Most people know how to find jobs online and apply for the jobs they find. But one of the biggest frustrations I hear from job seekers is the difficulty of making sure your application reaches a real, live human being—and that that person will actually give your application some real consideration.

Fortunately, you have a powerful weapon in connecting directly and personally with the hiring manager of your target position. LinkedIn is a huge resource for companies posting jobs and recruiters searching for job candidates, and it’s a powerful tool for you as a job seeker as well.

Here’s how to use LinkedIn to identify and make contact with the decision-maker of your target job.

Find Potential Jobs on LinkedIn

From the LinkedIn home page, click on the Jobs tab on the top navigation bar. You will be presented with a list of “Jobs you may be interested in” and, further down the page, “Companies you may be interested in.”

This is a great place to start browsing available jobs to get a sense of what’s out there and how those jobs’ key qualifications are described. (Hint: You’ll be using that information to tailor your resume and LinkedIn profile.)

You can also use the Search bar to search specific job titles and narrow down your location.

Identify the Job Poster

Take a look at this job announcement. On the right-hand side, you see a section “Contact the job poster.” It provides the hiring manager’s name, her picture, and even a link to her LinkedIn profile. A gold mine of information about the person you need to reach!

Unfortunately, many jobs posted on LinkedIn won’t make your job quite so easy. Jobs like this one don’t include the “Contact the job poster” section.

But don’t worry! With a little LinkedIn sleuthing, you can often identify the job poster yourself!

In the search bar, enter

  1. A term like hiring manger, talent acquisition, or recruiter.
  2. The target company name

Here I tried Hiring Manager McKesson Specialty Health, but that didn’t yield good results. I tried with Recruiter McKesson Specialty Health, and voila!, here’s someone whose job title is “Senior Recruiter, Talent Acquisition at McKesson Specialty Health.” I also notice that her location is the same location as my target job. I don’t know for certain, but chances are high that this is the person my job application needs to reach.

Make Contact

Now that you know the name of the job poster and have a way to contact them, you’re at a huge advantage in your job application. Here’s how you can use this information to help your application hit the mark.

  1. Research the job poster.
    Review their LinkedIn profile. Read their LinkedIn posts. This may give you some insights on the company’s direction and the poster’s approach. You may find some common ground and get a clearer understanding of how to tailor your application to their needs.
  2. Send the job poster a LinkedIn connect request.
    Click on the “connect” box next to their name. When the “You can customize this invitation box” pops up, click “Add a note.”
    A brief note ups your chances that the person will accept your request. You can try something like this:

Hello,

I’m a Customer Engagement Director in the healthcare field and I’m interested in applying for your Customer Engagement and Implementation position. I’m assembling my application now. Can you give me any insights on what you’re looking for in this role?

Best wishes,

Jane Jobs

Hot tip: The job poster is now highly likely to browse through your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it’s complete, professional, error-free, and in line with the desired qualifications for this job.

  1. Address your cover letter specifically to this person.
    Now, instead of using “Dear Hiring Manager” or the dreaded “To whom it may concern,” you can address your cover letter to the job poster by name.

Let’s be honest. This kind of sleuthing and outreach can feel very uncomfortable. No one wants to be intrusive or overstep.

However, keep in mind a few things. First, hiring managers are as invested as you are in finding the right person for the job. If you’re truly, honestly a strong candidate, they want to connect with you. (And if you’re not really qualified, then perhaps you should adjust your strategy to avoid wasting your time and theirs.)

And think of the huge difference between a generic, mass-produced communication and those directed specifically at you. By doing your homework about the company and their hiring team, you’re doing them a favor by making sure your application is in line with what they’re looking for.

Check out more tips for sleuthing potential companies here. And if you’ve had success—or fails—connecting with hiring managers through LinkedIn, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Happy job hunting!