Every now and then, I see an article about an intrepid job seeker who has done something unusual, outrageous, or extreme to get the attention of hiring managers and landed the job. But for the average job seeker, these types of stunts are probably not the best way to approach a job search.

We like to hear about these stories because they end in success. But what about all the times these maneuvers fail? Is anyone writing stories about all the applicants who have overstepped, awkwardly approached, and aggressively pursued themselves right out of a job opportunity?

Should you contact the hiring manager directly?

The truth is that while some hiring managers may appreciate clever, the majority appreciate candidates who can follow instructions and don’t inconvenience them. And, if you were to ask most hiring managers, they could probably tell you a story or two of candidates who went too far. Nonetheless, many career coaches believe that making a personal appeal is the best way to get your application in front of the right people.

So what should you do? Should you reach out to a hiring manager directly when you are applying for a job?

As a job seeker, your goal is to sell employers on hiring you.

Before you decide to make contact, make sure you understand the difference between showing initiative and becoming an annoyance. Additionally, you should invest some time in understanding the culture of the company to which you are applying and learn what you can about the individual you plan to approach.

Make sure you've done your research before contacting the hiring manager

To help you make the choice that’s right for your job search, follow these steps.

5 tips for making contact with a hiring manager:

Step 1: Follow the employer’s instructions.

If an employer’s job post specifically instructs applicants not to call about the job or attempt to contact the hiring manager directly, don’t. In Should I Go Around HR and Contact a Hiring Manager Directly, Alison Green explains that only a truly spectacular candidate can expect to be forgiven for attempting to cut the line, and odds are you aren’t that candidate.

Step 2: Do some detective work.

If you aren’t contacting a hiring manager about a specific job or haven’t seen any instructions forbidding calls, you should still investigate further before deciding it is okay to contact them directly. Read your target’s social media posts and articles to see if they reveal the author’s attitude about being contacted. If a hiring manager’s recent posts mention being annoyed by frequent candidate phone calls you know what not to do!

Step 3: Lay the groundwork.  

In sales jargon, professionals use the term “cold-calling” to refer to contacting someone with whom you have no prior connection. And cold-calling is hard because people don’t like having their day interrupted by someone they don’t know who is trying to sell them something.

As a job seeker, your goal is to sell employers on hiring you. Cold-calling is not going to be your most effective way of doing this. Instead, do a little preliminary work to make your first contact a warm one. If the hiring manager is active on LinkedIn or other social media channels, follow their posts and add intelligent comments. Let them get to know you as a member of their profession before you introduce yourself as a job candidate.

Step 4: Activate your centers of influence.

An even better way to warm up a potential contact is through the use of your mutual connections. Lisa Leitch describes how sale professionals use this process in her article, Stop Cold Calling – Start Warm Calling with your COI! Do you know someone who could make an introduction or offer a referral? The more touch points you can establish between yourself and the hiring manager, the less intrusive your contact will seem.

Step 5: Be respectful of the hiring manager’s time (and boundaries).

If you decide to contact the hiring manager for your dream job, make sure you do so in the least obtrusive way possible. Most often, this will mean sending an email similar to the one found in the article How To Find & Contact Hiring Managers About A Specific Sales Role (Without Seeming Desperate).

And, most importantly, don’t be a stalker. Even a hiring manager who is open to communicating with potential candidates will shy away from applicants who track down their every social media account.

Sell employers on hiring you but do it the right way

Make every contact count

Once you begin your job search, every professional interaction has the potential to contribute to your success or failure. So, make sure that every contact counts. Before you reach out to a hiring manager, ensure that you have followed the appropriate application process, understand their personal boundaries, and have a clear goal in mind. Show your professionalism with every step you take.