This section—describing how to use a marketing letter in order to get appointments with hiring managers—is not exciting reading. What it is, is a step-by-step description of all the actions you need to take to get appointments, sell yourself at each appointment, and then follow-up after an appointment. There are numerous steps, with various techniques, that are necessary to put this method into action in order to maximize the appointments you’ll obtain. It takes time, and in reality, it’s hard work. Don’t let that stop you from studying this material. The strategy works. It works to get you in to see hiring managers when nothing else would have succeeded. Try it. And, you know, one reason it works is that it is challenging, therefore most people who know about it, and know it works, still won’t implement it. Here’s your chance to set yourself apart from the competition.
This section is included on our website to complete the chapter in Resume Empower that covers how to write a marketing letter. You can write a great marketing letter, but without the strategies and techniques we cover, that great marketing letter will not get you the results we promise unless you follow our steps.
When sending out marketing letters it is crucial to meet the person who has the power to hire you. Determining who that person is and getting an appointment requires a well-planned strategy. In the following material we will show you how to determine who has the power to hire you, how to get past administrative assistants, what to say when you reach your target person, how to get appointments, what to say in the appointment, and how to follow-up.
Determining Who Has the Power to Hire
The person with the power to hire you normally holds a position that would be one or two levels above you in the department or functional area you have focused on. Often this person will be a department head. When calling, ask for the name of the person whose job title indicates that he or she has the power to hire you. With very small companies, you might first contact the president or vice president if that seems appropriate. If that person does not hire people at your level, get a referral to the person who does. When you can, however, avoid speaking to the president, since that person is always the most difficult person to reach.
Work hard, however, to determine precisely who the person is who could hire you for the type of position you want.
Once you have your list of organizations, begin identifying the people who do the hiring. Getting their names is easy because nearly every business has a receptionist. Call and ask for the person’s name, being sure to get the correct spelling and title. Most receptionists are so busy that they won’t bother to ask you why you want to know.
Occasionally, the receptionist will not know the proper person, or will hastily connect you with human resources. Don’t be startled when you’re connected to HR, just ask your question again with confidence and assertiveness. If the receptionist or human resources clerk asks why you are calling, the most simple response is, “I have some material to send to your purchasing manager.” Typical responses might be like these:
Receptionist: Dearborn Insurance, may I help you?
Steve: Hello, can you give me the name of your claims manager?
Receptionist: Yes, that would be John Yaeger.
Steve: Would you spell his last name, please?
Receptionist: Sure, Y A E G E R.
Steve: Thank you very much.
Receptionist: Medico, may I help you?
Sally: Hello, can you give me the name of your IS manager?
Sally: Yes, information systems. Do you have someone in charge of computer programming?
Receptionist: I think you probably want Bob Benson.
Sally: What is his title?
Receptionist: He’s vice president of operations, but I think he’s in charge of our three programmers and our computer system.
Sally: Okay, thank you very much.
Kevin: Can you give me the name of your purchasing manager?
Receptionist: Just a moment.
HR: Human resources.
Kevin: Can you give me the name of your purchasing manager?
HR: That would be James Townsend.
Kevin: Thank you.
Receptionist: Malco, may I help you?
Holly: Could you please give me the name of your advertising manager?
Receptionist: Just a moment.
HR: Human resources.
Holly: Could you please give me the name of your advertising manager?
HR: What is this concerning?
Holly: I have some material to send and I want to make sure it gets to the right person. Could you give me the name of your advertising manager?
HR: That would be Janet Lynn.
Holly: What is her title?
HR: She’s director of marketing.
Holly: Thank you.
Occasionally you’ll find a firm that is so secretive they won’t give out anyone’s name. If the organization has a high enough priority for you, there is always a way to find out who you need to talk to. Usually such firms are fairly large. By putting all your contacts together, you should be able to identify someone who works there or who knows about the organization.
Whether your list has 70 or 200 organizations, we would recommend going through the entire list in two or three days to get the names of all the hiring authorities. That means making one quick call after another. It’s not fun, but it has to be done. Might as well get it over quickly. You can then check off that activity as being completed. You’ll also need the names of hiring authorities when you send the list of your preferred organizations to colleagues, friends, and relatives.
Calling the Person With the Power To Hire
Once you know the names of the people with the power to hire in your organizations, start setting up appointments. This part is more challenging than just getting the names. Your first task will be getting past the person’s administrative assistant. One of the assistant’s duties is to protect the boss from unnecessary calls, and some exercise this duty with a vengeance. Don’t be afraid, though; you can get past even the toughest assistant. Once you get to your potential boss, you must present yourself quickly and ask for an appointment. With a polished opening, you should be able to get appointments 30-40% of the time.
Getting Past Administrative Assistants
When talking to an assistant, present yourself as a confident businessperson with legitimate business reasons for calling. Give your name immediately since the assistant will invariably ask for it. You’ll also sound more authoritative. If, after trying all the styles given below, you just can’t get past the assistant, try calling before 8 a.m., between noon and 1 p.m., or after 5:30 p.m. At these times a less experienced person is likely to be on the switchboard and will simply give you the desired information. Or, a busy executive will often answer the phone when the assistant is not there. Of course, in these days of voicemail, this strategy does not always work. One of the techniques below will usually work:
Receptionist: Glasgow and Associates.
Polly: Hi, this is Polly Preston. I’d like to speak to Marilyn Shelton.
Receptionist: Just a moment, please.
Secretary: Marilyn Shelton’s office.
Polly: This is Polly Preston. I’d like to speak with Marilyn Shelton.
Secretary: What is this concerning?
Polly: Don Drummer of Polycorp suggested I speak with her.
I have some advertising concepts I would like to discuss with her.
I have some personal matters to discuss with her.
I have some business matters to discuss with her.
I sent her a marketing letter and indicated I’d be calling today.
Secretary: Just a moment, I’ll ring her office.
Avoid Return Calls
If the person is out when you call (or so the assistant says), avoid leaving your phone number. Say that you will be in and out yourself and ask for the best time to call back. It is much better for you to initiate contact. If the employer returns your call, you may be caught unprepared, perhaps even coming out of the shower. If you have been calling several people, you may not even recognize the person’s name at first. This can be very embarrassing. Furthermore, by leaving your name and number you lose control of the situation. Once you leave your name and number, you are basically obligated to give the person two or three days to return your call. If the person never calls, you’ve lost three days. When you finally do get through, more days will have passed since the person read your marketing letter. The dialogue below illustrates how to handle this situation.
Secretary: Janet Spurrier’s office.
John: This is John Bradley. I’d like to speak with Janet Spurrier.
Secretary: I’m sorry, she’s in a meeting now. Can I have her return your call?
John: No, I’ll be out most of the day. What do you think would be a good time to reach her?
Secretary: That’s hard to say, but probably about 3:30.
John: Thank you.
