A decade ago, job seekers might fire off a few dozen resumes before getting an interview. They might have surfed the Web for hours, days, weeks or months, casually searching for an opportunity to advance their careers – or at the very least provide them with gainful employment.
This was the “new way” to do things. Long gone were the days of paper resumes, which had been downgraded to something that is only used after getting an interview. Those who continued to send paper resumes were considered dinosaurs.
Fast-forward to 2013 and job seekers will find that the world hasn’t changed much. The only thing that is significantly different is that there are more people looking for jobs than ever before. This is particularly true on Wall Street, where financial professionals are leaving behind their traditional corporate positions for greater opportunities at startups and boutiques.
In this highly competitive environment, many believe that job seekers must take a different approach to finding employment. In fact, Skip Freeman, author of Headhunter Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, said that those who simply fire off resumes are playing a game of chance versus "playing a game of skill and strategy."
“Right now, the strongest way someone can break through the clutter is with a U.S. direct mail campaign,” said Freeman. “Step 1 is to find some companies you want to work for. Identify the companies. That's targeted research.
"Step 2, they need to find people that might hire them within these companies. That's where two great tools come in to play: LinkedIn and Jigsaw.com.
"Step 3, don't send your resume -- craft a direct mail letter that communicates the value you can bring to them. There are only two reasons companies hire anyone: you can make them money, you can save them money. Businesses are not in the business of hiring people. Businesses are in the business of making money. You, as the product, have to demonstrate how you can make 'em or save 'em money.
“Go to the post office, mail it via U.S. certified mail. It will get open. It will get read.”
In the next step, Freeman said to follow up with a phone call. In the estimated 60 seconds that are available, “Tell them you're following up as indicated in the letter you sent.”
“‘Mr. Hiring Manager, here's the value I can bring to you.’ Boom, boom, boom, three solid bullet points,” said Freeman. “‘When can we set up a cup of coffee conversation where we can dive into this further and I demonstrate to you the value that I can bring?’ They're either going to give you objections, or they're going to say, 'Well, we could have that conversation now.’”
Persistence and Value is Key
“If you call and don't get that person live, then either talk to the admin assistant or leave a voicemail,” Freeman continued. “You always want to immediately follow up with an e-mail stating that you called them at the date and time that you said you would.
After that, Freeman said that you want to deliver subsequent communications that bring value to the potential hiring manager. “They're not looking to hire you, they're looking for value,” he said. “[Start] what I call 'drip marketing.' Every seven to 10 days, it's just like water dripping, you send a follow-up communication that could be like, 'I saw this industry article. I'm not sure if you've seen it or not.'
“Or, if you saw their LinkedIn profile, you could say, 'I see you're connected to this person' or 'I saw you graduated from this university, I thought you might be interested in this.' Or if they're part of an association -- somehow, every 10 days, send that person something that deals with themselves, their career, their industry, their company, their competition. Be a communication vehicle of value, and then conclude with, 'I look forward to speaking with you briefly on how I can bring additional value to your firm.' You get 30, 40 or 50 [individual] drip campaigns going, you're generally gonna get conversations.”
Freeman said that job seekers should never follow up with a message along the lines of, “I just wanted to see when we could talk. I was still hoping to get in touch with you.”
While it is wise to be persistent, it is important to employ a few boundaries as well. “My reality is this: if after five additional attempts after the first one I haven't heard anything back, that company has dropped off the list and I've added another company.”
Freeman recommends that job seekers tackle nine companies a week, starting with the direct mail campaign.
“Three on Monday, three on Wednesday, three on Friday,” he said. “Because then, remember, you've got to follow up with these companies 10 days later -- pick up the phone and make those calls.
“And then the next week, repeat [the process], and by the week after that you're now following up on the first ones you sent, and [you’ve] developed a system. You can set it up in an Excel spreadsheet or a table. Have the companies listed. Have the dates across the top. So you're constantly adding to your list."
Jesse Marrus is president of Street ID