By Mary Jo King, NCRW, NCOPE

If you’re a client of mine, you’ve had the speech: Don’t wait to find your next position on a job board. Develop your own hit list, and get on file with the companies that interest you.

Some experts estimate that more than 65% of available jobs are never advertised anywhere. Most employers fill openings with people who have already applied–one way or another. Whether the talent solution arrives via a networking connection, or through individuals who have demonstrated the initiative to submit their résumé directly, employers like to hire people this way. It’s easy for them, and it often results in a great match. 

Finding opportunities this way is easier than you may realize. First, decide whether your search will involve a specific geographic region, industry, or job function. Use Internet keyword searches to develop a list of the companies that fit your criteria. Don’t concern yourself with looking for current job openings; that is a different project for another day. Your goal is to find organizations that are a good fit for your skill set and career path. Begin with a manageable number–say, fifteen or twenty companies.

Next, identify the individual inside the organization who will receive your résumé and cover letter. This would logically be the human resource manager or a department head, but you can target the owners of smaller companies. Comb social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to find people who already work at the companies you’re targeting.

Using information garnered during your research, write a compelling cover letter, addressed to the individual you’ve identified. Promise to follow up in a few days, and do so–with a telephone call directly to that individual. If you are told there are no current job openings, ask that your documents be kept on file for future reference. Their situation could change tomorrow.

Continue to grow your list, and follow up regularly on everything you have out there.  Calling once a month to check in is not unreasonable, and you’ll develop name recognition.

Keep your skills sharp and your knowledge current while you’re looking. Join industry-related organizations, read periodicals and blogs. Take a class. Volunteer. You’ll expand your horizons automatically, and learn about opportunities before they get advertised.

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