What You Should Not Say in Your Sales Letter

It is to your advantage not to send a resume to a PE until after the interview. Therefore, do not mention a resume in any context in your sales letter. If you do, at best you will be asked to send it. Then, if your resume is received favorably (and at this point the odds are against it) you will be invited in for an interview. This is not what you are after.

You want an immediate interview. You will not attain this objective if you mention a resume.

Never ruin the specialized image you have carefully built in the explanation of your letter by indicating that you are ready to consider some other type of job. If you do, your PE may feel you are so much in need of a job you will consider anything. PEs like to deal with winners, not desperate job hunters. If the PE volunteers a different type of job and asks about your interest, you can consider that opportunity on its own merits. But it's up to the PE to initiate such a discussion. You must not even hint of the possibility in your sales letter.

Finally, if you are currently unemployed you should recognize that knowledge of your unemployment can devalue your worth with a PE if it is disclosed too early in your campaign. There are definite advantages of being unemployed in job hunting. However, you should not reveal your unemployment in your sales letter.

Why You Must Include a Telephone Number and Where to Put It

Approximately 75 percent of the requests you receive for interviews will arrive by telephone. Therefore, it is essential to include a telephone number in your sales letter. Don't lose out on a job simply because you cannot be reached. You can have your telephone number printed directly under your address in the sales letter, or you can type it on the page opposite your signature. Either position is fine. Obviously, you should use your home phone if you are currently employed. If you are going to be home only after a certain hour, indicate the hour next to the telephone number. If other members of your family will take the call, make sure you instruct them to get as much information as possible. At a minimum, they should obtain the caller's name, company, and telephone number, even if the caller intends to call back at a more convenient time. You can also use a telephone answering device. In your recorded message ask the caller to leave name, company, number, and any other information you wish. You can also use an answering service, but I consider this the last choice of those previously mentioned. The problem is that services are universally good. If you do use a service, call in as a PE every now and then just to see how your calls are being handled.

How to Write a Sales Letter to Executive Recruiters

Writing a letter to the "pros" is not much different from writing to PEs. There are executive recruiters and executive recruiters. As with writing to PEs, your problem is a statistical one: you must get your letter to that small percentage of executive recruiters who are actively searching for an executive in your specialty.

In writing your sales letter to executive recruiters, use the letter you have developed for PEs, changing only the explanation paragraph. It should read something like this:
  • "I am writing to you because you may be currently retained on a search for a senior accountant. If so, you may be interested in some of my other accomplishments.
  • "This letter is to inform you of my interest and potential availability for a position as vice president of marketing. Here are some of the other things I have done,"
  • "I am writing in case you are currently searching for an EDP supervisor of my qualifications. If you have such an assignment, you may be interested in some additional facts about my expertise in this field."
  • "I am writing in case you are presently on assignment for a manufacturing manager in the electronics industry. If so, you may be interested in some of my other accomplishments."
How to Prepare Mailing Lists of PEs

There are many excellent directories you can use to prepare your mailing list of PEs. But two words of caution. Make certain the directory is current; an out-of-date directory is a waste of time and resources and will cut down on the percentage of responses. Use only those directories that provide names as well as companies. You will direct your sales letters not to titles, but to names and titles.

There are directories listing executives in every conceivable industry. Check your library first to see what directories are available. Consult the Guide to American Directories for Compiling Mailing Lists and Principal Business Directories for Building Mailing Lists. Both volumes list more than 1,000 different directories that can be used as sources for PEs in various industries. The following directories are general in content the numbers listed change frequently, and are for an approximation only.

Dun & Bradstreet's Million Dollar Directory of 120,000 firms worth more than 1500,000, with the top 45,000 firms listed in order of net worth).

Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors, and Executives (400,000 executives of 38,000 companies).

Standard Directory of Advertisers (80,000 executives of 17,000 companies advertising nationally).

Thomas Register of American Manufacturers (100,000 manufacturers by product and location).

