These days the job market is more competitive than ever, meaning career seekers have to think outside the box when it comes to finding a job in their desired field. You can’t just apply for positions listed on job sites anymore, you have to look elsewhere and beat your competition to the punch.
Here our experts share unique ways to find a job and offer up advice on how to tap into the hidden job market.
A great way to get noticed by prospective employers is to become a fan and show your support through social media.
“Begin connecting with your ideal market or companies,” career coach Kelly Melsted says. “Become a customer and become a raving fan. Like them on Facebook, connect on LinkedIn, buy from them and promote them.”
Another way you can show your support and interest in a company is by writing about them. “Write articles on the industry, mention the companies. Post it on your blog if you have one, be a guest author on industry specific blogs and post on LinkedIn. Reshare their post online and refer people their way.”
Once you’ve connected with companies via social media, take it a step further and introduce yourself, Kelly says.
“Make is a genuine introduction. Tell them why you like their company specifically or congratulate them on a recent award,” she suggests. “Let them know you are around. Don’t ask for anything, just show up and recognize them.”
Now that you’ve established a connection with a company, it’s a good idea to get friendly with the people that work there. While traditional informational interviews are always a great option, why not sweeten the offer a little bit?
“Offer to take an upper manager out for coffee or bring coffee to their office,” Kelly suggest. “This is not a sales pitch. This is a time for you to understand the needs of the company. Ask them about their struggles and their victories. Let them know the intention of the meeting is to learn more about the company or industry and to get to know them better. Listen for what you can uniquely offer to the company through the conversation. Listen, be interested and grateful for their time. ”
Once you’ve established a connection with the company and an upper manager or two, you want to stay in their peripherals by popping into their inbox with something useful/interesting that relates to the company/industry.
“Send over an interesting article or resource that would be helpful,” Kelly says. “Again, no other intention than to just give value. Let them know why you think the article is valuable and helpful. This will help to show your understanding of the company and where they want to grow.”
“Get clear on how you can help the company. You will most likely have a good idea of what you can uniquely offer to the company from the coffee date. Be sure to make it clear that you understand the need and what you can offer. Pitch your idea as a gracious invitation to work together.
Here is an example:
I really admire your business because (describe why.) I think it’s great that you are (describe what).
During our meeting together or I noticed that you are (describe growth or where they are struggling). I would be honored to work with you if you ever wanted help with _____.
I have experience/ I will help you (describe how you can help).
Attached is my resume with more information on my experience.
Please feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a call to discuss further. I would really enjoy working with you and your company.
Thanks and hope (whatever project they are working on) is going great!
Another way to gain access to the hidden job market is through volunteering at organizations of interest.
“Volunteering has led to paid employment for several of my clients, sometimes with the organization itself and often through contacts made while volunteering on boards or in direct service roles for nonprofits, community efforts or industry associations,” explains career coach Sally Anne Giedrys. “It gives you a chance to show your skill and your work style as well as make connections. In my former work life, I hired several people who I met that way and have been offered jobs myself as a direct result of volunteering, chairing committees and organizing industry conferences.”
“Freelance or consulting work has led to full-time employment offers for several of my clients (again, an experience I also had myself when working as a consultant),” Sally says.
By now you’re likely familiar with the importance of networking when looking for a job, but it’s not enough to only focus on your professional connections on LinkedIn anymore. You’ll want to cast a wider net and network with anyone and everyone – from your neighbours down the hall to the workers at your child’s daycare.
“Another proven, but often overlooked way to find a job is to talk about what you do—or want to do— with your social contacts. While it’s always a good idea to nourish and tap your professional network, connecting with people far outside of your usual professional networking venues is just as valuable,” Sally says. “Think about the people you meet social and sports groups, at events, while on vacation, on an airplane, in social media groups you participate in— you never know who is looking for your skills or who might have a contact at a company that you’re interested in.”
Sometimes you have to really think outside of the box to stand out against your competition and really get creative. There have been both successful and unsuccessful attempts at using creativity to get a job, so ask yourself if your ideas help to exemplify my skills and experience.
“It pays to be creative,” Sally explains. “One client of mine used this strategy to put some fun back into what had been a frustrating job search. She developed a PDF flyer to advertise herself and the opportunity she was looking for, playfully but professionally communicating who she is and what she has to offer. She shared it liberally online and offline, and caught the attention of several contacts who referred her to potential employers. One was the right fit.”
If you are a chef, for example, you may draft up new menu items for the restaurant you are applying to work at and include the recipes or even samples of the dishes. If you’re a graphic designer, you may opt to create visuals that showcase your skills and experience while also showing samples of your work.
Another option that has become popular in recent years (and even requested by some employers) are video job applications. Whether you are asked to create one when applying for a job or just want to add another layer to your professional portfolio, you’ll want to plan ahead and take the right steps to create something really memorable.
“There is no limit on how you can (and no “right way to”) meet the people who will hire you or identify your next job. With imagination, ingenuity and a little willingness to think differently, you really can dream it, design it and live it,” Sally adds.
Kristen is the editor and community manager at Noomii.com and the Noomii Career Blog. Kristen's desire to ask questions and share information with others led her to pursue journalism. While she has worked at various publications, covering everything from municipal politics to local restaurants, it was her love of self-improvement and sharing inspiration with others that made Noomii the perfect fit. Connect with Kristen on Twitter and LinkedIn.