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Mailing your executive resume in response to classified advertisements should be part of your overall job-search strategy, although less than 6% of all executive-level positions are filled in this manner. The biggest problem with answering ads is the fact that you are going head-to-head with so much competition that it becomes extremely difficult to secure enough interviews to generate a legitimate job offer. This is understandable when you consider that a single display ad in the national edition of The Wall Street Journal can generate several thousand replies, while a display ad in the Sunday edition of a city newspaper can easily produce hundreds of responses.

Read the Employer's Requirements Carefully
Nearly all classified ads identify the most important qualifications and skills required for the position, although many people fail to use this information to their advantage. Instead of focusing on the specific requirements advertised, they continue to use their existing executive resumes containing qualifications and accomplishments that may be of little interest to the prospective employer. A savvy job hunter understands the need to target an executive resume to the employer’s specific requirements, since success tends to be in proportion to the candidate’s ability to understand the employer’s needs and adapt accordingly.

Always pay attention to the order in which the job requirements appear in the ad, as it is usually a good indicator of their relative importance. Also, be sure to note keywords or phrases such as “must have” or, “prefer” or, “highly desirable” or, “preferred but not mandatory,” as they help provide strong clues about the importance an employer attaches to certain qualifications. But never restrict your replies to just those ads that sound like they were written specifically for you. If you meet at least 60% to 70% of an employer’s requirements, it is worth responding.

Consider the Timing of Your Response
Before dropping your credentials in the mailbox, consider the timing of your response. For example, an ad in the Sunday edition of a city newspaper that generates 300 replies would have a response pattern similar to the following schedule (assuming the company is not using a blind ad):

Monday . . . . . . . 5 executive resumes received

Tuesday . . . . . . 50 executive resumes received

Wednesday . . . 110 executive resumes received

Thursday . . . . . 60 executive resumes received

Friday . . . . . . . 25 executive resumes received

Later . . . . . . . . 50 executive resumes received








(NOTE: In a blind ad the company does not reveal its identity or address. Instead, the employer will use a post office box, a newspaper box, or a third party address to hide the advertisement from its current employees and help prevent unsolicited telephone calls.)

Be Aggressive Without Being Annoying
Most advertisements will specify that you should send your credentials to Human Resources, although the above schedule clearly shows that an executive resume arriving within the first week has a good chance of being lost in the competitive shuffle. However, contrary to the employer’s instructions, your immediate goal is to make contact with the hiring executive and not Human Resources. Assuming you are not responding to a blind ad, call the company and request the name, title and address of the key decision maker who you feel will be responsible for making the hiring decision. In other words, your future boss. Of course, if you’re in doubt as to the exact title of the person you should contact, get the name of the President.

If quizzed about the reason for your request when you call the company, simply indicate that you are sending a letter to the executive on a personal matter and need the exact name, title and address to properly address your correspondence. Once you receive the appropriate information, promptly send your executive resume directly to the hiring executive indicating your interest in the position described in the ad. While your competition will be sending their executive resumes to Human Resources as instructed, your credentials should arrive alone on the hiring executive’s desk.

Obviously, your next step is to also send a copy of your executive resume to Human Resources as instructed in the ad, although you should wait for at least one full week before dropping your credentials in the mail. While some executives get concerned about waiting for a week before responding to an ad, there is really nothing to worry about. Nearly all companies go through a lengthy multi-level screening and interviewing process when hiring a senior-level executive, and it can easily take 8 to 10 weeks before a hiring decision is made. At this point you have contacted both the hiring executive and Human Resources, although you are still not done.

Be Prepared to Repeat the Entire Process
If you don’t get a response from the company, do not simply write it off. Wait for about 2 weeks after each of your first two mailings, and then repeat the exact same process. That is, resend your executive resume to both the hiring executive and Human Resources approximately 14 days after the dates of your first mailings, indicating your continued interest in the position and desire for a personal interview. This now makes a total of two mailings to the hiring executive and two mailings to Human Resources, versus your competition’s single mailing to Human Resources.

When sending your second set of mailings, be sure to prepare different cover letters than used for your first mailings. In order to clearly demonstrate your on-going interest in the position, use an opening paragraph similar to the following: “Several weeks ago I sent you my executive resume to express an interest in a position as (Chief Financial Officer, Vice President of Operations, Vice President of Sales, etc.) with (specify the name of the company you are writing). Since I have not heard from you, I would like to take this opportunity to express my continued interest since I believe there may be an excellent fit for my qualifications.” The remainder of both cover letters should then be rewritten so that they are completely different than the first two letters you mailed.

Keep the Ad With Copies of the Executive Resume and Cover Letters You Used
Always attach the ad to duplicate copies of the executive resume and cover letters that you mailed to the employer. To ensure easy and rapid access, file it alphabetically by company name in a portable filing box and keep it near the telephone in case the employer calls you for an unexpected telephone interview. In this way you can quickly retrieve your copies in order to refresh your memory as to what you wrote. (NOTE: If the employer used a blind ad, file your copies under “U” for unknown, and then ask the caller some pointed questions about the wording of the ad so you can find the appropriate materials in your file box.)

By following the process described above, you can easily double or triple your response rate as opposed to sending a single executive resume to Human Resources. The truly successful job hunter is proactive and aggressively attacks the market with vigor and creativity. Your job is to convince the hiring executive that you are the best person for the job, and a single response to a newspaper advertisement sent to Human Resources is not likely to achieve the level of success you desire.

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