Enterprise Software

Cold calls from job hunters often get a cold response from CIOs

Trying to bypass HR during a job search by reaching out directly to the CIO or hiring manager may be a big waste of your time. According to some members, CIOs don't have time for unsolicited phone interviews. In the end, HR may be your best option.


IT managers angling for a new position get a lot of advice. They’re told to network and revamp a resume for each particular position. They are also regularly advised to avoid HR and try to connect with the hiring manager directly. But, according to some TechRepublic members, IT managers who are looking for a job shouldn’t bother trying to connect directly with the CIO or other high-level tech leader.

According to TechRepublic members responding to a member feedback call, there are many reasons why CIOs don’t want the phones ringing with job inquiries.

“It's simply a time issue,” said George Smith, information resources manager for the Tulsa Police Department in Tulsa, OK. “If I took cold calls, way too much of my valuable time would be consumed with this activity at the expense of other duties.”

And even if Smith found a good candidate via a cold call, he’d have to reach out to his internal HR department to certify that the applicant was “qualified” before he could invite him or her to come in for an interview.

“I much prefer the opportunity to review resumes [first]. This way, I can quickly scan for key skills and eliminate mismatched candidates within seconds,” said Smith, adding that, for him, the best method is via referral from a mutual acquaintance.

Time constraints and internal hiring rules topped the list of reasons why most CIOs surveyed don’t welcome cold calls. Yet CIOs also understand why job seekers are reluctant to deal with HR, and that today’s job market inspires job seekers to try unique means to reach the “right” person in the job hunt.

Support for avoiding HR
“How many job applicants want to start calling HR departments? ZERO,” wrote one tech leader who requested anonymity. “The response isn't worth the time to make the call,” he added, acknowledging that he hasn’t gotten many cold calls due to his enterprise’s small size. Yet he added that he could be interested in talking with someone who’s finagled a way to reach him—if they’re well prepared for the ensuing conversation.

“A well-planned value proposition and a good first impression should mitigate the negatives associated with the cold call. If a prospective employee can get through this gauntlet, then the CIO should take a serious look at this tenacious and resourceful person,” he said.

Another TechRepublic member, Jim Wright, owner of Wright Consulting and an IT consultant for 25 years, completely understands the reasoning behind cold calls.

As Wright explained, an IT manager’s resume or application that is sent to HR is usually scanned into a canned software package, often with poor results. “The HR personnel, being unknowledgeable in IT and only knowing a few buzz words but not their meaning, are unable to deal with the application. In other words, the resume or application has fallen into a big, black hole and it can't get up,” said Wright.

Wright said that during a previous consulting project, his job was to find qualified personnel.

“I received more unqualified applications from HR than qualified. In desperation, I asked for all resumes or applications received prior to HR intervention. Only then was I able to find qualified personnel,” Wright said, adding that in his opinion, a resume or application going directly to an IT manager or department head, is far more likely to produce the desired results for the corporation and the applicant.

Support for letting HR do its job
But not every tech leader believes HR is useless or that job seekers should try to avoid them on the job quest.

“I am not sure why cold calling is becoming popular with IT professionals. Our HR people are set up to acknowledge applications and forward them to the appropriate managers; I am not,” said Michael Cardinale, VP of Engineering at Raven Inc., in Alexandria, Va. While Cardinale does not generally take cold calls from anyone, if he was called, he’d send the job hunter right over to HR.

“If such a call gets to my voice mail, I would delete it without handling it because, without a resume, it wastes everyone's time,” Cardinale added.

Wes Thurmond has taken an extra step to ensure that any cold calls don’t come through.

Thurmond set up a bulletin board on his phone system (a mailbox that presents a message but does not offer an opportunity for callers to leave one) that explains he does not receive cold calls, and if the caller would like to mail in information, they can get the corporate address off the Web site.

“I have instructed the receptionist to send any calls requesting to speak to someone by position, and not by name, to this extension,” he said. If job seekers somehow do reach him, Thurmond puts them on hold and forwards it to the phone mailbox explaining the cold call response.

“I did it mostly for sales calls because I don't need any quotes on more PCs, toner, or B2B solutions,” Thurmond said.

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