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Tapping Into The "Hidden" Job MarketSue Campbell offers over 15 years experience as a professional resume writer and career management strategist.
by Sue Campbell, 1st-Writer.com

There has been a lot of discussion over the last decade regarding the "Hidden Job Market." Does it exist? And if so, where is it and how can you get a piece of the action?

The truth is, the "Hidden Job Market" isn't really hidden, and tapping into it simply requires a bit of outside-the-box thinking.

It doesn't mean you can forgo the routine procedures and protocols of an ordinary job search.

It does mean throwing your net as far and wide as you're willing, in order to gain the largest amount of exposure and opportunities possible.

Tapping into the "hidden job market" requires real effort and legwork on the part of the job candidate. Too many job seekers today simply post their resumes online in volume, hoping that the percentages, alone, will work in their favor ("If I post it in 50 places I should hear back from at least one").

But this passive type of job hunting, posting a resume and then inactively waiting for someone else to take action, has limited results. It would be very rare for a potential employer or competitive position to seek you out. In 2005, it is a buyer's market, and the extra effort has to come from the job hunter.

The first thing a job candidate needs to do is make certain he or she has all the job search tools necessary for a productive job search campaign (see "The Eight Worst Mistakes Job Hunters Make."). If your resume is not up-to-date, and you don't have it prepared in all the file formats necessary for a productive job search campaign, including: ASCII, HTML, word processed, and PDF, you're already ten steps behind the competition (see resume file formats explained).

Be ready and prepared for when opportunities present, including having your references, interview attire (more than one, pressed and ready), e-mail address (other than the one provided to you by your current employer), and comfortable but productive interview strategies in place.

Avenues that you should already be utilizing on a daily basis include: reading the classified ads in your local and area newspapers - every day - submitting your resume to every position and company that can utilize your skills and services (regardless of whether there's a known position opening, or not); posting your resume to selected sites on the Net (see Career Resources, Job Sites By Industry and Job Sites By State to get you started), and posting your resume with a qualified recruiter or headhunter (a recruiter should never charge you a fee, they make their money working for the companies and corporations who hire them); and/or a utilizing a temporary agency.

Outside the box thinking includes networking in a big way. Networking means actively searching out opportunities and making as many people aware of you, your unique skills and abilities, and your interest in securing a new job, as possible. Every friend and family member should be aware of your pursuit. Every acquaintance, too. But keep in mind that networking is never a one-way proposition. You need to be ready to contribute something, as well, whether that be your time, expertise or influence. See Job Hunting for the Holidays.

In addition to making the world aware of you and your objectives, you need to be able to clearly express these objectives to anyone who asks. You should be able to say, in a clear and concise manner, exactly what it is you can do (your area of expertise), what it is you are looking for (the type of position and/or company that would present the best fit), what it is you want, and the real and potential benefits of hiring you.

The more clearly you are able to define your job search, the more effectively your network will be able to help you.

Outside of the box activities include:

Broadcast Cover Letters

In addition to the typical cover letter (that addresses a known position opening), creating a "broadcast" cover letter can be an effective job search tool. A broadcast cover letter is used to contact companies of interest, but where no known position opening exists.

Why would you want to submit a cover letter and resume to a company who is not hiring? Because:

  • Job openings become available and filled every day without the public's knowledge.

  • A company may be considering a position opening in the near future for which you're truly qualified.

  • A hiring manager who does not have a job opening available but knows of another company or hiring manager looking to hire a candidate with your skills and qualifications.

  • A resume from a qualified individual can sometimes push a hiring manager to make a tough decision to fire a poor performing employee.

  • A resume from a qualified individual can sometimes push a hiring manager or company owner to develop a much needed niche in their company.

The broadcast cover letter is the same as a cover letter targeting a known position, in that: 1) you need to understand the company you're targeting: who they are, what they do, what they are proud of, what they look for in potential employees, who or what comprises their customer market, what sets them apart from their competition, who their competition is, and more... 2) identifies how you fit in to this organization (to their benefit), and 3) the benefits of hiring you over another qualified candidate.

A broadcast cover letter is different from a typical cover letter in that it's solely the job of the candidate to identify where his or her skills may be best placed in the company. Don't expect your reader to figure out where they can fit you in, or where your skills will benefit.

While a routine cover letter might begin: "The position you have posted for _________________ appears to be an ideal fit...," a broadcast cover letter might begin: "In the course of attempting to revitalize and strengthen your company's ____________... you may have the need for a qualified ______________... who is able to..."

