How to market your CV and approach prospective employers directly
According to research conducted by jobs.co.za, over 14% of employees acquired their last positions through targeting a
company directly. If you're searching for that perfect next step in your career, marketing your CV directly to potential employers will significantly
increase your chances of success and should therefore be included in your job hunting strategy.
For many, this will fall outside of your comfort zone, so we have put some steps in place to assist you. A Career Coaching session with us will also help to allay those fears and make you feel more confident about taking that step into the unknown!
Thoroughly research potential target companies
- Conduct research to determine which industries you want to target
- Identify companies within those industries which are of interest to you. It is important to consider their reputation, the quality of products or services, the size of the company, whether they appear to invest in their employees and whether they're likely to have suitable positions and opportunities for progression.
- Compile a list of companies you would like to approach.
- Speak to anyone you know who works or has worked for these companies. Find out what they were like as an employer and if they're no longer there, why they left.
Determine whether your target companies are recruiting
- Almost every company has invested in an informative website - so this is a good place to start. Many will have a careers section or even a job board enabling you to search for positions and apply online.
- Have a look to see whether the company has a LinkedIn or Facebook company page, as this might give an indication of whether they are recruiting.
- Do a Google search. Search on the company name and words such as "careers", "jobs", "employment" and "vacancies" or search for specific job titles that would be appropriate to you. This might also bring up general articles or press releases associated with employment, human resources and learning and development within these organisations.
- If you know of anyone who works for any of these companies on your list, speak with them and find out whether they know of any recruitment plans.
Find out who the most appropriate contact person would be to approach
- Ideally, you should find the name of the relevant department / business unit manager as they will have more interest in your background and how you could be beneficial to their team. If you don't have any luck with this, your next best bet would be the HR Manager or Recruitment Manager.
- If you know anyone who has worked / is working for the target company, they should be your first port of call. Ensure that the contact name they give you is current and if they are unsure, check!
- Research the internet as a relevant contact name might be published on the company website or elsewhere. Again, you will need to check with the company that this is up to date.
- Call the main reception number explaining that you would like to send your CV and find out who the most appropriate contact person in the department would be to send your CV to.
Approach your target companies
- Once you have thoroughly researched the target company and identified a contact to approach, you need to prepare for making the approach.
- Your first step would be to pick up the phone. This is where some of you will be taking a gulp and with an increased heart rate, you decide to take the easy way out and send your CV to the contact without speaking to them. This step is what will set those braver job seekers apart and give them a distinct advantage. All your hard work up until now, could be wasted. Provided you have done your homework, know what you're going to say to your contact and SMILE, you have nothing to lose, but potentially everything to gain. When speaking with someone directly, they might give you valuable insight into where you might fit in, future recruitment plans, departmental changes or another contact worth pursuing. They're also much more likely to remember you when they receive your CV and if something comes up in the future. They could open up doors for you that would never had been opened had you not made that call. If your contact sounds busy or harassed, arrange for a more convenient time for you to call them back for a quick chat.
- Once your contact has shown an interest in seeing your CV, find out has much as you can about what information they require and if there is a formal vacancy, find out as much as you can about the role and ask whether they have a job description available.
Submit your CV
- Once you have identified a relevant position or the company has expressed an interest in receiving your CV, you will need to ensure that you have a professional and up to date CV to send to them.
- Ensure that you tailor your CV for each position or company to ensure that your most relevant experience will stand out to a prospective employer.
- If the company has given instructions relating to submitting your CV, make sure that you follow these exactly and provide them with all the information requested.
- Don't delay! To make the greatest impact, send your CV as quickly as possible whilst your contact's memory of your telephone conversation is still fresh in his / her mind.
Follow up your CV submission
- The trick is to ensure that the recruiting manager has not forgotton about you, but equally not to harass them when they're really busy. Ask them to give you an indication of when you can expect to hear back from them.
- Make a note of every company targeted and CV submitted and any conversations you've had. Keep these to hand in case you get a call back and can't remember everything about your last conversation.
- Don't stop if you've had some positive feedback and / or a promise of an interview or even a job offer.
- Don't stop of you're feeling despondent. Keep your chin up and keep smiling when you pick up that phone.
- Keep going until you have accepted a job offer that you are happy with. This will increase your chances of achieving multiple interviews and consequently multiple job offers.
Author: Nike Wadds, Stand Tall Consulting