My answer to that question is yes! Networking is the number one method job seekers are utilizing to secure a job. The second most successful method is to directly market yourself to prospective employers.
Your first challenge is to make a list of your preferred companies and conduct extensive research about those companies. When you read their website, always read the Press and Media, which can provide you with great insight. Set up Google Alerts so you receive anything that is said about them online. Also connect with past and current employees of these companies on LinkedIn. There is no one that knows more about a company than a past or current employee.
The next challenge is to identify the right person within your targeted companies. The best person to identify should be your boss’ boss. The reason for going two levels above your desired job is you may have more education or credentials than your potential direct report.
You can utilize LinkedIn by searching the company name. This will allow you to view employees of the company and their job titles. LinkedIn does not always provide their company contact information but once you have their name you can contact the company directly.
You can also search for contact names and titles on the company website. If you don’t have their name, you could call into the targeted company and ask for the correct spelling of the (Insert job title) name. When you ask for the correct spelling, the receptionist assumes you already have the name, you are just clarifying the spelling and they may spell their name for you. If this gatekeeper is being cooperative, you might ask for their direct line, so you have this information for your follow up call.
Often job seekers do not know how to handle an uncooperative gatekeeper, who will not give out information. I’d like to share one important fact with you… Gatekeepers (receptionists) go to lunch normally between 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. During that time, there is often someone who is covering the front desk and is not happy to be there.
They tend to give out the information without asking any questions. I actually have had some receptionists email me their company directory to give me the information they felt I needed. Be nice to the gatekeeper and they will be more receptive to your call.
You may also want to ask to speak to the Accounts Payable Department. The person who has answered the phone assumes their company owes you money and will normally transfer your call without questioning why you are calling.
Once you are connected, you explain that you were trying to reach the (job title) or whatever title you have targeted as your contact person, and act confused as to why you were transferred to Accounts Payable Department.
People who work in Accounts Payable or Accounting are detail-oriented and will often not only give you the name of the person you want to reach but will provide you with their direct extension in case your call is transferred to the wrong individual.
If they don’t offer to share this information with you, ask this question, “If my call gets disconnected is there a direct line I could call back?” Make sure you thank the person for their assistance and then contact the person you have targeted.
Or you could ask to be transferred to the Sales Department. When you ask for sales, no one asks the reason for your call because they assume you are a potential customer. When the salesperson answers, you act confused and let them know the title of the person you were trying to reach. When a salesperson realizes you are not a prospect, they will transfer your call quickly to the person you have targeted. It does take work on your part to identify and contact the right person. In the long run it greatly improves your ability to schedule interviews, so it is worth your effort.
Many companies do not have a person answering incoming lines, just a recorded message. Listen to the message and have your call transferred either to Accounts Payable or Sales and follow the advice I mentioned earlier in this article.
Now that you know who to contact, the next challenge is how to make your contact memorable? Your initial contact is often your resume or CV sent through the mail. Hand-address the envelope and write the words “Personal and Confidential” in the lower left-hand corner. This will guarantee that a Secretary or Administrative Assistant does not open your envelope and forward your letter and resume or CV to the Human Resource Department.
Correspondence that is marked “Personal and Confidential” is often the only mail that is not opened by someone else.
You have now guaranteed that the person you targeted will open and review what you have sent. You should also include a cover letter which is limited to three short paragraphs:
Paragraph One: Explain the purpose of your correspondence. For example, introduce yourself to them and explain why you would become an asset to them and their company. Also add a sentence explaining why you targeted their particular company.
Paragraph Two: Share information that is going to make this person want to talk to you. Differentiate yourself from others in your profession or industry. List one or two key accomplishments and the impact your accomplishments had on past employers.
Paragraph Three: Set up your follow up telephone call with a timeframe and thank them in advance for their time.
Attach your resume or CV and make sure you have a Career Summary and Core Competencies listed vs. a Job Objective. Most hiring authorities will focus on the top third of your resume or CV and glance at bullet points.
When you call to set up the conversation or meeting – tell the person who answers the telephone that you had sent information and (person’s name) is expecting your call. When you get the appropriate person on the telephone:
- Sound informed about them and their company
- Ask when it would be convenient to meet
- If you are given a negative response:
- Ask if they would be willing to give you a few minutes now
- Ask if you have the skillset, they normally hire
- Inquire if other individuals in their company might be interested in your background
- Set up a follow-up contact
- If you are given a positive response:
- Set up a specific date and time to meet (30 minutes)
- Do more research on the company and individual
- Read all press releases written about the company
- Ask questions that allow your target to talk about themselves
- Show a high energy level and enthusiasm
- Identify which skills are most desirable
- Identify which skills are missing in their department
- Identify the greatest challenges they face in the coming year
- Position yourself as a possible solution
- Set up a follow up contact
You do not want the term “out of sight – out of mind” to describe your direct marketing efforts. You want to keep your name in front of prospective hiring authorities. You also don’t want to cross the line and be tagged a stalker.
- Send your follow up thank you note in a unique container. For example: A tube vs. an envelope
- See if there is a way to tie in what your targeted company produces with your unique container or odd size envelope
- Always hand write the envelope and put the words “personal and confidential” in the lower left-hand corner so no one else opens your note
- When you call to follow up, offer to provide them with more information or facts that you have uncovered vs. asking for an update or status
- Always maintain a positive attitude during each contact and conversation
Why is this method so effective to schedule interviews? The reason is you are getting your resume or CV in the hands of people who normally do not receive resumes and CVs. So often an executive, manager, or department head has someone on their team they would like to replace, but don’t want to go through the hassle of updating a job requisition or interviewing.
The Human Resource Department is not aware of this weak link. If your resume or CV landed on the desk of one of these decision makers, they would read it often either schedule an interview or forward your paperwork to a Talent Acquisition professional and ask them to schedule an interview. Follow this advice and you will begin to enjoy the results of directly marketing yourself to prospective targets. Directly marketing yourself must become a part of your career advancement efforts.
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