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How to Land a Job Even if the Position is Never Posted
How do you sell yourself to a company without visible job openings? In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the secrets of the hidden job market, equipping you with strategies on how to network effectively and demonstrate your potential value to these companies.
Unlocking the Hidden Job Market: How to Sell Yourself to a Company Even If They Don’t Have a Job Posting
Are you weary of ceaselessly scrolling through job boards, only to find yourself still searching for that perfect career opportunity? The reality is that many job openings never make it to the public realm (some estimates say up to 70% are never posted). Instead, companies often rely on networking and personal connections to source their ideal candidates.
So, how do you sell yourself to a company without visible job openings? In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the secrets of the hidden job market, equipping you with strategies on how to network effectively and demonstrate your potential value to these companies.
Brendan, the founder of Climate People, recently met a job seeker who chose a unique approach to finding a job in climate. This job seeker is the inspiration for today’s blog!
Rather than submitting a traditional resume, this individual delved deep into researching potential companies and their products. Armed with this knowledge, they composed detailed messages to the CEOs, providing "unsolicited advice" on how to improve their products. They firmly believe in the principle that to ask something from others, you must first offer value yourself. Remarkably, this method yielded an impressive ~80% response rate and around 50% resulted in engaging conversations and potential opportunities. Although this approach is time-consuming, its quality-driven results outweigh the investment. As the saying goes, if it's not demanding your time, you're likely not doing it right. Here’s a guide on how to follow suit:
Understanding Your Skillset and Market Mapping
Before you initiate any networking ventures, it's crucial to conduct a thorough self-assessment. What are your unique skills, experiences, and passions? How can you find your place in the climate industry.
We’ve written a lot on this, here are some more guides on how to do this well:
A condensed version if you don’t have the time to read back through previous guides:
Do this by scrolling through the different climate sectors and seeing which pique your interest. Once you've identified your niche, investigate companies that resonate with your values and where you see a place for your to make an impact. The objective here isn't to scout for job openings, but rather companies where you feel you could be a valuable addition to their team.
Seems elusive, but say you’re in marketing and come across a really cool company with a terrible website, no social content, and no non-technical people listed on their about us page. This could be an opportunity for you to help them! These are the types of companies you want to be flagging at this step in the process.
Another example, if a company lacks a policy person and actively seeks grant funding, and you have relevant experience at a similar start-up, it's your chance to sell the unique value you can bring.
Articulating Your Impact Statements
Before reaching out to companies and initiating networking conversations, ensure you have a clear understanding of the impact you could make. Articulate your impact statements by highlighting your successful experiences and achievements. For instance, if you're intrigued by the intersection of biology and climate change grant writing, you should think through and be able to emphasize your ability to secure non-diluted funding for bioscience projects. These statements provide tangible proof of your potential contribution to the company.
What sets you apart? This networking conversation will be your opportunity to show them the tangible value you can add to the company. Have examples of previous work and be able to apply this to the company you’re talking with. It’s your job to research the company and come prepared with ideas/suggestions and once again, concrete examples of how this has worked for you in the past. You need to immerse yourself into the company and directly relate your past experience to their products and tangibly show how you can help them! You can do this via email prior to reaching out or save it for the conversation - test and see which approach yields better results for you.
Doing your homework on both your skillset and the gaps that exist within the company is key to selling yourself during these conversations. Dedicate the bulk of your time to this step to ensure you have a strong grasp on your abilities before you even begin reaching out to companies.
Networking is your golden ticket to accessing the hidden job market. Dedicate at least 80% of your time to cultivating relationships with potential employers and 20% applying to jobs. Participate in industry-related events, become a member of professional organizations, and engage actively on platforms like LinkedIn. Networking is supposed to be fun and all about making genuine connections. It’s not critical to do every thing in this guide, rather, focus on the things that bring you joy and work for you!
Reflect back on your target companies and pinpoint a few people from each that you’d like to reach out to. It’s a good idea to go after people who you envision yourself working with. I.e. - if you’re an executive-level person, it would be smart to reach out to those in the c-suite. Whereas, if you’re more entry-level, you should target those with mid-management positions in your industry.
Recommended Outreach Template
I recently discovered [company name] and I am truly impressed by the incredible work you do. My longstanding interest in [climate solution], combined with my experience and background in [something relevant], has fueled my excitement to connect with you. I was wondering if you could spare around 20 minutes to tell me about [company name] and your role within it. I am keen to delve deeper into what you are building and offer valuable insights from my experience in [something relevant]. With several years of expertise in [your industry], I have accomplished significant milestones and believe I can confidently contribute to your endeavors. I eagerly await your response and the opportunity to exchange ideas!
