We’re on the home stretch of a three-part series for conducting a 12-week job search. In the first column in the series, I laid the groundwork by uncoupling job search from online application processes, which generally prove to be more time-consuming than they are productive.
Last week, I outlined five preparation steps and the actual implementation of those steps. As a quick review, the candidate using this process first chooses a job goal, then creates a targeted resume for that work and builds a list of 50 organizations that use people in those roles. To implement the search, the candidate contacts the relevant department managers in those firms and requests a meeting to discuss the possibility of being hired into the department.
The contacts are generally made via letter, email or phone, and are conducted without concern for whether the employer is currently posting an opening. The theory, which I have seen borne out repeatedly, is that many (I believe most) openings are not advertised but are instead filled directly by the department manager.
This week, I will present a brief template for a letter and phone script to modify when contacting department managers. As you’ll see, both are quite short. When making unsolicited contact to others in their workplace, the key is to be brief and professional.
Managers tell me they are not put off by a polite inquiry. And the process does work, resulting in meetings and frequently in offers that would not otherwise have happened.
Of course, not every manager will need someone or want to have a deeper conversation. Starting with a list of 50 will let you keep up a good pace while accepting “no thank yous” gracefully.
Here’s how the first paragraph in a letter from a corporate trainer might look: “I am writing to introduce myself and to inquire about current or future openings in your department for an experienced corporate trainer.”
The next paragraph is nearly as short, but uses a bullet list for easy reading: “My strengths for the role include *12 years as a trainer for two multinational corporations *A degree in Organizational Development and certification in adult learning *Experience ranging from executive coaching to onboarding new hires *Strengths in developing online curriculum *Experience in evaluation methodology to measure effectiveness.”
The last paragraph makes the request: “I’d like to meet with you in person if possible, to learn more about your department’s training programs and how my skills might fit in. I understand you may not be currently planning to expand your staff, but I’d still like to meet if you have time, in preparation for future needs you may have. Would next Tuesday or Wednesday work for a brief conversation? I’ll call to see if we can find a good time. My resume is attached; thanks in advance for your consideration.”
This letter can be mailed or emailed, at your discretion.
The next step is to call the manager to reintroduce yourself and ask for a meeting: “Hello, Ms. Jackson? This is Kim Lewis. I’m calling to follow up on a letter I sent with my resume earlier this week. I’m a corporate trainer with 12 years of experience and a background in online training. I was writing to express my interest in working with your department and I’m calling now to see if we might be able to meet for a few minutes, perhaps on Tuesday or Wednesday next week.”
You’re likely to reach voice mail sometimes, so train yourself to speak slowly and clearly while leaving the above message and your phone number. If needed, follow up once or twice more over the next few weeks, while simultaneously maintaining your outreach to others on your list. As long as you keep your numbers up, it won’t be long before someone accepts the offer to meet. From there, it’s a matter of looking for a match between their needs and your skills.
Track your progress and maintain your follow-up. I’ll check back in a few weeks to offer encouragement and give more insight about the meetings themselves.
Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul, Minn. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 626 Armstrong Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102.