With voice mail so widespread, new problems have arisen for job seekers. Often when you call the switchboard and ask for the specific person, the next thing you know you are listening to that person’s voice mail message. Voice mail has both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is that you can call as often as you like and no one will know the difference. We would recommend that you continue calling until you reach the person. If the call is long distance, you can usually be sure that if the person is available he or she will answer within two rings. If you don’t get an answer within two or three rings, simply hang up. To do that, of course, you need the person’s direct extension. Once you know the person has voice mail, ask the receptionist for the person’s direct line. Often it will be given to you.
The disadvantage of voice mail is that some people never answer their phone. They never take calls, they only return them. If you get one of those people, eventually you will have to leave a message and hope the person calls back. When leaving a message, sound professional and give the person a good reason to call you back.
What Do You Say After Hello?
After your target answers, you have 20–30 seconds to sell yourself. A prepared script can give you added confidence and just the right words to make a great first impression. Since it is so easy to say “no,” make it easy for the employer to say “yes” when you ask for a brief appointment.
To sell yourself, you must quickly summarize your background and present evidence that you are a highly desirable person. Upon concluding your pitch, ask for an appointment. Ask to “get together” or have a “brief meeting,” but never call it an interview. You are not seeking a traditional job interview.
Practice by first making a few of these calls to low-priority firms. Your voice should convey self-confidence and enthusiasm. Your words should convey potential. Naturally, if you are working from a script, you won’t want the employer to sense this. Practice until you speak in a normal conversational tone. After a few calls you should keep the script by you for reference, but begin varying your words slightly each time to provide a sense of spontaneity. You might even record your first few calls to check your enthusiasm level. Record your portion of the call on a portable recorder. Project enough enthusiasm so that it’s conveyed to the person at the other end of the line.
In the example below, Sandra is reminding Mrs. Garner that a marketing letter was sent. Sandra is hoping Mrs. Garner remembers, but even if she does not, Sandra will provide a brief summary of her background and then ask for an appointment. If the person has not received the letter, there is no need to tell the person that you will send another copy. Once you have the person on the line, go for the appointment.
The example below demonstrates how a marketing letter works. It is followed by the script from Sandra’s phone call.
District Sales Manager
1878 116th N.E.
Bellevue, Washington 98004
Dear Ms. Garner:
I have a strong sales personality. During six years as a French and history teacher I have sold programs and ideas to school administrators, teachers, parents, and community leaders. Because of my sales ability, and a desire to achieve a high income, I am now looking at sales opportunities.
I’m a high-energy person who takes initiative. I make things happen. I am quick to take on responsibility and I succeed at whatever I put my heart into. My friends in sales all say I’ll be successful. I believe them.
I will call you next week to set up a time when we might meet briefly.
Having read the marketing letter you can see why Sandra is confident as she calls Garner and seeks a brief appointment.
Mrs. Garner? Hi, this is Sandra Bennett. I wanted to confirm that you received the letter I sent a few days ago describing my teaching background in French and history...Good...I’ve been teaching for the last six years, but all my sales friends tell me I’d be a natural in sales. I realize you may not have any openings at this time, but I would appreciate arranging, oh, a 10- or 15-minute get-together. I’d like to tell you a little more about me and at the same time learn about some of the directions Salvo is headed. Would early next week work for you?
Read Sandra’s spiel again and notice what she did. As she introduced herself she mentioned her letter which had described her background in teaching French and history. We all know that teaching French and history are not prerequisites for a career in sales. Nevertheless, she mentioned her teaching because it would act as a “cue” for Garner. Providing a cue is an important part of making the marketing letter and the phone call result in an appointment.
Send Local Marketing Letters on Friday
Marketing letters that are sent to local people should go out on a Friday. You can be quite certain that a letter you mail on a Friday will arrive on Monday. To allow for a delay in the postal system, or in case the person was out of the office on Monday, you should begin calling people Tuesday afternoon. If you send out 10-20 marketing letters each week, that means Tuesday and Wednesday will be your heavy telephone days. By waiting until Tuesday to call, you can be quite sure that the person will have received it, but not so much time will have elapsed that the person is likely to have forgotten you. If you send your marketing letter any other day of the week, you will not be so certain about its arrival time. Also, by beginning your calls on Tuesday, you have the rest of the week to call the people that you were not able to reach on Tuesday and Wednesday. Even those you reach on Friday should not have forgotten you.
The cue you mention in the phone call is an important way to help a person recall having seen your marketing letter. It is unlikely that the person will remember all of the details of the letter. All you are really hoping for is that the person will have some memory of having read the letter. The backgrounds of some people are so outstanding, and their letters so well written, that some employers are actually anticipating the call. For most people, however, that will not be the case. You should feel good if the person merely indicates that he or she saw it. But trust us, the letter will have had an impact and it will help you get an appointment.
In Sandra’s case, the cue is not a selling point, and was not intended to be one. She is not implying that this sales manager should want to meet her merely because she taught French and history. Those points were only made because Sandra wanted Garner to remember her letter. Most sales managers would have made note that some French teacher thought she could sell and was going to call for an appointment. The selling point in Sandra’s spiel is that her sales friends all think she would be great.
There are some cases in which a marketing letter may not be necessary. In the example below, Jim Thomas decided not to use a marketing letter. He has a strong background in sales and is accustomed to setting up sales appointments over the phone. By dispensing with the marketing letter he saves time and money, and he’ll end up with just as high a success rate as he would if he sent a marketing letter. Anyone who feels confident in their phone skills should give consideration to skipping the marketing letter and simply making direct contact with the hiring authority.
Hi Mr. Bradley, this is Jim Thomas. I’ve been selling radio advertising for the last six years and I’m seriously considering changing stations. I’ve been in the top 15% in sales for the last three years. I’m not in a rush to leave, but I would like to set a time when we could get together for 15 minutes or so.
Each of the scripts presented here as examples can be said in 10-20 seconds. When you’ve just reached a stranger on the phone, and the most the person has said is “Hello” or “This is Crenshaw,” twenty seconds is quite a long time.
Below is an example of a more complete script where the applicant is going to ask for a 15-minute appointment. The employer will respond by saying he doesn’t have any openings. That will be the most common response, even though you will have just said something like, “I realize you may have no openings at this time, but I would like to meet briefly with you for perhaps 15 minutes.” Either employers don’t hear that statement, or they choose to ignore it. Those who ignore it do so, I believe, because they know that by stating that there are no openings, 90% of all job seekers will lose interest in coming in. By asking for a meeting you’ll demonstrate that you’re not like all the rest.
The key to the success of this technique is that you are making such a reasonable request. Initially, you ask for 15-20 minutes. If that does not succeed, you make a second request, but drop the time down to ten minutes. When asking a third time you would ask either for just five minutes or for two minutes just to introduce yourself. Notice how skillfully this is done in the following example.
Jay: This is John Jay.
Lee: Mr. Jay, this is Bob Lee. I was calling to confirm that you received my letter which describes my 15 years in purchasing, including purchasing all the steel, glass, and concrete for the Columbia Center in Seattle.
