Dear Matt: What is the best way to approach a company about a career when its website doesn't doesn't have a careers page or list any openings?

Matt: This is a situation where you have to do some digging - and use some old-fashioned methods - like making contacts via a few phone calls.

Once you have your targeted company in mind, do as much research as you can on the Internet. Even if they don't have career information on a website you may be able to find background info about the company through a web search. Next, call the main phone number and ask for the head of the department you are interested in working in. If it is I.T. ask for an I.T. director, if it is marketing ask for a marketing director, etc.

Wade Rastall, vice president of McKinley Consulting (www.mckinleyconsulting.com), a Minnetonka-based search firm, says it's important to be prepared to present your selling points to that person during that initial phone call. Be ready to talk about three benefits (not features) that you could bring to the company if they hired you (for example: save them time, save them money, I can create this).

"Make sure your résumé is in front of you when you make this call so you are prepared if they start asking questions about your background - you'll sound more organized," says Rastall.

If you can't get a department leader, ask to speak with a member of the company's human resources department and ask who you should speak to about current job openings, says Jackie Engmark, executive director of the Minnesota Recruiting and Staffing Association (www.mnrsa.org).

If the human resource contact says the company isn't hiring, ask whom you should contact or send a résumé to in the future. Make sure you get that persons name, phone number and e-mail. If you are really ambitious, call or e-mail that person and ask if he will meet you to discuss working for the company, says Steven Rothberg, president and founder of CollegeRecruiter.com. Be clear that you are not going to ask him for a job - you just want to better understand how he got his job and what it's like to work for the organization. If the company has an employee referral program, then he'll have a financial incentive to meet with you and submit your résumé on your behalf, says Rothberg.

And if they aren't hiring now, they may have met a strong candidate for the future.


Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has nine years of experience reporting on the employment industry. The first Sunday of each month this column will answer readers' questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to askmatt@startribune.com.