Blue light specials on good professional jobs are rare. It becomes incumbent upon the job seeker to scour the job market and identify opportunities that afford the best match for their interests, skills and abilities.
There are generally considered to be two job markets: the hidden i.e. those that are not advertised or widely publicized (perhaps because they don't yet exist!) and the visible i.e. those jobs that have been publicly announced.
Most job seekers, when presented with these two options, will naturally say that they prefer to shop in the hidden job market, assuming (correctly) that it will be the less crowded market; however, since they don't know how to access it, they often find themselves in the congested aisles of the visible job market.
It is not necessary to totally concentrate on one market at the expense of another, but you do need to allocate your time accordingly. If you've done your homework, you should know which market employers in your field are most likely to use.
The Hidden Job Market
Below are some resources for identifying employers in the hidden job market followed by some techniques for approaching those employers once identified:
- networking (friends, family, former employers, professors, etc.)
- informational interviews
- mentors - formal and informal
- newspaper articles
- trade & professional journal articles and advertisements
- industry/trade/agency/professional organization directories
- chamber/city directories
- internships; volunteer work
- part time and/or summer employment
- free lance work
- temporary agencies
- internet newsgroups
- industry/trade/agency/professional organization websites
After identifying and researching some logical employers, determine where your skills and abilities match the types of positions that they typically have available or can fill some need that currently exists within their organization.
Based on your research and your own personal style determine which of the following approaches is comfortable for you, yet likely to be effective, with each employer. Statistically, the most successful approach is networking.
- Make an exhaustive list of the people you know - include acquaintances from the various roles that you play, i.e. student, relative, friend, former/present employee, neighbor, member, etc.
- Contact these people and let them know that you will be graduating soon, specifically what your skills are and the type of position/organization that you are seeking.
- Ask if they can suggest someone for you to talk to who has a connection with the industry or position that you have identified. If you have a particular organization in mind, ask if they know anyone within that organization.
- Ask them to keep you in mind should they hear of any positions or prospects and offer to send them a copy of your resume.
- Using a database or a simple index card file, develop a prospect list. Systematically contact each of the individuals to whom you have been referred, mentioning the referring party's name if you have been given permission to do so.
- Ask each of them for a referral and ask them to keep you in mind should they hear of anything. Offer to send your resume.
- Keep your prospect list updated and accurate
HINT: Don't rely on network contacts whom you view as being in important positions. Your next-door neighbor's friend might be the human resources person exactly where you want to work..
HINT: Effective research will enable you to target your materials.
- Send a targeted resume and individualized cover letter, clearly demonstrating the fit between your skills and abilities and their needs.
- If you do not receive a response within a week to 10 days, follow up with a phone call.
- Before you make a call, prepare a script. Write down everything that you would like to say. Typically you will: introduce yourself (including who referred you, if appropriate)), outline how you feel you may benefit the organization, try to set up a meeting.
Anticipate objections and prepare responses in advance.
Don't take personally an individual's unwillingness to see you on the spot .
- Dress appropriately and head out, targeted resume in hand and a specific contact person in mind.
- If the individual you need to see is busy, ask if you may wait. If this is not acceptable, leave your resume and call back in a few days.
The Visible Job Market
Resources for the visible job market include, but are not limited to the following:
- campus Career Services offices
- classified sections of newspapeers
- job vacancy and resume databases on the Internet
- employment listings on employer home pages
- classified sections of professional and trade journals
- public employment agencies (Job Service)
- private employment agencies
- public sector employment offices (state, city, county and federal personnel offices)
- professional association placement services
- career fairs
- job hotlines
- bulletin boards
- Upon learning of an opening, whenever possible, place a phone call to the person supervising the position. Introduce yourself and pose a few pre-thought out, well phrased, relevant questions. This information will enable you to target your resume and cover letter.
- Review your network. Identify and talk to anyone who might have some insight into the organization, or the position i.e. clients, competition, current employees, etc.
- Respond to the ad with your targeted materials, complying with the instructions for making application.
- Follow up with a phone call to determine:
a) that your credentials were received.
b) whether there is any additional information that you can provide to assist them in their decision making process.
HINT: Make sure that your resume and cover letter address the requirements of the job announcement and are addressed to an individual person