Fact: The advertised job market is literally the tip of the iceberg.
Fully 70-80% of jobs go unadvertised by employers, who fear being deluged by hundreds of resumes from applicants, most of whom won't be qualified.
With that in mind, it makes sense to spend about 80% of your time cracking this "hidden" market of unadvertised jobs. And a good way to do it is to contact hiring managers at companies you want to work for. Your aim? To prove that hiring you would be a terrific investment, one that makes or saves them more money than they would pay you in salary.
So, where do you find a list of these hiring managers?
You can't find one. You have to build your own list.
Fortunately, it's fairly simple to do.
So say two experienced recruiters, David Perry (author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0") and Mark Haluska (principal of recruiting firm Real Time Network, in Pittsburgh, PA).
First of all, what level of decision maker should you talk to about creating a job or hiring you for one that's unadvertised?
"You want to contact the individual two levels up from the position you are applying for," suggests Haluska. "There are two reasons for that. First, the person two levels up has the bigger picture. They may actually be looking to replace the person below them, who would be your boss."
"Second, if you're really good and you contact the person you would work for, if they are small-minded, they may be threatened by your credentials," which can kill your chances, according to Haluska.
In the Darwinian world of office politics, this makes sense. If you display more initiative than your next boss or outshine someone they recently hired, you risk making that boss look bad, which is not a recipe for success.
Next, when seeking out hiring managers, what title are you looking for?
"If the company has 250 or fewer employees, target the president, owner, or a vice president in the group that you want to work in," advises Perry.
"If it's over 250 people but less than 1,000, go after the VP of your department. If it's over 1,000 employees, go after the senior director or the VP in the division where you want to work," says Perry.
Once you know the title of the hiring authority you seek, how do you find their name?
"I would call into the company to ask the receptionist, or visit the company's Web site," says Perry. "Those each take 15 seconds."
If those tactics don't pan out, try Google. Search for the following three items together:
1. the name of the company;
2. the words "Vice President;"
3. the name of department you want to work in.
Example Google search: Ace Novelty Company Vice President engineering
This will return the names of current and former employees in the role of Vice President of that department. You may find their actual resumes, their names mentioned in press releases, or their listings in social networks like Spoke.com
Another research tool is Google Alerts.
"It's simple. Visit www.Google.com/alerts for instructions on how to set up automated searches for the keywords you choose. Google then alerts you by email," advises Haluska.
The service seeks out the latest information from blogs and news stories online. You can create a Google Alert to search every day for such keywords as "Ace Novelty Company Vice President Marketing," for example.
"If I'm looking for a job title at a company, any time anything comes up regarding that company, they start rolling in by email every morning from Google Alerts," says Haluska.
Now. What's the final step after you find the names and titles of executives who can hire you?
"Reach out and touch them with a customized resume and cover letter, printed and sent by mail," says Perry.
"Your message is simple: 'Dear Mr./Ms. Hiring Authority, I've studied your business. I know all about your problems and opportunities. I've produced results before like you need now, and here are specific examples -- boom, boom, boom. Can we meet for coffee?'"
In the end, the faster you can humanize your job hunt and make contact with the right hiring authority, the faster you'll find work in this economy -- or any other.
Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0." Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free Guerrilla Job Search audio CD, visit www.MyNewJobHunt.com.