Need opinions from HR-types

About a month ago, I had a meeting with a man who is in HR at a local hospital. This was part of a project I am working on at my current job, not an interview.

Last night, I was perusing the job listings and saw a listing for a job at that same hospital, a job that I think I am well-qualified for. The department that he heads is one of the ones listed as a department that the person in this position would work closely with.

I applied for the job online. Then, this morning, I called him to make a general inquiry about the position and to see if he could/would give me any information about the type of person they are looking for.

I got his voicemail. I have to admit, I did not leave as smooth a message as I would hope. I did remind him of our meeting and the type of work that I do, and asked if he could please give me a call back when he had about 10 minutes to talk, so that I could ask him about “a tangentially related matter.”

No, I have no idea why I used that phrase. I guess I just thought that it was unsubtle to leave a message saying, “I met you in the context of explaining what my organization does and how we might be able to partner with you…but now I’d like to talk about an open position you have.” And it is tangentially related, in that I currently do a lot of the tasks that they are hiring for.

I figured that IF he called back, I would be able to explain further. He had his assistant call me back, though, and set up a time to talk on Friday.

So…now I’m wondering—is it OK to keep this phone time on Friday without further explaining that I am calling about an open position? Would you feel duped by not getting that kind of heads-up? I kind of feel like, if I had gotten him on the first phone call, he would not have a head’s up, either, so what’s the difference? But part of me wonders if he will think I have misled him as to the intent of my call.

If you can’t tell, the whole networking thing leaves me baffled at times. So, I’d like some advice.

I suggest going into the Friday call with confidence. You are the kind of person his department is trying to find in many ways- have the qualifications on paper, currently gainfully employed, familiar from previous successful interaction. He should be happy to hear of your interest. Assuming he even remembers the voicemail, he’d probably think the wording was awkward because you were maybe calling from your current job or a public location.

This is good and legitimate networking, go into it with confidence that you were right to apply for the job and right to contact him for more info.

Now, he may not be able to give you more info. Sometimes HR is under pressure to treat all applicants equally, avoid appearance of favoritism, blah blah. Or maybe there could be politics behind filling the position that he won’t want to get into. But the only way you could make this call not work in your favor, IME, is to be too pushy when he is sending signals to back off. Have some questions ready to ask on Friday so you don’t get brain freeze.

Good luck!

Thank you, Harriet the Spry! I am hopeful and have been preparing some questions, but will certainly be attuned to any ‘back off’ signals if there are any. I’m pretty good in actual interactions; it’s the weird voicemail—assistant calling—phone tag situations that can flummox me.

Depends how large the organisation is as well- if they have a number of vacancies- say at a big hospital- the person may not be familiar with one particular position. I would be inclined to alert them as to the position you are after so they can be prepared. No one likes surprises.

I’m not sure if you mean alert them first or not…although it’s too late now because it is after business hours and my call is first thing tomorrow.

At any rate, the position is in his department.

Good luck with the call.

Frankly, I think it depends on this individual person, and his attitudes, etc. Can depend on what kind of morning he’s having on Friday. Hard to say, in general. Sometimes it’s best to let people know what you’re calling about, sometimes it’s best to leave it vague until you have their attention.

Just an update—he was happy to hear from me and to share information. He asked me to send him a copy of my resume in addition to the online application I submitted, so I wrote up a cover letter touching on some of the points we covered in the phone call and sent it off.

So…we’ll see. I really do think it would be a good fit for me, and I’m also just happy to have practiced this whole networking thing. It’s not something that comes easily to me, despite knowing very well how important it is.