Networking Situation----Via a Junior Employee
I need your help on a current networking dilemma that I have faced in the past. You meet someone less junior than you at a prospective company or firm and you have a pleasant conversation about the group. However, this person does not have the authority to hire you. You like the person who you met plus the values of the organization. Further, you believe that you can help this individual with her challenges and help the firm grow. Plus, it seems like a nice fit professionally. This person indicates that you would probably be employed at a more senior level than them. She asked you to send them a resume to her gmail account. The specifics are that this individual is located remotely in a potential biotech hub for a prominent VC firm with an appreciation for scientific expertise. I would like to work under the auspices of a large fund that appreciates the scientific expertise required to identify and vet potential investments in early to late stage biotech companies versus a loose affiliation of a group of family offices who might not understand the science. The dilemma faced is do I just trust this individual and go only through her or do I just reach out to the head of the firm. Of course, I would thank her for her time. However, I am thinking she might feel "threaten" (or pressured) by me and thus it might be more productive if I did not enclose a resume then contacted the head of the firm. I have seen this problem many times both as a potential employee or an existing customer of a company whereby a junior employee does not want to risk their position within the company; therefore it is best to find the person who does have the authority to make such decisions. This does not mean or should be misinterpreted that I am trying to go around or over someone's head. Essentially, I am enquiring if this venture firm would work with me either in a contractually or full time role identifying and screening potential biotechs for investments with a regional focus. Since I work as a contractor, I have several potential companies that I have vetted that they might want to consider for investments.
How should I handle this situation?
Of note, I did ask her whether I should send a letter to the managing director or partner (and a referral). She said send it to her. I told her that I did not want to go around her and that this was simply an enquiry to see what was possible. She seems a bit new in this role.
The best practice(s) and professional action to take as a person who has agreed to advance your resume/application are basically one of 2 of the following depending on company referral systems:
1. They imput your materials into a employee referral system, by which you would get a triggered automatic email from the company stating your details are in the system AND that person sends an internal email to the hiring manager/HR partner stating that fact, depending on the relationship to you, they could give a positive reference (ideally from direct work with you) or a note stating how they met you and if and only if they want something positive, i.e. a request to contact you for a screening call, which in-general could be done as a courtesy, if stars align.
2. The second best practice way, and most common way (most company's don't have an employee referral intra-net portal) is for them to ask that you submit your application in the system so that you get a Job ID number. That person would then send your materials to the hiring manager (if they are not themselves the hiring manager) via an internal email, again if they ideally worked you, a couple notes in your favor, or how they know you with a reference to the Job ID number in the HR system.
My experience comes from working from established pharma companies with well systemized HR systems and functions/tools consistent with an internationally operating business enterprise. And that's the way I do it. In some cases, I've worked directly with a person, have had very positive experiences, so I have no issue leveraging my credibility and influence to get my contact at minimum a call (if not hiring directly). Or if I haven't worked with the person well enough but still have a positive view, I'll send the CV to the highing manager with a note that I'm doing my professional networking responsibility to do so and a soft message that my prior interactions were positive and that's about it. I'll ask the person to put their materials in the system (i.e. apply) and well, at least at that point it's in the hands of the hiring manager and HR and that's the best you can expect from a network contact willing to advance your CV, if they're not the hiring manager. In cases where I get feedback that's not supportive of the candidates application I'll make a soft note to my contact. HR will at somepoint give the no go but at least there is an answer.
This is the way it should be done.
In your case, I don't know the infrastructure of your target company, so you have to rely on the trust of that person to advance your CV and other application materials. There is not much else you can do other than to continue to follow up with that person. Don't pester the person but check in a a few weeks and see if any feedback. You can do networking with the company as part routine job-hunting/networking but don't go above the persons head if you get my drift.
As far as a junior employee "fearing" you, not really. They have some thing you absolutely do not have at all: credibility in their organization. Even if you got hired, and even at a higher level, you will have to build your credibility and trust - and it would be my best recommendation to remember who got you initially into the company. My actions have resulted in a few of my referrals being hired, some way more qualified than me and a couple at higher levels (I got paid handsomely for those referrals I must admit) - non were a threat to me. Non...took my job per se. Non fired me. Soo.... yeah, that's all I can say.
I've been referred in as well - I was never a threat to anyone. I never held a view I was better than anybody trying to get me into a company, irrespective of their title and role.
Hope it helps!
My thoughts are that the person who you spoke with, the more junior individual, has an opportunity to earn a "referral bonus." Why not allow him/her to continue that process? It's in their financial best interests to allow that process to continue -- to, perhaps, march it into the CEO's office, or at least the VP of HR.
If you don't get an appropriate response for some reason, you're not losing anything by following up directly as well a couple of weeks later.
Good luck! Let us know how it shook out.
Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
Bio Careers Forum