This three part series (Part I, Part II), is based upon material provided by and conversations with an old friend of mine, John Burke. In the tough times that we need alternatives to the traditional submission of a resume.
Under your signature and title (Principal, Partner, President, whatever works for you) make note that the profile is attached. Do NOT cc: the names of the other executives targeted in this space. I don’t generally include a business card, because I want the correspondence to look more personal than a pitch for their business.
Write three of these letters which are all identical except the intended executive changes, as does the two other names in the first paragraph, and of course, the names of their respective assistants. You need three envelopes addressed to each of the three executive targeted. Be careful with the merging here because it can get a little confusing after three or four different companies. Use a postage stamp and omit a return address – looks less like junk mail.
Time for follow up. Contact the assistant directly, if they’re not there, call back later. Do not leave a voice mail. Introduce yourself and tell them you’re following up on a letter that was sent to their boss a few days ago, and suggest that they’ll remember it by the fact that it was also sent to two other executives. They usually remember this because it is somewhat unusual and was stated in the first sentence of the letter. If the assistant doesn’t recall seeing the letter, tell her you’ll fax or email a copy to her directly and follow up in a day or so after they’ve had a chance to run it by their boss.
You’re calling to see if their boss saw the letter and to find out what his/her decision was, i.e. who did he send it to? On the off chance that the assistant suggests you can speak with their boss right while you’re on the phone, do not accept the offer (the executive you speak with over the phone will use the limited time he affords you to screen you out). Inform the assistant that you’re more comfortable with he/she as your point of contact to arrange a meeting or direct you to the right individual.
The beauty of this strategy is that the individual to whom this correspondence is ultimately directed can’t ignore that the letter came from the boss in the corner office and they had better have an answer if questioned as to what it was all about. When you call the recipient’s assistant, reference the fact that so-and-so recommends that you and the recipient meet and can the assistant set up an appointment for you. Again, it’s best if you don’t speak to the recipient on the phone if you can help it – always push for a meeting.
Standard meeting etiquette applies. Tell them how much time you’ll need, and don’t exceed that time limited unless you’re invited to. There are two schools of thought regarding time planning: suggest it will be less than a half hour so that it doesn’t threaten to eat up too much of their day, or make it just shy of an hour to be realistic and to lend credibility. There’s no right answer, but I favor the latter. Regardless of the time requested, be prepared if asked to tell how you plan to use the time and what you hope to discuss.
Good luck to all