“The major difference between successful and unsuccessful job hunter is not some factor out there such as a tight job market, but the way they go about it.”
Job opportunities can be found everywhere. Don’t limit your search to the traditional methods – open your eyes, extend your networks and put yourself out there! Industry associations, recruitment companies, networks, and online social media sites are all at your disposal. This doesn’t mean you give up on print media and job search websites, however you should take the time to explore the hidden job market and cover more ground.
Outlined below are some simple, yet highly effective strategies for tapping into the hidden job market. Implemented correctly, you will propel your job search in no time.
Pick up the phone
Instead of waiting for the ‘perfect’ job to be posted online or printed in the paper, initiate contact with hiring managers at companies you want to work for and introduce yourself. This can be as easy as doing an online search or going through the Yellow Pages. If you don’t know anyone in the company call the receptionist and find out who the hiring manager is, get his or her details (correct spelling and titles) and make contact. Send your resume and a targeted cover letter to introduce yourself – make sure you talk about your major selling points and explain what you are looking for. Tell them you will follow up in a week and then give them a call when you said (there is nothing more unprofessional that not following through) and initiate conversation. Ask if they have any opportunities now or in the immediate future. If there is nothing available now, ask for advice and ideas. Advice can lead to information on other organisations that are hiring, or perhaps training or education suggestions that will make you more appealing to employers.
Keep accurate records of who you emailed and when you said you would call. Make sure you make notes of when you spoke, and make a diary note to call back in a few weeks time to see if anything has changed.
Many job seekers roll their eyes to the heavens at the mention of recruiters. Let’s just take a moment to dispel a myth …. recruiters are not the enemy! They are hardworking, professionals who match the needs of candidates with those of employers. Recruiters work with hundreds and thousands of candidates, as well as manage clients and are one of the busiest industries. The sheer volume of their workload means being available at the end of the telephone or responding instantly to emails is not possible. With that said, recruiters are at the coal-face. They know their industry sectors well – who is hiring, who is likely to need staff, upcoming projects etc. Turn this into an opportunity – they can be your biggest ally in a job search so be polite and use them to your advantage rather than bemoan them.
There are two methods of approaching recruitment agencies. The first is in response to an advertised position. If you don’t get the position then call and thank them for their time in considering your application. You’ve already got a contact so let them know what you are looking for and reiterate your major points of difference, etc. Ask them if there are any other opportunities or any suggestions they have for you. Are they the best consultant to speak with for someone with your background or could they suggest a colleague. Be polite, thank them for their time and let them know you will call again in the future. Depending on the outcome of the call schedule a time to follow up, perhaps 2–4 weeks.
The other method is calling the agency. Describe your skills and experience and ask who would be the best recruiter for you to speak with. Introduce yourself, keep it brief – they are busy people. Again, ask for their email address and send your resume and a targeted letter. Many recruiters use their database to fill jobs before advertising so this method is a particularly effective one in terms of networking.
If you use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn … these can be effective marketing tools. Mention to your contacts that you are seeking a new role and a little about what you are wanting. For every contact you have, they have several more so you can see how word has the potential to spread. You would be surprised how many people have found opportunities through this method. Following the right people on these mediums can also help – industry leaders, companies, recruiters. Don’t just watch – follow and participate – rather than just send an unsolicited email asking for work.
A word of warning though …. if you intend using social media to look for work, ensure your details are ‘appropriate’ and present the right image. Belonging to groups like “Job Hunting Sucks” or “Hot Chicks Appreciation Society” will turn people off very quickly! Ensure you have links to industry or professional groups. First impressions count – if a potential employer visits your page, what image will it portray?
For some industry sectors, associations and networking functions can be a highly effective way of putting yourself out there in terms of job hunting. This is not suited to everyone. Many people cringe at the very thought of attending a networking function. They are, however, a fantastic way of staying abreast of news and trends in your industry and connecting with like-minded individuals. Opportunities are often discussed in these forums and you should let people know that you are in the market for a new position. This is direct marketing and extremely effective in opening new doors.
Family and Friends
Don’t be shy – talk to everyone! The people who know and love you want you to do well. Tell them what you are looking for and you never know who they may know. Over the years I have hired people who have said to me “my cousin is actually looking for work” or “my best friend’s daughter has just finished a TAFE course”, etc, etc. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by telling people in your circle that you are looking for work.
Do you know someone who is doing the role you desire? Talk to them, ask them how they got into the role, do they have any advice or strategies that would help you? If you don’t know anyone in the role do some cold calling – ring a company and ask to speak to that person. Tell them you are looking at finding a similar position and wondered if they had a few minutes to tell you their thoughts on how you can achieve this. People love talking about themselves, it’s very flattering to people when this happens, so don’t be afraid of talking to people you don’t know.
Before tackling any of the methods listed above, get yourself in the right mindset. Be clear about the type of role you want, what your unique selling points are, prepare your resume and be positive. Remember, the majority of jobs are filled through the methods above!
There are almost endless ways that you can tap into the hidden job market and this post is in no way a complete list of methods. I do however, hope it gives you a better idea of what the hidden job market is and some of the ways in which you can apply it to your job search.