A researcher for a major job search site posted an interesting question earlier this week. The site wanted to know what “old school” job search methods still work in the Pandemic era, and which methods are less productive today. As a result, we decided to look at a few classic job search approaches and discuss their relevance today based on the experience reported from my clients, recruiters, and career coaches. Let’s consider 4 classic approaches that job-seekers have used for many years:
- Mass resume mailing,
- Applying for jobs on-site,
- Applying for jobs online, and
- Making networking contacts.
Mass Resume Mailing
Let’s start with the mass mailing job search. You have probably been tempted to try it, or you have tried it at some point in your career.
A client of mine told me, about 20 years ago, that he tested the mass mailing approach. The good news is that he got a job in his field. He sent out nearly 1800 resumes to accomplish this.
The classic Richard Nelson Bolles book, What Color is Your Parachute? told us back in the 1980s and 1990s (I’m paraphrasing from memory) that you would get one or two interviews for every 100 resumes sent out. Bolles estimated that you would have to send out about 1770 resumes to land a job.
Chances are the results of mass-mailing campaigns would be even more dismal today. You could develop an e-mail list of 1800 employers and then send each a resume and cover letter. Many employers only accept applications through their career sites and commercial job boards, though. They may not accept email submissions so some of the emails would not be read. Even worse, your email address could be “blacklisted” as a “spam source.” You could need a new email address if you try this at home—and you probably will not get a job.
Of course, you could build a postal address mailing list, and send out your 1800 resumes and cover letters via first class mail. It would cost $990 in postage stamps to do the mailing. Additionally, you would have to purchase at least 3600 sheets of high-quality paper, along with enough cartridges for your printer. This could be a good investment if it was likely to land a job for you, but it probably would not work. Companies want resumes in an electronic format that automatically go into their ATS database for compliance purposes, so at least some of your letters will be disregarded. On the other hand, your resume might land on the desk of a CEO or HR director that is intrigued by your creativity, but I do not know how likely this is.
If you have the time and financial resources to try this experiment, let’s talk!
Applying for Jobs Onsite
Another “old school” job search approach many job-seekers have tried is to apply for work at an employer’s office. A client tried this tactic in Manhattan during June, 2020 and had disappointing results. Every office he tried to visit was locked. He was told, when contacting company representatives online or over the phone, that he should apply through their Web site. Then he found an in-person job fair scheduled on Long Island during the second week of July. It was canceled due to the Pandemic.
It’s been difficult to get into a Manhattan office building and deliver a resume since 9-11 so my client’s result did not surprise me. Your results could vary in other parts of the country, though. “Pounding the pavement,” then, is a 20th Century job search strategy that will generate limited results today.
Applying for Jobs Online
We generally think of applying for work online as the 21st Century job search strategy of choice. The problem cited by every job search expert and reference book I’ve consulted through the years is that the vast majority of jobs are not advertised. Recruiters I’ve spoken to in the past year continue to say up to 80% of open positions are not advertised and up to 80% of advertised openings do not exist.
Even more jobs could be hidden in coming years. A recruiter told me last year that companies hire him specifically to prowl LinkedIn for candidates to fill jobs that are not posted. The PwC Workforce of the Future report we discussed in a post several weeks ago suggests that employers will increasingly rely on AI to scour the Web for talent instead of advertising to fill jobs in the next decade, so posted jobs may become even less relevant.
This does not mean you should not apply for jobs online. Just limit the amount of time you spend clicking on leads and sending resumes.
Business networking is the “old school” job search approach that works, even during the Pandemic. Career coaches and career advisors have emphasized the value of in-person networking for generations.
LinkedIn has promoted itself as a business and job search networking solution for more than a decade. We’ve told job-seekers for the past ten years that connecting with contacts on LinkedIn is not networking. It is a starting point for in-person networking.
Face-to-face contact does create the strongest connections. Meeting people in person is not practical due to the Pandemic in many parts of the country, so you may have to do the next best thing—meet on Zoom or a similar platform.
You should use LinkedIn to maintain contact with your industry network, and then expand it. Don’t stop there, though. Establish an online calendar on a site such as TimeTrade, and then send a LinkedIn message or email to every relevant contact in your network offering them a 15-minute “virtual coffee” meeting.
A client I suggested this approach to last week immediately said “it’s a waste of time. It won’t work.” It definitely won’t work if you do not try. It also won’t work if you have a small number of contacts. Aim for LinkedIn’s “500+” contact level first, and then send your notes. You may still have weeks of interesting conversations with contacts in your field even if only a small percentage respond. I’ve casually sent notes to former co-workers on LinkedIn and promptly received inquiries about doing business together.
Be creative and persistent. Don’t give up. You need only one job so don’t worry about whether there are 10,000 or 1,000 jobs out there. Click here for an appointment on my TimeTrade calendar to chat today.