Criteria to Consider in Choosing Recruiters

Marketing segmentation, target audience, customers care, customer relationship management (CRM), customer analysis and focus group concepts.The final step before beginning to contact recruiters is to think through just what kind of recruiter is best suited for your position search. Here are some criteria to consider:

  • Retained vs. contingency. As a general rule, you will get more attention and assistance from contingency recruiters. The line between retained and contingency firms is becoming more blurred, as more firms are doing both. If you want “deep” consideration, exclusivity and confidentiality, contact retained recruiters. But don’t contact a retainer firm that your employer uses; such firms will not work with you. If you want broad reach, fast placement, and are willing to explore jobs that may not be a perfect fit, contingency firms may be your best bet.
  • Specialty vs. general, and boutique vs. large firms. If you’re looking for a firm with strong contacts in the industry or profession of your choice, a specialty firm is an obvious choice. But the flip side is that while specialists have excellent contacts in the industry, they are less likely to open new doors for you in other industries. Also keep in mind that many generalist firms actually operate like a department store of specialist or boutique firms. So, by working with a generalist, you may enjoy the advantages of specialization along with the broader set of possibilities that the generalist offers. Boutique firms will tend to get you better matches and work more closely with you to achieve your goals, but your credentials must be right to get their attention. Many recruiters recommend working with a mix of specialists and generalists.
  • Functional specialists vs. industry specialists. Is it better to work with a functional specialist–that is, a recruiter working with your profession (accounting, finance, marketing, IT, for example) or an industry specialist (aerospace, computers, food, financial services)? The conventional wisdom is that both dimensions are relevant, and working with all recruiting firms with which your credentials fit makes sense.
  • Individual recruiters vs. recruiting firms. As you look through recruiter-selection resources, such as online directories of recruiters, you may see recruiting firms and the names of individual recruiters within those firms. If you have the credentials and are looking for placement in the specialty–publishing or logistics, for example–contacting the individual may represent the wisest course. Keep in mind that while these special recruiters may look out for you and develop a personal relationship with you, you may never get into a database. If that specialty individual has no opening at the time, he or she may not bother to put you into the system for others in the firm. But to get a first chance at an available opportunity, you’re in better shape to go to the individual recruiter directly. If you’re trying to put yourself “on the shelf” for upcoming opportunities, you may be better off sending your material to the firm. Keep in mind also that the firm is always there–while individuals come and go.
  • Geography. Obviously if you have specific geographic preferences or objectives, dealing with recruiters in that area is the way to go. Working with recruiters in the particular locale of desired positions also makes sense. Technology executives or professionals would gravitate toward recruiters in Silicon Valley or other high-tech locales; aerospace professionals toward Seattle, Southern California, or certain Midwestern cities. A composite broad-and-narrow approach often works best. Some recruiters suggest contacting one recruiter in each region–that way you get broader coverage while maintaining an exclusive approach to working in each region. But keep in mind that most recruiters, though located in a region, work nationally. They have positions available from other regions.
  • Branch vs. central office. For large recruiting firms with branch offices, do you send resumes to each branch office or to a central headquarters location? Recruiters recommend sending to branch offices to get faster visibility with recruiters working actual positions. Those recruiters may not search central databases if they feel the right candidates are available locally. But the downside is that branch-office recruiters may not bother to put you in the central database. Again, a blended strategy may be best.
  • Recruiter professionalism. Obviously, you want to select recruiters with a high degree of respect and professionalism in the business, those who attract the best clients and positions and give minimal surprises. Although ascertaining professionalism, particularly of individuals, is difficult, membership in Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) or International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment (IACPR) is a positive indicator. Word of mouth, previous placements, and time in the business all are factors. Once they establish contact, many candidates interview their recruiters to confirm this important criterion.

Ready to start searching? The i-recruit database ( is a tried-and-true resource.

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Developing a Strategy for Contacting Recruiters

email marketing

Once you’ve decided that it makes sense to contact recruiters, the next questions are …

  • how many?
  • which ones?
  • how to contact?

Today’s computer and Internet-aided tools accommodate 5,000-resume mass mailings, but focused, targeted searches are much more effective than resume “blasts.”

Some determining factors relate to you, your situation and objectives. Some relate to the recruiter landscape–how recruiters are structured and how they do business. In general, a recruiter-contact strategy consists of three parts:

  1. Identify. Identify which recruiters offer the greatest potential to work with you, based on your field, background, needs, and geographic location.|
  2. Contact. Contact selected recruiters by sending a resume and cover letter.
  3. Follow up. Keep in touch with most promising recruiters, nurture the working relationship.

