A reader writes:
I am currently looking for a graduate position in architecture field. It is tough without any local experience. Having tried applying advertised jobs and reaching contacts but to no avail, I would like to cold call companies to see if they have any openings (most jobs in my field are not advertised).
What do you think would work best to approach companies for a job given that I would tailor each application with a good cover letter? Phone call, email, walk-in or send hard copy by post?
I understand that the best strategy would be email, but I could imagine the amount of job inquiry emails they receive every week in today’s job market. That is the method everyone is using and the application would be just looked away. By phone call or walk-in, I do not mean asking to speak to the hiring manager but probably just politely greet the receptionists and ask if they could pass my resume to the right person. And then follow-up with an email. I would appreciate if you could advise me on this.
The best way to apply for a job is the way the company has told you to do it. And that usually means applying online.
Cold-calling and walking in without an appointment hasn’t become a better idea just because the job market is tighter now. In fact, to the contrary, it’s a worse idea because the job market is tighter now.
Employers have tons of candidates to choose from — candidates who follow the employer’s directions on how to apply. Ignoring those directions and deciding to call or come by in person because you want to “stand out” says that you value your own convenience and preferences over theirs, and that’s basically a deal-breaker at the very early stages of a hiring process, when they know little else about you and have no reason to overlook that kind of rudeness. Because it is rudeness, even though you’re not thinking of it that way. They have an application process that they’ve directed candidates to use because it’s the one that makes it as efficient as possible for them, and you’re essentially saying, “Too bad, I like my way better.” And when they have tons of qualified candidates who aren’t doing that, it’s easy to simply discard you — or at least to consider it a major strike against you.
And while you might think that simply delivering your resume in-person and asking for it to be passed along isn’t such a big problem, the reality is that (a) you’re going to annoy them, and (b) you’re very, very likely to just be told to go online to apply anyway. Companies that direct you to apply online want you to do that because they want to get your materials in their electronic tracking system. Hard copies make that harder for them, not easier.
Just follow their directions.
I understand that you want to stand out and get their attention, but the way you stand out in a job search is by being a great candidate: having a resume that shows a strong track record of getting results in the areas that the employer is hiring for, writing a compelling cover letter that doesn’t simply regurgitate information they can find on your resume, and being professional, friendly, and responsive when they contact you. It’s not about finding ways to circumvent what they’ve asked you to do.