A lot of people looking for the next step in their career rely heavily on advertised openings and recruiters, but many jobs on the market are never made public. You lose a lot of the market if you wait to see what becomes available. Sending a marketing letter to the organizations you’d like to be part of—even if they don’t have any advertised openings—opens you up to opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Companies often go through a lot of steps before they decide to advertise or invest in a recruiter. For many employers, before a position is publicly announced, its leaders ask themselves, “Do I know anybody who would be a good fit for this position?” They reach out to people in their organization or to their network to see if they have someone in mind. Furthermore, employers tend to use recruiting firms when hiring for a particular position is political. It’s easier for a recruiting firm to say no to an internal candidate than to have to do so in a way that reflects negatively on the company or its leaders. Sending a marketing letter increases your chances of being top-of-mind when an organization opts for a less public hiring process.

Start an investigation.

Track down the individual who would be responsible for making decisions about your position or the person to whom you would be reporting in your desired position in that organization.  Gather information about that person and the organization.

It might be helpful to put the person or the organization into Google alerts. You could also talk to a few lower-level people at the organization or executives at other similar companies in the same market to gather information.

I knew a guy once who had a neat concept. In order to get recruiting business, he would call up the top person in an organization. He had already done his homework to learn this person’s hobbies, passions, etc.  He’d get him on the phone or leave a message and share with that person what he had learned about him.  Often, the executive was so impressed by the homework he did, he thought, “Wow, if this is the type of research this guy did for me, just think what information he could find to help grow my business.”

When you reach out to the person you are targeting, it’s not about asking for a job. You just want to create an opportunity for a conversation. Look for connecting points, such as a common interest or something they’ve done well that you’d like to learn more about. Ask questions that allow you to learn more about the organization, but in a way that doesn’t suggest you’re looking for a job.  Don’t do a bait-and-switch; make the conversation about what you said it would be about, not about possible open positions. Don’t ask for too much, too soon.

Think about what’s in it for them.

Too often, people reach out to companies or executives only thinking about what’s in it for themselves.  Instead, as you write your marketing letter you need to always think in terms of what is in it for the other person. What is it about me that would influence the person I want to make contact with to say yes to meeting with me and benefit them?

For example, if you are in a career transition, you will be networking with a lot of people in your industry. You’ll know what the hot topics are, the direction of the industry, and what is happening locally. You will have insights that organizations will want to hear and learn from.

Draft the letter.

When writing a marketing letter, I recommend a structure similar to this:

Top paragraph: What is the main connection point? What benefit would meeting with you offer the organization or the individual you are writing to?

Second paragraph: Tell them a little about yourself. Include things based on your research that will resonate with the individual you’re writing to. You’re trying to show alignment with them and the organization.

Final paragraph: Be proactive. Give them a timeline in which they can expect you to follow up to see if you can get something set up.

Don’t send a form letter. Make each letter specific based on your research about that individual.

It takes a lot of patience and research to send an effective marketing letter, but it is a big differentiator in a competitive job market. Most people who reach out for a meeting with a top executive don’t make an effort like that.  The people who put in the time and effort to send well-researched marketing letters will have access to more job opportunities than those who do not.

Author: Jim WiederholdJim believes his 39 years of experience--particularly his more than 26 years in healthcare--has prepared him well for what he does. His wealth of experience spans key areas, including finance, operations, management, leadership, sales and sales management, corporate, contingency, contractual and retained recruiting, outplacement and transition work and executive coaching.