Jay: Yes, I believe I saw that yesterday.
Lee: I’m glad you had a chance to review it. I do have a strong purchasing background. For Maynard and Wyatt Construction I implemented a very effective just-in-time program. I realize you may not have any openings at this moment, but I did want to set up a time when we might meet for 15 minutes or so. I’d like to tell you a little more about my background, and at the same time learn more about some of the directions you’re moving in. Would early next week work for you?
Jay: Bob, I’m sure you have a very good background, but I simply don’t have any opening at this time and don’t anticipate any for at least six months.
Lee: I can certainly understand that. I really didn’t expect that you’d have any openings. What I did want to do is to just set up a time, even ten minutes, when we might meet briefly. Would late next week work for you?
Jay: Bob, I just don’t have any openings. I’m in the middle of developing my budget and it just wouldn’t be worth my time or your time.
Lee: While I have you on the line Mr. Jay, perhaps I could just take a couple minutes to tell you more about my background.
(Gives two minute summary)
As you can see Mr. Jay, I do have a strong purchasing background. And I really do understand your situation. It’s always helpful to me, however, when I can meet a person face-to-face. It enables them to remember me better in case something would unexpectedly develop. Or you may hear of something elsewhere and be able to refer me. Could I stop by next week to introduce myself. I promise I wouldn’t take up more than two minutes of your time.
Jay: Well, I suppose we could do that. Stop over at my office at 11:55 on Friday.
Your two minute summary should be rehearsed. In essence it is your answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself.” It has elements of your answer to “Why should we hire you?” It is designed to provide the person with a sense of your value. It should be heavy on the benefits you can bring to the organization. Although we call it a two minute summary it can be as short as a minute. The key point is to provide just enough additional information that when you ask once more for a brief appointment, the person is now more likely to give it to you.
If you ask for just two minutes to introduce yourself, the assumption is that such a visit would take place in the lobby of the organization or in some other waiting room.
The next script is one prepared by a chief financial officer who was looking for another CFO position. In fact, this person helped pioneer the use of marketing letters and the telephone script. He wrote the script with the idea that he would be prepared for any objections that an employer might raise. He was calling presidents, the toughest people to get in to see. He had a very high success rate of about 30%. When calling presidents, a success rate of 15–20% is excellent.
Terry’s script helped him clarify what he would say if various objections were raised. He had no intention of memorizing the script. He merely wanted to prepare a strong statement so people would be willing to meet him. He was not trying to get them excited about meeting him, he merely wanted them to be willing to meet him.
Terry’s specialty was finance. During his years in the field he had taken three companies public, meaning he arranged for their first stock offerings. Many young companies desire to “go public” at some point because that is how many have gained real wealth. Terry knew that most of the presidents he spoke to would not be looking for a CFO at that moment. Yet he wanted to meet as many presidents as possible, and he needed a way to make them interested enough to meet him. Since most CFOs have never taken even one company public, that was going to be his “in.”
Tuff: This is Mr. Tuff.
Terry: Mr. Tuff, hi, this is Terry Pierce. I sent you a letter last week which highlights my qualifications in finance. I’ve been involved in public offerings, debt restructuring, systems development, and establishing credit lines. I’d like to meet with you for perhaps 15 minutes to further discuss how my experience could be useful.
Tuff: We’re having severe cash-flow problems and we’re definitely not hiring. There’s really no need to meet.
Terry: I don’t envy your situation. I’ve been there myself. One thing I noticed, in many instances when cash is tight, everyone concentrates on cash while no one concentrates on the day-to-day operations of the business. I could take a lot of the day-to-day pressure off you so you could focus your energy on business. If nothing else, I could give you a couple of ideas on how to avoid certain pitfalls that I’m sure you’re going to face. Should we meet the latter part of the week?
Tuff: I’m really busy and I’m not sure it would be any benefit to either of us to meet.
Terry: Mr. Tuff, might a public offering be considered when the economy improves?
Tuff: Well, we might consider going public after our cash situation improves.
Terry: These are going to be exciting and trying times for your company. I’d like to make a couple of comments regarding offerings. First, you need to accept that it will cost you 10-15% of the gross offering, in offering-related expenses. Additionally, the two most important decisions are going to be the counsel you use and the brokerage house you choose. You need a strong counsel that can control the counsel used by the underwriters. It would probably make sense to restructure your debt first to show the financial strength of the company before taking it public. Let’s get together for 15 minutes so I can explain more about the process and my experience.
Tuff: All right, let’s do that. Let’s meet at 9:00 on Friday.
Terry: Great, I’m looking forward to meeting you.
You can see that Terry was prepared for anything. Besides having an excellent background, his success in meeting so many presidents can be attributed largely to his ability to counter each argument and his ability to get a president to realize there might be some benefit to meeting him.
When you ask for appointments, avoid using the phrase “I was wondering if” as in “I was wondering if we could meet next week?” Instead, simply tell the person what you want by stating, “I would like to meet briefly with you next week.” Or, ask a simple but direct question such as, “Could we meet early next week?” By asking in either of these last two ways you come across as more confident and professional.
Ideally the person with the power to hire will immediately arrange a time. This happens surprisingly often. You must also be prepared, however, for any objections the person might raise. The example below illustrates my point. Objections are often raised, so you must be prepared.
Employer: We won’t be hiring for at least six months.
(How does she know? An employee may quit tomorrow.)
You: I can understand that. Actually I’m not in a hurry to leave my present job. It would certainly be beneficial to me if we could meet for just ten minutes.
Employer: I’m really tied up for the next three weeks.
You: That’s fine. Would the Monday following that week work for you?
Employer: Probably you should go through human resources and fill out an application.
You: I’d be glad to at the appropriate time. But really my goal is just to meet you and introduce myself.
Employer: Right now we’re laying off people in your field.
You: I can appreciate your concern. I know the economy is rough right now. I think that makes it even more important that we get together. My company went through a similar situation a year ago. My money-saving ideas helped turn the company around.
Employer: I really don’t think you have the right experience.
You: It is a bit unusual, but really, the problems I’ve dealt with are not much different than the ones you are undoubtedly facing. My new procedures at Silco created a 7% increase in productivity.
It’s unlikely you will face all of these objections from one person, but be prepared for them. Make it easy for the person to say “yes.” Asking for only ten minutes is a very reasonable request. Most people can spare at least that much time. And because you have much to offer, the appointment will prove mutually beneficial. At the very least, such a meeting can give the employer a pleasant and relaxing ten minutes. Although we have just stated that such an appointment will be mutually beneficial, you should not use the term as some have: “I think we’ll find it mutually beneficial.” Such a statement is a bit presumptuous and will usually be viewed as such by managers.
Below is an outline of the procedure you should follow when making your phone calls.
The Process Summarized
1. Speak to the person with power to hire and ask for a 15-20 minute meeting. Indicate that you realize there may be no openings.
2. If the person responds by saying there are no openings and therefore doesn’t want to meet with you, explain again that you understand there are no openings, but that you want only ten minutes to talk about the field and your background.
