Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Direct Marketing Yourself to Employers

2009-07-31 19:00:00

So this week on my Washington Recruiters discussion list, someone posted a question about HR/Recruiting's feelings on a direct-marketing method for getting a "foot in the door" to go around HR and recruiting.
Basically, after researching companies via Dunn and Bradstreet, the candidate writes a "proposition letter" based on an open position or perceived value-add that the candidate could bring to the company. After this letter is written, it is put in an odd-sized envelope and sent to the decision maker/s. Preferably a hiring manager or C-level executive.

My feeling, as was almost unanimously agreed with from the recruiting community, is that this method is outdated and out of touch with today's methodology for contacting *anyone*. We suggested using LinkedIn and networking through mutual business contacts. There was a member of our community that attended the seminar where this idea was first presented who stated that it does work, that there were people at the seminar that had tried it and actually gotten a response.

That being said, I decided to post the idea (as originally stated, looking for opinions outside of the HR world) on a couple of social media sites (LinkedIn Answers and Facebook). I got a couple of interesting responses from outside the HR/recruiting population (and some of the HR folks did chime in.) Below are the responses. So, this may be an alternative method to try when all else fails. It certainly can't hurt, although the cost is a bit more than using electronic means.
Anything you do to keep on get on someone's mind and keep there attention there is good. For the people who say content is the most important look at any marketing you have ever seen. Most of the stuff isn't the greatest but people buy it anyway because its on there mind.

On the oddsized envelope it will probably work because I know I am more inclined to open odd sized pieces. Also with your note about D and B you should look at that and identify strong companies and mention that you did research on them.

Anything you do will put you farther ahead than doing nothing.

(Account Executive for a printing biz)
And what is a proposition letter? What and who are you propositioning? A one night stand with someone you don't even know? Sure, an interesting or odd size envelope will catch someone's attention, they might even open it, but what will make them read what's inside? One glance at a 'proposition' and into the trash it goes. A good resume, well designed, thought out and well written that gives the reader, at a glance, who you are, what you do, what your skills and talents are, and work history succinctly, is worth all the contrivances in the world. A directed resume to companies in your sphere of expertise and the hiring manager of your particular department is even better. Don't listen to all this nonsense you've been listening too. Who knows if these companies have openings or need someone with your background. Doing selective research on companies that need your experience and background is far more worthwhile. Otherwise, you might as well go and apply at Home Depot. What sort of position are you truly looking for? That is the key question you should ask yourself. Good luck in your search. I hope this helps. (Recruiter)
I haven't answered this via the Yahoo group, but my thinking is this would only be potentially workable IF the person had a solid networking contact to whom they could send the 'proposition letter' within the company...and if that was the case, it would be better to try and make a connection with that person rather than just sending them this letter.

I can't see any corporate recruiter reading this. Matthew Charney's ERE post today (linked) gives a pretty clear overview of how most recruiters 'triage' resumes. I think this letter would likely be treated much like a cover letter in 99% of cases by a recruiter--especially if it doesn't fit with their current req load.
Dear Kristen, I think it would certainly attract attention but I also believe ultimately it will be substance over style. The proposition letter would need to be personally tailored to get my attention enough to follow up. (University Career counselor )
I just finished a book that was proposing a similar approach. It proposes that we are leaving the age of traditional jobs and are shifting into a time of project like work. If true, then this is a fabulous way to attract attention to your skills.

I personally have had success in the off sized and colored envelope. It looks more like a birthday card or invitation. You see? It is to get them to open it, then if you have teasers that grab their attention to a particular need. (watch the industry publications for problems and assess your skills for solutions-offer them up.)

Try this one- Sympathy card: with hope attached.
Is your business suffering along with the economy right now?
Let's check your "essential systems" and see what we can tuneup.
If you are hearing the thump of a business slump hitting your door, ask yourself: Is it time for a visit from a specialist? I work on a success only basis, after we visit if I don't think I can help I will recommend someone who can. I'm in the solution business. (Trainer for eCommerce company)
Sounds a bit desperate to me - and being in an odd sized envelope would indicate carelessness to me.

Perhaps use of a coloured but right size envelope would draw attention to it - but so what? Regardless of how much attention the packaging gets, it's still all about the content. (Director of Accounts Financial Sector)
One of the things we've tried before when hiring for Consultants to work for us is to write a letter to people we've identified (and whose addresses we have) telling them about us and the position we want to talk to them about and asking them to get in touch.

The response rate was WAY higher than it would have been had we done the same thing via e-mail, so based on that alone I'd suggest that it's not a bad idea at all.

In amongst a sea of technology, the letter has become forgotten. (CEO boutique staffing firm)
I think it's crass. It ought to be the contents of the envelope that are interesting but we live in such a ludicrous world it wouldn't surprise me if such a pointless stunt actually paid off.
What with "Keyword Bingo" and the "20-30 Second Scan" we are already giving preference to style over substance, so does it matter if we use just a bit more as we slip slowly into the abyss of idiocy? Probably not.

Why not single out a selection of prospective employers and stand outside their offices pelting the windows with rocks wrapped in copies of your CV? (Freelance copy editor/author)
Personally, I like the idea. Considering the economy and competition, whatever one has to do to pull themselves ahead of the pack, good for them. Either it'll work or it won't but (what's the saying?) "nothing beats a try but a something"...someone help me out.... (Office manager for a consulting company)
Any form of "direct" marketing - direct mail, email, etc. - has both advantages and challenges. The figures I'm about to quote come from my own decades of experience, but I offer these "penetration rates" as examples. (Back in the days when we could follow up by telephone, we phoned after each wave.)

1. Single ink-on-paper piece sent USPS bulk rate or first class: 2% penetration (if we were lucky).

2. Multiple ink-on-paper pieces (a series, in a campaign) sent the same way: 35% penetration.

3. Multiple three-dimensional pieces (boxes, tubes, in a series) sent via UPS: 85-95% penetration.

To directly answer your theory, Kristen: Any time you can arrest a recipient's attention, it is a "good thing." A personalized letter in an oddly-sized or colored (or both) envelope will tend to get through more frequently. HOWEVER, there's no guarantee that the proposition will appeal.

To increase penetration and generate an appointment, try following up each mailed letter with a telephone call. This actually works far better if you send the letter three-day FedEx or similar - another well-learned lesson.

I'd be fascinated to learn how this comes out - but I do urge you to consider putting this question to direct-response professionals - more light, less heat. (Marketing professional)
We get those all the time here. I throw them away. There are services that are doing this for people. The letters are almost all the same and are normally addressed to our company owner in a very familiar fashion as though they are writing a note to an old friend. Something like "Dear Bob, I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know that I'm willing to take on that challenge that we discussed".
(Office manager for a custom manufacturing business)
If there is no employment opening, this is a waste for both (non) "applicant" and HR.... And in HR, I want to know *exactly* what position he's applying for, stated clearly in his formal cover letter - don't make me guess. I'm okay with differentiating color/texture of paper, or sending flat vs folded, but I need to be able to put that non-standard piece of paper in a standard file folder at some point.
(Event Manager at a Non-profit)
I've seen it work, but only for candidates for whom traditional approaches would have worked as well. In every case, the candidate was a great match for something the organization needed. (Career Counselor/Organizational Development Consultant)

No Need to SHOUT IT OUT!
The Resume "Black Hole"

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