Unfortunately, this process is one of the least effective ways to achieve momentum in the job search, says Richard Deems, Ph.D., co-author of "Make Job Loss Work for You."
Instead, he encourages individuals to work through his five-step Deems JobGetting SkillsTM System to ensure their job hunting progresses into job getting.
"This system takes an entirely different approach from what job seekers may have been taught in the past," Deems says. "It starts with a simple difference: Before applying for a position, job seekers should find out as much as they can about the position to see if they're interested in doing what needs to be done. Of course, people who do this won't apply for as many positions as does the typical job hunter. But then, why should they waste time and energy on something they don't really want in the first place?"
Below are the five steps Deems says job seekers must take to achieve success, no matter what level position, occupation or industry they are targeting.
Step one: Research the position
"When you hear of a position that interests you, contact the person who has the authority to hire you," Deems says. "That's really the only person you want to get in front of. You tell that person that you understand he or she may have a position open, and if so, you'd like to talk about their needs in detail."
If the job ad fails to name the appropriate person to reach out to, job seekers can call the company directly, look at the company's Web site or browse articles and blog posts on the Internet about the employer.
Deems says job seekers' goals in this step should be to:
· Get their name to the decision maker.
· Learn more about the position than other candidates will know.
· Decide whether this is a position they want to pursue.
Step two: Research the organization
Before they apply for a position, job seekers should know a great deal of information, including the organization's history, products or services, past mergers or acquisitions, locations, environment and key leaders.
To gather this information, Deems suggests that job seekers:
· Ask the decision maker to send them a copy of the annual report or other pertinent material about the company (if it's not available online).
· Use the Internet to research the organization. Visit Web sites such as the company's press room, investor relations links and blogs.
· Use their network (both offline and online) to find someone already in the company. Ask that person what he thinks of the company -- pros and cons.
Step three: Evaluate your strengths and interests
"After you've explored the position and the company, you need to stop, evaluate and make a decision," Deems says. "Does the job call for what you do best and most enjoy doing? Will the workplace environment enable you to be your best? Do you want the job or not? One way to evaluate the position is to chart it out, listing your criteria for selecting the position and how this opportunity fits your criteria."
Step four: Design your positioning strategy
Next, job seekers should contact the key decision maker in the hiring process and let that individual know they want to be considered the top candidate. Then, job seekers should ask what they need to do to make that happen.
Often, the decision maker will simply ask to see the job seeker's résumé, but job seekers can do more to ensure they stand out from other candidates, Deems says.
"Your positioning plan needs to go beyond the résumé. You need to do things that will keep your name in front of the decision maker, even as that person is reviewing other résumés. To do this, you might need to follow up on your résumé, ask someone in your network to make a call on your behalf and so on. Also, take time to write down what steps you need to take," he explains.
Step five: Implement
Deems says job seekers should do three things when they're ready to implement their positioning plan. They are:
· Assemble your application package according to the instructions of the person who has the authority to hire you.
· Deliver your package in person, if possible. If you cannot deliver your application in person, send it via e-mail or regular mail -- or both.
· Follow up. Wait two or three days for the employer to receive your application package; then call to ensure it was received. At that time, have questions prepared to ask the hiring contact and also try to arrange a time to sit down and talk with him or her in person.
Some of these steps may intimidate job seekers at first, but it's a proactive and effective way to achieve results in the job hunt. "The candidates who are out on the streets meeting and talking with people are the ones who maintain their energy and confidence," Deems says. "Those who sit back at home and merely mail out their résumés are often those who get discouraged. Sure, they'll eventually get hired. But the process is likely to drag on much longer than it needs to, and the position may be less satisfying than it could be."