Identifying Recruiters: How Many?

The decision to do a mass versus a targeted mailing depends in part on your situation and what you’re trying to accomplish. Combining a mass search with a targeted search can be highly effective. The targeted search–requiring networking and outreach to make contact and establish mutual interest before blasting off a resume–is much more time consuming but typically yields better results.

Sending out resumes broadly can generate competition and a sense of urgency among recruiters. But some recruiters say that it doesn’t take mass resume distribution to create competition: Using no more than three recruiters to help in a search can still create the sense of competition without getting you labeled as overexposed or high risk. Candidates who are loyal to a given recruiter will typically get that recruiter’s best efforts. Good qualifications will also generate competition and urgency. When a candidate’s resume reflects a solid work history and highly sought-after skills, any good recruiter should definitely have a sense of urgency to contact that particular candidate and begin to develop a plan to help them find their next position.

If your skills and credentials, level, or geographic preferences are specialized, your search, of course, will be narrower. Those in a niche industry will want to consider selectivity with recruiters. You want a recruiter who truly understands your needs from a career perspective as well as his or her clients’ needs. The more specialized a candidate is in his or her particular job, the more a specialized recruiter can help.

Most recruiters recommend a narrow search. Good recruiters will decline to work with a candidate who is shop-worn or over-represented. One recruiter advises candidates to “work with your own network and a maximum of 2-3 recruiters that you trust in your chosen industry. Working with many recruiters may saturate your candidacy in the marketplace. A strategic and calculated approach is the most efficient and successful method for securing your dream job in a timely expeditious fashion.

Whether you choose to search widely or narrowly, communication is key; if you deal with many recruiters, you must communicate with them about submittals and interviews. A candidate can make himself or herself look bad quickly if multiple recruiters are submitting them for positions and they are not communicating and controlling their own job search.

Generally, the following factors can influence the breadth of a search:

  • Confidentiality. The more you circulate your resume, the more your desire to look for a new job becomes known. Networks work, and the “buzz” spreads. Some recruiters are more careful than others about to which clients they send resumes. It happens–a candidate’s name shows up on a list at his or her own firm! Working with one recruiting firm closely and carefully is the best way to cover your tracks.
  • Urgency. If you need something to happen fast–either because of your personal situation or a situation at your employer–a broader search may yield faster results. If you anticipate a downturn in your company or your industry and want to hit the exit before others, casting a broad net probably won’t hurt. Recruiters also know about these downturns–and your early response shows your awareness of the situation and enhances your candidacy. However, even in launching a wide search, don’t waste time and energy with recruiters that specialize in industries that aren’t yours.
  • Active vs. passive. Activity relates both to urgency and confidentiality. If you wish to be active in your search, pursuing all possibilities, a wider search is the ticket. If you prefer a passive approach in which you simply wish recruiters to inform you of new opportunities when they come up, select one recruiter or perhaps a handful. A wide search may bring more interviews and discussions than you can handle while still functioning in a current position.
  • Your value in the market. Don’t commoditize yourself. Launching a broad campaign can make you appear as a commodity. The law of diminishing returns sets in; sending resumes to twice as many recruiters probably results in only 5 percent more interviews. Many recruiters recommend a more personal approach. You tend to appear more valuable if you position yourself as the one sought rather than the seeker, one who values the contact and relationship with a recruiter or limited set of recruiters, and one who wants only that special, coveted position.

Final Thoughts
Once you select your target recruiters, you must build a campaign to contact them. There is no one right way to contact recruiters; each is different, and each situation is different. Having the right materials, using the right methods, having the right expectations, and effectively maintaining the relationship are all important.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
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Contacting and Following Up With Recruiters

following up with recruiters

Once you select your target recruiters, you must build a campaign to contact them. No one right way exists to contact recruiters; each is different, and each situation is different. Having the right materials, using the right methods, having the right expectations, and effectively maintaining the relationship are all important. Here are some basic tips from recruiters:

  • Have a perfect resume and cover letter. The resume and cover letter should be concise and crisp, allowing the recruiter to immediately grasp your profile and expertise.
  • Send your materials with care. Check with recruiting firms to verify if and how they want resumes sent. Call the receptionist or other gatekeeper or check websites. Marking materials as “personal and confidential” may be helpful. When e-mailing your resume, be aware that fear of viruses and unsolicited blasts from resume mills may cause recruiters not to even open unsolicited mail. Make your subject line personal, specific, credentialed, and targeted; for example, “Resume: John Smith, IT Executive, Excellent Candidate for CIO position,” will get you further than simply “Resume.” The same is true of file names for your resume. As you might imagine, recruiters get hundreds of resumes with the file name “Resume.doc.” Personalize your resume with a file name such as “JillKelly_CIO_Resume.doc.”
  • Use the phone or e-mail, but sparingly. Hounding recruiters is never appropriate, but a brief follow-up phone call or two may help direct attention to your resume and credentials. Recruiter opinions are divided on this issue. Consider a short introductory phone call or voicemail message after hours to advise that your resume has been sent, and perhaps another phone call two weeks later to ensure that the recruiter received, read, and filed it. Touch base with your recruiter with a simple, “Just to let you know I’m still looking,” after a month. For a less urgent search, it’s OK to call your recruiter every 4-6 months. E-mail is also an option; you can check in monthly by email with the recruiter, just so he or she will keep you top of mind and let him or her know you are still available.
  • Keep your information up-to-date. Federal employment laws require organizations (excluding very small recruiting firms with a headcount of less than 50) to maintain resumes and application for three years, so you should have few worries that yours will be tossed out. The resume may, of course, become out of date; thus, some recruiters recommend follow-up phone calls stating your desire to keep your information updated and correct. Resubmitting a resume is less important than reestablishing connection with a phone call or email to update the recruiter on your newest accomplishments. Recruiters are open to receiving an updated resume, as long as it truly reflects new information.
  • Don’t expect acknowledgment, and don’t take it personally if you don’t get it. Recruiters receive hundreds–thousands–of resumes. No response simply means, in most cases, that no open position fits your qualifications.

Final Thoughts

With these tips in mind, your goal is to obtain an in-depth interview and to start a working relationship. Depending on their business model and situation, recruiters may or may not be interested in your resume; they may wish to search and contact you instead. Nevertheless, planning a recruiter-contact strategy, in which you target recruiters by identifying and contacting them to build a working relationship, is still a good idea.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
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How Do Recruiters Want To Deal With You?

How Do Recruiters Want To Deal With YouThe unique business model of the recruiting industry is that the client firm is the customer, and you, the candidate, are the product. The recruiter has a choice of “inventory” models regarding how to manage you as the product. A recruiter can “stock” you, that is, put you in inventory and wait for an order or a client position to open up. Recruiters work on growing their database, which is generally the first place that they look when a new search comes in.

An organized recruiter will run a search of their database to make sure they check all candidates on hand to see if any active or inactive candidates could be either a potential fit, or source for referrals. In the other business model, the recruiter can first receive the order, then go about acquiring you, the product, to fulfill that order. Referrals and their own network are the top priorities. In this model, the database is used only as a backup rather than first pass in a given search.

Whether or not to contact a recruiting firm depends significantly on which model it uses. Some firms may operate with a blend of both business models; that is, they use stock resumes along with an active search to get the best slate of candidates. As databases become more sophisticated and more up-to-date (driven in part by the availability of candidate information from the Internet), and as clients demand faster placements, stock resumes become more important in the search process.

Deciding to Contact a Recruiter – Factors to Consider

How do you know whether to contact a particular recruiter with your unsolicited resume? Some firms may offer a direct answer. Check the firm’s website; many recruiters post specifics on the materials they seek and how they prefer you to submit resumes. You can also call a receptionist or administrative person and ask if resumes are accepted and how they should be submitted. This gatekeeper might ask some questions about your credentials and the position you seek. Generally, avoid calling individual recruiting professionals directly; they don’t have the time, they don’t know who you are and, remember, their first interest is filling open positions for clients, not finding a job for you.

Beyond these two approaches, many questions about which recruiters to contact and how to approach them may remain unanswered, but you can increase the odds of getting answers by making an educated guess. Which recruiters will keep you “in stock” even if no current positions are available? In many situations, the recruiter benefits from holding you as inventory, even if that practice transcends the firm’s normal process. The following factors make recruiters more likely to keep you “on the shelf”:

