Speculative job applications and networking

SPECULATIVE JOB APPLICATIONS
 
A large number of job vacancies are never advertised. These 'invisible vacancies' are often filled by word of mouth and networking, as described below, or by jobseekers who show enough initiative to contact employers directly to find out if they have, or are likely to have, any vacancies. Employers are used to people asking about jobs, if they can find someone without advertising it saves them time and money.
 
You can use the Yellow Pages or other business directories to get employers’ names and contact details. You may also want to contact a company after reading an article in the local press. Keep a look out for reports of company expansions or relocations to your area, because these companies may require new staff. (Please refer to our page on Finding information on a company).
 
You should then send off a CV with a covering letter explaining what you can offer the organisation. But first, make sure you find out about the company. By doing some research, you should find something that particularly interests you about the company to which you can refer in your letter.
 
Many employers receive speculative applications addressed to the head of personnel, even when they don't have a personnel department. So you must find out the name of the person you would be working for [you should be able to do this with a phone call] and address your letter to him or her.
 
Your covering letter or email should be very clear about what type of job you are looking for and contain two or three really good reasons why they should bear you in mind. Briefly describe the skills and experience that you can offer, and why you are interested in this particular organisation.
 
Your covering letter should be no more than one page long. This increases the chance that a busy employer will read all of it!         
                             
Finish off with a positive sentence such as: ‘I would be grateful if you would contact me if you have any vacancies, or keep my CV on file in case of future openings.’
 
If you don't hear anything back, follow up with a phone call a week or two later, just to ask what the situation is. Even if there is no vacancy at present, if they're impressed with your skills and enthusiasm they may keep your details on file for future vacancies.
 
Directories, databases, market research reports and trade journals  can be consulted in the Business and IP Centre at Leeds Central Library to find companies involved in different industries and services in Leeds and across the country.
 
Here are some websites for finding potential employers' contact details:
   •  Yellow Pages - search for companies and businesses by type and location.  The entries
      often include a link to the company's website  
   •  Thomson Local - a database of over 2 million UK businesses
   •  Applegate directory - UK industrial, manufacturing and technology companies
   •  Trade Associations Forum - links to the websites of trade associations, most of which carry
      lists of members

 

NETWORKING AND WORD OF MOUTH
 
People you know, such as friends and relatives, can often prove useful when you’re job hunting. It’s worth talking to as many people as you can about the type of work you’re looking for, your skills and experience. They may know about a suitable vacancy or think of you when they hear about vacancies in the future. They may also be able to put in a good word for you at the company or organisation where they work.  
                                           
So contact everyone you know. You may be surprised by the people they know who, in turn, may know someone else who might be aware of an opening. Or maybe one of their contacts might. And so on, greatly expanding the network. And the more the network expands, the more chance there is of finding a job this way.

There are also networks on the Internet, such as business networking sites like LinkedIn, and relevant groups and organisations on social networking sites like Facebook:
   •  Beginners’ guide to networking (National Careers Service)
 
Visit LinkedIn to create a detailed personal profile and build up a network of contacts. Recruiters often use the site to search for candidates, so think of your profile as your online CV and pack it full of skills, qualifications and experience, using the keywords which potential employers might be searching on.
 
LinkedIn also allows contacts to endorse you. Ask former colleagues, or anyone you’ve done work experience for or volunteered with, to sing your praises. Join groups based on the industry you want to work in and take part in discussions. You can also ‘follow’ companies on LinkedIn – so you can see any vacancies posted.
  
A large majority of recruiters will search for a potential candidate’s profile on social networks as part of the screening process. So it’s important to manage what can be found out about you on the Internet and to market  yourself in a professional manner, rather than risk prospective employers unearthing photographs, say, of what you look like after you’ve had too much to drink!  Recruiters will often reject a candidate if they are not impressed with what they’ve found.