Can I Do Direct Employer Contact Instead of Networking?
You certainly can. While it’s not as effective as networking, it’s a whole lot more effective than nothing. If you do it well, it can produce interviews and offers. Like everything in job search, it’s all about the quality and quantity of your efforts. You’ve got to make enough contacts. That’s first. And second, you’ve got to make them effectively.
Lets talk about both of those, starting with what does “enough contacts” mean.
Let’s start with direct mail. It’s defined as mailing or e-mailing cover letters with resumes to organizations who have not advertised openings, organizations where you have no introduction of any kind. With this approach, there’s good reason to believe that your success rate will be in the general range of one interview for every 1000 sent. That’s right, one thousand, with three zeros. After all, when people use that same procedure with you, you call it junk mail or spam and rarely read it, much less buy anything. It does work, but it takes large numbers.
Don’t get discouraged. Please keep reading. The news gets better.
I haven’t seen studies on doing the same thing on the phone – telephoning strangers. This, of course, is what’s called telemarketing. My educated guess is that it would take a smaller number of these to get an interview – something between dozens and a hundred or two, maybe. And I’m very clear that the lower the level of the position and the lower the compensation, the smaller the number needed for success. I often recommend this approach for hourly or entry level jobs.
The other thing I’m very clear about is that your success in using telemarketing is heavily dependent on your skill in making this kind of phone call. Are you comfortable with it? Do you have a good script? Can you use it in a way it doesn’t sound like a script — and sometimes even turn it into a real conversation?
The same is true of direct mail. It depends on your skill in writing the resume and letter. Sometimes a letter alone, one that encapsulates the resume, is better than a cover letter plus resume. And it depends on the quality of your mailing list. Do you have the right titles and names, spelled right? Does it look personal, rather than like a mass mailing? It’s entirely possible to beat the averages.
In short, when using direct mail or telemarketing in job search, it helps to do them more like the marketing professionals do them. That includes trying different approaches and tracking your success rate to see which gets the best results.
Here’s one last suggestion that most job search experts would agree with: Combine the direct mail with telephone follow-up. Send out a small batch of letters each week. Follow up on all of them on the telephone next week – and the week after. Hit each target with more than one piece of mail or email interspersed with repeated well-planned phone calls. It still takes some effort to get an interview, but the odds are much better than a single phone call or letter to each target. Persistence pays. I’ve seen people get jobs this way.
So if you’re not yet doing as much networking as you’d like, you can supplement it with some direct mail and telephone work – at least until you get your networking numbers up. And if you enjoy it and are getting interviews, then why not continue?