Almost three-quarters of jobs are never advertised. This can be frustrating for job seekers, but as change management specialist Louise Mayo notes, if you are smart, you can turn this situation to your tactical advantage and get a jump on potential competitors.
I recently had the opportunity to work with a fantastic woman, Sally, who, after many years in one industry sector, decided to resign. Sally was clear she needed a change. She had undertaken some vocational training which was beneficial to her employer, but was not being fully utilised. Yet she was passionate about pursuing this work and moving with it into a full-time capacity.
Problem was, Sally resigned without having another role to go to. Gulp! Sally activated the standard mechanisms of job search; employment agencies, online employment search forms and head hunters.
There were roles she was interested in, but all of them required experience in that sector. After three months of solid applying, she was getting nowhere.
Tick, tick ... Sally was running out of time. Without knowing it, she was already at a disadvantage because she was waiting for jobs to be advertised before applying for them. What she didn’t realise was that most of the jobs available nowadays are never advertised – a comprehensive study by US firm Interview Success Formula in 2012 found that the proportion of unadvertised jobs was as high as 80 per cent.
Sally was simply being reactive to job listings and her résumé was just one of many in a pile, struggling to stand out.
Even if she did make it onto a short-list, it would always have been a long, competitive process with interviews, second interviews, reference checks and internal approval processes – all hurdles at which she could fall and taking time she didn’t really have.
Sally needed to take control, get ahead of all the other job seekers and eliminate them as competition by ensuring the roles she wanted were never advertised – they would be offered to her first. Here is how I worked with Sally to achieve that and how you can do it, too.
FIND THE RIGHT TARGETS
First, we identified her ideal job preference, the nature of the role, the industry, the size of organisations and the location. We then conducted a highlevel environmental scan to determine her organisations of choice, finding five.
The next step was to identify those organisations that may support the organisations that Sally wanted to target.
Using her friendship group and wider professional network, we identified four contacts – three from organisations which provided services to Sally’s target organisations and one who was working in strategic partnership with one of her targets.
HONE THE PITCH
The next stage was to develop Sally’s networking pitch. It is essential never to ask for a role. Instead, Sally sought out more information on the target organisations, to gain an understanding of which of her skills, attributes and previous experience would be of most value to them.
GET A REFERRAL
Sally then secured four networking interviews by way of a referral, as is the preference. It is always preferable to use your existing network (industry contacts, friends and family) to provide a warm introduction, rather than you cold contacting someone.
It is also important to position the “interview” with the industry contact simply as a way for you to learn more about the industry and their business.
Essentially, you are asking for help in understanding, rather than a job interview.
Instead, these were opportunities for Sally to glean more information and to share her experiences and how they may relate to the new organisation.
Sally met senior managers in the organisations, so it was important that she be prepared. She had a check-list and brief agenda for each meeting. The key was to engage the person, and ask open questions, such as how did they think her skills and experience could add value to their organisation, or if they could recommend someone she could talk to and learn more about the sector or organisation.
Sally also asked where they sourced potential staff. This helped her target her résumé to search engines and forms. Where an employment agency was involved, Sally let them know she had been talking to someone in that organisation and that they had recommended she apply and be considered for potential vacancies as they became available.
After the interviews, Sally sent notes of acknowledgement, thanking the people for their time and advice, and reinforcing what key attributes and how she saw them translating to a new organisation or sector.
She attached a copy of her résumé for their records and let them know if she had followed up a contact they gave her and what the outcome was.
THE JOB OFFERS COME IN
Sally received two offers of employment with organisations of her choice in the following month, one of which she accepted after determining it was a strong strategic fit with her overall career plan.
She is now extremely happy in her role.
With both offers, the salary was a little higher than what she was receiving previously. While this helps, it isn’t the main source of Sally’s happiness – it is the fact that she is doing something she knew she wanted to do, as opposed to simply being reactive to a small selection of jobs that may or may not have been suitable.
KEEP THE CONTACTS GOING
It was important and courteous for Sally to let her network contacts know of her success and she offered to meet them again and engage with them more broadly in a professional capacity.
Networks in a nutshell. It’s important to bust the myth that only senior executive roles are secured by network contacts.
It is fundamentally untrue. In a study published in the journal Career Development International in 2012, US academics Robert L. Laud and Matthew Johnson discuss the tactics that result in career advancement – tactics that can be applied to all levels, sectors and industries. In their research, networking ranked very highly – sixth out of 15.
Networking involves sharing information and making your contacts valuable resources.
It is important to develop a valuable network over a period of time – not just when you want a new job.
While there are many different forms of networks, they fall generally into three broad themes:
1. OPERATIONAL NETWORKS
Include not only direct reports and superiors, but also people who have the power to block or support a project and key outsiders, such as suppliers, distributors and customers.
2. PERSONAL NETWORKS
Can provide important referrals, information and often developmental support, including vital coaching and mentoring.
3. STRATEGIC NETWORKS
Provide opportunities to look at the bigger picture through mentoring or simply a different perspective on your organisation.
MAKE A CONNECTION
There’s been a surge in the number of women’s business networking groups over the past five years. Gayle Bryant outlines some of the most popular.
WOMEN’S NETWORK AUSTRALIA (womensnetwork.com.au )
WNA was set up 25 years ago with just a few women sharing business contacts, information and ideas. It’s now Australia’s leading network for women, offering business support, online services, business education and networking events.
AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSWOMEN’S NETWORK (abn.org.au )
The ABN is an online membership community designed to teach women the skills to start, manage and grow their business. It provides education and facilitates opportunities for women to network, learn and be inspired by mentoring and role models.
BUSINESS CHICKS (businesschicks.com.au )
Business Chicks brings like-minded people together to swap ideas, share stories and spark inspiration. It is an online network where members can connect, collaborate and discuss ideas, plus it publishes a magazine, Latte.
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