  • Credentials. Your credentials are pristine and highly sought after. No recruiter would discard Jeff Bezos’s resume.
  • Position level and salary. You have “CEO,” “COO,” “VP” or something similar in your title, earn more than $200K a year, and work for a successful “marquee” name like Apple, McKesson, Berkshire Hathaway or General Motors. Your resume is less likely to be discarded (however, most high-level recruiters know who you are without seeing an unsolicited resume). Most retained and contingency firms would want to keep your resume on file. If your background and resume speak to excellence, most recruiters will want to see it, and many will keep it.
  • Job market. If the economy and employment market are booming, orders are abundant, and inventory is scarce. Thus, recruiters are more likely to “stock up” when the opportunity presents itself. Similarly, in a downturn, just when more candidates are available and sending resumes, recruiters are less likely to need them and keep them. More farsighted, long-term-oriented recruiters may keep them on file awaiting the upturn–particularly if the other factors are in your favor.
  • Job status. You’re unemployed. “Unemployed” is a red flag for a recruiter, possibly signifying “damaged goods.” Recruiters don’t want damaged goods in stock. If you’re unemployed–first of all, don’t be–do something useful even if for free. Secondly, make it clear that the reason for unemployment is systemic, that is, because of the economic situation of your company, and not because of you. If it is because of you, your situation is difficult, but don’t try to disguise it because most recruiters will figure it out. Explain your situation, and expect that many recruiters will decline to keep you on file. Many retained search firms will dismiss you right away because clients would dismiss you right off a final search panel.
  • Field. If you’re in a high-demand field with scarce human capital, you just might want to send that resume. Firms–particularly those that specialize in a field–like to carry inventory on scarce product available in that field.

A First Step

Identify, at least in your cover letter, where and for whom you work in your current organization. If your first few contacts with a recruiter seem to be only to gather referrals, don’t despair. You’re building a relationship–and you’re in the system.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
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What To Do When the Executive-Search Consultant Calls You


When the Executive-Search Consultant Calls You

The phone rings at 4:30 in the afternoon, and it’s Tom Headhunter, dropping upon you a tempting position that’s a “must” career move. At the end of 10 minutes of talk, you know little of the position and nothing of Tom Headhunter. What do you do? How do you decide if this position–and this person–are worth doing business with?

It’s hard, because you don’t want to be taken for a ride into a vast unknown, risking your confidentiality and relationship with your current employer–and perhaps other executive-search consultants. Just the same, you don’t want to hastily turn Mr. Headhunter aside. You could gain some value in the position and the potential relationship. When these cold calls come in, most executive search consultants advise the following:

First Things First – Interview the Executive Search Consultant
Interviewing the executive-search consultant may sound like an odd way to turn the tables, but start with a few qualifying questions to the consultant before moving on. Find out:

  • Who the executive search consultant is/what firm he or she represents. An executive-search consultant should disclose his or her firm and whether it’s a contingency or retainer firm. Be skeptical if the consultant won’t disclose. Don’t necessarily expect him or her to identify the client hiring firm, however. While you may get that information from the consultant, you often won’t as he or she has been instructed not to divulge.
  • Background in field. Ask the recruiter how long he or she has been in the firm and industry, what types of placements and clients he or she handles. Specific names of client employers are better, but you may not get them. Just as the executive-search consultant will want to know more about you, you should know more about the headhunter before proceeding. Look for competence, professionalism, and experience in the field of specialty. Avoid the used-car salesman type who tries to pry you loose to nab a quick commission.
  • Learn the executive -search consultant’s process. Ask a few questions about how he or she conducts business.

Don’t Commit to Anything
Be careful not to go too far down the path in the first call. Yes, an executive-search consultant’s time is important, and if you’re talking to one of the industry top names on the phone, you could benefit if you keep going. Preferably, though, gather some information, start the relationship, and then step aside. “I’ll get back to you” is a good line to keep in mind.

What do you do before getting back to the executive-search consultant?

  • First, think through everything that was said. Does the position really sound like a fit for your experiences and objectives? Most people get excited, even emotional, at the prospect of an employer wanting them. Let this emotion subside and discern whether you really want to be wanted in this situation. At the risk of a tenuous analogy, think through your dating experiences.
  • Do your own research. Look up the recruiting firm online. Does the firm indeed specialize in your industry? Has it been around for a while, and is it a member of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants or other accrediting organizations? Look at its Web site. What types of positions does it deal with? What type of clients, if it discloses? Does the site and its message convey a professional tone and manner, or is it sales-y?
  • Then, use your network. Talk to peers, colleagues, and executive search consultants if you know any. Talk to people outside your organization but in your industry. Have they heard of or dealt with the executive search consultant or his or her firm? Do your contacts know what kind of clients this executive search consultant typically works with?

After satisfying yourself with these answers, call the executive-search consultant back. Getting comfortable with the consultant may take you minutes or days, but doing so is important. Whether you initiate an executive-search consultant relationship this way or by contacting the consultant initially, the next step is to work with that executive -search consultant toward a productive and effective job placement.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.