3. If the person counters by saying there is a freeze on hiring, or gives some other reason why he thinks a visit would be a waste of time for both of you, say something like this: “I can sure appreciate the tough economic climate in this area. Since I have you on the phone, let me just take a minute to tell you a little more about myself.” Then give a one- to two-minute summary of your strengths and experience.
4. When you finish your summary, ask once more for an appointment. Ask for a five-minute appointment, or just two minutes for an introduction. You might ask for five minutes in one of the following ways:
Mr. Belquez, I can certainly understand your situation. I’m working at this time, and what I’d really like to do is meet you and tell you a little more about myself so when openings do develop you’ll be able to keep me in mind. I promise I won’t take more than five minutes of your time.
Ms. Baum, that gives you just a sketch of my experience and abilities. It’s certainly not uncommon these days for a company to have a hiring freeze, and I can understand your reluctance to take time out of your busy schedule. But it would be very helpful to me if we could meet for just five minutes.
Mr. Baker, as you can see, I have a strong background in purchasing. It would really help me if you could take five minutes to see me. And I really do mean just five minutes.
At that point you will have asked three times for an appointment. Don’t give up with just two tries; many people relent on the third request. The first two requests were based on your merit. You’re a very capable person and you requested an appointment because most people in management continually have their eyes open for new talent. Make the third request on the basis of a favor. When you appeal to their desire to help others, many people will consent. In the examples above the person asked for five minutes. You could also ask for just two minutes to introduce yourself while standing in the employer’s lobby or waiting room. Then your request might sound like this:
Ms. Carter I understand how busy you are. I’ve just found it so useful to meet people face to face because they remember me better. Could I stop by some time this week to personally hand you my resume and introduce myself? I promise I won’t take more than two minutes of your time.
Mr. Castille I realize you just don’t have any openings at this time, but as you can see I do have a strong customer service background. I would really like to introduce myself and personally hand you my resume. I promise it won’t take more than two minutes. Is there a good time that I could stop by on Thursday or Friday?
5. If you still don’t get an appointment, you may yet get some valuable information if you hold the person on the phone another two to three minutes. Remember, you worked hard to get this hiring person on the phone, so don’t give up too easily. Consider these: “Mr. Bledsoe, when you do have a position open, what can I do to make sure I’ll be considered?” “Mr. Bledsoe, when you have openings in your marketing department, what do you look for in candidates?” “Mr. Bledsoe, I’ve briefly described my background. Is it the type of background you’d be looking for?” In such a situation you should ask, “If someone quit, would they be replaced?” If the answer is no then you can be certain that there is little value in meeting this person. As you are getting responses to your questions, jot notes down on the back of a 4 x 6 card. Also ask what you can do to be sure to learn of any openings that occur.
6. In addition, you could ask about the size of the department, particularly the number of people who do your type of work. Ask about turnover. If no one has left in the last four years, that certainly tells you something. You may want to assign that company a lower priority because of the unlikelihood of an opening. Or you may give it a higher priority because low turnover often indicates employee satisfaction. You’re the best judge of priority.
7. By this time you’ve probably convinced the person that you are a highly desirable employee. The person may know of something happening in other companies. Do not ask the person if she knows of any openings. Instead, try this: “Ms. Kelsoe, I think you have a pretty good feel for my background. What other companies do you think I should be contacting?” The reason for not asking about specific openings is that referrals are more important to you than knowledge of specific openings. And besides, the phrasing of the question will surely cause her to tell you about any openings she knows of. If the person says “Nothing comes to mind right now,” she may need some help to jog her memory. Your response might be, “Basically, I’m looking for a progressive firm like yours in the electronics industry. I realize you may not know of specific openings, but your advice on good companies would sure be helpful.” If she names some companies, ask for the name of a person to contact in each. Then ask, “Do you mind if I say you suggested I call?” Nearly always you will be given permission. You would simply say, “Beverly Kelsoe at Utalco suggested I call you. During the last five years, I’ve been purchasing microcircuits. I realize you may not have any openings, but I would like to set up a time when I could meet with you for about 15 minutes.”
8. Thank the person for his or her time. If no appointment was made, indicate that you’ll be sending your resume, and that you’ll be staying in touch. If the person asks you to simply talk to his or her administrative assistant, respond with a thank you. This employer is implying that the assistant will know in advance if any positions become available. Send a brief thank-you note with your resume to confirm your appreciation.
Your goal is still to get in and see as many hiring authorities as possible. A personal meeting always creates a much stronger and more lasting impression than just talking by phone. But think of it this way: if you’ve been unable to make an appointment, probably no one else is going to, either. When you got the person on the phone, you made the most of it and sold yourself. The employer was impressed. Once the person receives your thank-you note, resume, and a follow-up phone call, you’ll undoubtedly be one of the first to be informed when a position becomes available.
Your primary goal in using this strategy is to locate job openings in the hidden job market. While personal meetings with employers increase your chances of finding such positions, your telephone conversation, resume, thank-you note and follow-up are the next best things.
Let’s look at an additional benefit of this telephone strategy. During a period of high unemployment, you may get appointments only 15-25% of the time, compared to the 30–40% rate most experience during better economic times. When you don’t get an appointment, chances are great that it will be because there really are no openings, and when vacancies occur, they will not be filled. So an appointment really would have been a waste of your time. While the employer is saving only ten minutes, you’ll be saving the two to three hours it would take to research the organization, drive there, meet the person, and return home. When you get a turndown, be thankful that you just saved yourself three hours, and then go ahead and call the next person on your list.
In your phone calls, use humor whenever possible. Our clients report that making the employer laugh has significantly increased their ability to get valuable information, even when they do not get in to see the person. Don’t, however, try to be a comedian, just let your humor express itself when it seems appropriate.
Tips On Getting Appointments
Despite their qualifications, and their telephone and persuasion skills, no one gets appointments 100% of the time. It helps to understand some of the reasons you won’t get an appointment. Although I have seen a few people achieve an 80-90% success rate in getting appointments, most people will get appointments 30-40% of the time.
There are many reasons why a person won’t meet with you. Those within your control might include the following possibilities: your marketing letter was not well written; your background was not impressive or was not sold well; you sounded nervous on the phone; your voice lacked a sense of confidence and conviction that the person really should meet you; you were not persistent to ask a second or third time for an appointment; or you sounded pushy when asking that second or third time. You have some control over these factors.
Then there are factors over which you have no control. For example, the organization may be in the midst of a hiring freeze; there may be no openings and the person knows it’s highly unlikely that anyone will be quitting; the person may have just laid off people and is fearful of losing her own job; people have been laid off and now the manager is trying to do her own job plus parts of two others and is exhausted; it’s a bad time and the person is extremely busy; you caught the person on her worst day in the last six months; or the person you talked to is an egocentric person who really doesn’t like helping people and would not have been helpful to you anyway.
