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Resume-300x200Sitting at my desk I looked down and let out a low sigh. Staring back at me was a large pile of envelopes. Each one from a person wanting the opening for an accountant. Several weeks earlier I had written the description, the scope of work and set a salary range. It had seemed like a fair amount of work at the time. But in reality it was nothing like the work represented by the stack of envelopes carefully piled on my desk. My secretary looked at me and said, “how are you going to select someone from all those”. It was a good question and one that I considered many times after that time in 1988. The process taught me lessons that can be used by any job seeker.

You see, like you I had always looked for a job by seaching the want ads, or what in today’s world is represented by websites like For the life of me, looking back now, I don’t know why I didn’t look at it from the employers point of view. That pile of envelope,s and dozens more that would arrive over the course of the week, gave me a new perspective. A perspective that I would like to share.

Here is a secret; employers hate the hiring process. It is fraught with challenges and risks. Often the best person is not the one hired. In most cases the person who seems like the safest choice is hired. There are so many things that can go wrong both before and after hiring. The truth is that human resources staff are not so much interested in getting the best person. They are interested in getting someone competent with a low risk factor.

Everyone who has been in charge of hiring people has been burned at least once. When we finally bring in someone who is a reliable, hardworking dependable contributor it can feel like you have won the lottery.

Here is another secret. Most job openings are not advertised. You can, and should, take advantage of that. What follows is a method that will greatly enhance your chances of getting an interview at a place you want to work. Before moving the the details here are some things to keep consider.

1. Most jobs opening are not advertised. If you show up at the right time you have a great chance of getting an interview.
2. Employers dread wading through resumes and cover letters almost as much as you hate writing them.
3. It’s not all that hard to distinguish yourself with a little extra work.

Dan Miller wrote the book 48 Days to the Work You Love. It is a book worth reading and I wouldn’t discourage you. But it isn’t really necessary if you will just follow the simple three step process he gives away for free. You will find a link end of this blog post.

When my daughter was preparing to complete here service with the Marines she wanted to find a short term job for the few months between her separation and the start of college. She decided she would like to work with animals. She followed Dan Miller’s process and heard back from almost everyone she applied with. Even some who had no job openings but wanted to let her know to keep in touch in the future.

What follows is the simple summary but you need to read Dan Miller’s attachment to fully understand why his process is so successful.

1. Identify 30-40 target companies that you would like to work for.
2. Send a letter of introduction to each company. Address the cover letter to a specific person. DON’T send it to the Personnel Department or to the HR department. Do your best to find out the name of the person you would work for. Receptionist are almost always willing to help identify an appropriate contact. This alone will get you noticed. Busy people are swamped with dozens, often hundreds of emails every day. Many never get read, especially unsolicited ones Not so with with a personal letter. Chances are very high it will get read and it will be remembered because it is so rare. In the process you will have just built some valuable name recognition.
3. Send a cover letter and resume one week later. Just like you said you would in the first letter. This is impressive because it will show you do what you said you would do.
4. Follow up the second letter with a phone call. This is so important. Dan says that his experience is that only 1-2% of job hunters do this. This matches with my experience in years past. It makes an impact. The letters prepare your contact to expect to hear from you.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you are unemployed. Anxiety and even depression arrive in waves that can easily overwhelm you. If you will follow Dan’s method it will help you battle these issues. Rather than throwing you raffle ticket – resume – into a bin with hundreds of others you will be taking back control of the process. This includes identifying the specific companies that interest you, even if they are not advertising openings, to presenting yourself as a person and not just a resume. This whole process is designed to get you an interview. So make sure you interview skills are up to date as well.

Click here for Dan Miller’s step by step Job search process