Most jobseekers look for a position through a combination of networking – both in person and online – and trolling job boards.

But many overlook the third, more proactive strategy that is often more effective: directly approaching the company you want to work for.

Why apply when you haven’t heard of an opening? Because approaching an employer makes it easy for them to hire you. Your dream company may have an open position they haven’t yet advertised, and approaching them directly puts you ahead of other jobseekers. Or perhaps the bosses don’t realise they need a worker with your skills – until you show how it would help their bottom line. Either way, contacting your target company shows you have initiative, and that’s a quality employers are always looking for.

Trying to find a job can make you feel helpless. The best you can do is send your CV to as many companies as possible, right? Not really. In fact, doing your research on a company beforehand can make you much more likely to get a job.

When you were a child, you were probably told that you can be anything you want. Unfortunately, as an adult, it’s not quite like that. It’s unlikely that you can quit your job as an accountant tomorrow and get hired as an astronaut. It is possible, however, to target specific companies and work your way in, rather than relying on a CV and crossed fingers.

So here are some practical strategies for approaching employers and finding unadvertised vacancies…

Networking

These days, many companies pay a bonus to the 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 bonus will be only too pleased to hear from friends or former colleagues who are looking who are looking for work.

So your first strategy should be to make sure that your friends (including your Facebook friends), neighbours, former colleagues or business associates know that you’re in search of a new position. If there are unadvertised jobs with their employer then, assuming you have the right experience and skills, they will probably be keen to help.

Social Media

You should also use professional networking sites like LinkedIn. Make sure you have a recruiter-friendly LinkedIn profile with a strong professional headline, for example, “Julie Bishop – experienced social recruiting trainer”. 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 thousands of professional networking groups on LinkedIn covering just about every job category and profession. Mention in your introduction that you’re looking for work; other members might get in touch if they have a suitable opportunity and, by participating in conversations, you’ll also pick up useful information about possible openings.

Twitter is also an excellent source of jobs. They’re not jobs that are advertised traditionally but a quick search will demonstrate that there is plenty of tweeting happening between jobseekers and recruiters.

It’s easy to join Twitter and start following potential employers and their recruiters. You can make direct contact with any other user so tweet the recruitment manager or managing director of a company 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 receive a response, but Twitter is a friendly platform and the managers may be impressed by your initiative.

Contact Employers Directly

If you hear about a possible job opportunity then you can make a direct approach to the company. Don’t just send speculative applications to the recruitment or HR manager as you’re unlikely to get a response. Take some time to research the company using LinkedIn or Google and try to identify the person within that organisation who may have a suitable vacancy; then send a speculative application letter and you CV to them by name.

Sending a direct or speculative application really does pay off, but it’s quality over quantity that’s the important thing so don’t just send out the same email to 100 companies. Identify just a couple of 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 CV’s on file.

Attend Trade Fairs & Conferences

These are events when potentially all of the main employers in your field are gathered in the same location. You can find out about upcoming events mainly 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 maybes some business cards, and start networking.

It’s easy to succumb to misery when job hunting. It’s a terrible process that nobody really enjoys. However, that doesn’t mean you’re helpless. Tailoring your job hunt to the specific companies that you know you want to work for can help avoid wasting everyone’s time and even improve your chances with the few companies that you do go for.

Of course, you should keep responding to the traditional job advertisements, but rather than sitting at home waiting for your phone to ring, take control of your job search and be proactive.

 

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