Should I go through HR or use my connections?

Jeanine “JT” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and founder of the leading career site Dale Dauten is the founder of The Innovators’ Lab and the author of an HR novel, “The Weary Optimist”.

Dear JT & Dale: I had an HR screening interview with an organization with which I have many connections. The pay for the role is way below my current salary. The senior manager is a friend. Should I contact her to find out if there is a margin of negotiation? – Clear

JT: The best thing to do is to ask the HR manager first if they know of any compensation wiggle room. Since all salary approvals will go through HR, going to the C-suite first will make you feel like you’ve bypassed them. Now if HR says the salary is non-negotiable, then go to your C-level friend and let them know the situation and how you were told there was no room for negotiation. That way they can go and inquire at the next level and possibly change it, but at least you followed the protocols and didn’t alienate HR.

VALLEY: My take is that HR is there to help executives achieve their goals, and what we want is for an executive to make your hire a goal. However, HR can be an obstacle in a case like this; after all, bringing you a salary well above the established salary level could have a domino effect where suddenly many other people will feel seriously underpaid. (How will those others know? In this “connected” world, it’s always wise to assume that everyone will eventually know everything.) So here’s the solution: you want to visit your executive friend and explain that you would like to work there, but not at the job that is currently open. Your goal here is to have a new job title/description based on what you have to offer. I know it’s possible because I managed to accomplish such a change early in my career. I had a job that was a dead end, and when I explained the dilemma to a company executive, he basically asked me what job I would like. I described it and, bang, it became the job description for a new position. Then we decided on a job title together. Applying this to your case, it’s not that the open job doesn’t pay enough, it’s that the better paying job hasn’t been created yet.

Dear JT & Dale: A favorite company has just posted multiple job openings for the same position. On their jobs page, it lists about 20 positions, all with the same job title. Could this be a fluke? If not, should I apply to just one or should I apply to all? – Nico

JT: Is it possible that each post is in a different place, hence the multiple postings?

VALLEY: Maybe, although I guess it’s just a computer-aided error. It could be something like when you are online and try to sign up for an email alert and the site doesn’t seem to be working, but later you find out that you signed up five times. Or, it could be an old-school rookie mistake, like if an intern was told the company needed to hire 20 new employees, so the intern posted the same job 20 times.

JT: I guess there’s no point in trying to figure out what was wrong. But, this could be an opportunity: try to find out who was the recruiter who posted the jobs (sometimes he is listed) and send him a message on LinkedIn asking him if he wanted to have 20 jobs and ask him if you should apply to all or just one. This way, you’ll know what to do AND be able to strike up a conversation with the recruiter who might get you noticed faster!

VALLEY: Good idea. And, if there’s no name associated with those posts, you can always send a note to someone in the company’s human resources department, asking who to ask.

JT: If you can’t get in touch with anyone, apply to just one job to start with. Applicant tracking systems can usually tell when people have applied multiple times, and it can be annoying for HR to receive so many applications from you.

Jeanine “JT” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and founder of the leading career site Dale Dauten is the founder of The Innovators’ Lab and the author of an HR novel, “The Weary Optimist”. Email questions to or write c/o King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2022 by King Features Syndicate Inc.