Obtaining A Job Interview

There are many ways to obtain a job interview, but some are more effective than others.

1. Private Or Unadvertised Openings

About three out of four management hires, including those handled by search firms, take place through private or unadvertised openings (openings unknown to the public). These openings are the most confidential and difficult to find, but have the greatest potential for job flexibility and exceptional compensation.

Even when there are no current opportunities available, an employer can often create a job opening when the right candidate comes along. You need “to come along” before the job opening becomes public. That’s where networking comes in. A recommendation from an influential referral fosters immediate trust and respect from a potential employer, and can provide you treatment as a choice candidate.

Private Networking
In your Rolodex or contact manager, research your list of key contacts. Also look through your industry’s association membership directory. In many cases, your close friends and business associates will be the best sources for job leads and referrals. They are also most likely to respect your confidentiality and offer their genuine help. In addition, they may even be able to refer you to a recruiter or other employment resources.

Direct Solicitation
Another good way to obtain a job interview is to directly solicit employers of choice. Research the industry and identify six to ten primary targets for your search.

Within these target firms, identify the direct hiring authority (immediate supervisor of the position you seek) and contact him/her directly. Try to obtain a personal meeting by stating your employment interest. Another approach is to find out where the supervisor frequents such as an industry trade association, or other facility, that would foster a chance meeting. Of course, the least effective and most risky means to contact the supervisor is through the mail. However, if you intend to send something through the mail, use express mail in order to get the proper attention. A direct solicitation risks exposure and may not be the best approach if you are concerned with confidentiality. Even if you ask the employer to respect your privacy, you are still vulnerable.

Executive Recruiters
For private or public openings, executive recruiters are experts in penetrating their specialized industry and locating reputable companies with attractive opportunities. Recruiters can introduce you to well-tailored job opportunities with little or no effort on your part. They will keep it confidential. To locate a recruiter in your specialty, try to get a referral from a colleague, a local trade association, or your competitor’s Human Resources department. A couple of other good sources are Kennedy Publication’s Directory of Executive Recruiters , or the Recruiter’s Online Network at www.recruitersonline.com

Be sure to find an executive recruiter who highly recommended for his or her professionalism, performance, and ethics. From the start, emphasize to your recruiter that your name and credentials must remain anonymous to potential employers unless you authorize release. Ask recruiters to contact you only at home, or in your private office, and only with opportunities that fit your career plan. Good executive recruiters can work within these requirements and may even arrange interviews without submitting your resume.

Like any brokers, recruiters work hardest for candidates who can help them close a sale. Such candidates have a marketable background, are clear on what they want, and are likely to accept a fair offer (usually a 10 to 15% salary increase). Unwillingness to job move immediately, or an unwillingness to accept a fair offer, will discourage recruiters from working with you.

Remember that recruiters work for client companies, so you may need to wait for the right opportunity. Make sure you get to know two or three pros, and stick with them.

2. Public Openings

Classified or Help Wanted Ads
Advertised openings are generally the least effective way to obtain a job interview. For employers, using ads is inefficient, expensive and time-consuming usually a last resort. So when you come to an employer’s attention by this route, you are associated with an unpleasant process and with a horde of candidates that the company must wade through.

Sending a resume is simply not effective. An early 1990’s survey from The Department of Labor reported that only 5 out of 100 American jobholders obtained their positions through newspaper want ads. Other surveys indicate that the figure is closer to 2 out of 100. Most resume readers take less than 5 seconds per resume to decide if the resume gets looked over or pushed to the rejection pile.

Responding to ads also risks your reputation and confidentiality. Your resume may fall into the hands of junior-level administrators, or it gets entered into corporate data banks (perused by anyone who has access to the Human Resources files). This scenario is unlikely to lead to an appropriate offer.

If you do elect to market yourself through advertised openings, check out each opportunity via your network before contacting the company. Try to find out why the opening was not filled privately, how long the search has gone on, and what problems have affected the firm and the incumbent who held the position.

In pursuing an advertised opening, you can improve your chances by writing an effective cover letter and by responding to the ad within the first four days. Try to send a resume only after speaking to the hiring authority and concluding that both parties believe you are the “right” candidate. Interview only with an authority able to offer you a job. Bypassing those who have been assigned the rudimentary task of advertising and screening for the position (usually the Human Resources Department, office managers, assistants, or secretaries) greatly improves your odds of getting an interview. Good sources for advertised positions are trade journals and magazines, local newspapers, and the National Business Employment Weekly.

Internet Classified Ads
Internet ads are generally no more effective than printed ads when it comes to getting an interview. However, they usually are more abundant and easier to find. In order to increase the odds of success, focus your search by locating job databases that specialize in your specific industry.

The article above was written by construction recruiter Frederick Hornberger, CPC, president of Hornberger Management Company in Wilmington, Delaware (www.hmc.com), a construction recruiter specializing in senior level, executive search.