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Using the direct approach

The direct approach creates an image of an enterprising candidate who takes the initiative and perceives opportunities.

Accurate targeting is crucial in this approach, so the amount of time you spend researching the company, and who to target within it, will be much greater than the amount of time you spend making the contact. Your research must be accurate - ensure that you are approaching the correct person!

Develop an elevator pitch

It is important to be able to quickly identify who you are and what you have to offer. Develop a pitch that summarises your qualifications, experience, skills and achievements, and practise it until it sounds natural and fluent. It should be no longer than 2 minutes.

Example of an 'elevator pitch':

"My name is [name]. I have recently graduated from University of Otago with a [BA/BSc/BCom etc] in [subject] and I am now surveying the area of [area] with a view to finding employment. I have particular skills in [topic] and am particularly interested in [specific topic]. I have had experience in [topic] through [job]. Recent notable achievements have been [achievements]. I am keen to find a position which will allow me to use my skills and experience."

Once you've figured yourself out and formulated a summary like the one above, you can use it as a base for your communications with the potential employers you identified in your research.

Check out further tips on creating your elevator pitch:

Create your own job

It may be that in your research you find an employer who could use your skills even though they haven't realised this yet. You need to research the company, markets, outputs, etc, and be able to illustrate succinctly how your skills will complement what they do. This is the process of "creating your own job."

To create a position for yourself successfully, you need to concentrate on the needs of the company, adopt a positive tone, and establish your communication with the company as a serious dialogue between equals.

For example

“Dear Mrs Simpson,
“I was interested to read in the Otago Daily Times on Tuesday 5 August that Adventuring Down Under is thinking to expand into the South East Asian market and promote your package tours to the Japanese and Chinese markets.

“There is no doubt that such ventures are of benefit to the country, and help to improve the profile of the New Zealand tourist experience.

“I am a graduate of Otago University with a BA in Chinese and a Diploma for Graduates in Tourism and Marketing. I speak Cantonese fluently and enjoy socialising with people from different cultural backgrounds. I have also had extensive experience as a guide and leader for tramping trips and kayak trips in the Fiordland area.

“I would be interested in talking to you about your plans for extending your business and the opportunities which I can see unfolding in this area. I will call you in a couple of days, in the hope that we can arrange a meeting, and in the meantime, good luck with your venture.”

This is where good quality, in-depth research is essential - you must target the correct person and include the right things in your letter if you want your newly created position to be a convincing prospect for the employer.

Do not include your CV until it is requested!

Jobs for people

Some companies are open to finding jobs for people, rather than finding people for jobs.

If the right person comes along the company will find a position for that person. The more you network the more you have the chance of being the right person, so networking is an important part of the direct approach.

Check out our networking guide.

Top tips for using the direct approach

Don’t send out a generic CV and letter to everyone

If you are thinking you might mail and merge and send out large numbers of your CV and cover letter to employers around the country, think again.

Richard Bolles, in “What Colour is Your Parachute”, quotes a study which discovered that for every job offer tendered and accepted, there were 1470 CVs sent out.

If you want your CV and letter to be the successful one, every letter must be individual, demonstrate your knowledge of the particular company, and target the needs of that particular employer.

Research, research, research!

When it comes to investigating the culture, values, plans and practices of a potential employer, you can never research enough!

Follow up your actions

Retain control of the process by either delivering your letter by hand, or by phoning soon after your letter has arrived, to discuss it with the person to whom it was addressed.