You don’t have to be a statistician to see that your chances of getting a job interview via the dreaded Black Hole recruiting portals — meaning any website that ‘invites’ you to spend hours filling out online job applications, and then evidently gobbles up your application – are slim to delusional.
The typical job ad fetches 150 resumes on average, and of those, how many get a human viewing? Employers, especially big ones, love to use keyword-searching algorithms to make their resume-screening task lighter. And how many people can’t figure out how to take keywords from a job ad and force-fit them into a resume? That means that virtually no one gets a job by following the rules set out in a job ad. You have to find another way to reach your hiring manager. Luckily, there is another way!
Your likelihood of getting your next job via the standard corporate recruiting channel is about the same as your chance of winning the lottery by buying one ticket the next time you stop to fill up the gas tank. You might be better off putting a pile of resumes on the passenger seat next to you as you zip down the turnpike, letting the wind take the resumes into ditches and marshes and hoping one of them ends up on a hiring manager’s desk. That’s okay, because it’s easy to circumvent the Black Hole and get your resume directly in front of your next boss. Here’s how.
GET THE NAME
Start on LinkedIn, searching the LinkedIn database for hiring managers at your target companies. This is easy to do if you ask yourself “What’s the title my hiring manager is likely to have?”
Let’s say you’re a Purchasing Agent. Your next manager’s title will be Procurement Manager, Materials Manager, Purchasing Manager, or one of those titles with Director in place of Manager. It’ll take you a few seconds to search the LinkedIn database and find those prospective bosses at each of your target firms.
GET THE ADDRESS
With a name in hand, your next task is to find the street address for each hiring manager you’re pursuing. The street address is almost always published on the employer’s website. If your target manager doesn’t work at the company headquarters, you can reach him or her there anyway. Just address your envelope to your hiring manager by name, then add his title and include the street address of the company HQ. If your target guy or woman isn’t in the building, the mailroom folks will send your correspondence to him or her via inter-office mail.
WHAT TO WRITE?
You’ll send your would-be boss a letter and resume. The letter is like a cover letter, but more pointed toward the manager’s specific business needs, or what we call Business Pain. You’ll write to each manager using a document called a Pain Letter. The Pain Letter doesn’t talk about a job opening, but rather about your target manager’s business Pain and your experience relieving that discomfort. You’ll send the Pain letter (an example is below), together with your resume, directly to the hiring manager’s desk, sparking a conversation that may vault you into your next assignment (and avoid HR and the dreaded Black Hole of Resume Death altogether).
Here’s a sample Pain letter to give you the idea:
I was lucky enough to catch the last few minutes of your talk at the Long Island Natural Foods Expo. I couldn’t agree more with your take on the rise of wheatgrass as a power food, and your observation that kelp is the new hemp.
I can imagine that at times, running the fastest-growing natural chocolate firm on the East Coast is a mixed blessings. With customers clamoring for the next version of your edible nail polish before Chocoholic Week in April, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that your product folks are right up against the wall. When I led the marketing charge at Angry Chocolates just before the Nestle merger, we had a similar pressure-cooker to deal with. We narrowly pulled it out and got our Angry Choco-Mints to market in time to rack up $15M in new revenues in 2010.
If getting new products out the door in 2013 is high on your radar screen, let’s schedule a call or coffee. Congratulations to you on the team on a tremendous 2012.
Don’t give up hope in your job search, but do give up on the Black Hole as a viable job-search channel. You can reach your hiring manager and move the needle on your interview activity before the holidays. Hiring managers are desperate for talent, and you’ve got what some (or many) talent-starved employers need. What are you waiting for?