There is no doubt that social media, Web, and mobile technologies are the weapons of choice for the modern job seeker. These modern-day, technology-based job search techniques have now flooded the market. While they were once the bleeding edge, these approaches may now border on the mundane and run-of-the-mill, simply because everyone is now using them. I mean, how much ingenuity does it really take to make a LinkedIn connection, search a job board, or tweet a hiring manager? None at all — it takes a herd mentality, to put in bluntly.
If you really want to be innovative and separate yourself from the flock in today’s market, you might need to go back in time and try out some long-forgotten retro techniques. By going against the grain, you may stand out from the crowd in a way you can’t using modern technology-based job search methods.
Therefore, I thought I’d trawl back through the archives and highlight four retro job hunt tactics that may have come full circle: old school could be the new bleeding edge.
1. The Hand-Delivered Application
In the old days, candidates would simply walk into offices and leave their resumes at reception. When snail-mail job applications went out of fashion, they took hand-delivered applications down with them, but that’s a shame.
Now, I believe that there are just a few hiring managers out there who wouldn’t raise their eyebrows at a hand-delivered, personally addressed, individually tailored application. It shows effort (you may want to also email an application to meet application requirements and show your technological savvy). If this was backed up by a relevant, high-quality application, it could distinguish you. It takes some research to do this well — e.g., getting past security, finding the named contact, and simply making sure the letter gets to the right person.
Also, make sure to write ‘delivered by hand’ on the envelope, so the recipient understands you’ve made that little bit of extra effort.
2. Face-to-Face Networking
While not as influential as they once were, studies such as this one from CareerXRoads show that employee referrals are still the most effective way to get a job. To be innovative here, don’t just do social networking — every one does that. Try out some old-fashioned face-to-face networking, which many of us are less keen to do today, preferring to hide behind computer screens.
By all means, use technology to locate specific hiring managers, but use it to find out where they hang out in a business-social sense (not personal, as I am not condoning stalking), and attend those events. Find those individuals and meet, greet, and impress them before handing them your calling card, getting their contact details, and following up 24-48 hours later with a call to action.
3. Warm Calling
Cold calling should perhaps be consigned to the graveyard, and we should replace it with warm calling. Few people cold call for a job opportunity, and even fewer warm call, making this a truly innovative technique. You’d ideally call a contact after some previous correspondence with them — for example, a hand delivered letter or a recent face-to-face meeting — to make it a true warm call. Warm calling means researching your target closely to understand their interests, movements, habits, and personal drivers, and then putting in a short call to them, where the words you say are designed to push their specific buttons, increasing your chance of being listened to.
4. Follow-Up Letter
This Accountemps study shows that 91 percent of employers like being thanked by promising candidates after the interview. It seems that good manners never go out of fashion. Following up can help the interviewer remember you, and it can cement your application.
Now, a handwritten thank-you note may be too retro, as only 38 percent of HR managers think it appropriate, but it will set you apart from the crowd: only 13 percent of candidates use this approach. Eighty-one percent of HR managers think that a phone call is an appropriate way to follow up, so this is probably the retro approach of choice.
I’d like to hear of any other long-lost, retro job search techniques that have gone full circle, only to become innovative again.