Inevitably, when I'm meeting with a new job seeker, I'll ask a question that makes them pretty uncomfortable. Most of the time, that question is along the lines of, "Why don't you send the hiring manager a message on LinkedIn?"
Often, this job seeker has found a posting for their dream job at a great company – but they don't have any connections at the company. So, I will suggest that they introduce themselves to the hiring manager via LinkedIn or an email.
The most common objection I hear is that the job seeker doesn't want to bother the hiring manager. They feel that contacting the hiring manager directly would be "breaking the rules." It would be a way of going around the online system the company has designed. On top of that, they assume they'd annoy the hiring manager with their actions.
The thing to remember is this: It's a great idea to apply online, but online application systems aren't perfect. There's a chance your resume will never be seen by human eyes if you only apply online. In all likelihood, the hiring manager knows this. If you're a qualified candidate, they will be more than happy to hear from you. They're probably dying to find the right candidate to fill their opening.
On top of that, most hiring managers are themselves networkers. The higher you go up the food chain at most companies, the more you need to rely on own networking abilities. So there's a good chance that the hiring manager has done the very same thing before.
Furthermore, the risk is pretty small. In a worst-case scenario, the hiring manager will ignore your message. The chance that they will send you an angry response is very low. And if you don't contact them via email, they may never know you exist in the first place.
After reading this, you may wonder how in the world you would go about finding the hiring manager's contact info if you don't know them. It can be tricky, but it's often more possible than you think.
I'll give you an example: Years ago, I was searching for a job when I came across a perfect digital marketing opportunity at a large company. I didn't know anyone there, so I used LinkedIn to research who the hiring manager might be. I looked at the company's page on LinkedIn. Then, I looked at all of the employees who worked there. I scanned each employee's title until I found the vice president of digital marketing. I used LinkedIn to send him a message asking for a networking lunch, and the rest is history.
Granted, I didn't get hired right away, but once the company got to know me, my email paid off and I got the job.
The next time you're hesitant to break the rules, ask yourself why. What's the worst that will happen? If the "worst thing" isn't too terrible, then go ahead and bend those rules a bit. It just might pay off.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.