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Three Critical Steps in a Successful Job Search

Three Critical Steps in a Successful Job Search

Dan, I am hiring a person for our government agency.  I decided to place my name on the ad with my office phone number so applicants could call with questions. I posted the advertisement on March 11 and as of today (March 22) of the 74 applicants, zero have tried to call me to ask about the position.  I am a little shocked that no one has tried to call me about the position. Trey

No one has called.  Did you get that? In a competitive hiring environment 74 people still just send out resumes and then hope the phone rings.  How sad!!   It really doesn’t take much to make yourself stand out in a sea of applicants.

In 48 Days to the Work You Love I lay out the simple steps required to get multiple job offers – yes, even in this economy.

Use the three critical steps of the job search:

1. Send a letter of introduction to each company. (Send no more than 15 at a time so you can do the appropriate follow-up.) The letter of introduction is only to build name recognition. Remember, this is a selling process, and we are borrowing here from a sales technique. Let’s say a company is selling water treatment systems. If they can get me to see or hear about that product at least 3 times, my likelihood of buying goes up dramatically. With the introduction letter, we are beginning the same process. You want any potential target company to see or hear about you at least 3 times. So the introduction letter is the first of at least 3 contacts in this process.

2. Send your cover letter and résumé 1 week after your introduction letter. Address the cover letter to a specific person. You can get this name from the Business Directory or call the company. Receptionists are wonderful about giving useful information if you ask nicely. Don’t bother sending it to the “Personnel Department,” “Human Resources,” or “To Whom It May Concern.” Target a person who has the ability to make a hiring decision. That will normally be the sales manager, the VP of operations, the president, the office manager, etc. Online search sites like Hoover’s online ( or can give a lot of pertinent information about most companies.

3. Call to follow up. This step is very important, but only about 1 to 2 percent of job hunters do this. It is very easy to bring your name to the top of the list if you just do a follow-up call. Don’t be afraid of being persistent! Call 4 to 5 days after sending your résumé. Yes, I know the challenges of screeners and voice mail. But if the process were easy, everyone would do it. You want to stand out. Don’t leave messages on voice mail other than to just build in one more opportunity for repetitive name recognition. Don’t say anything in this phone message about that person calling you—don’t expect it and don’t even set the stage for it. If you get voice mail, just hang up and call the receptionist again, saying, “I must have missed Bill. When do you expect him in today?” “What time does he normally get in the office in the morning?”

If you’re sending out resumes and waiting for the phone to ring you’re probably also convinced the economy is bad, no one is hiring, the wrong political party is in power, and the moon is in the wrong alignment.

 Dan Miller is today's leading authority and personality on careers and 'Work You LoveTM'. As bestselling author of 48 Days To The Work You Love, and now No More Mondays, Dan reaches over a million people every month in his newsletter, podcast, and blog with the best trends and opportunities in the workplace and small business. For more information, visit