Let's be candid — In this climate, it's usually a waste of time to send out resumes. They go to people who can't actually hire you. You want to talk to people who can. So here's what you do: Step 1: Identify a few companies (start with 3) who employ people who do what you do. Then identify people who supervise those people. It does not matter in the slightest that those companies are not hiring.
Step 2: Do some research on that person. See if they’ve been interviewed anywhere, just received a promotion, or have been connected in any way with the company’s success (new product, release, uptick in stock price, etc.).
Step 3: Carefully construct a letter to each person you identiﬁed in Step 1, writing something like this:
Dear Mr/Ms _____________
I just saw your interview in BusinessWeek a few weeks ago and was very interested in your new focus on Pet Underarm Deodorants. It’s quite a new niche for your company and it brought up a number of questions that interest me since I am in a related industry — I wonder if I might have a few moments of your time.
Please understand, I'm not asking you for a job. I'm just looking to talk to a fellow colleague in the marketplace. Your insight would be invaluable and the meeting would be very brief.
I will call your ofﬁce next week in hopes of scheduling an appointment. I understand that you are very busy. The meeting will take no more than ﬁfteen minutes of your time. I look forward to speaking with you.
Most important of all, DO NOT include a resume.
When your letter has had time to reach its destination, make the follow up phone call, and pleasantly request the meeting. Reiterate that you are preparing for a job search and are only seeking advice and feedback. Most people are willing to give 15 minutes. (My clients average well over 50-60% of the meetings they ask for.)
If they hesitate, offer to buy coffee at a nearby spot, and remind them how valuable their input would be.
It's that easy. Tomorrow, we'll cover what you do when you actually meet them. Stay tuned!