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Job Magician Don't Apply for a Job -
Make a Job

  • Applying for jobs.  Applying for jobs. I hear those words so often.
  • Hate to say this to you, but if you apply for a job after you find out that a company is looking to fill it, chances are that you’re too late.
  • You need to get there before they announce to the world that they need to fill the job.

Job hunters keep telling me they applied for a job. They found out about it on a job board, a company web site, or they found out that the company was looking from someone on LinkedIn.

Then they applied for it.

And heard nothing.

Job board ads are generating 1000 applicants in a day or two in this economy. Unless you are an absolutely perfect fit for the job, and lucky enough to make it through the gears of the screening mechanism, your chances of landing the job are less than one in a thousand, once the job is advertised.

(Bear in mind – 1: Most job hunters think they are a perfect fit for the job. In the minds of an employer, however, a perfect fit is someone already doing exactly the same job with an impeccable track record and long job tenures with exactly the same level of seniority for an identical company – a competitor.)

(Bear in mind – 2: If you apply for a job through a job board or through a company web site, your resume goes into an enormous slush pile that is read by a screener – a low level human resources person who will in turn pass on a handful – perhaps 12 or 25 – to a higher-level human resources person who will screen them further before discussing them with the hiring manager.)

The Ladders - Find a Great Job Now

You can better your odds a little bit by determining who the hiring manager is and sending your resume directly to him or her. But this still puts you in competition with countless others, some of whom are more likely to be closer fits than you are to what the employer is seeking.

If you’re going to spend your job hunting hours and days looking for jobs that companies have announced and then applying for them, you will likely have a long job search.

Those who are most successful make a job for themselves. By that, I don’t mean that they start their own business. They get to the employer before the organization has formerly announced its search for a Director of Planned Giving.

That means you can’t take the easy way. Limit yourself to 10% of your time looking at ads and poring over company websites, looking for announced jobs.  Limit yourself to 10% of your time chasing recruiters.  Spend no more than 10% to 20% of your time applying for jobs.

Spend the remaining 80% to 90% of your time getting to companies before they’ve formally decided to fill a position. That means you need to do the following:

  • Networking
  • Direct Mail
  • Pounding the Phones

And all of this means that you’re going to have to become a good salesperson.

One fantastically successful sales rep who I kind of managed (he represented 20 companies, so I can’t say I really was his boss) told me that most people can become known. He found ways to get in front of seemingly anyone he needed to get in front of, using connections if he had them, and front doors and back doors if he didn’t.

With networking, you’ll talk to people you know, and find ways to get introduced to people you don’t know.

With direct mail, you’ll reach out to people you don’t know.  With a vengeance. That means big numbers – 1000 letters or more.

By following up by phone (most people don’t do this, especially if no position is advertised), you’ll increase your batting average on direct mail significantly. You need to do this sensibly. Don’t go to the CEO, unless the company is small, or you’re big enough to work for the CEO.

Do your best to avoid your target’s secretary. He or she is there to limit access to the Beeg Boy. Place your calls when the secretary is not likely to be there – before 8AM or 9AM, or after 5PM.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve called someone just after 5PM, and gotten through to the person who I could never reach during the day. In particular, I remember making a cold call at 5:05PM, and the hiring manager picked up. I told him I was going to be in his town the next day (which happened to be true), and asked if I could come in for a meeting. I introduced myself the next day. A month later, he introduced me to his CEO, and they gave me four search assignments. 

Did I get a job? Essentially, yes.  I had a contract for about eight month’s work. And it wouldn’t have happened if I had waited for him to respond to the letter I had mailed him a month before that. In the days before I had my own business, I used the same technique to get myself full-time jobs.

Stop applying for jobs.

Instead, start contacting employers before they know they have a desperate need for you.




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