The jobs we see advertised, whether online or in the press, are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what is actually available. In a competitive market, most employers know that they can hook candidates without spending cash on third party ads — leading to a vast majority of roles being filled without Joe Public ever even hearing of them.
We all know that things have changed out there, but learning how to tap into this unadvertised market can be tricky. There are awesome jobs waiting for your application, you just have to know where to look.
Try these ideas to get you started:
Use your network
Your network is the best place to start. And that’s true regardless of the sort of job you are looking for and whatever stage you’re at in your career. The odds of encountering people wanting to help you are stacked in your favor, as many companies offer a recruitment bonus for their employees. Get introduced to a job opportunity through a friend and you both win.
Start with the network you already have, and make sure that they all know you’re looking for work. Be as specific as possible so that people can really help, asking for introductions, leads, and informational interviews about different businesses.
Grow your ‘in person’ network by attending networking events, conferences, and meetups, through interest groups, business associations, and Chambers of Commerce. Step away from the buffet table and get talking.
Think outside the box when it comes to your network – the ‘in’ you need to a business you like might come from one of their suppliers, customers, or a personal friend of an employee.
Leverage social media
Once you are out of your comfort zone and chatting, networking in-person can be productive, intuitive, and even fun. But naturally, it is limited by where you are and what events you can attend. Social media, on the other hand, can be accessed 24/7 and give you a global reach — so no excuses.
Using LinkedIn, you can make individual connections and join groups. Make sure that your profile is up to date and has the right keywords for your industry. This will reflect your skills in a way that recruiters can understand.
Get noticed by joining in the conversation, sharing interesting and original content, and commenting on discussions which are professionally appropriate. Once you have built relationships, use the platform to ask for the introductions or help you might need to push you forward on your job search.
One popular approach is that of ‘guerrilla job hunting’, a term coined from the world of guerrilla marketing. Just as guerilla marketing takes alternative and proactive routes to get right into your home, this job search method calls for you to be bold and use your wits to get your foot in the door.
To get started, you need to identify targets: the companies for whom you would aspire to work. Don’t worry at this stage whether or not they have roles available for you. Ideally, you would select ten to twenty businesses, and work on building connections there before making speculative applications. Maximize your chances by finding growing companies who will likely have new positions to fill. Then, make your name stand out to the right people.
Naturally, you can send in your resume and a cover letter, but don’t stop there. Connect with the business and hiring managers on social media. Ask them for informational interviews. Attend conferences and networking events where you can meet them and develop a relationship.
Position yourself positively by engaging them about topics that matter to your industry. For example, you might write a slide deck or blog post about a particular challenge the business faces. If you then share it with your connections in the company and ask for their thoughts — possibly even suggesting solutions for them — you’re showing your ability to solve problems and drive the business, even before you’re asked.
Persistence is a must. You should remain cognizant of the thin line between networking and stalking. It’s important to be persistent if you’re looking for a role which might never be advertised, though. Even if you’re initially knocked back, stay in touch with your new connections and try to nurture the relationships.
If you are turned down for a role after submitting a resume or interviewing, ask for feedback. You can also request to stay in touch with the company. Maybe there is something just ‘round the corner.
One peculiarity of the unadvertised jobs market is that you never know when an opportunity might appear. You need to be ready to capitalize on any openings you spot.
One important way to do this is to have an elevator speech prepared. This should cover what you’re looking for in a role and express your unique selling point. Keep it to a couple of sentences so you could literally use it to connect with someone you meet for a few seconds in an elevator.
Back this up with a business card, and connect with people on LinkedIn once you introduce yourself in person at events or conferences. If there is a potential relationship you want to develop, make sure you have a knock out resume and cover letter ready to strike while the iron is hot.
Demonstrate your value
Finally, you can connect with businesses by showing your value before you even talk about a role with them. Depending on your industry and situation, you might offer to be an intern, volunteer, or work on a freelance basis for companies that interest you. Show the value you add and then open up a conversation about developing into a full time gig.
A modern job search requires ingenuity. With many (or even most, according to some reports) positions never being openly advertised, landing your dream job is all about who you know and how you sell your skill set. Luckily, in our hyper-connected world, doing this is easier than ever.
What are your tips for finding unadvertised jobs? What has worked for you in the past?