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Wouldn’t it be good if you could find unadvertised jobs before other people? Here’s 4 proven ways to do just that, and it’s easier than you might think. Let’s get started…

It’s not a myth that most jobs are not actually advertised. In fact, the percentage is estimated to be around 70%. I you think that is impossible, just Google ‘most jobs not advertised’ and you will find countless articles on the subject.

So, how can this be and, more importantly, how can you turn this to your advantage by finding them before they ever get advertised?

We are going to cover:

  • Why 70% of jobs stay hidden
  • How other people can help you
  • Research that will get you results
  • Tactics for using social media effectively
  • And how and when to make speculative applications

But first, let’s take a look at the anatomy of a job to put things into perspective.

The lifecycle of a job

It takes a long time before we realise we are dehydrated. It all starts with a cause. Perhaps you live in a hot climate and you simply have not taken in enough fluids? Or maybe you have over exerted yourself at the gym, or eaten a meal with too much salt? 

Whatever the cause, your body is affected, reacts and starts to give you signals such as headache, feelings of hunger, and fatigue. Finally, when all else has failed, you’ll experience the final sign – thirst.

Well, the same is true for job openings. There’s an initial cause, lots of reactive effects and signals, and then, if all else fails, it gets advertised publicly.

The Cause

Jobs are advertised to the public after a whole series of events and meetings. The early stages within organisations are many and varied, such as:

  • The need to make staff redundant
  • Gossip about someone leaving
  • People weighing up their retirement options
  • Staff being relocated to a different site
  • A team member underperforming
  • Personality clashes that cannot be resolved
  • Or an event occurs that creates a new job or jobs such as winning a major contract

The Effect

When HR gets involved, it can only mean one thing – red tape! Now, that is not a criticism but a necessity as part of their duty of care to employees, both existing and new. There will then be many meetings between HR and Management to discuss the role and create a Job Description.

Next it has to be signed off by whoever has the authority to do so. This is often problematic where budgets have to be approved, decision makers are hard to locate, and organisational strategy has to be considered.

HR are now back in the picture.

They need to consider possible internal applicants, search their company database of likely candidates that have already applied for other positions, and arrange meetings with recruitment consultants to talk about the opening.

Advertising and budgets are agreed and approved and then bam – finally, the job goes public! It is on the company’s website, is advertised on job sites and promoted by recruitment agencies.

So, what is the point of telling you all this?

Well, it is a fact that jobs can ‘exist’ for months before they are publicly released – if in fact they ever are.

Jobs can ‘exist’ for months before they are publicly released – if in fact they ever are.

This gives you a fighting chance to discover opportunities prior to them going public, putting you ahead of your competition.

So, how exactly do you do this?

When you break it down, there are 4 key areas – people, research, social media, and speculation.

Quick Tip: What I am about to tell you really works. Before you start, I strongly recommend that you put some sort of system in place now to keep control of your job search. This could be a simple spreadsheet or a free tool such as JibberJobber or Trello to track all conversations, information and applications you are going to make through this process.

Method 1 – People

Top of the list are recruitment consultants. Please don’t switch off or skip to the next section. It’s true that there are some terrible consultants out there – but it is also true that there are some brilliant ones. The trick is to learn how to work with recruitment consultants so that you have a mutually beneficial relationship.

Recruitment Consultants

Good recruitment consultants build strong relationships with their Clients which means they are often brought in to confidential discussions at the very early stages of job creation.

This means that they know about job openings in an organisation way before most of the people that work there. For example, HR may call in their trusted recruitment firm to talk about major plans to increase their headcount to meet the demands of a new project.

So this, in turn, means that prior to a position going public and advertised, consultants will be researching and compiling a database of candidates to talk to when they are given the green light.

In fact, often consultants have already short-listed people by talking to them generally or about other opportunities when really they have been screening them for a new, undisclosed role.

Often consultants have already short-listed people by talking to them generally or about other opportunities when really they have been screening them for a new, undisclosed role.

One reason they do this in advance is that they want to deliver results fast for their Clients. The other is that it is a great method for getting the best fit for a role. Jobseekers don’t know they are being assessed and tend to reveal more about themselves in a far more natural way.

It is crucial to identify the right consultants and keep regular contact with them. Use these tips to stand above others as a great candidate – and always assume they may have something perfect but that they can’t talk about it with you yet.