After you’ve asked a third time for an appointment and have been turned down, always ask if the position would be filled if someone quit. If you get a definite no, or a hesitant yes, it may tell you that the organization is having financial difficulties. After hearing that those who leave will not be replaced, ask how long the situation is expected to continue. The answer will give you further insight and will help you determine how to prioritize the organization. Put your new-found information on your 4 x 6 card.
We’ve suggested that asking for a shorter meeting time is one way to overcome an employer’s resistance to meet with you. That is, you start by asking for 15 minutes, then reduce that time to 10 minutes, and reduce the time again to 5 or 2 minutes if the person you’re calling still hasn’t agreed to meet with you. The idea is to keep making extremely reasonable requests. It’s hard for a person to turn down a reasonable request.
There is another type of request you can make, however. After the person has twice turned down your request for an appointment, and after your two-minute summary, instead of asking for five or two minutes, merely request an opportunity to introduce yourself in a lobby or reception area. Indicate that you simply want to hand the person your resume so he or she can associate a name with a face. You might say: “I know you’re busy, and I don’t want to take up any more of your time. Could I stop by to personally give you my resume and introduce myself? I’d take less than two minutes of your time.”
Then, when you do meet the person for your two-minute introduction, you might say something like, “Ms. Juarez, I appreciate your seeing me. Perhaps I could tell you one reason why you should remember me. Basically I am . . .” Your spiel should take under two minutes. You would then shake hands again, thank the person, and leave. The impact you have just made will be based on how you carried yourself. In one minute, the person could realize you are confident, energetic, enthusiastic, upbeat, and professional. If the whole thing is over in under two minutes, the person will be very pleased and very surprised that you really meant what you said—that you merely wanted to introduce yourself.
It does not matter if the person was ecstatic about meeting you when you called, or could barely be talked into it. Our clients have met with people who were enthusiastic about meeting and then were completely uninterested and unhelpful during the appointment. Other employers were barely talked into an appointment, but then were very helpful and genuinely tried to figure out how the person might find a position in their organization. One client met with a person who, after being curt on the telephone, opened up and was very cordial during the face-to-face meeting. They spoke for a half hour, and the person even made calls on the client’s behalf.
Also, dropping in on people should not be completely ruled out as a strategy. We know of the CEO of a $100 million company who, by nature, is very reserved. In fact, he spends nearly an entire day locked up in his office handling paperwork. Yet, when people drop in and ask for him, he often meets briefly with them in a reception area, or invites them into his office and chats briefly. He is not unusual in this regard. By telling this story we are not necessarily recommending a strategy based just on cold calls, but there are people who have made this approach work very effectively.
When speaking to the person with the power to hire, it often helps to refer to others with whom you’ve met. You might say something like, “I’d very much like to meet briefly with you. I was up at Fluke and Eldec last week (two well-known Northwest firms) and I hoped I might also meet with you.” You could also mention the names of the people, as well as the names of their companies. These people may know each other or know of each other. And it’s an impressive little tidbit to indicate that these other people felt good enough about you to let you visit them.
One of our clients was convinced that his energy level and self-confidence were the two most important factors in his getting appointments. He also did better when he treated the process of making calls as a game. When he told himself that there were plenty of other fish out there and that it didn’t really matter if he got a meeting or not, he had a higher success rate. Also, when he made two or three good appointments in a short time, he kept making calls even though his plan may have been to stop earlier. When he was on a roll, he wanted to make the most out of his positive responses and the momentum they gave him. This, too, increased his success rate.
The strategy of seeking brief meetings should result in appointments 30-40% of the time, except during periods of high unemployment. If you’re only getting appointments 15-20% of the time, you’re probably not using the telephone effectively.
Also, if you’re trying to meet with presidents, you must be very sharp on the phone. Even then, your expected success rate with these people will be only 10–30%. Presidents are clearly the most difficult people to meet. That’s why you should avoid speaking to presidents unless they are truly the only ones who have the power to hire you to do what you want to do.
When it comes to meeting the person with power to hire, remember: you’re the one making the special effort. You have offered to drive to the business, pay for parking, walk to the building, and wait until the person is available—all for just a few minutes of his or her time. You may have spent two hours just preparing for the appointment. In addition, you’ve done all this so the person with the power to hire can experience an enjoyable, relaxing time talking with you.
Tips On Cold Calling
Cold calling—that is, dropping in unannounced to see the person with the power to hire—can be particularly effective if you are seeking retail positions or other positions in which the person with power to hire is not protected by a gatekeeper. In a retail environment the store manager is almost never insulated by an administrative assistant. What’s more, the manager likely spends time out on the floor selling and handling management responsibilities. That means if you walk in during a slow period when there are few customers around, you could easily get five minutes of the manager’s time.
Although larger retail chains often have a human resources department, most hiring is actually done by the store manager in smaller stores, or by a department manager in large stores.
If you want to use cold calling as one of your strategies, begin by plotting out on a map the locations of the stores you are interested in. Then, based on your knowledge of the industry, determine what times during the day are likely to be slow for those businesses. Restaurants, for example, tend to be slow from 10–11 a.m., and then from 2–5 p.m. Most retail stores are slow for the first two hours after opening, between 2 and 5 p.m., and then again just before closing time. It’s important to talk to the manager when the store is not busy in order to get even five minutes of his or her time. This advice would also hold true for banking if you were visiting a branch.
We would suggest going into each store and scoping it out. Make observations about how clean it is and how well the merchandise is displayed. If you can, listen to a salesperson help a customer. That will give you a sense of how well trained the sales staff is. Then, when a salesperson approaches you to help you as a customer, quickly explain why you are in the store. Ask if it’s a good store or chain to work for. Then ask for the name of the manager and ask to be introduced. If the manager is out on the floor, you will probably be immediately introduced. If the manager is in the back room, it may take a few minutes. In most cases, the manager will see you. If not, you would ask when a good time to return might be.
You will most likely speak to the manager while standing up, so practice your spiel while standing. Quickly describe your background in retail or describe your strong interest in a retail career. Ask whether the store will be adding staff. If not, confirm that people who leave will be replaced. Sell yourself and then leave a copy of your resume. If the manager gives you an application to fill out, accept it and say you’ll return it in a few days when you come back for another visit.
Lower-level retail positions are usually filled quickly, so it is important to stay in touch with the manager. Stop by every few days and simply ask if there will be any openings soon. After the initial visit, you’ll take up less than a minute of time each time you stop by. After three visits, you might call by phone once or twice in a two-week period to find out about openings. After that you might alternate between calling on the phone and visiting in person. This process takes time, but this is how people in retail get hired.
Produce 40 Times The Impact
Meeting a hiring authority in person has many times the impact of merely sending a resume. A resume, no matter how good it is, is just a piece of paper. You will always be more impressive in person than on paper.
Your goal is to meet hiring authorities in person, even if it is for only ten minutes. Lasting impressions are made from person-to-person contact, not from resumes or even telephone conversations. The person meeting you will associate your name with a face, a voice, a personality.
