Research suggests that as many as 60% of job vacancies are unadvertised. Here is some advice on how to make sure you’re making the most of the unadvertised job market
Advertised roles only represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of jobs available. Here’s how to find unadvertised positions. Photograph: AlaskaStock/Corbis
Many jobseekers are unaware that the roles advertised in the press and online are really only the tip of the iceberg in relation to the total number of jobs available at any one time.
In these tough economic times, recruitment agencies and employers can save money and cut back on advertising because they already have access to so many CVs. Indeed, research suggests that as many as 60% of all jobs are unadvertised.
Jobs that are advertised often attract dozens or even hundreds of applications. Investing time and effort in tracking down unadvertised jobs, however, will almost certainly pay off because fewer people will be applying for them.
So here are some practical strategies for finding unadvertised vacancies.
These days many companies pay a bonus to employees who can introduce a new member of staff. Companies prefer to do this because they can save on expensive advertising and agency fees. Employees who have been offered this bounty will be only too pleased to hear from friends or former colleagues who are looking for work.
So your first strategy should be to to make sure that all your friends (including your Facebook friends), neighbours, former colleagues or business associates know that you are looking for a new position. If there are unadvertised jobs with their employer then, assuming you have the right skills and experience, they will probably be keen to help.
Use social media
You should also use a professional networking site like LinkedIn. Make sure you have a recruiter friendly LinkedIn profile with a strong professional headline, for example, “John Smith – experienced chartered accountant”. Use plenty of keywords and phrases that relate to your particular skills set and experience. Recruiters routinely search LinkedIn looking for candidates for their unadvertised jobs; having a well-written profile ensures they can easily find your details and contact you.
You can also join some of the LinkedIn professional groups. There are hundreds of professional networking groups on LinkedIn covering almost every job category and profession. Mention in your introduction that you are looking for work; other members may get in touch if they have a suitable opportunity and, by participating in conversations, you will also pick up useful information about possible openings.
Twitter is also an excellent source of jobs. They’re not jobs that are advertised conventionally but a quick search will demonstrate that there is plenty of tweeting going on between jobseekers and recruiters.
Recent research in the US suggests that many companies are either using or are planning to use social media as a key part of their recruitment strategy, and it’s happening in the UK too.
It’s easy to join Twitter and start following potential employers and their recruiters. You can make direct contact with any other subscriber so tweet the managing director or recruitment manager of an organisation and ask them directly if they have any suitable vacancies (don’t forget to include a link to your LinkedIn profile). You won’t always get a response, but Twitter is a friendly platform and some senior managers may be impressed by your initiative.
Get alerts about potential jobs straight to your inbox
Use Google Alerts to get regular email notifications of events that might lead to a job opportunity. For example, placing the simple search string, insurance, jobs, Yorkshire in Google Alerts led me to a news item referring to a large insurance group that is planning to open an office in York creating over 300 new jobs for insurance professionals.
Setting up your personal press cuttings service in this way is useful to identify potential unadvertised job opportunities.
Contact employers directly
If you hear about a possible job opportunity then you can make a direct approach to the company. Don’t send speculative applications to the HR manager or recruitment manager as you are unlikely to get a response. Take some time to research the company using Google or LinkedIn and try to identify the person within that organisation who might have a suitable vacancy; then send a speculative application letter and your CV to them by name.
Sending a direct or speculative application really does pay off, but it’s quality rather than quantity that’s important so don’t send out a blanket mail shot to 100 companies. Identify just a few organisations and send a customised application to each of them. Even if they don’t have a current vacancy many companies acknowledge speculative applications and generally keep CVs on file for at least six months.
Attend trade fairs and conferences
These are events where potentially all of the main employers in your field are gathered in one location. You can find out about upcoming events in the press and on the internet. The same applies to careers fairs, which are run on a regular basis by universities and are often open to both students and graduates. When you attend these events take plenty of copies of your CV and some business cards, and start networking.
Of course you should keep responding to conventional job advertisements, but rather than sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring, take control of your job search and be pro-active.
Jeremy I’Anson is a professional careers coach and the author of You’re Hired! Total Job Search 2013