Stop scanning the job boards and start doing the spadework to unearth hidden jobs that could be your dream assignment. Why join the gazillion applicants competing for one open position when you can get ahead of the crowd before a desirable job is even posted? The trick is to get prepared and stay on top of networking. Recognize how to write a cover letter that works. And don’t be shy about creating a job that’s customized for you. Make these tips work for you and you’ll be in the right place when the door opens to opportunity.
Let’s be frank. Networking is key, but clumsy networking has left a bad taste in many mouths. That’s because some jobseekers go about making contacts in ways that are obviously self-serving. You especially don’t want to make someone who can help you feel used. The key is to be ready to help them instead of focusing on yourself. Ask about their goals and challenges and what they are looking for in their career. Be a good listener. Genuine connections are the key to effective networking.
Look outside your field.
The person who can help you may not work in your field but may have a best friend, sister or relative who does. Certainly, you want to keep up with those who are on top of developments in your arena, but someone one or two degrees removed may know someone who knows about hidden jobs.
Relationship-building is most effective when it’s a consistent and ongoing effort. Keep at it when you are not looking for a job and your network will be there to help you out when you want to find new opportunities for yourself.
Do your homework and connect.
Do some extensive research on three to five companies where you think you would like to work. Try contacting people who work at those companies that you may know from school or clubs or hometown or LinkedIn groups. Invite them out for coffee and ask how they like working at the firm. You want to know what it’s like to work there and that’s difficult to learn unless you talk with someone who’s actually been on the ground.
Always keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date so you’ll be ready when employers come looking for you. Even if you are not currently looking for work, an unexpected opportunity may prove enticing.
Write an effective cover letter.
Employers aren’t engaged by a cover letter that spells out what you want from their company. It’s up to you to tell them how you can meet the challenges they spell out in their job description. Be specific with concrete numbers if possible.
Seek out hidden jobs.
Apply for a job that doesn’t exist yet. Target a company where you want to work and send a letter introducing yourself and the value you can provide to the company. You’ll need a solid understanding of the company and potential leadership gaps you could fill. Succinctly outline actions you could take to meet their needs. Offer proof that you’ve succeeded with results in your current job.