Using Direct Mail to Land a New Job

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If you’ve ever been between jobs, you know how much of a challenge it is to stand out in a crowd of those who are ambitiously jockeying for the same gig.

After all, chances are you’re just one of dozens, if not hundreds, with relatively similar credentials in line for that one plum position.

And unless you know someone in a corner office who can grant you the inside track, the odds of your resume getting past the gatekeepers and in the hands of the top dog are slim to none, never mind getting your foot in the door for an interview.

With that said, in addition to going about my new job search in all the usual ways – posting my resume on online job boards such as Monster and Talent Zoo, mining Craigslist for that rare golden opportunity, speaking to a slew of professional recruiters and touching base with practically everyone I know in the business – I thought I would do for myself what I’ve been doing for clients for so long and put together my own little direct mail campaign, asking for a meeting with those whom I would like to work for in the worst way.

Of course, a simple letter alone just wasn’t going to cut it. A prospective employer wouldn’t stand for anything less than a solicitation out of the ordinary from a creative guy like me. Not only did I need to come up with a compelling offer, but I also needed to present it in a refreshingly different way.

A Cup of Coffee to Wake up My Audience

Given my desire to have a face-to-face meeting with each of my prospects, I settled on a Starbucks Card as a means of coaxing them into sitting down for a cup of coffee with me.

But the strategy for commanding my audience’s attention didn’t stop there. I wanted to speak to those on the receiving end of this unique, self-promotional campaign at a level they would appreciate — not just as some guy looking for a job, but as a knowledgeable industry peer. My appeal needed to be relevant to the reader, not simply self-serving. The last thing I wanted was for the Starbucks Card to be perceived as just another gratuitous come-on from an overzealous stranger.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”

Well, coincidentally I recently finished reading “Blink” (the latest book by Malcolm Gladwell, author of the landmark bestseller, “The Tipping Point”), which is all about making choices based on instinct, “in the blink of an eye.” At some point in the book, Gladwell even goes so far as to suggest that job interviews would be conducted differently if people were to rely more on their gut feelings.

Writing to my audience about “Blink” would be as much of interest to them as helpful to me in getting my message across.

Now all I had to worry about was the execution. As much fun as I wanted to have with this campaign, I still wanted to keep it simple, and printing the following message on a Starbucks napkin (as though I had written it — impromptu — over a cup of coffee) helped me achieve both of these objectives…

If you’ve read Blink, the latest book by Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point), you know that some of the best decisions are made in an instant – in the blink of an eye. I hope this is one of them. I hope you decide – without hesitation – to sit down with me for a cup of coffee. I would like to show you my portfolio and talk about how I might be able to contribute to the success of Company Name as a creative director, copywriter, blogger and strategic marketing consultant. Please – take your instincts seriously and let’s get together soon. Thanks.

Tucked inside the napkin were both the Starbucks Card and a small piece of card stock featuring this short excerpt from “Blink”…

“There are lots of books that tackle broad themes, that analyze the world from great remove. This is not one of them. Blink is concerned with the very smallest components of our everyday lives – the content and origin of those instantaneous impressions and conclusions that spontaneously arise whenever we meet a new person or confront a complex situation or have to make a decision under conditions of stress. When it comes to the task of understanding ourselves and our world, I think we pay too much attention to those grand themes and too little to the particulars of those fleeting moments. But what would happen if we took our instincts seriously? What if we stopped scanning the horizon with our binoculars and began instead examining our own decision making and behavior through the most powerful of microscopes? I think that would change the way wars are fought, the kinds of products we see on our shelves, the kinds of movies that get made, the way police officers are trained, the way couples are counseled, the way job interviews are conducted, and on and on. And if we were to combine all those little changes, we would end up with a different and better world. I believe – and I hope that by the end of this book you will believe it as well – that the task of making sense of ourselves and our behavior requires that we acknowledge there can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.”*

*Excerpted from “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” (pp. 16-17), by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown and Company)

Needless to say, I couldn’t help but highlight in yellow the line about job interviews – this was no time for subtlety.

All of the above – the paper napkin, the Starbucks Card and the book excerpt – were mailed in a handsome, cream white A-7 (7” X 5-1/4”) envelope that I bought over the counter at The Paper Store. And on the envelope itself, not only did I print the word B-L-I-N-K in big, block letters, but I also added a ring-like, dried coffee stain, introducing the two creative concepts that were the foundation of a campaign that will hopefully land me a new job as a creative director, copywriter, blogger and strategic marketing consultant.

…some of the best decisions are made in an instant — in the blink of an eye….

Time will tell how well this campaign will fare. I mailed the first round of letters just a few days ago. But whether or not anyone responds affirmatively to my request for an interview, I’ll at least be able to rest assured knowing I’ve shown those who are calling the shots not only how much I care about my work, but also how strongly I feel about working for them.

Bob’s Work History

Bob’s Public Speaking History

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4 Responses to Using Direct Mail to Land a New Job

  1. Jeff Kopito says:

    Hey Bob:

    Really enjoyed how you generated this idea. Would love to know how it worked out.

    As a followup – to either “responders” or non-responders” – how about a copy of the book Blink itself?

    May want to do it as a thank you if your original target list was rather lenghty…

    Mail it out in a color padded mailer – you can also use a customized postage stamp made with your own graphic or image – see http://photo.stamps.com/PhotoStamps/?source=si10985886

    You can use the image of a coffee cup (can’t use any promotional image so it would have to be a generic cup).

    I’m rootin’ for ya!

    – Jeff

  2. Bob-

    Great creative! It’s no wonder you’re so well regarded in our field. I know the coffee ring touch is a proven, tested response opening device. I know David Yale used it on a renewal package that has done gangbusters for years. I hope to see this package entered next year in NEDMA’s Marketing on a Shoestring category.

    Good Luck! Can’t wait to hear the results and where you’ve landed!

    All the best.

    Belinda

  3. Bob, you’re hired! If only! This is the kind of creative thinking more companies need. You’re sure to get noticed – and end up consuming lots of coffee! Posting about this on your blog is also a mark of genious. I’m back here cheering for you. Ah, someday I’ll say, I knew him when. Cheers!

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