Which of these job hunting methods is best for your situation?
They often know about good open positions, and if they contact you, they will probably send your resume to their client, and if the client is interested in you, the recruiter will set up an interview for you and give you some insight into the client company and the hiring authority, along with some tips on interviewing there.
The downside of recruiters is that they don’t want to hear from active job hunters, and if they are a commission-based firm, they might send your resume to a long list of companies — and thereby ruin your chance of going direct, which usually yields better results, since no commission fee has to be paid.
Responding to posted openings:
If you market yourself effectively, this is an excellent method, because you know there’s a real opening. Contrary to what you may have heard, it is not necessary, or even smart, to try to be “first in line” — because hiring decisions for C-level positions are rarely done in haste. Let the amateurs rush in. With a smart “selling” strategy, you can be seen as a breath of fresh air.
The downside is that posted positions attract a large number of responses.
Reaching lots of companies can be effective, particularly if you want to make a lateral move, and provided you have a very effective marketing strategy.
Always a good idea to know people in your industry. Especially helpful if you have a contact that can give you insight into the personality of the hiring authority and the overall culture at their company.
The main downside to networking is that, as a job hunter, your contacts are not likely to be able to do more for you than give you a name or maybe offer to make sure your resume gets to the hiring authority. The hiring authority may or may not read it, but since the policy at nearly all companies is that HR is tasked with screening resumes, yours will almost certainly be funneled down to someone in HR, and today HR uses resumes to screen people out. So, unless you are attempting to make a lateral move, HR will find a reason to eliminate you from consideration.
Opportunities to meet with other job hunters, exchange tips, maybe try out your latest elevator speech — if you do that sort of thing.
The downside is that it might not be a productive use of time to attend meetings with your competition. More productive if you attend groups that aren’t limited to mainly people who are hunting for the kind of job you are. Chamber of Commerce meetings would be more likely to yield helpful results…which might well even include actual hiring authorities. Especially important if you are seeking a full-time position — but even if you might be interested in a temporary assignment; since no consulting firm fee would be involved, you might have a better chance of success.
Some networking groups want to have a very detailed resume from you. That might be helpful to them for their own marketing purposes, but all those details on your resume will most likely just give HR a quick and easy excuse to screen you out when you send it to an actual employer, in response to a posted opening.
Sending a marketing letter directly to a hiring authority — for the limited purpose of generating interviews — is the most effective way to get a positive response to your qualifications for a given position. Sent alone, it lets you educate, favorably influence, and motivate a hiring authority. This way, you control what you communicate, whereas in your resume, you are obligated to include information that may be irrelevant to your actual ability to handle the position, but can be used to screen you out.
A marketing letter lets you differentiate yourself from all others, because you can use it to tell the hiring authority what he or she wants to know the most: what you can do to help them reach their business financial goals faster.
Resumes tell, marketing letters sell. Save your resume and send it after interest has been expressed in you. An effective marketing letter has the additional advantage of pre-selling you, thus making it more likely that your interview will be mainly about chemistry, and less of an interrogation.
The only downside is that writing an effective marketing letter is not an easy thing to do.
I have tried to be fair and objective, and I hope that this has been useful to you.
Tom Kellum is a job hunting consultant, helping people's dreams come true since 1987. He specializes in providing a personal job-landing service based on proven marketing strategies and methods. For more information, email him at email@example.com.