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You may view your potential job market in terms of two broad categories -- published openings and non-published positions. Published openings are jobs that exist ‘officially’ and may have appeared in a newspaper or on the Internet, and have often been posted with an executive recruiting firm.  Non-published positions, also referred to as the hidden job market, represents a substantial portion of the executive employment market.  These are positions where companies may have recognized specific needs, but those needs have not yet developed into official openings. These hidden jobs may exist for a number of reasons. For example:

•  Business growth is creating the need for a new leadership position.

•  An incumbent is not meeting standards and termination has become a realistic possibility.

•  It is known that an individual will be resigning or retiring in the near future.

•  Investors or owners have decided to clean house and bring in a new operating team.

Finding these hidden openings requires hard work.  This does not mean, of course, that you should rush out and contact 50 companies in the first week of your job search (unless you are unemployed).  You need to develop a balanced strategy that allows you to pursue a number of different channels at the same time, rather than focusing on only one avenue at the exclusion of all others.  The most common channels include newspaper ads, networking, executive recruiters, venture capitalists, direct mail and the Internet.

An Aggressive Marketing Strategy Will Help You to Achieve Success
If your job search is to achieve any degree of success, an aggressive marketing strategy is an absolute necessity.  This means considering the mix of job hunting channels and deciding how you will use each one to attack the job market.  It means spending some time and identifying the names of all the companies, executive recruiters and venture capitalists you wish to contact.  It also means establishing a daily planner outlining how you will use your time to best advantage.  Job searches work best when you follow a fixed routine day-after-day, week-after-week.

The process of marketing yourself includes four primary activities:

      1.   Networking  -  Of all the job hunting methods and techniques available, networking is absolutely the most effective way to find a new position.  In fact, nearly half of all executive hires are the result of the networking process.  This means that an equal amount of your job hunting time and effort should be dedicated to pursuing your contacts and following up on the leads that are generated.

The referrals you receive from your initial list of contacts will become bridging contacts to other leads, and so on.  If you are able to get each individual you meet to give you the names of two or three additional contacts, your personal network will continue to grow throughout your entire job-search process.  By creating this geometric progression, you will discover opportunities that most other people have no idea exist.  This is what networking is all about.

  1.    Mailing Campaigns  -  An effective mailing campaign requires that you identify the names and addresses of the employers you wish to contact.  During the course of your campaign you are going to find opportunities with many other companies not reflected on your initial list, but you must decide which employers will get your immediate attention.

You should start the process by defining your search criteria.  This includes factors such as your preferred geographic location, types of industries you wish to contact, and organizational size as stated in annual sales.  It is then possible to select only those firms that meet your exact parameters.  Your materials should always be addressed by name to a key decision maker (President, Senior Vice President, Principal, etc.), as well as any other individuals in the company who might have a positive impact on your potential candidacy.  Be selective, of course, and don’t send your credentials to just anyone.

      3.   Executive Recruiters and Venture Capitalists  -  You may elect to contact a limited number of executive recruiters and venture capitalists, or conduct a broad-based marketing campaign.  If you are searching for a position in a smaller geographic area, such as in a single city, it is wiser to contact only two or three of the better executive recruiters and venture capitalists focusing on your particular area of expertise or industry.  If you are conducting a search over a broader geographic area, such as in several states or nationwide, you should always contact a large number of firms.

When working with a limited number of recruiters or VCs, try to obtain from associates the name of a principal or partner in each firm you wish to contact.  In other words, treat it in much the same manner as you would any other networking contact.  Lacking such referrals, identify the firms you wish to contact, including the name of a principal or partner within each firm, and send them a copy of your credentials. Follow up with a phone call, and if distance permits, attempt to get a personal meeting.  Conversely, if you are conducting a broad-based marketing campaign, identify every executive recruiter or venture capitalist firm specializing in your function or industry and mail them an electronic copy of your credentials. Obviously, this could amount to many thousands of firms on a national scale.

      4.   Advertisements  -  Answering advertisements, whether found in a newspaper, on the Internet, or on individual company web sites, should be part of your strategy.  However, since a single ad can generate many thousands of replies, it is not wise to use this source as your primary source of leads.  Realistically, you are going to find it difficult to secure enough interviews to generate a legitimate job offer (even with an outstanding resume).

Employers rarely find people who meet all the criteria they specify in advertisements, so never restrict your replies to those ads which sound like they were written just for you.  If you meet at least 60% to 70% of an employer’s requirements, it is worth responding.  Just make sure you customize your letter and resume so that it targets the employer’s specific requirements.  Granted this is more time consuming, but your success will be in proportion to your ability to understand the employer’s needs and adapt.

Once you have planned your campaign, it may prove helpful to discuss your ideas and strategies with a trusted business associate.  This does not mean you should accept the other person’s views as yours, but a different outlook may prove useful.  Just remember, even the best resume will not be very effective if enough of the right decision makers never see it.

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