Speculative job application: eMail or letter?

Monday, June 11th, 2012 - Job Application


Speculative job application:

eMail or letter?


It still worries me when I speak to current job seeker, and they ask questions like: When I send in a speculative job application, is it better to use eMail or letter?

To which my respoce these days is:

When you get junk mail from the local takeaway,

do you recycle it or put it in the nearest bin?

The problem is that we already know the answer to the question ourselves, before we have even posed it to others. If you recycle junk mail, and delete spam, then what do you think the hiring manager will do with it?

Cold calling is dead

A few years ago, I worked in corportate cost reduction. It was a franchise, and on buying in we all got told that it was “the Coca Cola of Cost Reduction!” Err, no, lie Number1!

In actual fact the “magical” marketing method of this well known brand was to employ third party cold callers to call a list that you generated/gave to them, and then hope. If you were lucky, a list of 100 companies that had taken you 3+hrs to create and research, or £150+ to buy, might get you three appointments at a cost of £70/appointment. Out of those three appointments, you might get one sale. So ignoring your time and travel costs, each sales cost £210 to generate.

Learn from the best

Unsurprisingly, I thought this was frankly crap! Having come from an environment where I designed call centres, I knew this ratio was awful. So how could it be improved? In six moths, my ratio went from 1% to 70% close, and here’s how I did it (and still do):

  1. I learnt what the best did: I litterally spent time learning what the most successful consultants did (Something the franchise owners couldn’t care less about learning, let alone teaching)
  2. I learnt what the least successful did: knowing what the best do is only half the answer. The worst also tell you what NOT to do (Again, something the franchisor couldn’t care less about, as long as they paid their franchise fee’s)
  3. I plotted what the competitors did: the competitors didn’t sit on the “Coca Cola of our market” theory, they sat on their own income reality: which was six times on average greater than the group I was in
  4. I put a new plan together: one which combined what the best did and what the best of the competitors did, and yet avoided what the worst performing did.
  5. I measured the results, and split testsed the outcomes: I kept improving the system

About 9months after this, I left the organisation. I had had enough of their brand and system, which had other problems downstream aside from how to gain customers. I had a meeting with the new owner of the franchise (who needed a lesson in diplomacy as well as HR), and got employed within 20miles of my drive back to South Wales.

We still use the same approach system these days in our recruitment business, but now with an 80% success close rate over a three month period. It’s the same approach that helped me develop 5 Steps To Employment, that I explain in Why Do Good Job Seekers Get Rejected?

People employ People

But there is something in the system that I have not told you about: its based on people, and relationships.

What I learnt was that much as though you could learn 80% about the system employed by others successfully, what brought the last 20% of success was treating people like people.

Mass B2C marketing systems rely on demographic and then test data: “20% of people wat to buy flowers, and like the colour red, so we’ll make our flyer red.” Then someone discovered that the printing company had access to who lived at that address from the Post Office (Yes, the Post Office make money from selling your data to thier customers, to give their postman more things to deliver to you), so they then added “Dear Mrs Smith” because that gave them an extra 10% boost to their marketing plan.

However, these systems still have to be pretty generic. For the 20% who like red, another 10% hate it – so they won’t order. Plus, there is a time delay between you moving, and the Post Office telling the printing company that you moved; so Mrs Smith might not live at your address any more.

Just 50 Hiring Managers

But in job application, you are not dealling with 60million people or even 20million households. You are dealing with just 50 employers, and hence 50 hiring managers.

So why rely on the question “eMail or letter” to decide your future?

  • Company websites tell you a lot about an organisation, plus names of key employees
  • Legal filings will tell you whether that company is growing, or hiring
  • The media and Press Releases will tell you what’s on that companies agenda
  • Social Media allows you to get every close to almost anyone on the planet, particularly the hiring manager
  • Asking the right questions in social media, or approaching that organisations employees gets you hired, not just your question answered

In this modern age, there is often too much information out there about the employer company and the hiring manager. So whay not use it?

So, are you still asking just eMail or Letter. Shouldn’t the better question that you should be asking be:

When will I get hired using this method?

Job Application: eMail or letter?

Scott, an account manager asks: When sending out a speculative job application to a company, is it better to send it by email or post? I have identified a few companies I would like to approach and have called a couple of times to speak to the right person but have been unsuccessful in my attempts. I thought it might be a good idea to send out a speculative application to the named candidate by post and then follow it up by phone call or email. Any suggestions?

In Answer:
Let start with the basics:

  1. In these days of social media, no need to go speculative! You should know (a) if the company is growing or contracting, ie hiring or not; (b) the name of the hiring manager or the title of their department before applying
  2. You want a marketing job, right? So your options are far greater than just eMail or letter. Using either would just confirm that you are not a marketing person

It is good that you have identified some companies, but why those companies? As an interviewer, I would expect you to be able to answer that!

Social media should allow you to research almost any company these days, and tell you if they are expanding or not (ie: hiring or not), and get you close enough to the hiring manager. Networking should enable you to do this, and to be able to answer three questions: what makes them successful in business; what’s on their agenda at present; and what they like in their life. Now you have two better options to get the desired job:

  1. How to market to them
  2. An introduction, show casing your marketing and research skills

Plus, you demonstrate your marketing ability in your job application.

If you have to use “eMail or Letter”, then I believe that from a marketing persons perspective that letters still work. Letters are also far easier to target, and a medium in which the communication can be controlled, ie: colour! I used to use a marketing system that targetted CEO’s that used acid-yellow envelopes and a personalised presentation: conversion ration over 3months of 70%+.

In summary: don’t do sepculative, research; target your communciation; make your system of job application part of the demonstration of your (marketing) ability.

Good Luck!

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2 Responses to “Speculative job application: eMail or letter?”

  1. M Hessler Says:

    This is really a great and helpful piece of info, Thank you for sharing.

  2. Dave Bishop Says:

    This is just the information that I was looking for! Thanks.

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