Help me get the jobs that aren't advertised
September 2, 2005 5:35 AM   Subscribe

Help me get the jobs that aren't advertised.

I read somewhere that most jobs aren't advertised, which gives me new hope because I'm struggling to get any interest from potential employers in the conventional way. Recruitment consultants just don't seem to like me, and while I'm sure there are things I could be doing to better ingratiate myself, I generally think the problem is with them. Having been on the other end of consultants, I don't have a lot of faith in their profession to find the right candidate. But that's a bit of a rant and besides the point, sorry.

What can I be doing to get my face in the picture for the jobs that aren't advertised? I've heard about people using unconventional methods, but always thought they were gimmicky and unsuitable for your average professional. What alternatives ways have you used to get jobs?
posted by londonmark to Work & Money (11 answers total)
What sort of job? And where are you geographically (London is my guess :)?
posted by tellurian at 5:58 AM on September 2, 2005

There is a book, What Color is Your Parachute, that has been pretty much the standard strategy on this for the last 25 years. It is an excellent book.

Also, "unlisted" jobs are generally fulfilled via referrals from company employees. Network! Go to professional societies, user groups, conferences, etc. related to the field of endeavor you want to be in.
posted by curtm at 5:58 AM on September 2, 2005

I don't think I've ever gotten an advertised job. Advice one, two and three are network, network and network, in my opinion.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:00 AM on September 2, 2005

It's hard to be specific without knowing what field you're trying to find work in, what your credentials are, etc. A little bit more information would help.

When you hear about most jobs not being advertised, the basic idea is that they already have someone in mine. First priority is to promote someone from within. So...if there is a large company that you'd like to be with, it doesn't hurt to get a job "below" your qualifications, i.e. in the mailroom, just to get your foot in the door.

Second priority is nepotism/friend-ism. This is hard to pull off, unless you figure out a way to marry the CEO's daughter.

Third step is resumes on hand. Before placing an open ad, most employers will skim through the resumes they already have received from people who fit their requirements. Often, these are left-overs from the last open ad hiring process. Hiring employers can receive hundreds of resumes, and they will hang on to the five that they liked but could not hire. So, apply to jobs that are out of your reach but within your field. It gets eyes on your resume, and if they like you, they'll think of you later. If nothing is posted, call the switchboard and find out who is in charge of the department you'd like to get into, and get the address. Mail them a resume and a nice letter explaining that you'd like to be kept in mind if any positions open up.

Overall, remember that this is a game of chance. You have to keep playing until your number is pulled. Persistence pays off, if you spread your search across many, many employers. If you just harass one or two, they'll get tired of you.
posted by MrZero at 6:03 AM on September 2, 2005

Ditto on "What colour is your parachute." Buy a copy of the most recent edition (there's a new one every year and the section on using the Internet has changed significantly in the last few editions).

Essentially, the jobs that are advertised are generally the ones that are hard to fill (either no-one wants the job or the qualifications are very specific). It's not just that most job openings are never advertised -- but most jobs are never advertised (ever, because candidates are not hard to come by).

The two main strategies are:
1) Make sure that everyone you know knows that you're looking for a job (at the very least -- step two is ask everyone specific questions like "Do you know anyone who works at [name of company]?" etc.)
2) Decide what jobs you want at which companies, find out who makes the hiring decision, and send them letters. Forget about ads.
posted by winston at 6:18 AM on September 2, 2005

Winston has it, especially with point #1.

I would add, that you should not only make sure they know you're looking for work, but be as specific as you can in saying what kind of work you're looking for (particularly with people who you don't know well, and particularly if it is not obvious). Try to make sure the person has some idea of the kind of work you've done in the past.

Specifically ask them to let you know if they hear of anything. If someone says they will look into something (thought they heard about something, know someone they can email or whatever), followup. Drop them a note and ask "if they had the chance to..". Don't just ask "if you hear about something at your company" but try to convey that if they hear of something appropriate they should tell you regardless of how they heard (e.g. even if they saw a classified for a job that was advertised. Remember that besides most jobs not being advertised, you probably don't see the ads for most jobs that are advertised.)

Don't just ask about job openings, ask if they know of any companies that might have people doing .

Remember that "networking" isn't (mainly) about someone "getting" you a job. It's about someone telling you that a job exists or might exist.

posted by duck at 6:46 AM on September 2, 2005

oops...second last para should read "ask if they know of any companies that might have people doing [your ideal job title]. (I used the wrong kind of brackets and it disappeared).
posted by duck at 6:47 AM on September 2, 2005

Your resume may not be good. This is one time to go to a professional, even if it costs you money. Register with an employment agency (the the names of good ones from friends), and they will put your resume in the form that employers expect and respond to. You can then continue to use it.
posted by KRS at 9:35 AM on September 2, 2005

I wanted a job in post-production, so I wrote a CV with a cover letter explaining my skills and presenting the case that rather than looking for a specific job, I was simply willing to do anything that utilized my skillset (I had no experience).
Then I put the addresses of 100 post-production companies in London (just from the Yellow Pages) into a spreadsheet, did a mailmerge, and sent them all out. I got 3 interviews, 2 offers, 1 job.
posted by forallmankind at 11:03 AM on September 2, 2005

I also have a pretty low opinion of recruitment consultants - I won't use them for jobs here - but they're a necessary evil in many cases. Many of the non-advertised jobs that you refer to are actually filled via recruitment consultants; the jobs are just not advertised in the press. They also have the knowledge of the type of person who will fit well into an organisation and the experience to know who will do well at interview. They may not be the "right" candidate in the sense that you and I understand, but they'll frequently do.

Whenever I've got a position to fill, my first step is to ask our existing employees. They'll often have friends or former colleagues who are looking and the advantage is that these people are more likely to gel with our team and understand our work better than the bloke-off-the-street. Bear in mind that this is in a pretty specific tech industry so people tend to know each other. Failing that, I'll dig into the pile of CVs on file and start shortlisting. It's rare that I need to advertise; from experience, 90% of the candidates from adverts are totally unsuitable.

And, no: I'd advise strongly against any gimmicks unless you're looking for creative work in the media; most other industries will bin you straight away if you try something wacky. Sad to say, but I'd probably do the same.

So, in short:
1) Network. Friends, family, trusted colleagues, former colleagues... talk to them all. Stay in touch every few weeks, if only to email them a link to an article they might find interesting.
2) Cold-CV companies for whom you'd like to work. This could take months to come to fruition. Make the CV bloody good. Don't lie.
3) If these fail you're going to have to start sucking up to the RCs, I'm afraid. Just grin and bear it. And remember that for some big companies - Microsoft in the UK, for example - friends on the inside or RCs are your only choice; they won't accept cold submitted CVs. C'mon: there are over 500 recruitment consultants in London, they can't all be wankers.

Good luck.
posted by blag at 5:07 PM on September 2, 2005

Recruitment consultants just don't seem to like me, and while I'm sure there are things I could be doing to better ingratiate myself, I generally think the problem is with them.

Also, this rings alarm bells. Finding and getting a job is bloody hard work. There aren't any short cuts.
posted by blag at 5:12 PM on September 2, 2005

« Older Open Links in full windows...   |   pulled muscle Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.