A reader writes:
I saw an ad on one of the online sites for a job I want to apply for. So I went to the firm's address and found the job and there was a link to apply. The thing is that I don't trust the apply online sites. Most of the time, even if I am very qualified for a job, I never hear back. I know of the person who is the director of the department that the job is in, we are members of the same professional organization. Would it be bad form to just send my resume and cover letter to her? The online site does not even have a place to add a cover letter.
If you have a personal connection at the company, you should absolutely take advantage of it and send your materials directly to her. This would be true even if your contact there were in a completely unrelated department -- but since she's even in the same department you're applying to (and possibly the manager of the position since she's the director), this is an ideal set-up.
It's always better to use a personal in if you have one. You can even use a friend's personal in, if your friend is willing. The idea is just to get a live person to shepherd your application along. Good luck!