Guessing recruiter's email address?



I'm wondering whether you guys think it's a good idea to guess the company email address of recruiters in firms I'm applying to. Here's what I'm doing: I'm sending prospective applications to firms I like, and sending them to the email they provide ( but I'm also looking around on Linkedin and their own website to find out who the office manager is, and using the email patterns of their company (sometimes they have a press contact person whose email is visible) to guess the recruiter's email. Then I CC them on the application email.

My question is, is this practice OK or am I overstepping?

Thank you in advance for your advice.

Aug 18, 19 6:36 am

This isn't a great idea, for a few reasons.

1. The "" address often forwards to several people, not just one.  Different firms have different ways of reviewing applicants, so it's pretty much impossible to guess who those people might be. In some firms the people involved in hiring for one position are different than for another.

2. Firms use the "" structure specifically because they don't want applicants directly contacting individual staff - they want to choose when to review applications and who will do it.  If you send your materials to that address as directed, but then to specific people in the firm as well, then it's clear that you did know their preferred way of contacting them but you decided to ignore that.  That's rude, and marks you as someone who doesn't want to follow directions (so yes, you're overstepping.)

3. It's not always possible to guess the person's address based on the structure of other emails in the company - so you may be sending your materials to somebody who has nothing to do with hiring.  For instance, if they use the first-name-last-initial structure, but multiple people in the firm have the same first name and last initial, then the person who has that address will just be the one who worked there first, not necessarily the one you're trying to contact. (Example:  James Happenstance, their spec writer, has worked there since the dawn of email, so his email is, while James Q. Hiringmanager's email is  James Happenstance gets a lot of spam meant for Mr. Hiringmanager, and deletes it all without reading.)

4. The "office manager" in a lot of firms is some combination of bookkeeper, supply manager, facilities manager, or receptionist - but often has nothing at all to do with hiring.  It just makes you look silly if you guess at how that firm is structured.

Aug 18, 19 1:15 pm

Thank you for you response. Very good points. I had planned on this (the applications are scheduled but not yet sent) as a way to show I'm specifically interested in these firms in particular and not just mass-sending applications. I had read in some blogs that it is sometimes a good idea to research who might be in charge of recruitment and try to send them the stuff so that your application doesn't drown in a sea of candidates.

I was, indeed worried that I would be seen as an overstepping creep, basically. Most of these firms are small-ish, so I figured the person I had guessed to be the recruiter could really be the only one doing it. For when I haven't been able to find a suitable option I've simply addressed the principal. I'm guessing I can't go wrong with that.

Aug 18, 19 1:45 pm

If they have directions to send your application to a certain email address, then that is how they want to receive applications.  Sending emails to my personal in-box usually comes across as pushy to me, and even obsessive when someone does it more than once.  It also suggests that if we hired them they'd turn out to be one of those fabled "entitled millennials" who don't think directions apply to them.  If we're hiring then we're going to be checking our designated email account, and the way to show that you're very interested in a specific firm is to write an excellent cover letter that makes it clear that you know what that firm does and that you'd be an excellent fit because of x, y, and z.  There's no reason to annoy individuals - that doesn't show interest in a good way.

Aug 18, 19 3:23 pm

While I agree with other people regarding the following the application process, I had great success emailing directly to principals and director level people.  I landed two previous jobs just doing that and some interviews.  In fact, my mentor who is a principal of a large firm recommended that is the best way to reach people.  This may not be the optimal solution for every firm and some firms may prefer that you come through the proper channel, but i still think it is a great way to stand out among other candidates.  Good luck!  

Aug 18, 19 5:25 pm

I can really see it depends on the firm's vibe and each person's attitude... Maybe I'll try to contact someone first to see if they give me the right person's address or if they know if it's ok to do it. Thanks!


When I receive an unsolicited application sent to my individual email address I add that applicant to our company-wide sender/domain block list. Why would we hire someone who thinks it's ok to waste our time by trying to go around the people whose job it is to initially assess candidates?

Aug 19, 19 10:20 am
Chad Miller

JB, you sound like a tight assed jerk.


Because sometimes you have better eyes to discern a talent than those people whose job is to only screen people based on resumes and set of directions they were given? Unless the letter was written in arrogant manner or has no substance, I actually don't mind reading unsolicited applications. I rather see them as gutsy and thinking outside of the box..   On the flip side, i get annoyed by recruiters reaching out to me on my work email and office phone...  that to me reveals no professionalism, originality (couldn't they use LinkedIn?), and interest.


Because I don't send applications because I think it's ok to waste your time or anyone else's. I'm trying to get through in a tough market and I bet you wouldn't be where you are if it wasn't because a good bunch of people went out of their way to help you, or reviewed your shit despite it not following their instructions. I know I wouldn't hire someone who straight up blocks people out of the annoyance of an unsolicited app, cause god knows what it's like to work with you.


I've started getting unsolicited employment requests directly to my work email. Which is silly because I'm rarely involved in hiring, and have a fairly specific non-management position. I don't know why someone would think I'm going to make a recommendation to our HR department or any of the management team for a person i've never even met.

I just trash them, and if I ever recognized the name of someone from the email (which is unlikely since I basically don't read them) I'd make a note they probably don't have a good understanding how to connect to other people in a professional way.

Aug 19, 19 10:21 am

I have that same experience. They "apply" to the firm in this scatter-shot way where they just try every email address that they can come up with for anybody in the firm - and their emails are over the top with flattery (examples from the most recent: "It feels greatly exciting to connect with you", "I would love to work in your prestigious firm", "I shall so enjoy being a part of your esteemed firm"...) but they contain absolutely nothing indicating that the sender knows anything about our firm or my role in it. There's also a strange similarity and repetition of phrases in a lot of these emails - as if a lot of applicants are copying from the same template somewhere... Hint to job seekers: if we get the same cover letter from you that we got from three other people yesterday, all of you are going in the trash.


