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Contacting Companies Directly
(After All -- Where Do Paychecks Come From?)
Most individuals rely on two methods when launching a career campaign: responding to advertisements and registering with employment agencies or search firms. While these methods should be pursued, you should not rely solely on these methods. You will enjoy a higher degree of success in your career campaign if you contact companies directly.
FACT: Only 5% of all positions are located through search firms or employment agencies. Advertisements account for 10% of all new positions.
FACT: 45% of all open positions result from an individual's direct contact with a company.
FACT: 85% of all positions are unadvertised.
Consequently, by directly contacting companies you have the opportunity to discover these unadvertised positions. In addition, companies are always on the lookout for good talent. Even if a position is not currently open at the time of contact, there may be future openings for which you will be considered. Your direct contact will demonstrate initiative, aggressiveness, confidence and interest.
Who should you direct your resume to and how should you contact that hiring professional? You may either:
A. Call the company and ask for the name and title of the individual you wish to contact.
B. Write to the Chief Operating Officer or highest ranking individual in the business unit you are interested in joining.
There are five (5) significant reasons why people who wish to change positions or those people who are unemployed should forward their resumes to the Chief Operating Officer or the highest ranking officer of each organizational unit:
2. Forwarding your materials to the Chief Operating Officer will avoid the majority of your competition who generally route their materials to the Human Resource area. Human Resource people usually know of positions which have been approved for recruitment and subsequent hiring. By and large, they are not aware of contemplated or new positions which are existing in the minds of various line managers, etc. (These people are the real decision makers!)
3. The objective of sending your resume to your potential manager even if this person can be identified poses the problem that if the resume is too strong, it may represent a threat to that potential manager. For every ten (10) individuals who say they like to hire their successor, at least nine (9) of them, in practice, will not hire their own successor particularly in today's recessionary environment.
4. Routing your correspondence and resume to the Chief Operating Officer has the distinct advantage of using the him/her as "a switching or directing" mechanism. Materials that are directed to these individuals are not discarded, but are forwarded down to the appropriate individual. The key point is anything coming from the "top" whether it be the Chief Operating Officer, President, or Executive Officer is read, not skimmed, and is acted upon immediately. Compare this to the flood of resumes going into the recruiting or Human Resource office. Would you not read material sent to you by your former president?
5. Not only is getting your resume in the right hands very important, it also shows that you have done your homework in finding who the appropriate individual is. It shows that you took the time to find out what type of business it is, who the highest ranking officer is, and to address an appropriate cover letter directly to that individual stating your qualifications. By doing this, you exhibit your seriousness about securing a new position as well as your attention to detail.
Research the organization to prepare an effective, targeted cover letter that is slanted to the organization's needs.
2. In addition to reference materials found at the library, you can also secure information directly from the company. Call and ask them for an annual report, 10K report, quarterly report and product literature.
What type and size companies should you target?
A recent article in Inc. magazine (January 1993) discussed the likeliest path to true financial security in the future and cited the following statistics:
"The stability of large companies is no longer what it once was. Going into the job market in 1953, you could place your bets on working for a long time in a large company and do it with a pretty safe feeling. The pace has moved so quickly since then that now this is much harder to do."
This point is driven home by the relentless downsizing undertaken by corporations, and one group in particular is vulnerable. "Middle management jobs are being eliminated far out of proportion to their numbers," says Eric Greenberg of the American Management Association (AMA). Each year, the AMA conducts a downsizing survey of its 7,000 members. While middle managers account for 5% to 8% of the total work force, they represented 19% of the layoffs over the last four (4) years.
63% of this year's AMA sample of 836 companies that downsized reported they had done so more than once.
More startling, the number of companies reporting future layoff plans rose from 14% six (6) years ago to 25% last year while the number that actually downsized in the year after each survey has usually been much higher than expected, ranging from 36% to 55%. And the average number of positions (do not confuse positions with actual employees, i.e., a position may have more than one (1) person in that particular position) eliminated by the largest companies in the surveythose with 10,000 or more employeesrose dramatically from 133 in 1991 to 317 in 1992.
The facts are clear; Fortune 500 companies are no longer a safe and stable place to hang your hat. The compensation in large companies may still be big, but working for a large corporation is riskier today than it was 40 years ago. The area for growth and the ability to make an impact on business is more often available in smaller companies. Note the following statistics quoted in Inc. magazine (Jan. 1993).
