In fact, if you really want a job you love, it’s time to stop limiting your search to posted positions. I recently carved out my own place in the workplace, and you can, too, by doing some strategic research, networking, and pitching your skills. Here’s your game plan.
1. Build a Short List of Dream Employers
Having a dream job usually means working for a business you believe in—one with a mission that inspires you, opportunities that will help you grow, and co-workers you’ll actually like to work with every day.
So, start there. Do some research, and put together a list of your dream companies—whether or not they have openings. I recommend putting 10-20 potential employers in a spreadsheet, with columns to detail potential departments you could work in, contacts you may have (or could get there), and any other potential ins.
Then, for each company, do some digging to determine which may realistically have an open place for you. With a bit of research on social media, sites like Glassdoor, and the company’s blog and press releases, you can determine a lot: Which departments are emerging or underdeveloped? Which companies recently received funding and might be ready to bring on people in all areas? Where are there potential opportunities for your skill set that the company hasn’t thought of yet? For example, if you’re a digital strategist and you notice that the fashion startup you’ve been following doesn’t have an active presence on social networks or blogs yet, there could be a perfect spot just waiting for you.
Again, it’s important not to limit yourself to what’s listed on a company’s jobs page. Smaller departments or companies, in particular, might not be ready to post a position—but could be willing to hire in that area if the right person (a.k.a., you) came along. Once you’ve determined where you might fit in, which companies might be on the brink of hiring, and where there are any advantageous gaps in personnel, note them in your spreadsheet.
2. Enlist Your Network
Perhaps the greatest power you have in landing an unlisted job is your network—people who might know what’s happening on the inside of your dream companies, people who can give you tips on getting noticed, and (in the best case scenario) people who can vouch for your skills and abilities and say to your would-be-boss, “You need to hire this person now.”
So, look on LinkedIn and see if any of your connections work where you’d like to or can facilitate introductions to people who do. (Here’s how to find a connection, and fast.) A short message letting your contacts know what you’re looking for works perfectly:
I hope all is well! How are things at [insert employer]? I was hoping you could do me a favor—I’m really interested in connecting with [insert name] and learning more about the company’s marketing department. I’d love to reach out and see if my skills in [describe your area] could be a fit there. If you’re comfortable, would you be willing to make an introduction?
If you don’t have any connections in common, that’s OK—you can still reach out to hiring managers directly. Try these tips to hunt down someone’s email address, or sign up for a LinkedIn premium account to send InMail directly.
Once you have that info, it’s time to:
3. Prepare a Flawless Pitch
When you’re trying to create your own role at a company, you need to sell yourself the way you would any other product or service your potential employer doesn’t yet have (and maybe doesn’t yet know he or she needs). In other words, you need to show the decision makers that, if they invest in paying your salary, you’d have a measurable impact on sales, lead acquisition, efficiency, or another key component of the business.
So, grab your resume, consider your all-time top achievements, and prepare a pitch that shows your target employers exactly how your experience can help them. In addition, make sure you show that you know the company’s background and why you want to have a place there. Your passion should come across loud and clear.
Here’s an example, using my current employer:
I’m really impressed by how accessible and intuitive Salucro makes patient payments – I’ve done some research, and your online bill pay is really clean and simple.
I would love to see if there’s room for me at the company to support your digital strategy for increased sales and brand recognition. I have seven years of experience in online marketing and successfully transitioned most of my current employer’s advertising to digital publications, saving $80,000 a year and allowing us to track ROI for each placement. These new advertisements, combined with an online campaign I’ve directed, have allowed us to increase sales by 10% over a quarter for our target product.
These are the types of successes I’d like to bring to Salucro. Can we meet to discuss your goals and see how my skills can complement your existing team?
I’ve pulled some of the details I used in my actual cover letter, which worked. The company had a marketing manager position listed, but after after showing my experience and how the company could reap the benefits, I was hired for my (unlisted) dream job—director of marketing.
Finally, if and when you have the opportunity to interview, make sure you go in knowing all you can about the business, the industry, and competitors—showing that, if hired, you’d be ready to hit the ground running. And, again, be ready to push the importance of the type of position you are trying to carve out at the company. Share why it’s important in their industry and how it can help increase efficiency, save company dollars, or drive revenue. Remember—you’re not just selling yourself as the right person for the job, you’re selling your potential manager on the job itself.
But, if you can do that effectively? Well, you just might land your dream job.