In each meeting, create a lasting, positive impression so that when an opening occurs, you’ll be the first person considered. Suppose five weeks ago you spent 15 minutes with Mrs. Johnson, a key hiring authority in one of your most desired companies. No opening existed at the time, but you had a pleasant conversation. You learned more about her organization and you shared some of your accomplishments. Mrs. Johnson told you she was impressed with your background, and even mentioned three companies she felt you should look at. Two days later Mrs. Johnson received a nice thank-you note, and she once again remembered you and recalled your potential. She also felt good about herself because she knew she had been helpful. Three weeks later you called her and had a one-minute conversation asking if there had been any job developments. Not surprisingly, there had been none.
Two weeks after your call, however, someone informed Mrs. Johnson that he was leaving the company for a better position. What could Mrs. Johnson do? She could have informed human resources immediately and asked them to place an ad. She could also delve into her file cabinet and review the hundred or so resumes she has accumulated over the last six months. Instead, she thought of you. She picked up the telephone and called you for an interview.
Consider for a moment why the strategy of meeting hiring authorities works so well. During the first twelve weeks after mailing your marketing letter, you will have eight high-quality contacts. The average job seeker has one low-quality contact—a mediocre resume. These eight high-quality contacts produce at least 40 times the impact of mailing a typical resume. The eight contacts include: 1) mailing a marketing letter; 2) following up with a phone call and obtaining an appointment; 3) meeting the person face-to-face; 4) leaving a copy of your resume; 5) sending a thank-you note that evening; 6) following up with a one-minute call three weeks later; 7) a second short call four weeks later; and 8) mailing an interesting article four weeks after that. From that point on, a call would be made or an article sent every five to seven weeks.
Going through the strategy step by step will show you how this combined approach has at least 40 times the impact of a resume.
An excellent first impression is created when the person reads your marketing letter. The marketing letter is a nice touch because it is different from what employers are used to receiving. While your background may not be so powerful that the employer calls you on the phone immediately, a favorable impression has been created, nonetheless. The person will notice that you’ve indicated that you will call in a few days. While not necessarily excited about taking your call, particularly if there are no suitable openings, the person will probably speak with you. You may have to call several times because such people are often in meetings, out of the office, or out of town. But when you speak to the person you are going to come across as very confident and capable. Most people will agree to meet with you.
When you meet the person, you will have prepared a monologue. You’ll use it if the first thing the person says is, “How can I help you?” Sometimes the person will not even remember why you are there. The person may only know that your name is on his schedule for a fifteen-minute appointment. The “How can I help you?” question, or any one of its derivatives, are cordial ways of getting down to business right away. By having a five- to seven-minute summary of your background and strengths prepared, you’ll be ready to sell yourself. When you leave the meeting, this person should be thinking, “If I had an opening, this is the type of person who could really help us.”
As you leave, you will often give the person your resume unless the person had already asked for it. However, some people prefer not to bring a resume with them. Instead they tailor the resume to the situation after they get home. If you are willing to take the time to tailor each resume, then leaving your resume at home is a good strategy.
That evening you would compose a personal thank-you note. Although many notes are no more than four lines, they can be considerably longer if you want to supply additional information about your background or strengths. The person who met with you will receive the thank-you note a day or two later and think favorably of you once more.
Three weeks later you will call and reintroduce yourself so that the person will remember the conversation, if not your name. Then you will ask if there have been any developments (which there probably have not) and then state once more your interest in the organization. There is no need to feel that you are impinging on this person’s time because you will take only a minute. Your call might go like this:
Hi Mr. Johnson, this is Bill Baker. We met three weeks ago when I visited you for a few minutes. I’m the one interested in webmaster positions. I just wanted to find out if there have been any developments since that time.
Then five weeks later you will make yet another one-minute call. While you are only taking up one minute of the employer’s time, it has probably taken you at least ten minutes to prepare and make several calls before getting through. That’s okay, though. You are making an impression.
For your next follow-up, we recommend finding an article that your hiring authorities would enjoy reading but are fairly unlikely to have already seen. You would simply write, “Thought you might be interested,” and then sign your name. Once again this person will think of you and realize that you are really serious about working there.
When you add up the impact of those eight contacts, we believe it has at least 40 times the impact of a resume alone. Let’s face it, most resumes are not well written, and they have little impact. Rarely does a person read a resume and say, “We’ve got to have that person.” When an employer speaks to a potential employee, however, and the person is self-confident and enthusiastic, and follows-up by contacting the employer again and again—that has impact.
Tips For What To Do At Appointments
Your preparation for appointments will be key. Developing a five- to seven-minute summary of yourself is especially important. Some appointments consist of genuine conversation, but if the employer has no openings and wants to keep the meeting short, he or she is likely to say, “How can I help you?” When you get such a questions, respond with something like, “Mrs. Klevinger, I really do appreciate your taking time to meet with me. And I understand that you don’t have any openings at this time. Perhaps the best thing I can do is simply share my background and describe some of my strengths. Basically I . . .” Then you’ll give your summary.
Seven minutes may seem like a long time to talk nonstop, but it really isn’t. It gives you just enough time to summarize your work history and education and then have a couple minutes left to share some strengths. Of course, while you are describing your work history you should briefly mention some of your accomplishments. This will give the employer an excellent overview of your background. It will also allow the employer to ask some questions if he or she is so inclined.
Often the employers you meet with will have no questions for you. Assuming a fifteen-minute appointment, half of your time will be gone when you’ve completed your monologue. If the person does not ask you to clarify or expand on anything, you should ask some questions. For instance, you might ask questions like: “Do you see any expansion in the next six months?” “Do you think there will be any openings in the next few months?” “When you have openings, what skills, qualities, and experience are you looking for?”
After the person has finished answering your questions, your time will almost be up. You should indicate the appointment is drawing to a close by saying, “Mr. Klucewski, I don’t want to take up any more of your time. Maybe I should just summarize what I think my strengths are.” You would then share some of your key strengths. This would all be part of a two-minute summary you should have practiced numerous times. In addition to recapping your prepared summary, you would also cover some of the points the employer mentioned just minutes earlier in response to your question about desired qualities and skills. Some of the words you use might be identical to the ones the employer used, some you would paraphrase. All the while, however, you’d be showing that you possess those skills and qualities. After sharing your points, you would then thank the person for the meeting, stand up, and say goodbye. Whenever possible, you should be the one to terminate the conversation to show that you are a person of your word: you asked for fifteen minutes and you got your fifteen minutes, so it’s time for you to leave.
Unless the employer is truly keeping the conversation going, you should terminate it at the set time. This is a crucial point. Sometimes conversations go on for an hour, and we’re sure that, in most cases, the employer gladly gives the additional time. We also know that sometimes a person walks out the door and the employer is saying, “She asked for fifteen minutes and she stayed almost 45 minutes. Now I’m really behind in my work.” No matter how impressive the person was, no matter how well she sold herself, and no matter how good some of her stories were, this person will be remembered primarily as the one who did not keep her word.
