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02/14/09
Misconceptions About An Effective Job Search Campaign
Filed under: General, Networking, Career
Posted by: John Hadley @ 4:05 pm

Posted to a job board:

“So you lost your job or maybe you just quit, or maybe you are thinking of quiting. The best thing you can do for yourself is get right into an aggressive job search campaign where you can re-direct the energies, the frustration, the emotion and the creativity that you normally channeled into your regular job.

Here are the ways people are finding new jobs today. You will use most if not all of these methods:
1) Resume posting on internet Job Boards
2) Resume submission to employer web sites
3) Resume mass mailing - sending out hundreds of resumes to recruiters
4) Networking - cold calling everyone you know and everyone they know
5) Newspaper classified ads
6) Targeting selected companies”

I agree with the sentiment about re-directing energy, etc. into an aggressive job search campaign.  However, I take strong exception to the items listed, or at least their relative priorities.

Resume postings, submissions to websites, and classified ads are methods upon which many job seekers rely heavily, and are generally a trap.  It is easy to get sucked into spending many hours a day scouring places where you can submit, putting together your submissions, following up and monitoring all of your activity. 

I’m not advocating you never do these, just that you severely limit the time you spend on them, since they have a very low hit rate.  These are attempts to go through the front door, where you are in direct competition with the hundreds and hundreds of others who are seeing those same postings or ads.  I advise my clients they should spend no more than an hour a day on average dealing with everything associated with ‘internet searching.’

As to #3 (mass mailing), I have heard people (most often those selling the service) swear by this, figuring it’s the law of large numbers, but frankly, I don’t see a great deal of value.  As someone who has been on the receiving end of such campaigns, I can tell you that I almost always throw those applications away, AND I think less of the candidate from who I receive them.  Unless you make those tailored letters that have no scent of mass mailing, they simply suggest you are (1) lazy, and (2) unfocused in your search.

On the other hand, I had a client who was trying to make a change to a different role and a different industry.  She compiled a list of 20 hiring managers at target companies (#6 on the list) for the role she wanted.  We talked about what exactly she was going to do to create the strongest chance of interviews, and she wrote to the 1st 9 on her list, with the idea the next wave would go out a week later.  She never sent the 2nd wave, as the 1st 9 letters and follow-up calls secured her 3 formal and 3 informational interviews, and one resulted in the job offer she soughts.

#6 (Targeting companies), definitely you should do this…the question is, now that you’ve established your targets, what are you going to do about it?

This leads us to #3 (Networking).  Networking has the highest hit rate of all methods you can use - if you do it right - many times the hit rate of postings to company websites and job portals.  Every job I have ever accepted ultimately came through networking...as well as a very lucrative systems consulting practice.

The problem with what was said above is the link to ‘cold calling’, which feeds into most people’s fear and misconceptions of what effective networking is all about.  Don’t think of it as ‘cold calling’, as that will hold you back.  Networking is about building on the relationships you already have to build new relationships. It’s about describing to everyone you can the target you seek, and exactly why you would be a great asset to that target. It’s not about asking people about openings and handing them your resume, it’s about brainstorming with them and equipping them with a simple message that expresses the results you might bring to the right situation.

Here are 2 articles that lay out exactly what to do, and what not to do, to make your networking a huge success:

http://www.JHACareers.com/ArticlesNetworkingBL.htm 

One Response to “Misconceptions About An Effective Job Search Campaign”

  1. Kent V Says:
    I liked these comments about reordering priorities in a job campaign. I’m a little puzzled by your client’s micro-mass mailing that was described this way: She compiled a list of 20 hiring managers at target companies (#6 on the list) for the role she wanted. We talked about what exactly she was going to do to create the strongest chance of interviews, and she wrote to the 1st 9 on her list, with the idea the next wave would go out a week later. She never sent the 2nd wave, as the 1st 9 letters and follow-up calls secured her 3 formal and 3 informational interviews, and one resulted in the job offer she soughts. I can only hope that the other 11 she didn’t mail were for employers who were clearly inferior by some objective and not arbitrary standard. Otherwise, why not send them out in a single wave and get maybe at least another potential offer? By the way, an offer rate of 3 out 9 starting from a cold contact is a miraculous hit rate that few could duplicate even with the most targeted custom letter ever written. Another coach I know insists on 4000 cleverly worded letters to prospects who on a case-by-case basis have only a minuscule chance of needing you at any particular snapshot in time. I would think a couple hundred mailings with some customization and repeated remailings with fresh messages might make for a plan in between the two extremes that would stand a better chance overall, especially if you add in attempts to network in to the top 10 or so. What does anyone else have to say about this?

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