Getting an Invitation
by Michael Mayher

In January I posted a blog entry suggesting people do more real activity than limit themselves only to online efforts, which in reality amounts to not much effort. As a matter of common sense, I always suggest you must do more if you want better results by augmenting your conventional online job search activities with other more proactive physical activities. If you are relying almost solely upon online resources, you are doing little more than the equivalent of purchasing a lottery ticket and crossing your fingers. Sadly this is what most people are doing and maybe, if we just send out one more resume, then maybe…this time ours will be the winning ticket. But rather, you must get your hands dirty if you want better results and commit to the hard work necessary to dig, in order to find those golden nuggets of opportunity, which are getting increasingly harder to find. The gold rush is over but that doesn’t mean there’s no gold to find; it’s simply harder to come across.

Wary of my advice, a reader had commented that physically approaching a company in our modern era was absurd and a waste of time. He suggested they would probably call the police to charge you with trespassing or, at the very least, you’d be looked upon as a weirdo. He went on to say that without an electronic invitation from a company or a hiring manager, you have no hope of success. Well, the first part of his claim is silly, there is nothing wrong with hand delivering and presenting your resume in person if you are in the vicinity and have occasion to do so, or best of all, if you’ve established contact directly with a hiring manager. I don’t think it is futile and any time you can exercise physical measures involving a face-to-face introduction involving a handshake, or secondarily engaging in a telephone call with a decision maker, it can have more impact than the faceless, digital activities to which we’ve been reduced and limited. But the second part of his claim about the need for an invitation has validity. If I consider the pessimism of the commenter, it suggests we’re all powerless to influence our own fate. Sorry, but I don’t accept that premise and I certainly hope you don’t either.

So, how do we increase our chances of getting an invitation? The answer to the question goes to the core of the problem we face and precisely what I am seeking to influence by way of this blog. If you stop to think about it, sending your resume into a virtual black hole, then crossing your fingers and waiting for someone to call or send you an email, is getting you exactly the kind of results you should expect from such a non-activity. Over the last 20 years, our job search abilities, much less our interview skills have degraded, faded and withered to the point at which most people have rendered themselves helpless, becoming mere bystanders to their own fate. True, companies have automated and done their best to shut you out and compel you to obey their processes. Although their processes are meant to make things easier one must ask, easier for whom – certainly not you. If you want more control over your fate, you’ve got to take it, wresting it away from those who don’t have your best interests at heart. Self-interest is not a bad thing, especially when it comes to what’s best for you and your family. Proactive self-interest is what is necessary if you want to get noticed; the internet is a tool, not the solution; you are the solution.

So, when I suggest you get out there and find who might be a potential employer and seek to contact them directly, do it. Network – and I do mean physically meet and speak with people, shake hands, pick up the phone. You know the only difference between today and 20 years ago is that the internet has replaced the Yellow Pages, email has replaced the telephone and snail mail. For those who think email is better, it isn’t. Back in the day, as now, it is the same; if you send 100 resumes you might get 1 or 2 responses – but – the difference is that in the past when you mailed a physical resume in an envelope it landed on someone’s desk, they opened it and looked at it. Sent via email, most resumes never get seen by a human. So frankly speaking, perhaps snail mailing a good resume together with a well-crafted cover letter and addressing it to a specific decision maker, I contend, might in fact be a good thing to do (among your other efforts) precisely because nobody else is doing it.

Know also, that even physical efforts often don’t yield a job offer because you made a single effort – that’s not how it works. It takes repeated attempts and multiple efforts to get a result and the more you do, the more your odds will increase. It’s pretty simple really but you have to step out of your comfort zone, which for most people, has become far too insular and comfy while simultaneously stationary, stagnant, and sadly, debilitating. Many people will continue to do nothing but others, when they get angry enough (and hopefully before hitting rock bottom) will become more proactive by necessity. Sadly, it takes a crisis for many people to change their ways, but I suppose that’s part of human nature. If and when you make a choice to do more, try to find that balance between being persistent, but not overbearing. Be innovative, be inventive and as long as you are conducting yourself professionally you owe no one an apology.

For one example, many people may email first, they might attempt some other steps in between and then if they feel strongly enough, will try to make direct contact. But increasingly fewer and fewer people have the nerve, much less the self-confidence, to make direct contact. Sadly many have lost the ability to do anything but hide behind their resumes.

Me, when I call companies seeking to introduce myself and my services to a company, there is little doubt they already have a recruiting resource, so I have a similar challenge as you do. I flip it around. I pick up the phone and first attempt to reach my point of contact directly and yes, I bypass HR whenever possible because frankly, they don’t possess, much less know the details about any positions(s), and have only a bare-bones basic description of whatever management gives them – so why start with them – again, think outside of the box. If that fails, I next attempt to reach their admin assistant or personal secretary in an attempt to establish contact. If that fails I send an email. If that fails I try LinkedIn. After I’ve exhausted all other efforts, then I will contact HR. I also don’t take “no” for an answer, if one door closes, I look for another. I also engage in multiple efforts at one time, just as you should be pursuing more than one job opportunity concurrently. This is what it takes, folks. If this sounds like a lot of hard work and mental effort, well of course it is, who told you finding a good job, was easy.

So, become assertive and make an actual physical effort so that you gain attention for yourself to seek the electronic invitation that is necessary, so you can address them face-to-face. Now, having made it crystal clear, go back and read my blog from January 26th entitled, “Stop Relying on the Internet”.

For what to say and how to say it when your moment arrives to impress whomever you’ve worked so hard to establish contact with, go to my blog archives and read a series of entries in April 2013 addressing just how to do what I am suggesting.

If you are frustrated and you want to do more, there are resources, and then it takes only the will to actually do something.

More articles by Michael Mayher:
Reference Checked Before the Interview
Networking Effectively
A Failure to Communicate
Increasing Your Chances
Why You Should Heed My Advice

To Those Still Asleep
The Way It Was/The Way It Is
Demonstrating Interest is Not Begging
Confidence is a Key Ingredient
Stop Relying on the Internet
Career Survival Skills: The First Interview
The Interview
Resolve to Make This Year, Your Year
Periodic Update of Your Resume

About the Author: Michael Mayher has been an international direct search recruiter on two continents for over 22 years. A consultant, published author, lecturer and blogger, he re-introduces professionals to critical Soft Skills lost in our digital age and necessary to effectively navigate their careers. You can find more information by visiting his blog and website.

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