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How to Be ‘Found’ by Executive-Search Consultants

Visibility in the corporate world can be tough to attain, but you need it if you want executive-search consultants to find you. A significant number of your achievements might be considered “company confidential” – you can’t simply write an article describing your formula for adding 10 percent to your company’s gross profit margin. But if you get your name out there professionally, executive-search consultants will find you. Here are some of the most effective ways to get both internal and external publicity:

Get Known Inside Your Company

How do you build your internal image? Achievement is probably the best way to become known, but you can’t hide your light under a bushel basket; you must promote your achievements.

  • Write articles. Most companies have internal communication vehicles, sometimes print publications, but increasingly intranets, blogs, e-mailed newsletters, and company Web pages highlighting accomplishments and individual achievements. Editors are always looking for good material.
  • Take on big projects. When your employer seeks someone to lead the worldwide customer-satisfaction program, take it on! Volunteering means hard work but also leads to visibility and an ever-more-rapid escalation of your stock among peers. Eventually people outside the organization will learn of your achievements, whether through networks or a more direct spotlight on what you’re doing.
  • Speak. Speaking disseminates your expertise outside the organization as well as inside. Build that traveling road show for your department, and take it around the world or to the sales force. Represent your group in important strategy-setting meetings or customer visits.
  • Hold conferences, webinars, and meetings. A great way to gain visibility and show leadership is to offer to host or hold meetings to resolve important issues or design major strategic breakthroughs. Most of the time, your colleagues or managers will appreciate your going above and beyond, and the reputation you’ll gain as leader, organizer, and solver will promote your brand.

And, Get Known to the World
Getting noticed means making yourself noticeable. Sounds like common sense, but many competent professionals sit around and wait for their break. Bad practice! If you get lucky or are particularly good, you might get noticed that way. Just as magazine and newspaper editors are always hungry for material, so too are meeting planners, seminar leaders, associations, and other venues eager for material and leadership. If you have something to offer, you’ll get the chance. Your contribution doesn’t have to be breakthrough rocket science. Sharing even small but differentiated successes–or even successfully applying an industry best practice–will often get you there. And in some venues, all you need to do is make the effort. Here are some of the ways to get external visibility:

  • Be active in industry or trade associations. Participate actively, or better yet, take leadership positions, in these organizations. Networking opportunities abound, and executive-search consultants read Web sites and printed material with your name on it. If you host meetings, find extraordinary speakers, speak yourself, edit or help with the newsletter, and go outside to find other excellence. Attend trade shows and organization events. Represent your company and staff your booth. Write papers, build knowledge and research.
  • Speak. Offer to speak at seminars. You usually won’t get paid, though the organization that invites you will likely pay for your travel. External publicity begets internal publicity. Word gets around that you presented at the industry conference. More importantly, from a recruiting standpoint, executive-search consultants, particularly specialists, know who is talking because they follow the industry. Seeing your name, they will attempt to learn more about you, and may even try to see you speak or meet you.
  • Write articles and be an expert source for the media. Writing articles produces much the same results as speaking. You get a chance to gel your thoughts and accomplishments into reader-friendly form, and your name and accomplishments get out there for the world–and executive-search consultants–to see. Get quoted by offering your thoughts, ideas, and opinions to journalists and reporters. Offer yourself as an expert to the media. Let local, regional–and even national–media editors know you’re willing to be interviewed and quoted on topics on which you’re an authority.
  • Be active in your community. Volunteer work, civic service, and community activity provide evidence of leadership and effort beyond the normal course of duty, not to mention good opportunities for networking. Getting involved in local government, civic organizations, arts communities, charities, and the like can be well worth your time as you build your brand with executive-search consultants.
  • Offer your services to the higher-education community. Make yourself available as a guest lecturer for clubs, organizations, and classes at local colleges and universities. Colleges embrace real-world business experience in the classroom, even from those lacking advanced degrees. Institutions of higher learning usually publicize guest presentations.
  • Serve on advisory boards and boards of directors. Jump at invitations to join and participate on a corporate or nonprofit board, either in a decision-making or advisory capacity.

Online Presence
A branded online presence is vitally important. Here are a few ways to cultivate a presence:

  • Establish a profile on a few key social-media sites, especially LinkedIn.
  • Post and comment on key sites ¬– LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Show yourself to be a thought-leader.
  • Consider constructing a professional Web site with a portfolio in which you can publish all your articles, speeches, and more. Buy a Web domain with your name as its centerpiece:, for example. You can also hire a Web designer to build your site.
  • Start (and regularly maintain) a blog and comment on the blogs of others.

Final Thoughts
Essentially, you are in charge of MARKETING yourself, and getting noticed means doing some good marketing. Bottom line–you must build yourself as a brand through positioning yourself well and creating visibility. In doing so, you’ll not only get on the radar screen, but you’ll get there with a strong, clear image that is compelling to the executive-search consultant–and client employers.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.

