If you're in a hurry—and most job-hunters and career changers are—you'll make the best time if you do things in exactly this order:
  1. Make sure your telephone is always answered. Get a telephone answering machine (about $50-$100), use an answering service, or subscribe to an electronic voice mailbox (about $20 per month). Some voice mail services give you a new phone number which you can use on letters and resumes as your "office" number, if you're unemployed. Put a businesslike message on your recorder or voice mailbox (no cute messages featuring your kids).

    If you're based at home, you might want to add a second line for business calls. If your home office line doubles as a FAX line, indicate that on your stationery and correspondence. And include your e-mail address on your resumes and letterhead.

  2. Get letterhead, envelopes, and business cards printed on white or off-white paper. No "parchment." Five hundred of each should be plenty. Use an executive-looking type style, like a lawyer might have—nothing fancy, and no large computer fonts.

    Vistaprint is the premier provider of high-quality yet inexpensive business cards, envelopes and letterhead. Get 250 premium quality, color business cards FREE! Order today!

  3. Get set up with a secretarial service, or with your own word processor. Don't try to type correspondence on your dad's old Underwood, unless that's your only choice. Don't do your own letters, unless you're a good typist. Even then, make only six to twelve originals. (Don't force your spouse/partner to type for you, either, unless he or she really loves the idea.)

    If you can afford it, use a secretarial service for mailings of 12 or more pieces. This is cheap compared to the value of your time. Your time is better spent on the telephone or in face-to-face meetings.

  4. Read the section in this collection called "The most important letter you will ever write,". Take great pains remembering the names of everyone you've met, and adding them to your contact list.

  5. Send a "friendship letter" to close personal friends, and include a resume. (Since 75% of all good jobs come from friends—or friends of friends—this is the single most important strategy you can follow.) Jonathan Greenberg's "friendship letter" is superb, and you might want to review it. It is the first letter in Section 5, Letters to Friends.

  6. Call your friends after they've had a chance to review your letter. Ask them if they got it and what they think of it.

    You'll be amazed at how many will say, "I've been meaning to call you, but didn't quite get around to it." You'll also be amazed at how many acquaintances are actually glad to hear your voice.

    Begin to set face-to-face informational meetings with anyone who seems interested or especially helpful. Follow up on every lead you get, no matter how "silly." Don't prejudge what others will say before you call them.

  7. Write a series of tailored "friendship letters" to the most powerful and influential people you know: your banker, your stockbroker, your former employers, your spouse's friends, and so on. If you browse Section 5, you'll see examples of these kinds of letters.

  8. Contact search firms, also known as recruiters and headhunters. (Read the introduction and sample letters in Section 6.) Use Kennedy Information's Executive Agent to broadcast your letter and resume to recruiters locally, regionally, or nationally.

  9. Write to members of your professional association(s) or organization(s). (See the last four letters in Section 5.)

  10. Develop a generic letter and begin to answer want ads or online job postings. Customize the letter for important positions, but only devote 5 percent of your effort to answering want ads or online job postings—not 95 percent, as is all too common. (Read the introduction and sample letters in Section 7.)

  11. Select a mailing list and write a high-powered sales/marketing letter. Mail 50-100 pieces as a test with no resume included. Mail on Mondays, telephone two days after the letter is received. Record your results, then adjust the letter and the list and mail again if necessary. (Read the introductions and sample letters in Sections 9 and 10.)

  12. Send a thank-you letter after every marketing contact, social occasion, telephone call, and personal visit—no matter how insignificant. Job-hunting is a public relations campaign, and you're trying to build good will. (Read the introduction and sample letters in Section 13.)

  13. Look through this collection to find clever ways to introduce yourself to companies, and begin some one-shot, highly targeted mailings. Follow as many letters as possible with phone calls.

  14. Once calls start coming in, keep meticulous records to be certain nothing falls through the cracks. Review your records every few days to be sure you haven't missed anything. My favorite source for calendars, organizers, and leather portfolios is FranklinCovey. Give them a try.

  15. Continually reprioritize and devote time to only the most important people. As management expert Peter Drucker says, "Do first things first, and second things not at all."

  16. Spend as much time as you can talking on the phone or visiting with others. Letters are useful, but it's not wise to try to conduct an entire job-search through the mail. Real opportunities come in face-to-face meetings, because as theologian Martin Buber said, "All real living is meeting."


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