Top tips for working with recruiters
  • Try to establish rapport with recruiters so that you are not just a ‘bit of paper’ to them.
  • Ask them directly if there is anything else in the pipeline.
  • They might say yes and tell you in advance about it which will get you ahead of others.
  • Or they might say no but still think of you for a position they can’t discuss yet.
  • If you sense they are busy or feeling harassed, back off politely and move on to the next one.
  • However anxious or frustrated you are, don’t be rude, patronising or angry if you are not forwarded for a position or get a result straight away.
  • Always be professional and take the long-term view.

Next, we are going to take a trip back to the old days before the internet to something we used to call Word of Mouth

WOM

Never underestimate the worth of your personal network. You may not think you have one but everyone has friends, family, past employers and colleagues.

If it makes you cringe at the thought of ‘asking for help’ you are not alone. A huge proportion of my Career Coaching clients feel that they don’t want to talk about the fact they are seeking a new job through embarrassment or pride, or often a combination of both.

I get this, but you need to remember that lifecycle of a job. Lots of people, for various reasons, know about jobs that are about to happen before they are advertised.

The answer to finding unadvertised jobs is to change your way of thinking and make networking a habit rather than something you never do – or only do when you need a job.

Still feeling uncomfortable? Stop a minute and ask yourself this. Who these days truly has a job for life?

Don’t feel bad about putting it out there that you are available because these days jobs change so quickly people will expect their friends to be in a job seeking position at some point in their relationship with them.

Don’t feel bad about putting it out there that you are available because these days jobs change so quickly people will expect their friends to be in a job seeking position at some point in their relationship with them.

There is no stigma, it is not something to be ashamed of, it is just normal life.

Tips on WOM tactics
  • Don’t restrict this just to people in your industry. For example, your next door neighbour’s wife may be friends with a woman whose best friend is the HR Manager at one of your target companies. That is the beauty of Word of Mouth, you never know where it could go.
  • Mention it in passing rather than making it the first topic of conversation. You don’t want people to feel used.
  • Say something along the lines of “I would really appreciate it if you hear of anything” and leave it at that.
  • If you don’t already have some, get some personal business cards printed with your contact details and LinkedIn profile so your contacts can pass them on.
  • Attend conferences to expand your contacts and gain knowledge.
  • When you submit applications, be sure to mention in your e-mail or cover letter if a friend or contact has suggested that you send your resume to them. Mention their name and, if it is a large company, their job title as well.

The most important thing to remember is to always aim to give rather than get. You want them to think “what can I do for him/her?” and the best way to achieve this is to genuinely be there for others.

Help other people now by passing on information about opportunities where possible. Don’t wait till you are needing a job yourself to start behaving like this. And, when you get your new job, don’t stop being helpful to others either – because you never know when you might need a job again.

Quick Tip: Do this now so that your personal contacts and professional network are happy to be associated with you. If you have one or more active accounts, then you will have what is known as a Social Resume. Follow these top tips to ensure yours is going to work for you – and not against you – in your job search.

Method 2 – Research

The next method is news or research because one of the best ways to learn about hidden jobs is to stay up-to-date with prospective employers. Knowing who is expanding, where contracts have been awarded and the latest mergers are invaluable to your job search.

Google News Alerts

Just go to the Google Alerts page and type in which employers, decision makers and fields of interest you want to hear about.

Then you’ll start receiving emails with the latest news Google has turned up.

Research the right contact within a company and work on a direct approach which centres on congratulating them regarding their big news and why you feel you would be a benefit to their company.

Online Magazines

Research industry publications and look for their breaking news sections, which are often in their blogs. Oftentimes a company will talk about their expansion plans or even talk about their skill shortages in certain areas.

When you contact hem, make sure you reference the article as the reason for contacting them so that they understand you are an industry professional who has taken a keen interest in their particular company.

Company Websites

Make target list of the companies you would like to work for and search for information on mergers, expansions and projects. Check out their careers pages to find direct contacts in HR in the departments you are interested in. You can then reach out to them to see if it is worth sending your resume to them.

Method 3 – Social Media

Aside from the obvious ways to use social media for job search, there are other less known methods that are perfect for accessing the hidden job market.

LinkedIn

Still regarded as the number one site for career development and networking, LinkedIn offers so much opportunity to find and be found.