Between 1988 and 1990 the country lost 974,000 manufacturing jobs. But manufacturers employing fewer than 20 people mitigated the carnage by adding 220,000 jobs.
80% of Americans work for companies with 100 or less employees.
While many people believe that small businesses are too risky to work for, Inc. argues that small-business survival rates are higher than commonly perceived. In a recent study, Inc. followed 812,000 small businesses (with fewer than 100 employees) over an eight-year period. While 28% ostensibly survived, Inc.'s research revealed that each year 3% of the sample changed ownership or type of ownership "at random or at the whim of the owner." That means that over the eight years, 24% of the sample appeared to disappear but, in fact, did not. Thus, 52% of the companies survived, not 28% as the data had first shown.
In addition, the number of small companies is increasing at a rapid rate. In 1954, about 117,000 U.S. businesses were founded. In 1992 that number approached 700,000. Inc. says there are currently 500,000 small U.S. companies growing at 20% a year. Meanwhile, Fortune 500 companies now lay off 400,000 people a year on average, and one-third of Fortune 500 companies fall off the list every five years.
Consequently, as you plan and conduct your job campaign, we suggest you seriously consider targeting small companies as your chances for career security are much higher than with the giant organizations.
Identifying Growth vs. Decline Industries.
In order to continue ensuring career security, you should target industries that are growing. Make use of the following sources to identify these industries:
Newspapers, magazines, industry publications, specialty reports and analyst and economic reports. In addition, use your network of contacts to source for information. At some point in your search, you may want to conduct informational interviews to secure information on a particular industry.
Further suggestions in targeting companies for direct contact:
2. When researching and preparing a list of companies to contact, start with companies whose names begin with the letters N-Z. Research indicates that companies beginning with the letters A-M are contacted twice as frequently by job seekers than those beginning with the letters N-Z. Net Result: You will be reducing your competition by half.
3. Good things come in small packages and big does not always equal better. Go for the smaller companies.
Draft a well-written targeted cover letter (refer to the previous section on cover letters) and mail so letters arrive mid-week.
After you have launched a mail campaign, plan appropriate follow up:
Place a telephone call to the targeted individual 1-2
days after material should have been received. The purpose of this telephone
call is to secure an interview. (For further instructions on the use of
the telephone in your job campaign, please refer to the "Using
the Telephone in your Job Campaign" chapter).
If you plan to execute a successful job campaign, you will need to obtain sources for the names of individuals and corporations to contact for employment possibilities. There are a wide variety of research sources available for virtually every field and geographical location and a variety of "types of information" within these sources. These resources are generally called Manufacturing and Services directories and a guide to the use of these directories has been included for your convenience.
You can find these directories in the business section of most public and private libraries, and we recommend that you utilize these free resources rather than purchasing the directories with your own money. These libraries, as well as the libraries of any undergraduate or graduate school of business, will typically have Reference Sources for Directory descriptions and a collection of the most widely used directories.
If certain reference directories are not available at your local library, you should not hesitate to ask the librarian to order them for you. Most libraries will purchase any volume that is requested a number of times or they may have lending agreements with other libraries.
Another helpful guide is the Directory of Special Libraries & Information Centers. This guide provides information about more than 13,000 special libraries operated by businesses, educational institutions, government agencies, trade associations and professional societies, many of which are open to you. Ask your local librarian to arrange special permission for you to visit these libraries, as they are normally closed to the general public.
Your local Chamber of Commerce is another organization that frequently publishes a list of local companies. You should be certain to contact your local Chamber of Commerce as you conduct your job campaign. They will also be aware of firms that are new to the area or have recently expanded and require extra staffing. The by checking the Thomas Register which contains a listing of all U.S. Chambers of Commerce.
The reference works listed below will enable you to identify the title and publisher of several sources.
Guide to American Directories
Directory of Corporate Affiliations
International Directory of Corporate Affiliations
Directory of Leading Private Companies
Standard and Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors & Executives
Encyclopedia of Associations
Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory
Dun & Bradstreet Middle Market Directory
America's Corporate Families
State Manufacturers Directories
State Services Directories
Additional information can be obtained from individual corporate publications such as:
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