweet about industry-related or other relevant topics. Get a sense of their pulse and passion for the company, industry, and job at hand.
So what should I do with this information?
Use all of the information you gather to create a profile around your potential hiring manager. If you have yet to speak to them, you can use their contact info (LinkedIn InMail or their email address, if it’s publicly available) to reach out to them about the status of your application. Remember to be polite, friendly, and only follow up if some decent amount of time has passed since you last heard from them.
Use things you learn about their resume/career path to to guide the conversation during your interview with them. If they’re lifelong employees, ask what they love most about the company and what drives them to stay so long. If they’re newcomers, ask about how they’re adjusting and whether the company has met or exceeded their expectations. Either way, talk about how you relate to their career trajectory thus far, what you hope you might learn from them, and share your long-term goals.
The things you learn on about them online will let you relate with them on a more personal level. In your correspondence – in person or otherwise – talk about things they’ve Tweeted or blogged about. And don’t be afraid to say “I saw you posted this particular article on Twitter.” As long as you’re friendly and not overly aggressive, people appreciate the effort you took to get to know them. It’s a great way to stand out from the resume crowd.