At least six times in my life I have found a job by using my network and/or approaching the employer I wanted to work for. Five of those were ‘ideal’ jobs that suited my ambitions and my circumstances.
In three of these cases the jobs were just a twinkle in the eye of the employer when I contacted them; they had not been advertised and there was not even a job description. They often said ‘You’ve phoned at the right time – I have this job in mind…’
I must confess that although I am a staunch proponent of the method I suggest below, I was always amazed and delighted when it actually succeeds. Because until it happens you have to act on faith. And that is difficult.
75 % of all jobs are to be found by accessing your network and approaching employers directly, but these sources are rarely pursued with the dedication they deserve – given their success rate. Which means that when you job hunt you miss out on 75% of opportunity. Imagine someone you know, knows about a job that would suit you perfectly. But they did not know you were in the market and did not know what you could do. People think they are approaching employers directly when they send unsolicited CVs and hoping. No – your experience, by now, tells you that is not the way!
How to approach an employer directly
The name of this game is research, research and some more research.
- Mr Google is your friend: Find the company or individual’s website.
- The name of the company and its history is important so don’t skip that ‘About’ tab which is often hidden in the list at the bottom of the Index page.
- What do they sell, manufacture or what service they offer?
- What do they highlight? What are they proud of? Read everything.
- Who are the directors? Who is in charge of the section you would be interested in? There is often a section about the Staff.
- Find the tab on the menu bar which says Careers – that is where they offer jobs, but also lists who to contact. If they do not have one, use the Contact tab to find some information.
- Your friends and their friends, and their friends, are your friends. (Your network.)
- Make a list of everyone you know. Everyone. Because you trying to find someone who knows someone, who knows someone, who works for that company, or knows a decision maker. Remember to use your Facebook and Linkedin page.
- Work through the list every day and (after some pleasantries), let your friend know that you are job-hunting and are particularly interested in working for XYZ company. Do they happen to know someone who may know contact there? Try to get at least 2 referrals. Leave contact details.
- (If you phone a stranger always introduce yourself with your friend’s name: ‘Mary’ suggested you may be a good person to ask whether you know about XYZ company.’
- Be sensitive to timing – always ask if it is a convenient time.
- Ideally you want to get to the decision maker. So knowing the structure of the company is important. Unfortunately phoning the company means you are probably going to get through to all the gatekeepers: receptionists, secretaries and the like! Although you can try.
- Take some time to get your introductory pitch right. (This is sometimes called the ‘elevator pitch’ because it should be short and concise. Write it down, practice with a good friend. Change it, depending on who you are talking to.
- Once you have a name, spend time writing down why you would like to work for them. Imagine answering this question: why do you want to work for us?
- Send a cover letter to a specific person if you can (the HR manager or department manager)
- Introduce yourself in a positive way e.g. ‘I read on your website…’ ‘I heard from a friend…’
- Mention how your skills and knowledge are important for the job you want. e.g. I have studied this: (add in your qualification, skills and knowledge) and I am looking for an opportunity to use what I learnt in my studies to assist your (company / organisation / department). I think it could be relevant to the work your (company /your department) specialises in.
- Say something like ‘I would be glad if you could interview me to see how my skills and enthusiasm could contribute to the success of [company name] in the future.’
- Add ‘I attach a CV and look forward to hearing from you’. Remember to follow up].
- Keep your CV short. Be sure to highlight key skills and achievements as they relate specifically to the company you are applying to.
- Remember Social Media: Facebook and especially Linked.
- Spend 75% of your day doing this.
Think this is a little OTT (over-the-top)? Remember sending out dozens of CV’s with no response? Ready to try what works? This is it.
Let me know if how this goes…