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Top 5 Bad Strategies for Starting a Job Search

January 15, 2013
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I have seen lots of really bad outreach messages over the years, but the ones that really stick with me are when a  candidates are attempting to build a relationship with our firm and decide to take, well...  let’s just say 'a different approach'. Using any of the following strategies will guarantee your chance of making that all-so-important good first impression is usually dead on arrival. In no particular order, these are some of my favorites:

Dear 'Undisclosed Recipients'- A huge shout-out to those job-seekers who think they will get anyone's attention with this (very) bad tactic. It actually takes the least amount of effort to accomplish and just screams that your efforts were “quick and dirty” . Clearly you prefer to use a shotgun approach instead of one more precision-focused to help you find your next gig. DELETE button, please…

 iPhone Teaser Message– A tactic truly blows me away, this (really) bad plan does not include much thought at all. It’s a simple message that goes something like this -  “I am a very knowledgeable healthcare CIO with multiple advanced degrees who  may be interested in a new opportunity. I prefer the eastern shore but would consider the SE." Really?! This took no effort, had no resume attached and was probably sent while this future candidate was killing time at a red light. The best part is usually the arrogant signature:

Sam Smart, PhD, MBA, MHA

Sent from my iPhone

Excuse all typos

(C’mon… Do you really think I am going to call you?)

Spelling and Grammar– Basic, right? Some really smart people elect not to press the little Spelling and Grammar icon  (you know the one I’m talking about), which I just can't understand. They say first impressions are everything  – maybe for some but not for all. Of course, when I read an e-mail or a letter riddled with spelling errors I immediately disengage. I will click the delete button in a nanosecond! Every time!

No Industry Expertise– And I mean NONE. Dear Sir: (ok, it even starts out bad) I have extensive expertise in the automotive retail marketplace…. OK -Why, may I ask, are you sending me this note? No planning went into this strategy. Candidates should create a list of people who specialize in their market niche, and not waste their time or the time of the recipient of their poorly thought-out plan to just arbitrarily send correspondence to a search consultant with no knowledge of the industry they specialize in. Just bad. Really bad.

No Resume – It is embarrassing to read (usually poorly written) e-mails from candidates who attempt to convey their career success in a one or two paragraph e-mail. If you want to get someone’s attention this is (again) a very bad plan. Not sending a resume (generally speaking) will not even count as a base hit. And forget about rounding 2nd. Unless you are really famous this one never works.           

First impressions really do matter and in any initial outreach to engage in finding a new home you must put forth a little more effort. Just a little.