10½ Tips to get the jobs that aren’t advertised

Shine - Beautiful graphical resumes and CVsMANY jobs are not advertised. They get snapped up by existing employees through internal promotion, or they get offered via personal recommendations and networking. I’ll always recommend networking your way to your new job, but if you can’t do that (too risky if your industry is very tight-knit) this post gives you some tips for how to reach out into brand new networks by targeting companies directly and breaking in.

I’ll assume you’ve already revamped your CV or resume but, better still, since we’re going to be breaking new ground here, I suggest you go get Shine app and do something a little more impactful (even one of the free layouts will do). So now you need to start using that CV, lets get started…

1. Target your employer

Would you rather be busy of successful? I’d rather be successful. In the context of job hunting, this means not spinning your wheels writing to (spamming!) every company under the sun, but instead targeting those whom you would really like to work for. A volume mailshot used to work, but that was before everybody got technology. Now the playing field is once again leveled and the volume e-mailshot / mailmerge won’t work now, you’re going to have to work smarter to cut through. So, decide which companies you think you’d like to work at, then make a list of no more than 50 (in some markets you’ll be talking just single figures here).

Seek companies that are expanding (who’s recent raised money, or announced new partnerships, or bumper sales figures), they will be faced with the challenge of recruiting – yes, the challenge. Ideally pick the more forward thinking companies, in my experience they always want good people, and smart hiring managers will want to find a space for you if you can present yourself well – even if they haven’t got round to defining a role. Use your industry press, online or offline, LinkedIn Groups, and Google to seek out the movers and shakers, Google news search is useful to find out who is making the news and why.

2. Start at the top

Since we’re not responding to a job ad, don’t target junior managers. You want to target the C-level executive that’s most relevant to your role. So, for example, if you’re into Business Development go for the Chief Commercial Officer or CEO, if you’re into finance then its the CFO, if its marketing then maybe the CEO again or the CMO if they have one.

Here’s where you use Google to find the name, company reports (for public companies), news articles (look for quotes), or even LinkedIn. But, I must stress, go for the top, because its these guys (and gals) that know about the holes in their organizations even before their managers do (hell, you could even be replacing a dysfunctional manager). They’ll be most impressed with your creative CV or resume (assuming you took my earlier advice), and its them that will be thinking in the most entrepreneurial way that will be consistent with your creative presentation.

You may not get – or even want – an interview with the CEO, but your resume will get passed down to the right person. Any good sales person will tell you, its easier to get passed DOWN to the right person, than passed UP. You’ve just got to be a little tenacious in finding the name, contact email (or address), personal assistant’s name, and having some persistence to break through. The good news is that, because you’re only going to be targeting a small number of companies, not hundreds, you’ll have the time to be diligent and persistent about this.

Once you know who you’re targeting you’ll need to think about a cover letter, so the next few points related to how to write your cover letter…

3. Avoid marketing-speak (unless your job is marketing, and even then maybe avoid it!)

I’m a multi-skilled proactive person with a consultative approach and a hands-on attitude to achieving ambitious targets in my daily role.


Please resist the temptation. This is one area that I really can’t tell you what to write, but, I ask that you do read what you write and wipe out all nonsense like that. Its may sound great to you, but its a bit meaningless because everyone says it. Don’t TELL me how you are, SHOW me by telling me your achievements. What’s much more important to any hiring manager is not how you SAY you are, or even what you do, its what you achieve, so give simple and short examples of what you have achieved in your last few roles – always looking for relevance to the new company your pitching.

4. Use short paragraphs

Keep paragraphs short; its much easier on the eye (yes, I know mine above are not, but then I’m not asking you for a job am I). If you practice writing concisely and eliminating marketing speak you’ll be amazed how short your paragraphs can become.

5. State relevant knowledge or experience

Whilst you should avoid using marketing speak, don’t be afraid to itemize relevant skills, RELEVANT qualifications, and relevant knowledge. For example, if your role requires you to understand ACAS, FIPS, and GIMPS, then be sure to include those acronyms. Just don’t dress them up to flowery. When I left college I was told to include information about ‘what I liked to do in my spare time’. Amazingly (to me) mature workers mostly seem to eliminate that from their CVs and resumes. Please don’t. What you do outside of work is a great reflection on what you are like (see my other post about skills versus attitude for my take on this).

6. Use bullet-points

Mix up textual paragraphs with bullet points to highlight key achievements, skills, or knowledge. Bullet points break up a long prose:

  • like this
  • and this
  • and maybe this
  • (you see?)

7. Assume they want to see you

Assume they want to see you, and your phraseology should be as such, after all, you took the time to target them so I have to assume that you’d be good for them, right?

8. Ask for the appointment

As per the above, ask for the appointment. Better still, offer TWO possible times. This does several things, it shows that you’re busy, but it also puts a timescale on the activity for them. Even if they don’t meet your timescales, keep using this approach, its best to show you are busy, even if you are currently not.

9. Always follow up

Always follow up. Increasingly, with prevalent use of email today, I find people hit ‘send’ and then assume their emails are not only read but acted upon. That’s a bad assumption, most email recipients were not sitting there drumming their fingers waiting for your email to come in; they were already maxed out with work. So, YOU have to take AND keep the initiative. There have been several occasions in my life when an exceptional sales person has followed up with me up to 10 or 12 times and then got me to engage. That takes real perseverance, and a resistance to PERCEIVED rejection that is second to none. Note that I say perceived rejection, because often a missed call-back is not rejection at all, only other things getting in the way. Do your recipient a favour and BE persistent until they say to you NO or don’t call me.  Really, I cannot underline this enough, persistence is a great quality and this gives you a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your persistence.

10. Round up

I figured there are plenty of hints and tips out there, and they can be a bit empty without some solid example, so, here’s an example I just knocked up to illustrate some of these tips.

Is it perfect? No. But its not too bad either:


Dear Robert

I’d like to join your team at [Company name], so please find attached my CV {{or use “resume” here, if thats what your nationality or industry expects}} prior to us setting a brief chat to discuss my possible employment.

In my recent roles I’ve:

  • launched 2 successful new products that generated $4.5m in revenue
  • grew the production team from 5 to 20
  • improved testing to reduce failure rates from 3% to 2%, saving $200m and increasing customer retention

My experience in widget making spans 5 years, and I have detailed knowledge of:

  • left handed widgets
  • extrusions
  • flux capacitors
  • and amplitude modulators

I’m confident that I can help with your plans; when can we meet?

I’m happy to come by at your convenience, and I can be in the area on Tuesday afternoon this week or Thursday next week.

Yours sincerely

Ben Shine
+44 1234 567 890  |  email@email.com  |  Skype: MySkypeID

// My ONE-PAGER resume is attached //


10½. And finally…

Oh, and finally, to prove the exception to the rule… One of the best hires I’ve made in the last 18 month was a guy who’s cover letter was like this:

“I think XXXX [my company’s sector] is shit-hot right now, and XXXX [my company name] is at the forefront. I’d love to come and work for you. Can we speak? My CV is attached”

I am absolutely seriously, he actually said “shit-hot” and it worked! I’d say that was a gamble, that wouldn’t work for most people, but sometimes you’ve just got to do something different to get noticed.

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1 Response to 10½ Tips to get the jobs that aren’t advertised

  1. Pingback: When it comes to job hunting, its quality over quantity | Talk to Shine

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