The way to avoid this potential problem is to be aware of time. If you sense time is drawing to a close, very deliberately look at your watch. Do it in an obvious way. By doing so you are demonstrating that you are concerned about taking too much of this person’s time.
If you really are hoping for some additional time, and it appears that the employer is enjoying the conversation, and perhaps even keeping it alive, you might say, “Mr. Barratt, I appreciate the time you’ve given me. I did ask for just fifteen minutes. Do you have an upcoming appointment?” If he wants to terminate the conversation you have provided a perfect out, with the person probably saying, “Well, I do need to get back to my project in about five minutes.” Or, the person may say, “No, that’s fine, I’ve got another fifteen minutes.”
If the person is clearly directing and continuing the conversation, then you may continue past the allotted time. After the appointed time has passed, however, be very alert for signals that the meeting has gone on long enough. If you notice the person looking at a clock or watch, looking away as if bored, or fidgeting, quickly draw your comments to a close and thank the person for the time.
If the person begins asking you specific questions about your experience, the conversation has probably turned from an appointment into an interview. A person who has no openings and knows there will be no openings in the next few months will rarely ask those types of questions. One of the few exceptions would be if the person were considering referring you to someone who has or may have an opening. In any case, being asked questions is a very positive sign.
The reasons why an employer would ask you questions include: 1) The person has no openings but likes you and will offer you an interview if something opens up; 2) the person intends to refer you to others if he learns of openings; 3) the person is thinking of creating a position in a few months and may move that date up if a really capable person comes along; 4) the person thinks someone is about to quit; 5) the person is considering firing someone, but may do so only if the replacement is ready to be hired; 6) the person is always looking for people who can make money or solve problems for him.
During your appointment, do your best to get the employer involved in a true conversation. The more involved the person is, the more likely the person will want to talk beyond the requested ten or fifteen minutes.
Using Your Resume During Appointments
Take several copies of your resume with you to appointments. If the interviewer already has a copy, don’t assume she has read it or remembers any of its contents. Avoid such statements as, “Well, as you can see in my resume, I . . .” She’ll start fumbling around with the resume looking for that point and will be distracted from what you’re actually saying. Feel free to discuss points that are in the resume, but talk in the same way you would if the person had never seen your resume.
Since employers will often ask for your resume, have one handy. Just two minutes with your resume can them a lot about you. If your time has drawn to a close, and the person has not asked for your resume, hand it to the employer as you leave saying: “Thanks for taking the time to see me, Mrs. Castor, you’ve been very helpful. Let me give you a copy of my resume in case anything should develop.” If nothing else, now the employer will know how to contact you. If you made a favorable impression, she will probably keep your resume in a special folder at her desk. If a position does open up, your resume will be reviewed before the dozens of mediocre resumes she has seen. Your resume will bring to mind the favorable impression you created while meeting face-to-face. A top-quality resume continues to work for months after you’ve handed it to a potential employer.
Some people prefer not to take a resume with them so they can send a customized resume the following day. They customize their resumes based on any knowledge picked up during the conversation.
Both strategies, leaving a resume, or sending a resume after tailoring it, work very effectively.
At the end of appointments, after you’ve expressed real interest in the organization, you can ask for referrals. If you impressed the employer, he will be more than ready to do you this small favor. If, however, you’ve been informed that a position is about to open up, or you believe a position may come up in the next 2-4 months, concentrate on thanking the person, without asking for referrals.
You might try asking for referrals in the following ways:
You: Mr. Sanders, I really appreciate your taking time to see me today. Perhaps you could do one more favor for me. I’d like to leave my resume with you, and if anything would develop within Xytex, or if you hear of anything in another organization, please let me know. Can you think of any other organization I should contact?
You: Mrs. Bell, I really enjoyed our chat today and I appreciate the time you’ve given me. In my research I’ve identified eight other organizations that I’d like to work for and I’ve gotten the names of the people I think I should be contacting. Do you know any of these people? (show your list)
Bell: I know Johnson and Coleman.
You: Could you give me a quick sketch of both of them?
Have a notepad handy when you have an appointment or interview. That way you’ll be ready if the person you’re meeting with refers you to someone or suggests an article to read. Although we generally recommend that people not take notes during an appointment, you can do so if you maintain good eye contact with the person and write your notes as unobtrusively as possible.
As soon as you can, jot down some notes while the appointment is still fresh in your mind. Your notes might cover these points:
1. The organization: needs, problems, size, plans, growth, etc.
2. The hiring authority: age, biases, management style, overall personality
3. Questions that were asked, including objections you may have to overcome
4. Overall impression
5. Specific points, such as the date you should call back
Following up begins the same day as the appointment. Between appointments or when you get home, write a brief, typed or handwritten thank-you note. The five minutes it takes to write a thank-you note could be the most valuable time you spend. It will cause an important person to think favorably of you once more. A successful job search includes doing all the little things right.
The value of a thank-you note can be seen most clearly after a formal interview. Suppose Barbara is making a career change from telephone operator to sales representative. One of fifteen candidates interviewed, she was told that only three would be invited back for second interviews. Ten people had sales experience, but despite Barbara’s total lack of sales experience, she was ranked fourth. She enjoyed the interview and, out of habit, wrote a nice, quick, four-line thank-you note. When the note arrived, the sales manager was getting ready to call the three top candidates. In the ten seconds it took to read the note, he began recalling the interview with Barbara. A moment later he was calling Barbara, having decided it wouldn’t hurt to interview a fourth person.
A thank-you note is a perfect device. It makes you stand apart from the vast majority of job seekers who never bother with them. It says that your expression of interest in the organization was genuine. Any indication of enthusiasm and interest will be interpreted as evidence that you will work harder and stay with the organization longer than others. The reason for taking five minutes to write a thank-you note is simple—it is a common courtesy and it can substantially increase the number of second interviews you get. Employers feel good when they know they’ve been appreciated, and their feeling good about you can help dramatically.
Thank You Notes After A Brief Appointment
The note can be anywhere from three sentences to two pages in length. The note might read like this:
Note sent after an information interview
Dear Mr. Mathews,
I really appreciated the time you gave me yesterday. After talking to you, I’m even more sure that human resources is the right field for me. I’ll keep you informed of my progress.
Note sent after an appointment in which no job existed
Dear Mrs. Kelser:
Thank you so much for seeing me yesterday. Our conversation confirmed what others have told me--that Dalco is an exciting company to work for. Of course, when I first called you, I did not expect you to have any openings. Since our conversation, however, I am convinced that I could be a real asset in the accounting department. Through my auditing and project management background I think I could really contribute to Dalco.
I will stay in touch to check on any developments.
Note sent after a formal interview
Dear Mrs. Madison:
I really enjoyed today’s interview and I appreciate the fact that I was invited from among so many candidates. I just wanted to say again that I am quite excited about the prospect of working for Sentry, and especially within your department.