Aside from searching for jobs you can

  • Get email alerts for new job postings to see which companies are hiring
  • Learn about companies you want to work for from the Companies page and see who in your network already works there.
  • Reach out to people in your LinkedIn network to discover unadvertised job opportunities.
  • Find and join groups to discuss professional topics, trends, and issues with like-minded people, to build and maintain a broader network of up to date information.
  • Become a featured applicant with a Job Seeker Premium account and stand out from the crowd to be more visible for recruiters looking for passive talent for confidential positions they are handling.

For more information on all these, visit the LinkedIn Help Center for further details.

Facebook

If you want to see a funny cat video, go on Facebook. But if you want to see jobs and information – also go to Facebook. Facebook Jobs is here to stay and is a great source for research.

Quick question. You know where your friends work but do you know where their friends and their friend’s friend’s work?

Probably not.

Put out a status saying that you are available for a new opportunity within (name the sector). Tell people that you would really appreciate any news or contacts that might help you.

Be careful though if you are still looking after a little while because you can’t keep posting the same message.

Instead, be creative and post stuff like “had a great interview today. Keep your fingers crossed for me!” This will remind people to think about you.

Leave timely gaps between messages though so you don’t become a pain!

Always make sure you help others. If in this process you hear of opportunities that might suit others let them know. Then they will be more inclined to help you and ask others to help you.

Twitter

Unlike LinkedIn, Twitter allows you to connect with people that you don’t already know based on common interests.

Follow everything relevant to you and use any information you find about possible job opportunities, and when someone follows you or you follow them, make sure you read their bio thoroughly.

If it looks like they work somewhere you might be interested in, or if you think they might be someone who could connect you to others, get in touch with them.

Some may say no or not responded at all, but often people are open to meeting or talking.

Just as in Facebook, Tweet about what is going on with your job search. For example, mention interviews and meetings with people because that reminds people about your job search.

Make sure that your Twitter name is your real name because then it will help in your search engine results.

You can also create a Twitter job search list to track job listings from thousands of sources every day. Include recruiters, hiring managers, company hiring handles, and job search websites. Then, make sure you review their tweets daily for potential opportunities.

There may, of course, be a perfect advertised opportunity but what you are really looking for here is contacts and news about companies and projects that are growing and hiring.

Method 4 – Speculative Approaches

You may be tempted to send resumes out to every single company you know of that might be hiring saying ‘got any jobs?’

There is some merit in this method because, as the saying goes, “if you throw enough mud at a wall, some of it might stick.” You could get lucky and send your resume to a company just as they are about to call an agency to recruit someone just like you.

So yes, it is another method to find ‘hidden jobs’ and it can be very effective – but there are some rules to obey if you are using this approach.

Don’t send group e-mails

It might save time to put “To Whom It May Concern” instead of a person’s name, click send and off goes a batch of a 100 in one go but it is not the right thing to do. Companies want to think that you want to specifically work for them and also you will look lazy and just a little desperate

Keep track your activity

Always keep control of your job search by recording details on a spreadsheet or the tools I mentioned earlier so you can make a follow-up call a week later. You definitely need to do this with speculative applications because you can so easily get confused and annoy people by repeatedly contacting them when you already have an answer.

Get real names where possible

Find a contact name to send your resume to either on their website, through friends or colleagues, or through company searches on LinkedIn.

You definitely need a good cover letter

Make sure the content is not about how much you want to work for their company but what you can do for their company if they employed you. Back this up with facts about them that you have researched from their website. Use this guide to make sure you don’t make any mistakes.

Don’t get disheartened with your response rate.

Most won’t respond at all unless you make a call to them. Some will be annoyed that you sent your resume when it wasn’t requested. Others will send you a standard letter that you have been put on their database. A few will have opportunities that could be right for you. This is a ‘numbers game’ method. Keep going.

Be brave and make those follow up calls

You probably don’t want to do it but you must. Some will be dismissive and rude. Others will be polite but give you nothing. You may need to make 100 calls before you get a positive response. The trick is to keep going and don’t get upset if someone is not nice to you.

Never be rude if you don’t get the response you want.

Even if they deserve a comment back from you about their attitude, keep professional as you never know when you might need them in the future.

Conclusion

Working at finding unadvertised jobs and accessing the hidden job market is all about connecting with people, conducting research, being visible, in the right way, on social media, and making professional speculative approaches to companies the right way.

And the key word is – work. All of these methods are easy to implement but they will take time and effort. But if you do combine them, it will definitely be worth it to put you ahead of your competition so you can get the job you deserve. Good luck!

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