INCREASE YOUR ODDS - STOP SENDING "JUNK MAIL."
Bruce I. Doyle, III, Ph.D.
"Junk mail’ - what does that have to do with my job search? I've spent a lot of time and effort putting together a darn good resume. How dare you consider it ‘junk mail?"
It's easy! You're looking at it from the point of view of the sender. Do you think all the companies that send you marketing literature to make you aware of products and services that could enhance your life consider their mailings "junk mail?" Of course not! They feel good about their offerings and want you to be aware of their value to you. On the other hand, as the recipient you consider it "junk mail." You didn't request it. You could care less about what they have to offer. You're too busy to read it. It's of no value to you and you're just not interested. How often have you wished that the postal service would outlaw it? It fills up your mailbox and increases your trash bill. To you it's just "junk mail."
Having been in senior positions in the business world for a number of years, I can attest to the fact that "junk mail" is an issue there also. The "in" basket is what controls a major portion of an executive's time. Many executives have highly-experienced assistants who are adept at sorting and screening their mail so they only have to deal with correspondence that is relevant and important. Typical categories might be, "immediate attention," "later," and "miscellaneous". Frequently, colored folders are used to signify categories of priority. Guess where resumes usually end up? You're right; it would be rare to find one in "immediate attention." A few might find their way into "later." But the majority, if they didn't get sent to human resources or trashed, end up in "miscellaneous" with the rest of the "junk mail." "Miscellaneous" files usually contain magazines, advertisements, newsletters, journals and resumes. Most businesspersons accumulate this mail and sort through it on their next plane trip. It rarely ever makes it back to the office. It usually ends up in the back pocket of the seat in front of them. In the mean time, job seekers are wondering why they haven't been contacted for an interview.
Most job seekers have no idea how many resumes are received by corporations each and every day. Kenneth Howe of the San Francisco Chronicle states that "big employers get inundated with up to 3000 resumes a month."
More and more companies, with sophisticated information systems, are scanning unsolicited resumes into computerized data bases and capturing key words referred to as "descriptors" to categorize the job seeker. Only if a future data base search matches the key descriptors in a seeker's resume will it be read in its entirety by human eyes.
Several years ago, an unemployed senior executive followed up on a job opening that he thought fit him perfectly, only to be told that 800 resumes had been received for the position.
Don't fall into the same trap that many job seekers do. They assume that when they don't get responses, something is wrong with their resume. Their first inclination is to create a different format or change the focus, thinking that will make a difference. It usually doesn't. What's needed is a shift in approach.
To increase your odds of getting an interview, you need to get your message out of the "junk mail" category and into the hiring executive's "immediate attention" folder. To do that, you need to stop sending your resume.
"How in the world am I going to increase the odds of getting an interview if I stop sending my resume?" Good question! The trick is to get out of the "junk mail" category by sending a well-written business letter - sans resume - that is structured to demand "immediate attention." This type of communication is called a "marketing letter."
When writing letters, many job seekers neglect to consider their communications from the point of view of the recipient. If you went to a party and someone came up to you and began to crow about their achievements and how they could do such and such, and they were this and that, you would very quickly find a reason to excuse yourself. Unfortunately, that is how many job search letters read. Now, on the other hand, if someone came up to you at a party and said something of interest to you, you would be all ears. That's what makes the difference. A communication that initially focuses on the recipient's interests or needs will be heard.
Let's take a look at how you can CROW about yourself in four brief paragraphs but still demand "immediate attention."
Connect with the reader in the first paragraph. To do this, you must refer to something that is of interest to him/her. Asking a question is an excellent way to achieve this connection. Try something similar to: Do you need someone who can ___________? Are you looking for someone who can ___________? Are you having difficulty with __________? Is your organization having problems with__________? From your research on the company, ask a question that has "yes" as the answer.
You have now attracted "immediate attention" by referring to a need that the reader has. Managers are paid to solve problems and usually need help. That's where you'll get their attention.
Relate your prior experience and accomplishments in the second paragraph so the reader will immediately think of you as someone who can help solve his/her problems. Describe how you solved the same or a similar problem for your former employer. Highlight several relevant accomplishments that point out what you have achieved and how you could do the same for him/her.
Outline examples of your key skills and personality traits to further interest the reader in wanting to learn more about you. Examples will establish more credibility in the mind of the reader. An example outlining how you handled a particular situation will let the reader come to the conclusion that you are creative. If you simply state that you are creative, the reader has no point of reference to believe you or not. In the final paragraph, you want a call for action.
When can we meet? What you really want is a face-to-face meeting to explore possibilities, get advice, obtain some referrals and if you get lucky, a job. A statement similar to, "I will call you in a few days to arrange a mutually agreeable time to meet," will do.
A well-thought-out "marketing letter" utilizing this structure will significantly increase your odds of getting an interview. Be creative and demand "immediate attention."