Finding unadvertised jobs

When I speak to more experienced job hunters these days they often tell me that they’ve applied for quite a few jobs but haven’t had any interviews. It’s not much fun sending off dozens of job applications and getting no response.  But many job hunters are unaware that the jobs advertised in the press and online really only represent the tip of the iceberg in relation to the total number of jobs that are actually available at any one time.  In these tough economic times recruitment agencies and head-hunters have cut back on their expensive advertising budgets because they already have access to so many CVs.

Why spend time tracking down unadvertised vacancies?

Jobs advertised in the press and on the internet often attracts dozens or even hundreds of applications. The competition is fierce! Investing some time and effort in tracking down unadvertised vacancies will often pay off and invariably far fewer people will be applying for these jobs. You have a much better chance of success.

So let’s look at some at five practical strategies for digging out those unadvertised vacancies.

1.)    Networking

We all know the old adage it’s not what you know but who you know that really counts when you want to get ahead in this world, so the first step is to start networking.  Make sure all your friends (including your Facebook friends) all know that you are looking for a job and ask them if they know about any opportunities that might be right for you. These days many companies pay finder’s fees to employees who introduce a new member of staff (much cheaper than advertising or using a recruitment agency!) so your friends may well be very motivated to help you out. Also start contacting ex colleagues and business associates. If they don’t have opportunities themselves do they know someone who does?

2.)    Use LinkedIn

Apart from contacting your friends you should also use a professional networking site like LinkedIn. Make sure that you have a recruiter friendly LinkedIn profile with a strong Professional Headline (e.g. John Smith – Experienced Chartered Accountant or Richard Green – Java Software Engineer) and use plenty of other key words and phrases that relate to your particular set of skills and experience.  Recruiters routinely search LinkedIn looking for candidates for their unadvertised jobs. Join some of the LinkedIn Professional Groups and mention in your introduction that you are looking for work, other members may well contact you directly if have a suitable opportunity.

3.) Get alerts of potential jobs straight to you inbox

Try using Google Alerts to get an immediate notification of events that might present a job opportunity. News of a business opening a new office or branch near you could well be a sign that the company will shortly need additional staff. A recent survey which came to my attention via Google Alerts indicated that there were over 2,500 unfilled vacancies with “tech start up” companies across the UK. New companies just starting to recruit staff and with the vacancies advertised on the company’s web sites but nowhere else on the Internet.  Another Google Alert picked up the news that a large Insurance group were opening an office in the North of England creating over 500 new vacancies.

3.)    Use the social media

If you assume that Twitter is only good for celebrity gossip then think again. You might be surprised to learn that Twitter (with 200 million users worldwide) is an excellent source of jobs. No, they’re not jobs that are advertised conventionally but even a quick search of Twitter will demonstrate that there is   plenty of tweeting going on between job hunters and recruiters. Research suggests that 90% of companies in the US are using, or are planning to use, the social media as part of their recruitment strategy and it’s happening in the UK as well. You can easily join Twitter and start following organisations and their recruiters and search for job opportunities that match your skills and experience.  Have a look at this post if you want to find out more about searching for jobs using the social media.

4.)    Approach employers directly

Another good tactic would be to make a direct approach to a company that you know undertakes work in your field. Don’t send speculative applications to the “HR Manager” or “Recruitment Manager”, you are unlike;ly to get a response.  Instead take some time to research the company using Google, LinkedIn or Twitter 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 that person by name.

I recently spoke to a Project Manager who used exactly this approach. He had read in the press that a company was planning to merge four regional offices into a single headquarters building. Because he had specific experience of office relocations he found the name of the Facilities Manager on the company web site, sent a speculative letter and his CV highlighting his experience of office relocations and subsequently secured a six month contract with good prospects for a permanent job to follow.

5.)    Attend Trade Fairs and Conferences

Use Google Alerts and check the trade press to find out about trade fairs, conferences and events. Whatever your professional background will find plenty of events happening across the country and throughout the year. It’s sometimes the case that you need to pay to attend these events, but very often you can simply register and turn up. Make sure that you take plenty of copies of your CV and some business cards and start networking and introducing yourself.

Of course you should keep responding to conventional job advertisements, but rather than sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring, take control and try some of the ideas outlined in this post to revitalise your job search and track down those unadvertised vacancies.