How many and to whom should the cover letters and resumes be sent? Our view as outplacement counselors is that, if there are no geographical restrictions, the materials should be sent to every retained search firm's main and branch offices for starters-some 1,600 in total currently. We do this because we do not want to concede some 30% to 50% of the opportunities at any given time. We know from our experience that the full 1,600-piece mailing typically doubles the specific opportunity responses. In effect targeting only the top 300 firms-as some outplacers recommend-normally results in about 50% of the responses of targeting 1,600. Costly, yes! But it is twice as effective!
Include Branch Offices
Why do we send the materials to each and every satellite office when we know that they end up at one central processing location? Because, when new searches begin in the "satellite" offices, the recruiters and researchers "pick off' the quick matches with incoming resumes. Once they get 25 or 50 or so, they cut off the retrieval process and begin contacting those 25 or 50. They will not go to the central processing location if they can satisfy their needs in their own satellite office. Another reason to mail to the satellite offices is that it takes up to a few months for a resume to work itself into the search firm's retrieval process; you could miss a few months of new searches.
Another feature of the 1,600 piece mailing is that it is not directed to a specifically named recruiter. It is addressed to the firm and its research department. The reason for this is because it is typically the fastest way to be "inputted" into the research system and therefore be accessible to all of the search firm's recruiters and researchers. It does not get delayed by a specific recruiter's travel, vacation, or just plain set aside in the "To Be Read" file.
Other Bases to Cover
We also recommend sending cover letters and resumes to specific recruiters, when appropriate, in addition to the 1,600 "generic" pieces. The obvious recruiters are those known personally to our candidate. In addition, though, we recommend sending letters and resumes to so-called "specialist" recruiters as appropriate. These "specialists" may be in functions (i.e., sales, law, etc.) or industries (i.e., chemicals, financial institutions, etc.). We maintain expansive "specialist" lists and it may be appropriate to substitute the specialist list for the generic list.
Other Possible Mailings
Finally, there are two other types of special mailings that may be appropriate. The first is the international search firm mailing. This may be appropriate if our candidate has an international background and either an interest in working in a specific geographical area of the world or in working for a company whose ownership is offshore. We have had considerable success with the international mailings over the past few years.
The second "other" type of special mailing is appropriate only for two types of executives: general managers with a strong P&L record and financial executives with strong control and SEC experience. Given this, it may be desirable to write to what we call "financial intermediaries." These are equity investors and venture capitalists, and we have a list of about 2,000 of them. We think they have between 20,000 and 30,000 companies in their portfolios, and we have been very successful in matching up general managers and financial executives with their portfolio companies through this kind of mailing. It needs to be sequenced after all of the other search mailings because more and more search firms are being hired by the financial intermediaries to help them with their executive needs.
Summary for Senior Executives
Up to now, we have described the executive search process and discussed the various types of mailings that executives in search of a position can make. These mailings can be quite extensive-and costly. They can number several thousand:
National generic search mailing 1,600
Specialist search mailing 50-1,000
International search mailing 600
Financial intermediaries 2,000
Some senior executives shy away from the thought of 5,000 resumes being mailed out to the world. We view it as a "press release" with a restricted circulation: 5,000 intermediaries representing 50,000 companies. How many will need the senior executive's services?
Approach for Lower and Middle Executives
The above extensive mailings apply to the more senior executives whose compensation levels are $100,000 to $125,000 on up. Executives whose compensation is in the $75,000 to $100,000 level may want to consider also doing a mailing to the contingency search firms. The specifics of these search firms are contained in the same directory as the retained search firm specifics, i.e., The Directory of Executive Recruiters published by Publications: there are about 2,000 contingency firm main offices, plus over 800 branches, for a total of some 2,800 in all.
The entire contingency recruiter list should be considered if there are no geo-graphic limitations. Obviously, if there are geographic and/or functional and/or industry limitations, The Directory of Executive Recruiters also identifies those. Hence the mailing can be more restricted if desired.
For those managers whose compensation levels are below $75,000, the contingency section of the Directory should be considered exclusively. The retained search firms normally kick in at $75,000 and above, but the contingency search firms will operate at the $25,000 to $75,000, with most focusing on the $40,000 to $75,000 levels.