Contacting Employers Directly

Contacting Employers Directly

Description: Connect with employers via telephone or email to inquire about job opportunities. Tactful persistence may help you get noticed by a busy manager or Human Resources Department. Tactful persistence also lets the employer know that you are very interested in the job/company and may distinguish you from other candidates.

Advantages: A great way to target specific employers that interest you and may not post their jobs.

Disadvantages: Since you will be contacting employers who do not know you, it’s likely that your response rate will be very low. Employers tend to prefer employee referral candidates rather than “unknown” candidates. There’s also a great likelihood that no position will be available. 

After identifying fields and job functions that interest you, the suggestions below will help you contact employers with more ease:

Step 1.  Target 5 to 10 organizations:

Develop a list of organizations that may be a fit for you. Directories such as Wetfeet and Vault guides, and the Stanford Employer Database, all of which are on the CDC’s website, can help you identify organizations in your field of interest. Some other useful resources located in the CDC’s Career Resource Center include the Hoover’s Business Online Directory, Corporate Technology Directory (CD-ROM), and government and nonprofit directories. The Leadership Directories is a “who’s who” database of upper management in corporations, government, and professional organizations. Jackson Library in the Graduate School of Business also has excellent resources, especially on smaller businesses not covered in national directories. Research your organizations of choice by visiting their websites to learn about their mission, products/services offered, to learn names of their major divisions, and to determine where they are located. Check out their careers/jobs section to learn about what it is like to work for the organizations.

Step 2.  Locate contacts within an organization:

Identify specific individuals within an organization that can connect you to hiring managers or the appropriate contacts. The tips below may help you identify contacts:

1) Conduct an informational interview with an individual in the organization. An informational interview can create an opportunity for you to learn more about the organization, find out about positions available, as well as obtain contact information of those in a position to hire you. A great way to find people in a particular organization is to search the Stanford Career Network, You can also ask your professors, family, friends, etc. if they know anyone in the organizations you are considering.

2) Use the CDC’s Stanford Employer Database. A majority of the employers that recruit at Stanford will have their contact information in our database. Typically those listed in the database are human resource professionals, who can route candidates to the appropriate hiring managers.  For public sector employer information use the Stanford On-line Public Service Employer Database.

3) Try calling the company headquarters or office of the Vice President of the division in which you are seeking a position. Ask for an annual report and the name and title of the head of a specific department in which you’d like to work. Check for the correct spelling of the name and ask for their direct phone line.

Step 3.  Contact those involved with the hiring process:

Your primary goal is to establish contact with a hiring manager or human resources representative to introduce yourself and get a sense of any possible opportunities. You can either send an email or make a telephone call. One strategy is to send an email to the contact person, then call about a week later to follow up. Briefly describe your background, what you can contribute to the organization, and the kind of position that interests you. Don’t send them a cover letter and resume until you have a clearer idea of what the job entails. You will be able to better target your cover letter and resume to the position at that point. When calling, project a positive and courteous attitude, be brief and to the point. If there are no openings, ask for a referral to another potential employer. Because of their decision-making power, hiring managers tend to have strong networks and may know other people interested in interviewing recent Stanford graduates. It’s a good idea to develop an introductory script before calling:

“Ms. Walker, my name is Morris Jackson from Stanford University. I sent you an email recently, and I am calling to make sure you have received it. Do you have a few moments to speak with me?  I will graduate from Stanford in June with a degree in International Relations and have experience interning in the marketing department of a growing international company moving into the Latin American market.  I am fluent in Spanish and very interested in Global Enterprises. I am hoping that you can help me learn more about possible job opportunities with your organization.”