Give us a call at 386-749-3111
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Why You Need a Targeted Job Search

Target Audience 3d words in an open door to illustrate searching for and finding niche prospects and clients through advertising and marketingThe idea of pinpointing and then refining your target market of employers is an overwhelming concept for most. A bigger universe intuitively seems more likely to result in employer interest. “If I send out my resume to as many employers as I can,” the mentality goes, “surely some of them will be interested in me.” But the opposite is true: The more you funnel the universe of employers into a laser-focused, precise, narrow segment of those who would love to hire you, the more successful you’ll be.

To understand the importance of target marketing in your job search, let’s first define a target market: “A specific group of consumers at which a company aims its products and services,” says

Adapted for a job-seeker, that would be: “A specific group of employers at which a job-seeker aims his or her talents and services.”

Here’s what a target market is not (even though some marketers of products and services mistakenly define their target markets this way): “Anyone interested in my products or services.”

Here’s how the marketing process works for those marketers who define their target market as “anyone interested in my products or services:”

The marketer creates advertising or promotional material and then disseminates it to those perceived as “anyone interested in my products or services.”

This process may have a familiar ring to job-seekers because it is essentially the way most of them conduct their job searches:

The job-seekers create advertising or promotional material – in the form of a resume and usually a cover letter – and disseminates it to those perceived as “anyone interested in ‘me as a product and the services I offer,’” typically employers who have posted vacancies on job boards or advertised openings in other media.

Smart marketers know that both of these approaches are backward. If you want to sell a product, you don’t create the product first and then go to stores hoping people buy it. You’d first do research. You would find out who would use the product, what customers are looking for in this kind of product, how this product would help them, how you’d get it to market, and what the packaging looks like. Once you understand that, you would perfect the product and go to market.

Just as no universal products appeal to all consumers, no universal job-seeker appeals to all employers. Neither jobs nor employers are one-size-fits-all. Savvy job-seekers survey the universe of employers to determine how to break the market down into a more manageable subset of employers that will be keenly attracted to what the job-seeker has to offer.

The proven strategy of target marketing enables the marketer or job-seeker to reach the customers/employers whose needs are most likely to be filled by the entity being marketed. That’s a big reason to use target marketing in the job search – but just a few of the other reasons include:

  • It’s more efficient. Yes, target marketing requires a big investment in front-end research. But that investment pays off when the job-seeker is productively going on interviews instead of sitting on his or her posterior by the computer uploading resumes to employers who might be interested and waiting for hiring managers to call.
  • It targets the portion of the job market most likely to hire. A huge number of jobs aren’t advertised. Employers hold back on publicizing vacancies for all kinds of reasons, but if you can get in on the pipeline of an unpublicized opening, you’ll have a huge advantage over the vast hordes responding to job postings.
  • Through target marketing, you’ll be a better fit and happier with the employer at which you land than if you took your chances with answering ads. Since you’ve carefully vetted each employer in your target market, you know you’re a good match and you fit the organizational culture. The outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison notes that 70 percent of its clients get new jobs through target-market methods, a figure consistent with other studies.

These steps of identifying and narrowing the market are part of a process that also includes approaching employers, developing and proposing solutions to them, handling their objections, closing the sale, and following up.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.

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Have You Done Your Homework? When an Interviewer Asks What You Know About the Company

What Do I Need to Know words in 3d letters beside a thinker wondering about information he must have for a job, task or learning in education

One of the most common tactics interviewers apply when interviewing candidates is to see whether you’ve researched the organization before the interview. Here’s a guide for responding to company-knowledge questions.

Interviewer motivation for asking: Quite simply, the interviewer wants to know that you’ve done your homework. The employer expects you to come into the interview with thorough knowledge of the organization and the position. The interviewer wants you to know the organization well enough so that you also know what you can contribute and perhaps how you can respond to the employer’s issues and challenges. The degree to which you’ve researched the employer shows your level of interest in the job. The interviewer may also ask you about the geographic area in which the organization is located if relocation is part of the job.

Strategy for response: Having done your due diligence and performed extensive research on the employer and the job, showcase that knowledge in your responses. Be prepared to demonstrate not only what you know about the organization, position, and geographic area, but also what you like about them. When asked about the contribution you can bring to the employer, relate one of your accomplishments to a need that your research has told you this organization has. If you are asked about solving a company problem, be sure your research has given you sufficient background about the issue before responding. If it has not, ask the interviewer questions (such as finding out what approaches have been applied to this problem in the past and why they haven’t worked) to get sufficient information. Don’t assume that a solution that worked in one of your past positions will automatically work for this employer.

