How The Personal Touch Can Get You Hired

  • Article by: KEVIN DONLIN , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: September 7, 2008 - 9:17 PM

While it seems like there are an endless lists of places to apply. But there is really only one way to get an offer - and that is why the personal touch matters.

Kevin Donlin

Photo: Star Tribune Sales and Marketing, StarTribune.com

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It’s strange but true: You can’t get hired by an employment web site. Or an HR department.

You can’t get hired by a business, a non-profit agency, or a government, for that matter.

Rather, you can only get hired by another person.

This is what every successful job search boils down to -- people connecting with and hiring other people.

You can put the odds in your favor, and shorten your job search, simply by meeting more hiring authorities in the flesh.

But you have to do it right. You must dress and act the part you want to play as an employee, if you want to impress an employer enough to hire you.

That’s the advice one man gave his wife that helped her win a job at a local college.

“She was going to mail her resume to apply for the position, but I told her that it was so close by, why not hand-deliver it instead?” said Daniel Dallaire, a financial services manager from Kamloops, British Columbia. “That way she could check out the place where she might be working at the same time.”

Problem: As his wife was heading out the door, Dallaire noticed she was dressed in sweatpants and a T-shirt. Solution? “I told her to change clothes and look professional before delivering her resume.”

Good thing. She ran into the hiring manager at the office, and her presence -- her professional appearance and clothing -- had a positive influence on the decision to hire her later, according to Dallaire.

All kinds of good things can happen when you visit an employer in person.

Example: Several years ago, I wrote about Eugene, a software developer from Savage, Minn., who hand-delivered a portfolio of material to an employer after submitting his resume earlier.

As he was leaving, Eugene met several employees in the lobby. One question led to another, and he ended up interviewing them about ways to improve their work. Eugene submitted a white paper of possible solutions to the employer, based on his unique research -- and was hired only weeks later.

All because he decided to visit the employer in person.

According to Minneapolis-based recruiter Larry Harris, you should always try to drop off your resume rather than email or mail it.

When you learn of an opening for a job, call and ask for the hiring manager. Tell why you are calling, explain why you are perfect for the job and ask for a meeting. Then expect them to refuse -- they'll likely ask you to email your resume instead.

Here’s where you turn opposition into opportunity.

According to Harris, an excellent response is this: “I could send you my resume, but I’m going to be near your office tomorrow around 11:00. If you don’t mind, I’d like to stop by and drop it off. If you’re available, I can introduce myself and hand you my resume. If you’re not in, I’ll just leave it with the receptionist. Would that be OK?”

This tactic is non-threatening -- the hiring manager can always duck into a closet when you show up -- yet it shows you don’t shrink from rejection. And it can lead to more in-person interviews than you’ll likely get hiding behind the anonymity of email.

If you’ve been surfing the Web and furiously sending out resumes by email, how’s that working for you? How many job interviews has the Internet produced by itself? If you’re happy with your results, great.

If not, try this experiment: Make a plan to meet five employers in the next five days, by hand-delivering your resume and a customized, well-researched cover letter to their office.

The worst they can say when you call to ask for a meeting is no. No problem -- just email your resume as you would have done anyway.

But if just two employers agree to let you drop off your resume, you’ve just secured two job interviews! Because, whether they say so or not, any in-person meeting with any employer is a job interview. You will be judged by your appearance, the questions you ask, and the knowledge (or ignorance) you display, just as in a formal interview.

So arrange your “resume drop-off” meetings this week and prepare accordingly. Then, go out and make your own luck.


Kevin Donlin is Creator of TheSimpleJobSearch.com. Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. Author of 3 books, Kevin has been interviewed by The New York Times, Fox News, CBS Radio and others. His free report, The Simple Job Search Manifesto, is found at www.TheSimpleJobSearch.com

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