Interview questions and structured interviewing
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Creative Ways to Find Work

Univ. of Waterloo

There are several phases an organization will go through before deciding to advertise a job. The most effective way for you to find work is to tap into jobs that have not yet been (and may never be) advertised. These jobs are part of what is referred to as the hidden job market. Why hidden? The hidden job market includes:

Necessary work that no one has identified
Work that has been identified but for which candidate recruitment has not yet begun
Work that has been identified and for which informal (word-of-mouth) recruitment has begun
It is a widely acknowledged fact that between 80% and 90% of all jobs available at a given time are not advertised. Accordingly, you should spend 80% of your job search time on creative methods that enable you to be successful finding out about these types of positions. Read articles about companies reporting their business plans, expansions, changes and new additions. Consider small to medium sized employers as more jobs are being created in these sectors. You need to target your application to the person who would hire for the position. And remember, managers are always looking for good people even if there is no immediate opening.

Applying To Hiring Managers
In person
This is probably the most effective method, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet with people who hire because of their increased workload and the number of job seekers who want to speak with them. However, do your research, prepare your resume, and go. If you are in the vicinity, you may find it productive to walk in and ask if the head of the department you would like to work in could speak with you. It's more difficult to dismiss a person than a resume. The Personnel or Human Resources Office typically only learns of upcoming positions once managers have exhausted their own private sources. Even if you are not able to speak with the manager, there may be someone else available to fill you in on additional background information to help you in your application.

Through a telephone call
If distance does not permit an initial personal visit, telephone to make preliminary inquiries and/or to arrange a meeting at a mutually convenient time. When you have the hiring manager on the phone, be ready to make a strong first impression. State your name first and then how you found out about him/her, (e.g., name of person who referred you). Present a 30 to 60 second commercial about what you can contribute to the department. Ask for a meeting to be able to provide more details. You may wish to suggest a date and time and ask if that would be convenient. Be as flexible as possible around the employer’s busy schedule. If the person doesn’t want to meet with you, ask if you could phone again in 2 to 3 weeks to inquire about opportunities with their company. For more information, see the telephone strategies in Section 4.17.

Applying by mailing your resume
Remember to address your letter to a particular person who is the head of the department you want to work in, not to a title like "Marketing Manager". If you are not able to get the person’s name through alumni or your networking contacts, phone the company. You may also be able to obtain the information through a resource such as an employer directory. However, you will want to phone to ensure that the person listed in the directory is still manager of the department.

In your letter, mention how you found out about the position and include the name of the person who referred you (if you were given permission to do so). Tailor your qualifications to the employer’s needs. To bring your qualifications back into the employer’s mind, write again when you have updated your resume, so that the latest one can be on file. With so many resumes being received by employers, yours needs to attract their attention and be readable in 15 seconds or less! The focus is on what you can contribute. A poor response rate can often be attributed to what appears to be a lack of self-direction. Include your career objective and relate your abilities, skills and experience to that specific area within the organization. Show the reader that you will solve their problem, fill a need they have, and/or make their life easier. It is critical to follow up your mail with a phone call and/or visit. More information on writing letters and resumes can be found in the resume and letter writing sections of this Manual.

Creating Your Own Job
Can you identify a problem you are qualified to solve? In your communications with various employers, have you picked up on a need that you can fill? If so, you may wish to prepare an outline of a proposal and send it to the employer. If interested, the employer could request the full proposal and arrange a meeting with you to discuss it. Impressed with your qualifications and the benefits you could offer, many companies would be glad to create a position for someone who could save them time and/or money. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur or independent contractor.