Sample questions in this subject area:

  • Tell me what you know about our company.
  • Why did you decide to seek a position in this company?
  • Why are you seeking this position?
  • Why do you think you might like to live and work in the community in which our company is located?
  • If you were hiring for this position, what qualities would you look for?
  • What suggestions do you have for our organization?
  • What are your expectations for this position?
  • What do you expect to contribute to our organization?
  • What changes would you make in the organization?
  • What can you tell me about our organization’s …
    • Size?
    • Key stakeholders?
    • History?
    • Revenues?
    • Products/services?
    • Mission statement?
    • Most recent media releases?
    • Competitors? News about the competitors?

Sample responses for this subject area:

Question: Why do you think you might like to live and work in the community in which
our company is located?

Response: The great thing about Bentonville is that the city is a microcosm of WalMart’s strengths, as well as the opportunities and challenges facing the company. Bentonville, like many places across the U.S., has changed dramatically since the time when the first WalMart store opened there. In fact, just in the past 40 years or so, the population has more than quadrupled–going from a rural community of about 5,000 people in the 1970s to more than 20,000 today. While still the county seat, the town has seen the development of upscale neighborhoods and shopping centers. Just like the town, WalMart’s growth and expansion over the past 40 years has brought amazing success, but also many new challenges, especially as the traditional markets become saturated and the company expands into new and unchartered territory. Thus, driving around Bentonville and talking with the townspeople will not only be a fun and challenging experience–as any move to a new town is–but I believe the experience can also help foster new strategic ideas for helping WalMart achieve even greater success.

Final Thoughts

Never neglect this important research facet of job-interviewing. The Internet puts just about everything you’d need to know at your fingertips. Don’t forget, too, that your research can include gathering insights from people who already work for the organization.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.

Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at
Schedule a call with Beverly at

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3 Ways to Tap into a Pipeline Job

Now that you have the skinny on the unpublicized job market, let’s look at how you can break into it. When job-seekers search for new jobs, one of the most important elements of a successful search is developing job leads. How can you find a consistent source for open jobs in your career field? The answer, of course, is that you cannot. No one consistent source exists. There are, however, several methods that all job-seekers should consider using in uncovering the largest number of job leads.

While other ways of unearthing unadvertised jobs exist, the key to mining the unpublicized job market is deploying strategies that break you, the candidate, into the middle of the hiring process – before positions are publicly known. Even better for you as a job-seeker, if you can make a strong case for your fit with an unadvertised position, you’ll face much less competition from other job- seekers, immediately improving the chances that you’ll get a job interview.


The No. 1 reason networking is so important and effective is that, as we’ve seen, so many jobs are not made public – through advertising or other means. One of the best ways a job-seeker can find out about these jobs is through word-of-mouth. Networking is a highly effective way for job-seekers to hear word-of-mouth news of unadvertised vacancies. These vacancies may eventually be publicized, but most jobs start out hidden, and only the decision-maker knows.

More job leads are developed/discovered through networking than any other method. Networking involves using the vast numbers of people that you know – your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, customers, vendors, associates, and others – as information sources for job leads.

Networking is simply about building and maintaining relationships with the people around us. The more people we know – and the more people the folks we know are connected with – the more powerful our network. Remember to not only maintain your current network, but strive to regularly add new contacts – especially those who work for prospective future employers.

When you’re ready to seek that next job, the simple way of uncovering unpublicized job opportunities and leads is by asking people in your network what advice they might offer for someone seeking the type of job you’re looking for. Keys to success include knowing exactly the type of job you seek and asking your network contacts not for a job, but rather for information, advice, and referrals that may lead to a job. These conversations may reveal information about pipeline jobs.

Pipeline Jobs

As we saw in Part 1 of this series, a pipeline job is a vacancy that an employer is in the process of creating but is not yet official. Once the job is official, the hiring manager may ask around within the organization for referrals of qualified candidates before making the vacancy public.

As we noted in the Part 1, many hiring managers prefer getting internal referrals because once they publicize the job, they know they will be bombarded with resumes, many from unqualified candidates. They will then have to process those resumes. Referrals from known and trusted employees are always preferable.

Once the hiring manager starts asking for internal referrals – and especially when he or she posts the position to the public – competition will increase exponentially.

Many employers have highly developed employee-referral programs and reward workers for suggesting a hire. Social media has fast-tracked the employee-referral process and vastly increased its reach.