Any of these letters could have been longer, but that is usually unnecessary. Write a longer note only if you have a definite purpose in doing so. For instance, you may want to write a proposal describing a problem you discovered during the interview, along with your proposed solution. Or, if you did not have an opportunity to make an important point during an interview, a letter provides you with an excellent opportunity to cover it, even if it extends the letter’s length to more than a page. If an objection was raised during the interview, and you missed it, didn’t handle it adequately, or simply want to attack it from another angle, you can do so in a letter. Unlike shorter thank-you notes which may be handwritten, proposals or lengthy letters should be typed.
Everyone you interview with should get a thank-you note, so whenever you have multiple interviews or a panel interview, ask for people’s business cards or write their names down when you meet them. For multiple interviews where you will meet three or more people in separate interviews, ask the person who is coordinating the interviews to supply you with the names and titles of the people you’ll be meeting.
Most of your appointments will be with employers who do not have current openings. Your process of following up with them can last weeks or even months. Three weeks after your first appointment, call to ask if there have been any developments. Don’t worry about bothering the person; you’ll only talk for a minute. When you get the person on the phone, introduce yourself, indicate when you met, and briefly describe what you talked about. Do not assume the employer will remember you. He or she may have met 40 people in the last three weeks and will probably need a reminder.
Odds are there is still no opening. In closing, emphasize your interest in the company, and perhaps bring the person up to date on your efforts, particularly if you have contacted any of the people you were referred to. If you had not received referrals before, this would be a good time to ask for the names of organizations that this person thinks you should contact. If you think the hiring manager may have a position fairly soon, however, we would suggest that you avoid asking for referrals. By not asking for referrals in this type of situation, you will be indicating that the organization is one of your top choices.
In the follow-up call below, Bob had asked for referrals and is reporting to Mr. Benson that his call to Mr. Jensen was very helpful. A follow-up call might go like this:
Bob: Hi, Mr. Benson, this is Bob Phillips. We met about three weeks ago when I came in to talk about microprocessors and the directions Microdata is taking. I just wanted to find out if there have been any new developments in your marketing department.
Benson: Bob, I remember you and I still have your resume, but there haven’t been any openings.
Bob: I really appreciated your taking time to see me. The more I hear about Microdata, the more excited I get. I did call Mr. Jensen at Datasoft. He was very helpful. I’ll probably talk to you again in four or five weeks. Thanks again.
When making your follow-up calls, you will frequently talk to an assistant if the person with power to hire is out or unavailable. You will generally be asked to leave a message and your number so the call can be returned. Instead, ask when a good time to call would be. After three or four unsuccessful calls, you might explain that you saw the person three weeks earlier and that you just need to talk to him or her for a minute to ask a couple questions. If the assistant has been brushing you off, that may help. Always stay on good terms with the assistant. On the second or third call, ask the administrative assistant’s name. You may talk to the assistant six or seven times, so you’ll want to maintain your composure and sense of humor. Try to get to know this person. Make him or her want to help you.
After your first follow-up call, call every four to five weeks. Try to create and maintain enough interest so that if any openings occur, you’ll be notified. Even if they don’t call you, you’re never more than five weeks away from discovering the opening through one of your calls. In the hidden job market, jobs frequently stay open for six to ten weeks.
If the person asks you to speak to the administrative assistant in the future, that’s okay as long as the assistant will know of openings as they occur. One advantage to you is that the assistant will be readily available. Seek to get to know this person and exchange pleasantries each time you call.
You should also follow up with your contacts. Every six weeks you’ll need to call them to let them know about your experiences and your progress. If they referred you to someone, tell them what happened. Make them an integral part of your search and make them feel valued. This kind of follow-up will counter a psychological fact—with every passing week their ears become duller. In the beginning, you’ll be notified if they hear of a job that remotely resembles the one you want. But by seven weeks, your contacts may assume you’ve found another job. By nine weeks they may hear about your perfect job but fail to even think of you.
Maximize Impact Even When You Don’t Meet The Employer
We’ve made a strong case that when you meet the person with the power to hire and you follow up in the ways we’ve mentioned, that you will achieve at least forty times the impact of just sending a mediocre resume. Although you won’t meet everyone you’d like to, all is not lost. Certainly you should seek to meet everyone who is willing to meet you and you should use every technique at your disposal to get the person to grant you even two minutes of face to face time. But sometimes it won’t happen.
Here’s what you will have accomplished if you speak to a person who has your marketing letter. The employer will have read your marketing letter, spoken to you on the phone, and listened attentively to your two minute monologue about your assets. Toward the end of your conversation the employer will have answered two or three of your questions and then for the final time (probably reluctantly) turned down your third request for an appointment. A few days later the employer will have received your resume with a combination cover letter-thank you note in which you thanked the person for taking time to speak to you. Because you learned something about what the person looks for in a top candidate, you touched on those points and demonstrated that you are strong in several of those areas. Then three or four weeks later you called back and in a minute or less reintroduced yourself and asked if any openings now existed. Three or four weeks later the person received an article from you that you thought the person might find interesting. These are five high quality contacts. We believe these five contacts have at least fifteen times the impact of the typical mediocre resume. If an opening occurs a week or two after your last contact the employer is highly likely to contact you about the opening.
Employers Sometimes Create Positions With You In Mind
If you have truly sold yourself, the employer will sometimes consciously start thinking of how to create a position for you. Although the employer may not let on, the wheels in his head are turning. While this does not happen frequently, it does happen. Usually it occurs when someone has an unusual combination of skill and experience that is not readily found. Sometimes the thoughts start because the employer “dreads” the thought of you going to the competition.
This scenario happens when you convince the employer that you can do all or some of the following: 1) Make money for the organization 2) Save money for the organization 3) Solve problems, or 4) Reduce the pressure that the employer is feeling.
Although it can take weeks or months to create a position, take on the challenge to cause employers to look for ways to hire you. It takes time because the person often has to sell the idea to his or her boss or to human resources. It may take time to scrounge up money in the budget. Perhaps some project will even have to be scrapped in order to bring you on board.
Even when the employer does not consciously create a position for you, your efforts can still have impact. Perhaps a few weeks after you met the employer, someone quit or a decision was made to create a new position. The employer must now evaluate what the department needs. Often the organization does not try to find a clone of the person who just left. Perhaps the needs have changed and a very different person is needed. Or perhaps the manager has a desire to delegate certain duties to the new person.
The manager may have inherited a staff and now here is the first opportunity to bring in the person he or she most wants. The manager may have some duties or responsibilities that have become onerous. Managers themselves inherit duties. The manager may never have liked the duty or has just grown tired of it. Or the manager may just not be very good at that function and wants to find someone who is much more capable. You may be just the right person. Unconsciously the employer may write the job description with its required skills in such a way that you are the perfect candidate. If you sell yourself well in the formal interview stage the job is yours.
Very few job coaches use marketing letters. If the concept intrigues you, use the above material to help you make effective use of marketing letters. If you like the idea, but want some help, contact Tom (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Gary (email@example.com) by phone or email.