The Smart Job Search #7: Conducting a Direct Mail Campaign

This is the seventh in a 10-part series entitled ‘The Smart Job Search.’ You can find links to the series so far by clicking here.

In the second post in this series, I told you that it was crucial to set your GPS at the start of your search by defining a clear path and identifying the types of companies you want to work for. That’s because most jobs are never advertised and to have any chance of success, you must uncover all those hidden opportunities.

We’ve talked about how to make yourself visible online and how to attract the attention of the gatekeepers who control many of the unadvertised positions, but now we’re going to talk about another approach – going directly to hiring managers within companies who hire people like you.

With this strategy, you’re not going to worry about whether a company has vacancies currently. You are only concerned with making yourself known to as many hiring managers as possible.

Hiring managers are the target, not HR

Reaching the hiring manager rather than HR is crucial. The HR department is paid to filter and screen resumes and to fill existing positions. If your resume doesn’t fit an existing vacancy, they will probably never call you.

But the hiring manager knows things the HR person doesn’t. For example, a Marketing VP may have just lost his marketing manager to a competitor that morning. Or a Payroll Supervisor may have decided to replace her assistant but not told anyone about it. These are opportunities ripe for the taking -– don’t wait until they are advertised!

The 3 Steps to Direct Mail Success for Job Seekers

The secrets to success are exactly the same as running a direct mail campaign for a product or service. You must know your audience, find contact information, and then make a compelling pitch. For you that means the following 3 steps:

1. Carefully target companies who may need someone like you. Think about the ideal position description you developed earlier, and make a list of companies who fit the description. If you need help with this, LinkedIn has an excellent company search function that allows you to filter by factors such as industry, location and company size.

2. Find the names of people in a position to make hiring decisions. Again, LinkedIn is an excellent tool for this, but you can also run Google searches – for example, if you are targeting an art position at Pixar, try running a search for ‘Art Director + Pixar’ and you will find the names of several people with this title.

3. Send a very strong resume that shows exactly why you are the perfect person for their company. Hopefully you developed this after taking our free resume writing course and now is the time it truly pays off. You have targeted your resume to appeal to your target companies and this means that when it lands on someone’s desk, it will likely make a positive impression. You can send your resume by email or email depending on which contact details you have been able to find.

A Direct Mail Case Study

Steve is a perfect example of the power of direct approach. Steve was a successful video game programmer but lost his position when his company closed down. He responded to several ads posted by the only other game development company close to his home but although he seemed to be a perfect fit, he never got a response.

Steve hired us to write his resume and coach him on his job search strategy. Because he did not want to relocate, we told him to make an extra effort with the only other game company in his town.

Steve took our advice, put on his smartest clothes and went into the company’s office. After being very charming and polite to the receptionist, he asked her to pass his resume on to the company’s Technical Director.

His resume could not have arrived at a better time. Phil (the Technical Director) was managing four projects, but the one that was taking his time and attention was a game due to be released in only six months. The project had been plagued with problems and was already a month behind schedule. To make matters worse, Phil had just discovered that one of his senior programmers had resigned. When he saw Steve’s resume, he didn’t even contact Human Resources. He just picked up the phone and arranged an interview.

Of course, this doesn’t happen every day, but it happens more than you might imagine, provided that you target the right companies and do your research to find out who has the hiring authority.

If you’d like to work this strategy but need more help, I’ve written a whole chapter on the subject in my Blue Sky Guide to Job Search. Click here and get an instant download with detailed step-by-step instructions on how to use free web tools to research your target companies, find contact details and write a compelling introduction letter.

If you have any questions at all (or suggestions for other readers), please feel free to post them as comments below. I’d love to hear from you. And as always you can subscribe to get email updates by clicking here and entering your email address. You’ll get an email each time I post an article.

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