Tricking the system into giving you interviews

Good Monday morning,

The goal of your resume is to land interviews.  As we’ve laid out in Ladders 2019 Resume Guide, your resume doesn’t need to deliver you offers or negotiate your salary – its sole goal is to land you interviews.

But getting interviews can be an opaque and frustrating process, so it helps to know tricks for beating the system.  While you need to follow the requirements to apply online (or better, on Ladders), and network with your industry colleagues, there are some hidden pathways to securing interviews that might help you shorten your search.

The one big secret to all of these tricks is to visualize yourself as an actor in a movie called “{Firstname} gets a job.”  And the important thing about this movie role is that you will always, always, always be positive, polite, and a little too busy to bother the other person too much.  You should never come across as desperate, pleading, waiting by your phone, or anxious. You never threaten, wheedle, or honey badger the person you are reaching out to.

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Add these super powers to your bag of tricks:

1. Email HR, the hiring manager, or CEO

Send an email to the hiring manager, head of HR, or even the CEO.  You’d be surprised at how few people do this, and even more surprised at how few people pull it off without seeming batty.

A very pleasant “how do you do” and the briefest of notes is all that is required.  Your goal is to pique their interest, not persuade the person to hire you in a lengthy, breathless email.

Sure, they have plenty of applicants, but did any of the other ones bother to reach out, spell the boss’ name right, and tickle their inbox?  No, that’s right, just you. And that’s often enough to have the boss forward your email to the hiring manager, which makes you seem… important.

I’ve given you a template down below.

2. Your alumni network

Old school ties do bind.  Find someone at the target company who went to your college, high school, karate dojo, or Grateful Dead tour.  Reach out and connect with them.

Example below.

3. Ladders profiles

Your profile on Ladders can lead you to others who work at that company, either now or in the past, or went to your school.  Tell us your prior experience, and we’ll help make the connection.

4. Cold call

For Millennials, the phone is an often overlooked career tool.  Yes, picking up the phone and leaving a polite message for the hiring manager or head of HR is a thing, as they say.

For Gen X, you may have forgotten about this, as has much of the world.  A pleasant voicemail just might get forwarded to the right person.

I’ve given you a brief script for what that voice mail could sound like below.

5. FedEx

Use this sparingly as the costs for this can add up, but for those few jobs where you must get an interview, send your resume and a brief hand-written note via FedEx.  Bosses still open their own Fedexes. Presuming you’re qualified, humble and brief, your initiative deserves an interview.


It’s really very important that you use these in a positive, excited, enthusiastic frame of mind.  Maybe just after the gym, or turn the music up to 11, or after date night with the spouse — very positive feelings only, because your mental attitude shines through.

You’ll notice the sentiment is consistent across all three samples.

Email to CEO or Head of HR

“I’m a sales professional who has relocated to Atlanta for family reasons this summer, and I wanted to put myself at the top of your pile for the VP role at your firm.

My background in sales management, recruiting, and delivering consistent quarters of record growth might be a good match for what you’re looking for.  I’m interviewing this summer and hope to start something new in the fall.

I’ll look forward to speaking with you and your colleagues about the role, and we’ll chat soon!”


“James, so glad to e-meet you.  We both went to Cal and now I’ve just moved to San Antonio and would love any advice you might have for an alum looking to get settled and started professionally here in town.”


“Ms. Singh, I’d like to work for your company. My name is {first name, last name} and my background in analysis, management and leadership mean I could be a very good fit for the Senior Director role you have open.  Could you or your assistant let me know how to best get my information in front of the right person at your firm?”

All positive, all brief, all effective.

Next week, we’ll talk about persistence and how it is another secret trick in your search.

In the meantime, stay cool…

I’m rooting for you,

Marc Cenedella, Founder