Sometimes conventional wisdom blinds us
Conventional wisdom about job-hunting goes like this:
- The most productive investment of time in searching out opportunities is to go networking – (and we could say more than a bit about how effective networking is best undertaken)
- The next most productive investment of time is following up referrals, from those in the first group. (Preparation for each of these two first levels is of course important: in the questions you will be asking).
- After this, but still up near the top of the list now (in effectiveness) is having a well-written LinkedIn profile. It is amazing how important this has become: as a target for search engines, and a trigger for interesting advertisements on LinkedIn.
- Next come responding to advertisements and talking with recruiters and search firms – ensuring each receive well-constructed resumes (There are some distinctions in the approaches to be made here, as between recruiters and search firms.)
- And last, conventional wisdom would have it, would be cold calls: direct approaches to Chief Executives.
A direct approach is felt to almost be forbidden. Statistically the least effective channel.
However, maybe this bit of wisdom is convenient – because making a direct approach is seen to be hard, or “pushy”.
My view is that if all other channels are simply not going to get you visible to an organisation of interest – and this is often the case, why not make a direct approach? Is there a rule which says you cannot? Absolutely not. And we can influence statistics by making direct approaches effective rather than nuisance calls?
A well-constructed short letter to a CEO, with a first sentence identifying a mutual contact, or opening up an issue likely to be keeping him or her awake at night is a perfectly sensible initiative, and not one to be dismissed.
Sure, a fair few emails of this nature will go into the bin: this is inevitable. Just as a fair few applications to advertised jobs are also going to be binned.
If a well-crafted direct letter to a CEO is followed up with a call, within 24 – 48 hours and a bit of courtesy and respect is given to the EA who intercepts your call, then I think the statistics improve markedly.
There have been a number of instances in my work where a direct letter has created a conversation, and at least one instance I can recall, where one landed an individual some interviews and a job!
Better by far to launch direct approaches than to wait for the CEO of a target organisation to come marching up your driveway…..
Some in my profession don’t share my view here. However, this is my opinion, for what it is worth.