I am not the first nor will I be the last person to tell you that a resume and cover letter that successfully melds what you have achieved in the past along with your potential to succeed in the future are critical tools for conducting a successful job search. However too many job seekers with these tools in hand make as much noise as the proverbial tree that falls in the forest that no one hears because they use a shotgun approach and fail to get these documents into the proper hands.
When I started my career as a professional recruiter, my boss who happened to be one of the top billers in NYC ingrained in me that to be a successful recruiter I needed to be one step ahead of the curve, and he taught me how to penetrate the “hidden job market.” This is how I learned the value of research, focus and networking in the job search process; and I’ve been sharing this information with all of the recruiters I hired and trained and the clients I work with in my coaching practice ever since.
Now if you are a $75,000 to $250,000 level candidate this should come as no surprise. With hundreds of thousands of postings on job boards and an additional 5% of jobs advertised using conventional media, statistics show that 70% of the jobs available in America today are unadvertised; and this number grows incrementally the higher up the corporate ladder you are. On top of this since 2007 fewer jobs have been listed with search firms each successive year.
So what should these figures tell you? What they tell me and what I tell my clients is that if 7 out of every 10 jobs you want to land are part of the unadvertised hidden job market, you need to start spending 70% of your time and effort acting like a recruiter and not a job seeker. I won’t lie and say you will find the perfect job this week or maybe even this month. But I can tell you this method will reduce your job search time and increase the odds of selecting a job you want instead of settling for one you don’t.
And what is it that recruiters do? They spend the bulk of their IPT (income productive time) finding out who the players are in the companies they want to work with, and at their competitors. So should you! Start by finding out the title of decision makers you would be reporting to at each company and who they report to. Then find the decision maker one level up, because this is the person you will be targeting.
If you don’t know why you are starting so high up the ladder let me tell you. First off this person sees the bigger picture and may actually be considering making some personnel changes but does not have the time or inclination to do so at this time. Your call and availability can get the ball rolling. This is how I made over 25% of my deals as a recruiter. Second, the odds are the person you would be directly reporting to will find you more of a threat and hide your availability from his or her superiors, who more than likely in this job market would share this view.
Here is who you should target. If the company has less than 250 employees target the president, owner, or a vice president in the group you want to work in, and if the company has 250-1000 employees target the VP of your department. If they have 1,000+ employees find a senior director or divisional VP.
If you find the title of the hiring authority but not their name what should you do? Once again do what recruiters do.
a: Call the company and ask for the department. Then ask whoever answers the phone for the name of the person you want; very often you may need to devise a creative ruse to get them to talk.
b: Visit the company Web site and see if the person is listed there.
c. Look up the company on Linked-in and other social media sites and see if the person is listed there. If not, look for a contact in the company you are directly linked to or have a 2nd or 3rd level relationship with and see if they can give you the person’s name.
d: Google the company under News and these 3 terms: Company name, title, department name, and use Google Alerts
Now that you know who you want to approach, the final step is reaching out to this person with a customized resume and cover letter printed on quality paper and sending it to them via the US Post Office. You read that right, not in an email or a fax, but by snail mail. The message you want to get across in the resume and cover letter is one that is simple and direct.
a: I know your business inside out and I know the problems you face.
b: I have a history of solving similar problems and can produce the results you seek.
c: Site examples of the problems and solutions and offer testimonials.
d: Depending on geography suggest meeting for lunch or coffee or spending 10-15 minutes on the phone.
Finally, if you don’t have a great resume and cover letter, find someone to write them for you. If you don’t there is a very real chance that all your hard work will be for naught because you failed to make a winning first impression.