In order to create a truly effective broadcast cover letter, you need to do your homework, first. This means researching the companies you target and becoming very familiar with their markets, environments, goals, and objectives. See more about Broadcast Cover Letters.

Company Web site searches

The vast majority of companies today, whether big or small, have a company Web site. Within these Web sites is a wealth of information: from key personnel, to the services or products they offer, to how well they're doing.

Often, companies will post job openings on their corporate Web sites that aren't posted anywhere else on the Net.

By doing a simple search of the Internet, you may locate companies you didn't even know existed, up and comers, mergers, new businesses, which are (or will be) a perfect fit for what you have to offer.

Locating a job opening with one company means it's worth take a look at their competition, and understanding that competing companies may have similar needs.

Want to find out even more about a company? Try one of these searches: Research That Company!

Telephone Book

An often overlooked tool is the telephone book. And you don't need to limit yourself to your current city (although it's a great place to start). You can access telephone books (with full ads and loads of information) for any city of interest.

As you begin looking through the Yellow Pages, start with the section you think will offer the most logical opportunities, but don't stop there. In fact, start with the first business page of the telephone book and keep going. You may find companies and industries that can use your particular skills that you hadn't before considered.

A recent client used the telephone book to become familiar with the companies and industries in her new town. She submitted broadcast cover letters and resumes to all the companies that were similar to the companies she had worked for in the past. She also submitted broadcast cover letters and resumes to companies in different industries - those she believed could benefit from her unique skills and background. She is now working in an entirely different industry and has never been happier. In fact, the subtle change in career direction has allowed her to break through the income ceiling of her previous industry, and has opened a wide array of potential new directions for her future.

Business Cards

Just as you need to be able to verbally indicate what types of positions you're hoping to secure, as well as the type of skills you have to offer, a job hunting business card can be a great marketing tool to keep your goals and objectives in the minds of those with whom you network.

A business card can concisely display your area of expertise, such as "John Doe, Marketing Director," and the ways and means by which to contact you, including the URL to your resume Web page (a very recipient-friendly way of delivering your resume).

Not only should you hand out your job hunting business cards freely to everyone in your network, but each person in your network should also be given several that he or she may pass along, as well.

A job hunting business card is less intrusive than providing a full resume document or even requesting an impromptu interview. With that understanding, it's easy to recognize the endless number of situations where a job hunting business card can come into play.

And people like receiving business cards. I don't know why, I just know that it's true.

Always have them on you, and always be willing to hand one out. See more on Job Hunting Business Cards.

Door-to-door, proactive job searching

With the ease of mailing resumes and searching for jobs on the Net, job candidates have become rather passive in their job search techniques. Most often the first face-to-face encounter is at the scheduled interview, after the resume has been submitted, read, and the candidate notified by phone or e-mail.

It's much more difficult to offer a "No, thanks," and it makes a much more impressive first impression, to have a potential candidate present their resume in person (whether there's a job opening, or not). Of course, the savvy job candidate knows that this encounter may result in an impromptu interview, and are dressed and prepared for such an event.

Why do so few job candidates go door-to-door? Because the opportunity for repeated rejection is higher, and being rejected can dampen any job candidate's motivation. The flip side to this rejection, of course, is that a proactive job hunter is more often admired by the people who hire them.

Professional Associations

Joining a professional association related to your area of expertise or industry not only looks great on your resume, but it can be one of the best places to network. Join, become active, and pass out your business card. Just keep in mind that networking, whether in your community, neighborhood or professional association, is a give and take situation. If you're not willing to contribute something, don't expect great results in return.

Weddles Association List: A well organized and easy-to-use list of several thousand associations from around the world organized by their primary professional/occupational focus and/or industry of interest. Provides individual links to the professional association Web sites. Joining professional associations in your industry, and actively networking within them, is a very important aspect of a successful and productive career life.

Which brings me to another issue in networking and using "out of the box" job search techniques: be willing to be a mentor or be a network partner for someone else. Good networking is never intended to be a one-way street or activity.

Should I Hire a Professional Resume Writer?  /  1st-Writer.com Services

See more articles on job hunting

Good luck in your job search! Sue Campbell, 1st-Writer.com - over 18 years experience helping clients achieve their career and business goals. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have. I'll be glad to help!

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This page last updated: 02/02/2012