A real-world example that I, a marketer, would use if I were reaching out to the founder of Climate People about an opportunity:
Hi Brendan, I hope you're doing well! I've been a follower of Climate People for a while now, and I'm always amazed by the incredible impact your small team achieves. I'd love to grab 20 minutes of your time to learn more about your inspiring work. Additionally, I'd be more than happy to share some insights from my 5 years of experience in startup marketing. I know firsthand the challenges of developing a content and marketing strategy with limited resources, and I have a knack for efficiently getting things done. Let me know what time works best for you, and I can send you an invitation. Looking forward to connecting!
Another strategy is being less direct in your outreach message and saving that for your networking conversation. A good template for this approach is:
I've been a long-time follower of [company name] and greatly admire the impactful work you do [for x reason]. I wanted to reach out because you hold a position that I aspire to in the next five years. If you have a moment to spare, I would love the opportunity to gain insights from your journey and how you achieved such success.
Use your network to introduce you to individuals associated with your target companies. Even connections that are a stretch are better than cold outreach. Maintain your relationships with these connections and offer to assist them as well so you don’t feel like your introduction is a big ask. Networking should be a daily function of your job even when you’re not searching, this way you’re constantly building a community of people that are on your side.
Timing: The Key Factor
Another thing to consider when trying to break into the hidden job market is your timing! It’s key to consider the companies’ funding stage and align your networking strategy with that timeline. From what we’ve seen, climate start up founders typically bring on their core technical hires in the early funding stages and bring on the more supporting roles later after they have secured more money.
For instance, if you're eyeing a Chief of Staff role, these typically become available during or after series A funding, you should narrow your company map to those with that amount of funding. Similar with product, marketing, sales, HR, and other supporting positions.
Whereas, if you a founding engineer looking for a new job, it might be smarter to target those pre-seed to series A companies. Your goal should be to emphasize your ability to build, scale, and hit the ground running with minimal oversight.
Funding stage is oftentimes public knowledge! You can also look and see what types of roles they have posted and gauge your positioning based on that. Networking conversations will help you pinpoint the various companies’ gaps and hiring needs so you can pivot the networking conversation and position yourself as a solution to their problems.
Real-Life Examples of Tapping into the Hidden Job Market
To better illustrate these strategies, let's delve into some real-life examples of individuals who successfully marketed themselves to companies without visible job openings. These are all people Climate People has worked with, made anonymous.
A Master of Connection
A grant person with a master's degree in genetic biology, aspired to work at the intersection of biology and climate change. They couldn’t find a position that perfectly aligned with their expertise. Rather than becoming disheartened, they chose to showcase their unique value – their background in securing non-diluted funding for bioscience projects. With this strategy, they were able to demonstrate how their skill set could benefit these companies, even in the absence of a defined role. From these conversations, they landed the job!
The Generalist with a Focus
A generalist with experience in customer success and process improvement, sought to find climate solutions where they could make an immediate impact. While their skills were diverse, they were particularly knowledgeable about cities, buildings, waste solutions, and sustainable mobility. Recognizing that generalists often face stiff competition, they decided to focus their search on smaller companies where their specific knowledge areas would be advantageous. By networking extensively and highlighting their niche skillsets, they were able to stand out and land the job despite it never being advertised.
The ‘Climate Recruiter’ Turned Marketer
And then there's me! I stumbled across a position for a climate recruiter. Even though I didn't have direct recruitment experience, I reached out to Climate People’s founder anyway. Throughout our conversation, I learned more about the climate jobs industry and was able to pitch my marketing skills as a valuable asset. This allowed me to carve out a unique role within the company and I started a few weeks later!
Thinking like a Recruiter
At Climate People, we often encounter exceptional candidates even though we may not have an immediate job opening that matches their background. However, we maintain strong engagement with our current and past clients, enabling us to understand their hiring challenges and timelines thoroughly. If we believe a candidate would be a great fit for one of our clients, even if they haven't explicitly expressed the need or posted a job, we can share the candidate's profile and provide a compelling explanation of why they would be suitable. Countless of these job seekers have landed jobs in climate because of this! This showcases the value of working with recruiters and further supports why this approach is highly effective for job seekers.
These examples underline the importance of recognizing and selling your unique skills and passions, regardless of whether a job posting exists. The key is to identify potential employers, understand how your skills can add value to their operations, and then make your case compellingly.
Remember, the hidden job market is waiting for you to unlock it. With the right approach, you could be just one networking event or email away from landing your dream role.