Office Coach: When you have dirt on HR leader

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Question: After submitting several unsuccessful applications to a local business, I have concluded that I'm being blocked by the human resources manager. "Ashley" and I previously worked together at a different corporation until she was fired for sending obscene text messages. She may be afraid that if I join her company, I will tell people about this incident.

I have tried to reconnect with Ashley by sending friendly emails, but she never replied. She also failed to acknowledge my LinkedIn invitation. I hate to just give up, because this company has a great reputation and the position is perfect for me. I know there could be other reasons why I'm not getting an interview, but I strongly suspect that Ashley is the problem. How can I get past her?

Answer: If Ashley holds a gatekeeper position and you are correct about her motives, then applying through HR will be an exercise in futility. To have any hope of getting an interview, you will need to take the more circuitous route of establishing communication with the hiring manager.

To make this connection, use your network of contacts to identify the appropriate person and obtain an email address or phone number. If you can find someone willing to make an introduction, that will be even better. Connecting through LinkedIn is also a possibility.

However you make contact, your objective is to create such a strong impression that the manager will want to schedule an interview. HR may still be part of the process, but Ashley will no longer be in the power position.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach. Get free coaching tips at

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