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. 9. 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: 

    1. The larger the organization, the tougher it is for an outsider to identify who is the appropriate person to send their material to. The task of sorting out the hierarchy, divisions, and sectors for multimillion/billion dollar corporations is very difficult. For example, if you were working for General Motors or Motorola Corporation, the task of determining who your boss may be, considering all the levels, divisions, sectors, North American or European Operations, etc., is overwhelming. 

    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. 

    1. Make use of your local library. Most reference guides listed in this guide can be found there. Larger libraries have Business Librarians who will help you research. Check industry periodicals, newspaper articles, and library computer databases for further information. 

    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: 

    1. Do not be afraid to contact companies who you have not heard of previously. Companies with recognizable brand names like IBM, Kraft, and Xerox are contacted by everyone else. 

    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 
Contains complete information on over 8,000 directories in approximately 400 subject categories. The content of each directory is briefly described as well as its cost and the name and address of the publisher. B. Klein Publications, P.O. Box 8503, Coral Springs, FL 33075. (305) 752-1708. 

Directory of Corporate Affiliations 
Lists over 4,000 parent companies and their subsidiaries, affiliates, and divisions. Information included on each parent company: name, address, telephone number, chief officers, number of employees, and approximate sales volume. In addition, the Chief Operating Officer is listed for each subsidiary with appropriate address information and line of business. There is also an index listing 45,000 divisions in order to cross-reference the parent company. Reed Reference Publishing Company, P.O. Box 31, New Providence, NJ 07974-9903. (800) 521-8110. 

International Directory of Corporate Affiliations 
Provides several different ways for users to locate detailed information on companies doing business worldwide. You can look up a corporate subsidiary, division, or affiliate and the alphabetical index directs you to the listing for its parent company where you learn that company's reporting hierarchy. Reed Reference Publishing Company, P.O. Box 31, New Providence, NJ 07974-9903. (800) 521-8110. 

Directory of Leading Private Companies 
Lists leading private companies including corporate affiliations. This format allows you to determine at a glance how each subsidiary reports to the parent company, whether directly or through another subsidiary. Reed Reference Publishing Company, P.O. Box 31, New Providence, NJ 07974-9903. (800) 521-8110. 

Standard and Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors & Executives 
Lists approximately 55,000 companies cross-referenced by product and company location. Includes approximately 450,000 key business executives and their business telephone numbers, plus 70,000 biographical sketches. Standard & Poor's Subsidiary of McGraw Hill, 25 Broadway, New York, NY 10014. (212) 208-8786. 

Encyclopedia of Associations 
Furnishes details on nearly 21,000 national and international nonprofit trade and professional associations, social welfare associations and public affairs organizations, religious, sports, and hobby groups, and other types of groups that are headquartered in the U.S. Entries are arranged by subject and provide complete contact information and a description of activities, including publications, computerized services, and convention schedules. Gale Research, Inc., 835 Penobscot Bldg., Detroit, MI 
48226-4094. (800) 877-4253. 

Thomas Register 
Principally geared for buyers who are looking for suppliers. It contains over 100,000 manufacturers by product and location. Information includes: company name, address, telephone number, and business line. Thomas Publishing Company, 5 Penn Plaza, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10001. (212) 695-0500. 

Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory 
Lists about 140,000 companies covering all industries. Businesses are referenced alphabetically, geographically, and by product classification. Information includes: name, address, telephone number, annual sales volume, number of employees, line of business, S.I.C. code(s), officers, and directors. The Million Dollar Directory does list the name and location of some subsidiaries or divisions if the subsidiary meets the selection criteria. Basic qualification for listing in this directory is an indicated net worth of $500,000 or more, or 250 or more employees or $25 million in annual sales. Dun & Bradstreet, 99 Church Street, New York, NY 10007. (212) 593-6800. 

Dun & Bradstreet Middle Market Directory 
Consists of 150,000 private middle market companies. This directory selects prospects by size, location or line of business, analyzes industries or markets for more accurate planning. Gauges potential revenue from prospective clients and more. Dun & Bradstreet, 99 Church Street, New York, NY 10007. (212) 593-6800. 

America's Corporate Families 
Includes detailed information on 11,000 U.S. ultimate parent companies and their 66,000 U.S. subsidiaries, divisions and major branches. In order to be included, each ultimate parent company must meet the following criteria: net worth of at least $500,000, or net annual sales of $25 million, or $250+ employees and maintain a controlling interest in one or more subsidiary companies. Dun & Bradstreet, 99 Church Street, New York, NY 10007. (212) 593-6800. 

State Manufacturers Directories 
List manufacturers and processors located in the particular state. The directories are typically divided into seven (7) sections: buyers guide, alphabetical, geographical, S.I.C. index, computer index, zip code, and county marketing breakdown. Included in the description of each company are the following: name, address (including zip code), telephone number (with area code), date established, area of sales distribution (local, regional, national, or international), name and title of key executive(s), product description, S.I.C. codes, number of employees, annual sales, type of computer system, and location of plants or home offices. Manufacturers News, Inc., 1633 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201. (708) 864-7000. 

State Services Directories 
List non-manufacturing companies employing individuals in the state. These directories are typically divided into seven (7) sections: buyers guide, employment available through the state, alphabetical, geographical, S.I.C. index, computer index, and zip code. Included in the description of each company are the following: name, address (including zip code), telephone number (with area code), date established, area of sales distribution (local, regional, national, and international), name and title of key executive(s), product description, S.I.C. codes, number of employees, annual sales, type of computer system, and location of plant or home offices. Database Publishing Company, P.O. Box 7440, Newport Beach, CA 92658. 
(800) 888-8434, ext. 312. 

Additional information can be obtained from individual corporate publications such as: 

  • Periodical files from your library. 
  • Company annual report/quarterly reports/brochures. 
  • 10-K report. 
The remaining materials can be requested directly from the company, contact the corporate controller. 
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