Why You Should Mall Your Own Sales Letters Some firms will offer to mail your sales letter (or resume) to hundreds or thousands of companies at a cost that seems extremely reasonable. For example, one firm advertised that it will put your letters in the hands of 5,000 companies for less than $500. Since the postage alone would cost you much more than this amount, it seems like a good buy. Why isn't it? To begin with, these firms can only make money by mailing your sales letter along with those of many other executives at the same time. Usually, this packet of information is sent not to the hiring executive, but to the personnel department. This is not where you want a description of your accomplishments to go. Moreover, even if it went to the hiring executive, it would arrive in a packet with the letters or resumes of other competitors. It would not go in the highly personalized fashion that is essential for a successful sales letter campaign.

That's not all. Since you did not develop the mailing list, you have no idea where your letter is being sent (size of company, geographical area, and so forth). It could even go to your own firm. And since you have no idea who was on the original mailing list, there is no way you can send a second letter to those executives who did not invite you in for an interview. Finally, this method of scattering your accomplishments tends to lower your overall value, especially if, as sometimes happens, an executive receives more than one copy of your letter. For all these reasons, I urge you to handle your own mailing.

How to Compile a list of Executive Recruiters

Here are some sources for names and executive recruiters. Again, the numbers are approximations only:

Consultants and Consulting Organizations Directory, published by Gale Research Company, Book Tower, Detroit, Michigan 48226 Contains information on 5,500 consulting firms, including approximately 500 executive recruiters.

Directory of Executive Recruiters, published by Consultants News, Templeton Road, Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire 03447. Lists 2,300 search firms throughout the United States.

Firms Doing Executive Search, published by the Association of Consulting Management Engineers, Inc., 347 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10017. Lists approximately 150 firms engaged in search activities.

List of Members, published by the Association of Executive Recruiting Consultants, Inc., 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York 10020. Lists approximately 60 member firms.

The Executive Employment Guide, published by the American Management Associations, 135 West 50th Street, New York, New York 10020. Updated frequently, it contains information on 129 executive recruiting firms.

Directories such as these come and go out of print. Also, many are expensive. I don't recommend purchasing any of them. Instead, go to your library. Your librarian can help you to find the latest that are available, and it won't cost you a penny.

One of the best sources for names of executive recruiters is your telephone book. Also, go to your library for phone books covering other cities and states. Don't limit yourself geographically in mailing your sales letters. Even if an executive recruiter works only for a local firm, he will usually recruit candidates from all over the country.

Address your sales letter to Director, XYZ and Associates. If you know a specific recruiter at a firm, use the individual's name. However, the search industry has such a tremendous turnover that, unlike the sources of companies for your sales letters, any directory of names will be obsolete after six months. No matter what source you use, your list of executive recruiters is likely to be only 50 percent accurate.

How to Print Your Sales Letters

You should take great care in printing your sales letter, since it may be the only representation of you that the PE or the executive recruiter has until the interview. The letter and envelope should be of high-quality paper, with at least 25 percent rag content. The printing -your address on the letterhead and your name and address on the envelope - should be of equally high quality. As I mentioned previously, I recommend a process called thermo-graphing, which gives the appearance of engraved print. You can use either standard-size stationer (8 1/2 " x 11") or monarch-size stationery (7 1/4" x 10 1/2"). I like the monarch size because many senior executives use it. It will give your letter a very classy image. Your letter will also have a better chance of getting through the executive's secretary and directly into the hands of the hiring executive because it will look less like a resume. Resumes are almost always standard size. The only disadvantage of monarch-size stationery is that you may need to use two sheets, which will increase your costs.

That's through the magic of a computer and a merge program, every letter can have the appearance of being individually typed. All you do is type up the basic list of addresses and your letter separately. Follow the merge instructions of your word processing program and in a few minutes, you accomplish what once took hours. If you don't have a computer, and can't borrow the use of one, you will have to pay for these services. They are essential. A typed letter, which was once fully acceptable, is much less so today. Computers have made everything look more professional and spoiled us all.

The effectiveness of your sales letter will be diminished if the PE's secretary screens it and forwards it to the personnel department. Therefore, on the outside of every envelope type "Private and confidential". Although this does not guarantee that your letter will not be read by the executive's secretary, the odds are slightly better that it will get through to the hiring executive. On no account should you use the sales letter as a cover sheet for your resume. If you do, forget the whole thing. You will not get the results I described.