3 Ways to Disrupt the Pipeline

    1. Referral Cover Letter: Once you have a network contact who has told you about a pipeline job, one effective way to approach the hiring manager is with a referral cover letter. The referral cover letter is an extremely effective type of cover letter that springs from networking efforts. The referral letter uses a name-dropping tactic as early as possible in the letter to attract the reader’s attention and prompt an interview. The opening sentence for a sample referral follows:Dear Mr. Fouche,Nancy Jones of Green & Associates Advertising suggested I contact you regarding possible public-relations opportunities in your firm.
    2. Informational interview: This technique can be effective even if the job for you hasn’t even entered the pipeline. Research the needs of targeted employers. Especially conduct research into recent news stories about the organization (Is the company expanding to new markets? Introducing a new product? It will likely need to hire). Another way is by networking with organization insiders and asking them about company needs and challenges. But the best way is through informational interviewing, a sub-set of networking in which you conduct brief interviews with people inside targeted organizations and ask what keeps them up at night.Informational interviewing is exactly what it sounds like – interviewing designed to yield the information you need to choose a career path, learn how to break in, and find out if you have what it takes to succeed. It’s a highly focused conversation with someone in your career field who can provide you with key information, such as the issues and needs a given employer is facing. While an informational interview is not a job interview, the information gleaned can be used later in your approach to an employer. Armed with knowledge about problems and needs within an organization, you can propose ways that you can meet those needs and solve those problems.
    3. Creating Your Own Job based on Employer Needs: This technique may enable you to get a pipeline job before it even enters the pipeline is trying to create a job for yourself – where one currently doesn’t exist – based on a deeper exploration of the employer’s needs or problems. With this technique, the job-seeker identifies the employer’s needs and/or problems and proposes that the employer create a job that the job-seeker will then fill and meet the needs or solve the problems.

Finally, realize that sometimes a referral doesn’t pay off immediately or directly but lays the groundwork for a future opportunity. Keep following up on pipeline jobs.

If you need help tapping into those pipeline jobs, consider coaching with us.

Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at
Schedule a call with Beverly at


*This article may be republished with written permission.  If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at  I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

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Nabbing a Job While It’s Still in the Pipeline

Have you ever conducted a job-search and thought to yourself that there must be more job openings than those found through online job searches? Guess what? You’re right! If you are simply searching online, you are missing out on as many as four times the job leads – job leads that go unposted publicly.

A significant reason for not publicizing an opening is that the job is still in the pipeline. The late career-marketing coach Mark Hovind asserted that most jobs start out hidden, known only to the decision-maker. The employer recognizes a need and decides to create a job, but the vacancy, for various reasons, is not official. Perhaps the skills needed for the job haven’t been identified. Maybe the job description hasn’t been developed. Possibly the budget to fund the position hasn’t yet been worked out. Whatever the reason, the opening isn’t ready for prime time and can’t yet be publicized.

The hiring process is a long and winding road – as long as 12-18 months – that begins when a hiring manager requests a new position or when a current employee leaves his or her current position. The first step is getting approval to fund (or continue funding) the position and approving the recruitment plan. What happens next is a multi-stage process that eventually leads to a public job posting if all other measures are unsuccessful.

During the initial time of the request the manager starts asking around among his or her trusted employees for referrals. After all, if you were the manager, wouldn’t you rather hire someone known and recommended to you via a colleague than an anonymous candidate submitting a resume?

Once funding has been approved, the next step is an internal job posting, again with the intent of finding an internal candidate to promote and usually publicized internally for about 7-10 days. At this stage, hiring managers may also contact their network and inquire about possible external candidates (referrals).

This stage is especially crucial for a candidate who wants to get in on an opportunity early. Only after failing to find someone to fill the need through referrals will the manager write a job description and begin to advertise the job.

The implication for the job-seeker is that a strong, thriving network can alert you to pipeline jobs. The goal is to reach hiring managers before they opt to publicize the opening. If you are constantly adding contacts to your network, and telling members of your network what you’re looking for, sooner or later, you will likely encounter a network contact who responds with, “Oh, my company is planning to hire someone like you, but the job hasn’t been posted yet.” When that happens, you can ask your contact to refer you to the hiring manager, perhaps even deliver your resume personally to him or her.

The beauty of this scenario is that if you make contact with the hiring manager while the job is still in the pipeline, you will have virtually no competition. Once the hiring manager starts asking for internal referrals – and especially when he or she posts the position to the public – competition will increase exponentially.

If you need help finding those pipeline jobs, consider coaching with us.

Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at
Schedule a call with Beverly at


*This article may be republished with written permission.  If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at  I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

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