The Speculative Approach

Miles Cooper explores the ‘hidden’ jobs market…

In most cases people apply for jobs that are advertised on websites or in magazines and newspapers, but what of the thousands of posts that get filled each year that are never advertised anywhere?  This ‘hidden’ jobs market is something that most folk never consider tapping into but it can be a very lucrative area for the switched on jobseeker.

Many jobs go un-advertised because the organisation in question either has someone already in mind for the post or they have a good selection of CVs from people who have written in ‘on the off chance’. This is, of course, the ideal scenario for the organisation – recruitment is an expensive business and the quicker the right candidate can be found the better.

So, if you are appropriately qualified, have all the right experience and you happen to fall into the employer’s lap at just the right time…it’s likely that they’ll be interested in talking to you.

But how do you know who to write to and when? 

You need to know your market. Do you keep up-to-date with developments and happenings within your field? Gathering intelligence about the sector you work in, or want to work in, is crucial. Is there an industry magazine that you can subscribe to? Are there websites that carry news stories specific to your sector?

Put simply, if you hear that Company A has won a big contract with, say, a government department, it is reasonable to assume that they might be recruiting staff for the commencement of the contract. Now is the time to get your CV in – not weeks or months later when job ads start to appear in the papers and websites. So, it pays to be well informed and to have your ear to the ground. 

The Letter
When approaching a company about potential or unadvertised vacancies, the covering letter that accompanies your CV is vitally important. Firstly, always write to a named individual. This may be an HR person with responsibility for the department or section that someone with your skills is likely to work in, or it may be the director or senior manager of that section, but either way you need to make it your business to find out who is responsible for recruiting people like you! 

Begin your letter with a brief paragraph that states your reason for writing to this particular organisation at this particular moment in time – this is where your intelligence gathering can really pay off. Demonstrating knowledge of some new development, project or contract the organisation is involved in can only reflect well on you.

The main body of the letter is your sales pitch – you need to highlight just what the benefits to the company are in employing you. When stressing the kind of role you are interested in you should convey the skills and experience you’ve acquired, as well as the success you’ve enjoyed in similar positions. Leave them in no doubt as to the added value you can bring to the role.

In closing your letter you should: reaffirm your interest in the organisation and the role you are after; draw the reader’s attention to your enclosed CV; and state how you will be following this letter up, e.g. you could say ‘I will call you early next week to discuss the above in greater detail and at this time we can perhaps arrange a short meeting.’

It goes without saying that the CV you enclose with this letter should not be your ‘standard’ resume. Instead, it should be specifically tailored to the type of post you are expressing an interest in. 

When You Meet
The job of your letter (and CV) is to generate sufficient interest in you from the organisation that they are keen to meet with you to discuss opportunities. It is likely that the subject of your approach will come up – this is a good thing. This gives you the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of the company’s activities and plans as well as to reassert your suitability for the role in question.

Even if a job offer is not forthcoming straight away, you are now on their radar – not only do they have your CV, they have met you face-to-face and you will have made a positive impression with your innovative approach.