Need a job? Send a postcard

Direct mail advertising is still a multi-billion dollar industry. It works for lots of different types of marketing, but if that fact isn’t enough to sway you to try it in a job search ...

May 21st, 2014
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Postcard mailed by Tracie Perry in December 2010

By Doug and Tracie Perry

I have to admit, when the thought of using a four-inch by five-inch piece of cardstock (postcard) to get a job first entered my head in the summer of 2010 I thought it humorous. I mean, really, how many people keep solicitations they get in the mail?

Turns out, quite a few.

Direct mail advertising is still a multi-billion dollar industry. It wouldn’t be that way if everyone chucked his or her mail – we have to look at everything to make sure we aren’t throwing something important away.

It works for lots of different types of marketing, but if that fact isn’t enough to sway you to try it in a job search, then how about our experience marketing my wife, Tracie, as dental hygienist looking for work?

Case Study
Tracie was finishing off a nice three-month temping assignment through a local dental staffing agency outside Salt Lake City for a hygienist on maternity leave. It was October and my wife had been out of dental hygiene school for about five months and still had no permanent job.

We were grateful she had gotten the temping job. But, honestly, she had only been invited in for one or two interviews for permanent jobs despite applying for more than a dozen. Things just weren’t panning out like we had hoped.

To make matters worse, the economy was still reeling with lots of people out of work and very little growth taking place — in short, people were hanging on tight to jobs and you could certainly feel that in dental hygiene.

One day I was talking to a friend who was handling some bulk mailings I was doing at my work. I was telling him about my wife looking for a job and he made a comment that caught me off-guard. “Maybe you should send a postcard,” he said.

I just laughed it off initially, but couldn’t stop thinking about it. It even kept me from falling asleep that night. So we just decided to give it a try — why not?

In talking with Tracie, we agreed to create a postcard that would market her as a passionate, stable, close-by dental hygienist that is available on a temporary or permanent basis. We still had a few weeks before her current temp job was over, so I created the postcard, then uploaded and paid Vistaprint.com $20 to print 100 of them.

Next, we researched all the offices within a 10-mile radius of our house and put their mailing addresses into a spreadsheet. There ended up being 110; so we only needed to eliminate 10 of them for our first mailing.

The post cards took about 10 days to deliver as we went with the least expensive option since we had time to kill. When they arrived I was impressed with the quality and we immediately sat down to apply labels and stamps we had printed for each office. At the time, postage ran about .28 for postcards so we spent $28 on that.

At this point, Tracie was at the end of her temp job with nothing new waiting in the wings. So we got the cards into the mail on a Friday and crossed our fingers.

The Results
Monday came and no calls. But I knew it would be way too optimistic to expect results that fast.

Then came Tuesday morning: Tracie got a call! And not just a “Hey, we need someone to fill-in” phone call either. They said, “We got your postcard and have an opening. We’d like to invite you in for an interview.” Holy Hannah! We were excited to say the least.

We found out later this was an unadvertised opening. They invited a few people they knew about and were already interested in and then added Tracie because they were impressed with the postcard.

The next day, she got a call for a temping assignment. The following week, two more temping assignments and about three weeks after we mailed them, she got a call for another job interview.

Because she had easily made back the money we put into them from the temp work, and because December was a couple weeks away (knowing there would be lots of potential temping jobs due to illness and vacations) we decided to create a send a second one.

One of the basics of marketing is the principle of impressions. There are lots of different studies out there that point to specifics but it often takes multiple impressions or exposures to an ad before someone usually will take action on it. So I was pretty comfortable sending another postcard so soon.

Tracie didn’t win the first interview, but really the odds were stacked against her we later found out because they already had someone that worked inside the office that knew and liked one of the other applicants. But that was OK because we knew how to get her foot in the door at least.

Five days into December (and three days after the second postcard went out), she got a call from the office that geographically was the closest. They were impressed with what they saw in Tracie (we had also created a resume website and video by that point). But the day they received her second postcard was also the day they needed to begin the process of hiring a new hygienist.

So impressed with the postcards, the resume video, and website, they invited her in for an interview and offered her the job without even opening it publicly. Not only was this job perfect in location (just under two miles from our house), the doctor and staff were fantastic, and the salary was more than the going rate at the time.

Tracie still works there today.

Totaling It Up

Success? You tell me. We spent $96 (two post cards, 200 mailings), and she made about $500 from temping, had three interviews, two job offers (one was rejected because she didn’t feel the office was a good fit). She also had to reject several other temping opportunities because she was already working or tied up for other reasons. One of them was an opportunity she was given a year later and just the other day she got a call asking if she still was doing temp work (four years later! Yes, dental offices do keep those post cards around).

Obviously, you can’t put a price tag on finding a great job. I think most would pay quite a bit to get these kinds of results if all they got was the job.

And as cool as it was to get those results, it’s been even more fun sharing this knowledge with others around the country and hearing about their successes through something so simple, yet powerful as a piece of 5” x 4” cardstock.

Doug and Tracie Perry are co-authors of the 2012 e-book Landing a Great Dental Hygiene Job. Together, they own GetHiredRDH.com, a career website for dental hygienists, where Doug writes new tips each week and offers his dental job marketing expertise as well as one-on-one coaching, resume writing, and several other related services.

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