Proactive or annoying?
January 28, 2013 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Because of a story in the newspaper, I discovered that a local nonprofit will soon have a job opening that sounds like a perfect fit for me. The job is not posted on their website yet, but I was thinking of emailing someone there anyway just to let them know how interested I am in the organization, the job, and the changes they've made to make the job possible. Will this result in them looking more favorably on me when the job is posted, or in them looking at me as over-eager and unprofessional?
posted by Clustercuss to Work & Money (16 answers total)
It's public information, evidently. I would see an approach from you as coming from someone who is informed, stays on top of what's happening in the community, and is very interested in the position.

You might get a "you need to submit in response to the ad we're running in two weeks", but I wouldn't see that as a negative at all.

I see nothing unprofessional and, unless you start stalking someone about this, you're not over-eager.
posted by HuronBob at 2:53 PM on January 28, 2013 [11 favorites]

I was in a big meeting where a re-org was being discussed. Someone made an off-hand joke, "We're still looking for someone to take over the Pittsburgh territory."

I actually sent my resume to the hiring manager saying, "I know Bill was joking, but I'm actually singularly qualified to take over the Pittsburgh territory."

The job wasn't posted but I got a call that afternoon, and got the job a week later.

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

Send a professional letter, mention the article, enclose your resume. You may be surprised.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:06 PM on January 28, 2013 [20 favorites]

I'd go one step further and try to land an "informational" interview before anything is posted. They (whoever they are) say that up to 80% of jobs are filled before they are posted publicly. I don't see how it will hurt to see if you can land a meeting with the Executive Director in advance. At worst, they'll tell you to wait for the application process.
posted by COD at 3:07 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I say do it. Data point: a good friend of mine sent a letter with her CV/resume to the President of her dream company. She outlined her experience, strengths, and demonstrated strong knowledge of the company and their product line. She was contacted shortly later to interview for an unpublished job opening for a regional sales director job. It was mainly just a meet and greet to see if they liked her. She was hired immediately. She now has her dream job and loves it.
posted by quince at 3:38 PM on January 28, 2013

Do it. Opportunistic hires happen much more often than people think, because people are proactive.
posted by sm1tten at 4:25 PM on January 28, 2013

I'm a nonprofit manager who often hires and I say definitely do it. I would be impressed that you were tracking our organization that closely and had the initiative to reach out first.

I would be careful about trying to land an "informational" interview. That only works when your motives are pure - to learn about what it's like for the person you're talking to do their job in their field. It is a shitty experience when you are interviewing someone "informationally" and discover they are actually fishing for a job offer. Don't muddy the waters.
posted by Miko at 4:26 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

The worst that can happen is that you don't get the job. You don't have the job today, so you're life wouldn't really change. Thus, the worst that can happen is... nothing.

At best, your whole life changes.

So should you wait? Up to you.




posted by nickrussell at 4:34 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely! If you can figure out who the hiring manager is, send them a professional cover letter-type email with your resume attached. Otherwise send to HR.
posted by radioamy at 4:54 PM on January 28, 2013

Go for it. Most jobs will never be advertised in anyway because of networking and also stuff like this. I see no downside to this. You can always reiterate your interest again if it is ever advertised.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:55 PM on January 28, 2013

//It is a shitty experience when you are interviewing someone "informationally" and discover they are actually fishing for a job offer.It is a shitty experience when you are interviewing someone "informationally" and discover they are actually fishing for a job offer.//

Nonsense. It's not fishing for an offer. It's showing initiative and interest. Most informational interviews ever conducted were somehow related to one party looking for a job. Maybe not immediately, and maybe not with that specific company or organization, but somehow related to a job. And the other party knows that going in. It's how the business world works.
posted by COD at 5:22 PM on January 28, 2013

Let them know you are interested with a professional cover letter and your resume; this shows great initiative and self-direction. It is possible that they might already have someone in mind or actually lined up for the job, but you won't know unless you try!
posted by artdesk at 5:33 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, do it. Include your resume. You'll have to walk a fine line because you obviously can't "apply" for a job that's not posted, but this is the only time when they'll have ONLY your resume to look at.
posted by salvia at 6:08 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Absolutely do it, and reference the article directly.
posted by amaire at 6:19 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Of course inquire about it. What are they going to do, ding you for being a citizen informed of their comings and goings? Don't play it informationally, be confident and professional with them if they follow up: "If you're serious about filling that position, you want me to do it," like a boss.
posted by rhizome at 6:35 PM on January 28, 2013

I love that "nonsense!" And to that I say, poppycock!

After all the management training and experience I've had, I am familiar with how things work, and it is much better practice not to treat informational interviews as a time to angle for a specific job. It can as easily, or more easily, be perceived as underhanded, a manipulative bait-and-switch tactic (especially in the NFP world) as a smart move. So it's a risk I wouldn't take if I wanted to work there. Keep your purposes clear and separate. Apply when you're applying, inf. interview when you're learning.

I understand there is a lot of confusing talk out there, but this tactic was invented as a way for career explorers to become more informed about a field, and it's structured as an informational interview precisely because the person doing the exploring needs to talk to people in the field in a situation free of quid pro quo - and that means the managers can usually be more wide-ranging, honest and direct than they would if they were interviewing you for a specific job. This is intended to help you develop a smarter career plan - not to help you get a job in that company that month.

If you go into an informational interview with one set of expections ("I'm going to suss out job leads") and the manager another ("I'm going to meet an up and coming new person and talk about my experience and advice for this field") you will have a mismatch, which can redound to your harm. Just beware of this dynamic.

It happens all the time that people end up pursuing job opportunities they learn about in an informational interview. It happened to me; I've done a ton of informational interviewing, and that's how I learned about, applied, and got my first museum job. Every bit of networking helps. But etiquette, self-awareness, and the smart boundaries that tell you when you are, and when you are not, in a job interview are something employers are watching for.

2. These meetings are not about asking for job leads; the point is to learn something.
3. Think about informational interviews as a way to build a relationship and expand your network, not as a way to get a job.
CBS MoneyWatch:
Don't Lead By Asking For A Job
This is precisely what separates an informational interview from a regular one -- an informational interview is not about a job, it's about meeting someone, getting to know what they need, and letting them know what you want. "Avoid the temptation to pry about internal contacts or job openings. If the person sees you're a possible fit, they will tell you," says Ellen Huxtable, owner of Advantage Business Concepts.
posted by Miko at 6:47 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've landed jobs by sending my resume and a cover letter demonstrating my knowledge of the company to companies I am interested in that haven't advertised a position. And I've also been on the other side of the hiring desk.

IME: it is win-win when a good candidate shows up on their own initiative. It saves the company from having to place a job ad and then go through the interviewing and screening process - which, if a company doesn't have a formal HR department, is incredibly tedious and takes away from the interviewer's real work. Good candidate sends resume and cover letter? Yay! We can just snap that person up and not have to go through the job search song and dance! And it shows that the candidate has initiative, research skills, and knows about the company/industry.

So do it! Send a resume and a cover letter! The very worst that can happen is they don't respond. They'll still think well of you for showing initiative, and they might just save your resume in case another job opening comes along. (I've had that happen - Company called me, saying "You sent us your resume a year ago and we now have Suitable Job Opening.")
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:42 AM on January 29, 2013

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