In my last post, 5 Networking tips that won't make you cringe, I mentioned the Hidden Job Market and how loads of job vacancies are being filled without being advertised. I am following up today to introduce some other ways that you can tap into the hidden job market and promote yourself to a broader audience - without it feeling icky!
When most of us are looking for a new career opportunity, the first thing we do is head online to a well-known job platform and start searching. But what happens if your dream job isn't advertised? Do you shrug your shoulders and give up the search - "maybe the timing is not right...” Do you become a job advert stalker and check back 10 times a day just in case your dream job suddenly becomes available? Some of you might even relinquish your dream and apply for something you just aren't that into, because you feel like you need a change.
Now, I don't want to tell you how to suck eggs.
But none of these actions are going to help you to make your dream a reality. You need to think bigger. Think strategically. Make it your mission to seek out your perfect career opportunity and make it happen! Here are my suggestions:
1. SEND INTRODUCTORY LETTERS
Think about the companies that you want to work for and develop a wish list. Once you have your wish list collated, you can start making some magic! There are a few key things that you need to consider when you are crafting a successful introductory letter. You see, you want your letter to create a shining first impression and compel the receiver to get in contact with you. I will be writing a whole post on this very soon and will include some introductory letter templates, but in the meantime, here are some quick tips:
Make sure that you address your letter to a specific person.
If you don't do this, your letter is going to get lost. Letters that don't have a specific contact can often get passed off as junk mail and may not make it to the desk of the decision maker. Letters that are addressed correctly have so much more impact, so make sure you do your research online, use your industry connections or simply call the company and ask who to address your letter to.
Aim to get in contact with the decision maker.
As I have mentioned, you want to address your letter correctly. But who should you be targeting. The Human Resources department right? Wrong (unless you are trying to get a job in the HR division!) You want your letter to land in the hands of a direct line manager. For example, if you are looking for an IT job, you want to seek out the IT Manager.
Why do I suggest this? Because the people who are skilled in your field will be more likely to see the value that you are providing. The HR department could decide to file your letter because there are no current vacancies, whereas a direct line manager has the capacity to create a job for you OR might have an insight into changes within their department that could result in opportunities becoming available in the future.
Convey your value.
When writing your letter you want to explain the value you can provide this potential employer, without making it all about you. Sound tricky? In an introductory letter, the key is balance. You need to find balance between:
- Complimenting the organisation
- Explaining why you are getting in touch
- Talking about your skills and experience
- Linking your skills and experience back to the value you can provide
- Being persuasive - asking for an interview without being pushy
As I said, this will be a whole post on its own (COMING SOON!) but if you want to get going on drafting your introductory letters, the above points are a great place to start!
The hidden job market won't get in the way of my dream career!
2. JOIN ONLINE GROUPS
LinkedIn is a great place to find like-minded individuals and you can search for and join groups relating to your industry. By adding groups to your LinkedIn profile, you not only get access to a whole lot of new connections, but you also make yourself more available to potential employers - hanging out where your potential employers are hanging out is a superb way to make your mark in the hidden job market!
Twitter chats are another way to connect with influencers in your field. I am new to twitter chats, but have really enjoyed the few that I have attended. A twitter chat is a group discussion that happens at a certain time and there is a hashtag that is used to tie the discussion together. One person usually leads the chat and asks a range of questions that everybody answers using the hashtag. This is seriously such a great way to connect with new people, get involved in robust discussions and pick up heaps of new ideas!
Whether you choose LinkedIn, Twitter or another online forum, you should keep these simple tips in mind:
- Take it easy at first - you don't want to jump straight in and take over. You are best to make sure that you understand the rules and the vibe and then start making a contribution.
- Always be adding value. A great way to get noticed is to add value to the group. You can do this by bringing a new perspective to the discussion, linking to credible content or even by asking well thought out questions that could benefit other members.
- Be professional. Remember the end game here - you want to impress the socks off your dream employers! You won't achieve that by acting antagonistic, cursing or breaching group rules.
- Authenticity goes a long way. One of your greatest attributes is your personality and potential employers will be drawn to it, especially if you are a good culture fit for the organisation. By being genuine in your communications you will let your personality shine through and you will instantly become more attractive to the influencers you are trying to connect with!
3. CREATE AN ONLINE PRESENCE
You know that the internet is part of our daily lives, but what you may not realise is how often your potential employers utilise the internet to find out more information about you! There are so many stories showing up in the news about people who have been fired from their jobs for saying stupid and irresponsible things about their employers on Facebook or Twitter. What you don't see though are the stories about people who were not hired in the first place, because their social media profiles didn't align with company values.
This is why it is so important that you craft your online presence carefully.
You need to control the information that you are making available on the internet. In fact, you can actually take this a step further than just cleaning up your Facebook and Twitter profiles and increasing security.
Have you thought about creating a personal website or social media account to directly promote your skills and expertise? I know, when you first think about it, it sounds extreme. But specifically creating your online presence to target your dream employers can be an incredibly effective way to tap into the hidden job market. You could do this through Twitter, LinkedIn or one of the free blogging site (WordPress and Blogger are just a couple). If you are comfortable with the tech stuff, go ahead and set something up on your own domain.
What should you include on your website?
This all depends on your profession. Ideally you want to choose a range of tools that will allow you to showcase your strengths and abilities. Think about an online portfolio if you are an artist, photographer or other creative. You could include a blog if you are a writer, a journalist or are looking for a way to demonstrate your knowledge. Testimonials, references and a copy of your full resume are other awesome additions to your profile.
For more information about this, check out my post on Going Digital: Creating a Personal Website.
4. USE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANTS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Recruitment consultants in general don't have the best reputation. Recruitment is a sales industry and a lot of the larger companies train their staff to use candidates as a commodity. There are massive commissions available to consultants who are successful and this can sometimes lead to them being more focused on a pay cheque than the wellbeing of their candidates. I know that I won't be popular for sharing this opinion, but hear me out.
What I have described above is true, but it is not necessarily the rule. There are some incredible consultants out there who are still focused on the financial rewards of the industry, but realise they don't have to be jerks about it. There are heaps of consultants out there that want to earn their commission by helping you snag your dream job. The trick is that you have to find them and show them how valuable you are.
What do networking, introductory letters & recruitment consultants have in common?
So, I bet you are asking, "How do I find these elusive recruitment consultants?"
Well, remember what I said about the hidden job market? This is the case for recruiters as well and you need to keep in mind that you won't always find the best recruiters advertising regularly on job platforms. They are constantly busy networking and building relationships with candidates and clients alike and don't need to waste money on advertising vacancies that they can fill through their own industry connections. So one way to find them is to meet them on their own turf and show up to the places that recruitment consultants are hanging out.
The best way to find an awesome recruitment consultant though, is to ask for referrals. Talk to your mates in the industry and find out who they know. By all means, you can check out online reviews on sites like LinkedIn, but the best reviews come from people you have relationships with - you can rely on their honesty and can often even secure an introduction!
5. NETWORK LIKE IT'S GOING OUT OF FASHION
So, I know I have already done a whole post on this but I want to remind you again how important networking is, particularly if you are trying to tap into the hidden job market. The key to really making networking work for you is to make sure that you are consistent with your approach - you are turning up regularly, following up in a genuine way and providing value to your new-found connections, not just taking.
Have you had any experience with the hidden job market? I'd love for you to tell your story in the comments section! Know someone who is ready to make a career move? Make sure you hit one of the social sharing buttons at the bottom of this post - be a good friend and give someone a leg up to secure their dream role.
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