Alternate Strategies for your Job Search

The resume application world has changed a lot in the past 10 years.  The majority of the jobs available these days require you to submit your resume online.  This makes it easy for the applicant because you don’t have to get dressed up and go to the physical location of the business.  This might sound good, but there are some pretty big consequences to this method.

Because applying online is so easy, the marketplace for new hires gets bigger… a lot bigger.  Instead of having a few local people applying for a job, there is now hundreds of people across the country (and even from other countries) applying for the same job.  No more are there “big fish in little ponds”; it’s now a bunch of fish in a huge ocean.  What might have been amazing credentials 10 years ago becomes slightly above average or the norm these days.

Another big disadvantage of the online method is the pure number of applicants and the need to use computers to sort and cut out resumes.  They way the computer does this is mainly through keyword search.  Don’t have a keyword displayed in the job advertisement?  You’re out.  Don’t have certain letters after your name?  You’re out.  Don’t live close enough to the business?  You’re out.  Getting the picture?  This makes it tough; actually this makes it extremely tough to get your resume to be seen by actual human eyes.

So what can you do?  I have recently tried two techniques to try and stand out and to get my resume into a real pair of hands and seen by a real pair of eyes.  I was a little hesitant to share my strategies… why?  Well, I’m still trying to find a job and don’t want competition!  But I figured that it’s tough for you as well, I’m in your shoes and know how frustrating it is, and so, I wanted to share.

The first method is direct mail.  This does not work for advertised jobs.  Online jobs usually specifically state that you must apply online.  By not applying online you are disrespecting their system and in a way, showing that you don’t like to follow the rules.  This may be okay for some employers, but the majority will not like it.

Instead, I created an open letter to the company which I hand delivered. I targeted 9 banks in my surrounding area and found out who the branch managers were.  This is harder thank you think.  I started searching online, but that info is hard to find and information can be out of date; imagine addressing the letter to a wrong name?  A big no-no.  What I did was call each bank.  I was usually redirected to a call centre, but was still able to get the information I needed.

After I received the names of the branch managers, I made a customized letter for them.  I outlined why I would like to work there, my education and training, the skills I believe they would desire, examples of those skills, and what makes me a good fit for their company.  I also included a resume targeted towards that specific company.

One thing that I think is critical is that you make the letter open and make sure you don’t come across as being entitled to a certain position.  Because I was applying to banks, I explained how I believe in earning my way through the company (which I do) and would be pleased to start at an entry level position or customer service representative position to get a solid understanding of the foundation of the company.  I know that if I can get an entry level position and I work hard enough, I will be able to progress within the company.  So I advise not to apply to mid to upper-level positions when using the open letter technique.

It has only been a few days since I have dropped off the letters so I can’t detail on how well it has gone.  But, so far I have received one email from a manager.  The manager asked me to apply online, which I felt might happen.  What I did was email the manager back and described why I was sending the direct mail application.  I ensured the manager that I have applied online (remember, don’t break the rules!) but wanted to provide a physical copy if an urgent need to fill a position occurred.  I also received a call from a bank manager but was out doing errands at the time.  I called back, but the manager was out, so I left a message detailing who I was, when they could get a hold of me, and my contact info.

The other method I tried was searching in small community news papers.  This technique does not work if you want to live in a big city.  I can guarantee that the position will get 40+ applicants.  This method can be effective if you are willing to live in a rural community (and you should be willing because the job market is quite tough at the moment).  These rural communities have some of the quality professional jobs found in the city, but with less competition.  There may not be the exact job you are looking for in the community, but there could be good quality jobs that are close.

An example is a position I applied to in Sioux Lookout, Ontario.  If you’re not sure where Sioux Lookout is, go to Thunder Bay, Ontario and keep heading north for 4 and a half hours.  It is rural to say the least.  But, there was a financial analyst position with the Hospital Health Care Unit there.  That’s a great job!  That’s a job that people would be fighting for in a big city.  Where I had the advantage was that the advertisement in the paper had a competition number.  This meant that anyone who had this number on their resume would be looked at first.  If no one is chosen at this stage, then the position is posted nationally.  That’s a huge advantage.  You just made your job search “local”.

Most community newspapers are available online these days.  This is where the work comes in (I didn’t say it was an easier method).  You need to develop your own database of rural communities and their respective local papers.  Then you need to start regularly checking the paper.  You can probably get away with checking once every week or two weeks because most rural newspapers are only printed once a week.

So those are my two new strategies I developed and will be continuing to try and use.  Give it a try and let me know if it works out for you!

Thanks for reading and good luck out there!

As always, share what you think by commenting below!

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