I can totally understand that. Even I, currently looking for 0-2 years exp jobs once received an application to "my firm" which doesn't exist. In the CC of the email there was a list of hundreds, maybe more than a thousand emails of people I assume were all related to architecture. My interest in finding someone in particular in a firm is so that I can actually address a particular person, which makes the letter so much more natural. Then I tell them what I think matters to them and how I'm a good fit to contribute to their vision and projects. It's just so much easier if I know who ends up reading my letter!


I think you're assuming bad faith without reason; I'm not trying to get in through the back door. I'm trying to get someone to read my application instead of my email getting directly thrown away. And if I'm willing to make more of an effort than other candidates by searching for the adequate person, then why shouldn't I have that extra bit of advantage? It's not a good practice according to most people here, so that's the end of it. That's another question however. That is why I asked the question in the first place.


what works better if you can find specific people in a firm is ask them if they could meet you for coffee or give you some advice on working at firms doing commercial mix use or whatever it is they do. not everyone will say yes, but the ones who do might be willing to help direct you towards firms that are hiring if they feel like you're a good candidate.

I don't think it's a matter of bad faith, but it is trying to take a shortcut ... but that's business. If you can cut out a step to get ahead of the competition, well good for you. That said, what you are trying to do is leverage a network that doesn't exist for you. Writing a cover letter to someone you've never met or don't know is still 'cold calling' and it's likely to be seen as an annoyance rather than a characteristic the firm needs to bring to their business. It might work better for a job as a manufacturer's rep though, YMMV. 

Take the advice that has been given out and find someone in the firm that you can take out to coffee or lunch and build a network. Go to AIA events, or other events, to meet people in various firms that you might call upon in the future to get your portfolio past the HR manager. In essence, you have to build a network before you can leverage the network.


I'm trying to get someone to read my application instead of my email getting directly thrown away.

Right. You have the right idea, but you're approaching it backwards.  Why would your email be directly thrown away if the firm is hiring and they have an email address for that purpose?  The person or people doing the hiring will surely check that email and review your application.  If you try to guess who might be that person, and you get it wrong, then your email will surely be thrown away.  In your first post you said you were targeting the office manager.  In some firms that's who does the initial screening of the hiring emails, so they would see it anyway if you sent it to the requested address in the first place.  But in a lot of firms the office manager is the least likely person in the whole firm to have anything to do with hiring.  Why waste your time guessing?  Instead put your time applying to more firms, instead of applying to the same one multiple times.


Right, point taken. I've been lucky enough to get put in contact with the right person in some firms, I see it's not a good idea if I have never been in contact with the person. Thank you for the advice.


Has anyone ever tried walking into an office with a 12 pack of a smooth drinking beers, randomly handing these beers out and talking to people, working your way around to the principal, crack that beer, discuss business, become a partner? 

I believe I saw this approach on one of those mini-documentary style beer instructionals on the tv.

Aug 21, 19 12:20 am

I'll try it and report back with results.


The reason I set up a special email address for applicants is because I don't want big portfolio files jamming up the rest of my email while they try to download on my phone.  If I wanted those emails sent to my regular address then I would have put that address in the hiring info on our website, instead of making a special email for applicants.  There are lots of bloggers and articles out there with bad ideas for job applicants.  For awhile years ago people were getting my home phone number and calling on the weekends during dinner, because some career advice columnist wrote that it's a way to make a memorable personal connection (it is, but not a good one).  Then 10 years ago or so there was the trend of sending things to make their applications "stand out" - like putting their resume in the hole of a bundt cake, or in a picture frame (it does make your application stand out, but...)  Please just avail yourselves of the systems that firms set up for applicants, and follow firms' directions.

Aug 21, 19 3:51 pm

But how else am I supposed to trick you into hiring me when I offer no significant value for you over the dozens of other applicants? Gimmicks are my thing. Can I still send you my resume in a mini bundt cake?


These days you can probably get your resume printed right on the cake. I'd guess a cake without a hole in it might lend itself better to that purpose. Then again, if your resume has a corresponding middle (like if you spent 3 years in prison or getting a Masters of Metaphysics) then the bundt cake is the way to go.

Little known fact, a key baked into a mini bundt cake was how I ended my 3-year stint in prison

Oh, that would have been much easier ... but less tasty overall. I'll give it a shot next time.

Unless you actually know the person it doesnt matter if you have their name.

We get a lot of unsolicited email applications. A lot. Since we are small it ends up being me or one of our staff who reads them all.

We have two rules, developed for the simple purpose of reducing our workload.

1. Anything bcc'ed is thrown out unread. You should mention our office name in the mail. Obvious form letters are binned as well.

2. Overflowing flattery is thrown out half way through reading. It indicates bad office fit. We are a fun office I think, and try not to be overly pretentious unless it is humorous. We value people who can keep things chill.

3. Get to the point, keep it real. No embroidery. What position do you want, when do you want it and if you want to get into the why then go for it, but it shouldn't be because you think we are awesome, or because you are awesome (even if you ARE awesome). Oh and we prefer pdfs over links to issuu, because it is not easy to review a portfolio on a website. In fact it is the opposite of easy.

Yes I know that was three points. The last one is not a rule, just advice.

For what it is worth, the e-mails with my actual personal name in it are creepy. Unless you know me or can say who introduced you and gave you my personal email. So, don't do that. It's a personal boundary thing. Just be professional and go through regular channels.

Aug 21, 19 7:52 pm

That was really helpful Will, thank you. I always into the why though; there is always a reason why I've picked a particular firm in the first place, and I think letting them know might give them a better idea of my fit (hopefully a positive one). I'll just stick to the posted email address for applications :)

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