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Job Magician Electronic Job Hunting Methods Still Can't Beat Direct Mail

  • I hear many people say that direct mail is an old-fashioned technique, rendered obsolete now that we have so many electronic methods available to find jobs.
  • I challenge any of those who say this to come up with an electronic job hunting method that is highly effective.

What are these electronic methods that are reputedly so beneficial?

Job boards. Answer a job board ad, and you’ll be one of 1000 others who answer in the first day or so. Job boards fill 12% of all jobs that are filled by candidates from outside of the company, and the more senior the position is, the lower that percentage becomes.

Company Web Sites. Yes, jobs are posted on these, and, once again, if you apply to one, you’ll go into a slush pile read by a bleary-eyed low-level human resources person with limited knowledge of the position. He will winnow the 1000 applications to 25 or so, and pass them on to a higher-level human resources person who will further screen them before discussing them with the hiring manager. In addition, senior positions are frequently not listed on company job boards.

Resume Databases. Some people do post their resume on resume boards and get someone to call them about a real job. Not many.

The three methods listed above are the top three electronic methods used by job hunters to find work. And none of them are terribly effective.

Here are the other ones that are generally used:

Social Networking Sites. Some people do get results from LinkedIn. It should be one arrow in your quiver. But don’t depend on it. Think about it – would you introduce an electronic friend’s friend to one of your best contacts? You may hear of a job opening on LinkedIn, but you’re not likely to get into someone’s sanctum sanctorum by using it. I haven’t seen much value come out of Twitter, and Facebook is too jammed up with old high school buddies and photos of friends’ kids to be a real job hunting tool.

Email. Senior executives get 150, 250 or even more emails a day. Most are deleted as soon as the subject line is read if the sender is unfamiliar. And how do you get the email address of a senior executive in an organization? Few are made public, and the few that are public are really the secretary’s email address. If you can get good email addresses, you may get some rare results. Your batting average will be low, but so will be your cost. However, getting good email addresses is next to impossible. The lists you can buy (and they’re expensive) are not likely to be very good, and those email addresses are so flooded with emails that few get read. Think about this – how often have you bought anything because of an invitation by unsolicited email from an unknown source?

An emailing to all of the retained firms is certainly a worthwhile thing to do. It's cheap and easy via RiteSite. But, once again, your batting average will not be high from doing one.

  • Instantly email your resume to all major Retained Search Firms
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Best of these electronic methods is LinkedIn, but most successful job hunters will tell you that LinkedIn didn’t get them hired. I would use it, but wouldn’t depend on it. Next best is the RiteSite retained recruiter emailing. The other electronic submissions are cheap and easy, but get you mixed in with thousands of others, so you are rarely likely to stand out from the crowd.

The good news is that all this electronic junk has actually made direct mail stand out a bit more. With fewer paper resumes bombarding offices, a good one has a much better chance of standing out.

However, that still means that you need big numbers for a direct mail campaign to be successful. 200 is a tiny number, and at 500, you’re scratching the surface.  A thousand letters, and perhaps more in this economy, is what you need.

And you need to send it to the appropriate person. The human resources department is the last place to go. The CEO is too high up at companies of any size – mail to her only if you are senior enough that you will likely be working directly for the CEO.

Below the CEO level, the volume of mail of all types drops, so your submission is far less likely to be screened out by a secretary and passed to human resources. The best person to send to is your future boss, or perhaps your future boss’s boss. Drop your resume on that person’s desk, and you may be the only person considered for a job that hasn’t been formally announced as yet, and has not yet been advertised or given to a recruiter.

These names are often not readily available, but can be found. Some databases, such as ZapData or InfoUSA provide officer’s names at companies for a fee. If you are in outplacement, or your college’s career services department will let you get access to one of their databases, such as Career Search or One Source, you can get the names of key officers through these. Zoominfo scrounges the internet to find names of managers at key companies, and a monthly subscription costs $99 (and in one month, you can use it to gather enough info for a direct mail campaign). I find that the names coming from these  databases to be between 50% and 70% accurate, so you really need to confirm each person’s name and his location by calling the company. That’s time-consuming. Delegate it if you can. If you have a non-working spouse or teenager, you can delegate to them. I develop lists of prospects when I conduct an executive search by using sources like I just listed to get the names of companies, and hiring home-based people who are looking for a few extra dollars to call the companies to identify the names of the people I will cold call on a search. You can probably find someone like this in your town (try a Craig’s List ad) who’ll be happy to pick up some extra money in this economy.

Will I guarantee success to you if you use direct mail?  No way. Those who do it well will probably have a 30% to 40% chance of success using it. It’s a lot of work. But your results with direct mail will be far higher than your combined results from using all of electronic methods mentioned above.




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