Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Your Network Won't Help? Another Way to Land a Job...(Often) Fast

It's been said ad nauseam that your network is the best source of a job. That's true but most people who are seeking career advice have already exhausted their network.

For them, the most potent way to land most jobs may be to cold contact target employers, whether or not they're advertising a job. That's true, if you do it right.

First, to motivate you to cold-contact, which many people find anathema, consider this:

A job opening is born when the employer has a need but isn't aware of it. If you cold call or walk in at that point, the boss may be tempted to hire you, at least on a project basis, so he doesn't need to undertake the time-consuming standard employee selection process.

The next stage in a job opening's lifespan is when the boss is aware s/he needs to hire someone but has, at most, let insiders know. Call or walk in at that point and you're still competing only with a small number of applicants.

Here's the punchline: Usually a job opening reaches the next stage in its lifespan--it's publicly advertised--when it requires unusual skills, no one who knows the boss wants to work with him, or it's wired for someone but HR requires the job to be advertised. In other words, when you're answering a want ad, you're more likely to be competing with the most applicants for the worst jobs.

That's why cold contact to employers whether or not they're advertising a job, is so potent--if done well. The method of cold-contact I recommend is Phone-Email-Phone-Phone.

1. Make a list of 50 target employers, who are not necessarily advertising an appropriate job opening. Why as many as 50? Because the odds of any one needing you is small. It is a numbers game.

2. Phone each after-hours, leaving this voice mail such as:
This is Jane Blow. I was a project manager at Ace Corp. and got solid evaluations but the job ended so I'm looking for work. I chose to call you because (insert a reason such as why you like the company, its geographic location, whatever.) I'll be emailing you my resume (or if your resume would not impress that employer, a letter of introduction, highlighting what would most impress her.) If you think I might be of help to you or simply want to offer me some advice, I'd welcome hearing from you. My phone number is: repeat it twice.
3. Email your resume and a brief cover letter that reiterates the above.

4. Phone back a week later if you haven't heard from that employer, leaving voice mail if necessary. For example:
This is Joe Blow the project manager from Ace Corp looking for his next job. Not having heard from you, I assume you're not interested, but I know how things can fall between the cracks so I'm taking the liberty of calling to follow up. If you think it's worth our talking to see if and how I might be of help to you or simply to offer some advice as to where I might turn, I'd be pleased to talk with you. My phone number is: repeat it twice.
5. Phone a week after that if you haven't heard from that employer. Say something like:
This is Jane Blow. I was hesitant to make this call because I certainly don't want to be a pest but I hope that perhaps you might even appreciate my being a persistent sort. If you'd like to talk to see if and how I might be of help to you, I'd welcome hearing from you. If not, I promise I won't bother you again! Here's my phone number: repeat it twice.
No job search method guarantees employment but my clients that have exhausted their network have found the 50 phone-email-phone-phone approach to be a potent and often fast way to land a job.


Anonymous said...

The best job I ever had was created this way. I faxed (it was back in the day..) my resume the followed up with an email. Then followed up with another email about 2 weeks later with my resume attached.

Then followed up monthly after that with "Just checking in" and updates to my status and work history.

Eventually, when I really needed a job, I performed a very similar approach to what you propose but had already laid some groundwork so it was easier.

Anonymous said...

Marty, thank you for the job seeking advice. I have a question, please. How do you go about getting an employer's email? Often company email addresses aren't easy to find and not listed through internet access. Thank you again.

Marty Nemko said...

Google the company name, the hirer's title, a and if you have it, the name. Also, ReferenceUSA (accessible through many public library websites) can help. So can other databases such as Hoover's and Ward's.

Marty Nemko said...

Also, sometimes it's as easy as calling that workplace's main number and speaking with the receptionist.

Anonymous said...

Marty, thank you very much for the information on how to obtain employer email addresses. (Anoymous entry #2)

CodeWarriorWoman said...

This is incredible advice. In the past, I've heard people touch on this as a way to get a right-fit job, but never have I seen the advice delivered in a practical, clear, and actionable way (while acknowledging current technologies) as Marty has done here.

Marty, do you mind if I link to this on my forums? I post on several where job searching comes up nearly every day, and of course, I would use your name and title in the link text.

Further, do you coach people in the tech field – and if so, would you be able to advise about the job market in the Bay Area? It might come down to me and my partner needing to re-locate.

Marty Nemko said...

Thank you, CodeWarriorWoman. Yes, you may link my articles as you see fit. Kind of you to ask. Most don't, perhaps knowing I'm pleased to see my posts disseminated, even without fee.

I do coach tech people in the Bay Area, but your query about the job market would better be answered by potential employers themselves--e.g., hiring managers, HR people, or external recruiters for the sort of job to which you aspire.

Maureen Nelson said...

The first two paragraphs of this post are critical. I remember you said in this economy, you'd started to back off from advising people to cold call. I guess job seekers have two choices: grow their network to include someone on the inside or C-E-C-C. I'm glad to see you still endorse this method. Thank you for including the script. People really don't know what to say and your wording is simple, to the point and low pressure. Just having a message like that can help them sound confident. (If you follow this up with advice on how to generate that list of 50 employers, I bet people would be further grateful.)

Kay Riley said...

I always found cold calling very difficult, but your article gives some great advice. I too especially liked the step-by-step approach you gave. When doing something new or outside your comfort zone, it’s nice to have a “script” to follow to keep you on task.

While it may be easier to network with friends, former co-workers or previous managers and hope they can introduce you to someone relevant to your job search, sometimes your network may simply not be able to assist you. (i.e. a career industry change). In those cases, doing some research on-line to find companies you are interested in working for, gathering up name and charging forward with cold calling may sometimes be the only or most viable option.

Here is another great article about cold calling:


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