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How to appeal to a company when they aren’t hiring

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

You’ve reflected on your career so far, mapped out your progression route and identified the top five businesses you’d love to work at, but there’s a stumbling block – none of them are hiring. While it might be a case of waiting for the right timing, you also need to be aware of the hidden job market. Research published by LinkedIn shows that 85 per cent of all opportunities are filled via networking. If your dream role is being filled without an advertisement – perhaps through Employee referrals or promotion from within - it’s time to change your game plan. With the right tactics, you could be walking through the door as an Employee after all. Here’s how:

Send your CV anyway

To get this spot on, you need to do your research. Take the time to understand the company you’re contacting, including how your skills could be a real asset to their existing team. Your aim should be to stand out for the right reasons – to make managers wish they had a role for you, rather than leaving them puzzled as to why you’ve decided to cold call. It may be that you don’t see the fruits of your efforts until later down the line. However, if you do impress, your name could be on the next interview shortlist. An unsolicited CV to your dream company shows that you have a genuine interest in working there, that you’re confident in your abilities and that you’re not afraid to take the initiative. Just think, an Employer planning future growth could have the capacity to create a job specifically for you.

Make contacts

Building your profile will help you stand out to managers and recruitment agencies alike. When you’re targeting your dream company, it’s important to do a bit of detective work, to find out who has hiring power and how you can link with them. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 84 per cent of organisations use social media to recruit. So, make sure you network on social media, especially through LinkedIn, as well as in-person – attending industry events, workshops and functions. Use your existing relationships with colleagues, friends and family to find common acquaintances with the business you’d like to reach out to. Whether someone is a customer, supplier or freelance consultant, they’ll all have valuable insights into organisational culture. A good recruiter is always on the lookout for talent, so by being seen and heard in the right places, you can boost your chances and opportunities.

Volunteer your time

If you think work experience is just for students and graduates, think again. Spending time within a company you’re interested in can help if you’re looking to change careers, get back into employment after time out, and most importantly, find out who’s who. Think outside the box to find something that fits in with your goals. If you’ve got designs to source a role in the charity sector, for example, volunteering with your local group will only come naturally. Or if you’re a freelance writer, why not ask to spend an afternoon with the marketing company you admire to gain an insight into the way they work? The chances are that this will not only help you get noticed, but you’ll enjoy the time spent away from the daily routine.

Help them solve a problem

This is where research really pays off. Even the best companies have stresses and challenges, so look for the areas where you can add value. It might be that you’re really great at making films for social media, but the design agency you’ve set your sights on is yet to follow this trend. So, how about offering them a free video, giving you the chance to showcase your skills? Once you’ve done your homework, the next step is to demonstrate to a hiring manager that you understand how their business works. Get your elevator pitch ready and try offering advice. A word of caution, this has to come across in the right way. Make sure you talk about the things you love about the business you’re approaching and that you’re offering an idea which is genuinely helpful, before you step in to give your opinion.

Use a recruitment agency to gain insight

The best recruiters have a strong network of contacts, so capitalise on this and seek help from an agency. In the hidden job market, many companies rely on recruitment agencies to headhunt talent. Instead of advertising in the traditional way, they’ll seek support from an expert to identify people with a list of specific skills on their behalf. Agencies often specialise in certain sectors, such as tech, finance and engineering, so again, do your research to find a company that matches your skillset and interests. If you can find the agency your dream company uses, all the better, and if you have a strong idea of your career path, a recruiter can help you access similar opportunities. You’ll benefit from support when it comes to tweaking your CV, preparing for interviews and gaining an insight into the business you’re applying for – what’s not to love?

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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