“Be bloody, bold and resolute”. I remember learning this Shakespeare quote in Year 12 and it applies absolutely to Job Search. There are only four ways to get a job and no-one will ever be able to invent a new one!
That wouldn’t matter if it weren’t for the fact that most job seekers put their time and energy in the Visible Job Market, where the return on investment is extremely low.
Statistics Never Lie
Guess what the generally quoted stats are in relation to how most people find a new job?
- Advertised role 5%
- Recruiters 20%
- Networking 65%
- Cold calls/marketing letters 10%
It’s quite mind-boggling really. Attacking your job search by targeting employers via cold calls has double the success rate of applying for a job where the employer actually advertises that there is a vacancy.
Waiting, waiting, waiting
Most job seekers prefer a passive job search strategy. They submit an application and wait. When they don’t hear anything, they repeat the process.
A much more successful approach is to take the initiative and make direct contact with potential employers. Allied to a strong networking campaign, contacting employers directly is fundamental to a successful job search.
Reluctance and Barriers
Direct employer contact requires preparation, confidence and persistence. You may be uncomfortable with this approach. You might be afraid that you will offend the employer and hurt your chances for employment.
A certain amount of concern is healthy; it is important to be considerate of employers and respect their time. But also remember that you have something they need. You’re not asking for a handout – you are selling a quality product! If you don’t take the initiative, no one will take it for you.
Turning Up on the Doorstep
When I was at Uni, many years ago and I wanted a waitressing job, I door-knocked, and I got my job at the third place I visited. And, this approach of pounding the pavement can work with entry level jobs in the small business sector where the owner often respects the bravery of the job seeker.
However, if you are at the senior end of the job market, it does not work to just walk in and ask “Are you hiring?”
Choose your method: Direct Call or Initial Marketing Letter
The cold call is a variation of the initial conversation used to arrange a networking meeting. It is an extremely effective job search technique and gives you an edge over your competition. Résumés and letters flood the desks of most managers; cold calls are comparatively rare, and well-planned cold calls are rarer still.
At the beginning of a job search campaign, some people believe that the best approach is to send out some résumés. This is a mistake. A résumé often contains too much information, some of which might be used to screen you out of the competition without anyone in the organisation ever having met you.
The aim of a one-page marketing letter is to arouse the interest of your decision maker, so that when you follow up the letter with a phone call, he/she thinks that you are worth spending the time on a meeting.
A word of warning here. I am not talking about the standard generic letter, asking for a job with a résumé attached that we have all received over the years. And which generally ends up in the bin.
My Two Cents Worth
A job search marketing letter is one of the cleverest documents around. The purpose of it is to make the reader think: “OK, this person is worth twenty minutes of my time.”
You should address the marketing letter to the decision maker who would hire you, not to the HR department. Your marketing letter should also request an interview and you should follow up within a week by telephone call to make an appointment.
Generally, I recommend that job seekers send a marketing letter and then follow up with the phone call, rather than just make a cold phone call.
And, in today’s world of endless emails, I recommend that you send it by snail mail. Use good quality paper (100gsm) and ensure that you have used a laser printer.
Recapping the basics
- The first step is to list potential employers. Research the employer, the industry, and the job. Once you have your list, plan a strategy to approach each employer.
- Direct contact may be in-person or by phone. However, the ultimate goal is an in-person interview.
- Target YOUR decision maker.
- Set your goal as a face to face meeting – do NOT submit an application or résumé.
- Script your phone introduction so that you come across as alert, strong and interesting. Make sure that you ask for a meeting.
Fortune Favours the Bold
Expect rejection! It goes with the territory.
I often talk to my clients about the importance of having what I call a determined, disciplined job search campaign. A successful job search is a sales campaign where fortune very much favours the bold.
Be brave enough to undertake skilful direct employer contact and you will be the winner.