Rather, I want to talk about informational campaigning for your professional persona. If you haven’t tried that before, why not let the New Year be the trigger to do so! For consistency, the following is based on the example of job search, but much of it can be equally applied to targeting new clients, vendors, or other business partners.
The operative word here is “informational.” You are not the candidate begging for a job; you want to think of yourself as the long-awaited silver bullet for of their challenges. Showcase your assets; drive home your capabilities relevant to their needs. Help them cut through the fog between job seekers and talent seekers.
Seize the control you have, beginning with your timing.
Have you heard it said: Opportunity is not waiting for your ship to come in; it’s swimming out to meet it. So the company of your dreams doesn’t have any jobs posted right now? That might just be the best time to let them know you are out there, and what you are all about—speaking to their perceived needs.
Do some detective work to find the name of an individual who is a likely decision influencer, possibly a mover and shaker. Then send an informational letter along with your résumé. And yes, make that a letter—printed out, in an envelope, and sent in the regular mail. E‑mails are better for follow-up than for first contact.
A proactive informational campaign has a better chance of standing out.
When companies post jobs, they are inundated with résumés, and it depends on a host of factors whether yours will be noticed. On the other hand, when you send a letter when there is no job posted, you won’t be competing with countless others for the reader’s attention.
You may be catching them at the time a need is beginning to emerge. And even if that is not the case, they will be more likely to get back to you later if they already know who you are. Remember, most jobs (65–80%) are never advertised but filled through networking of one type or another. That goes to show how critical it is to be proactive about making a connection.
While on a proactive roll, announce your next proactive move.
Don’t leave them under the impression you will be sitting by the phone, holding your breath for them to call you. Instead, say what you will do next, and when, and how. Usually, that will boil down to a variation on the theme “I will call/e‑mail you within two weeks of this letter.” I have discussed this in more detail in my blog post How to Follow Up After Making First Contact.
Speaking from experience: This does work!
When I was a job seeker, I executed the above steps quite a few times. Although I was met with “radio silence” here and there, and even some outright rejection, I was able to generate some phone interviews.
In the case of one company, the day after my follow-up e-mail, I heard from another branch of the same company, saying they were just starting to interview for such-and-such job, and whether I was interested. Two days later, I interviewed for that job.
As far as employers are concerned, the way you job-hunt is the way you work. And when they can see you are proactive about your job hunt, it will work in your favor not just for the proactive quality of it but because you are making their hunt easier.
On that note: Let the New Year be your best year yet! 🍾