How to apply for unadvertised jobs: the cover letter that opens doors

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May 24, 2021

Found your perfect company but they are not currently hiring? Apply for unadvertised jobs with this cover letter so you can land your dream role.

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When you find that rare company that you really want to work for its a big deal. Whether it is perfect for your first big break or its the ideal organisation to take you up that next rung in your career, the right company can ignite a passion for your future and motivate you to be the best you can be.

But this can all come crashing down when you find that all their positions are filled and there are no current job openings.

So what should you do about this? Sit tight and wait for a position to come available or something else?

In this post we will explore that ‘something else’ you need to do – plus how to make it happen.

Let’s start by tackling the first big question.

Is it worth your time reaching out to an organisation when they don't have any job postings?

The answer to this is a resounding yes and there are three main reasons for this.

Most positions aren’t advertised

It is estimated that 70% of positions are never advertised. This may seem hard to believe at first but when you think a little deeper it becomes obvious why this is the case.

To the outside world it may look like there are no opportunities within a company if their vacancies page is empty but on the inside any or all of these things will actually be happening.

  • People are taking retirement or resigning due to factors such as taking a new job elsewhere, moving to another location, or making a career change.
  • Some will unfortunately be struggling with their role and are about to lose their job or be deployed elsewhere in the organisation.
  • Others will be flying high and are about to be promoted, leaving a gap to be filled behind them.
  • Then there is organisational change that will involve recruitment such as new projects and business being won, products ready to be taken to market, services that need developing, or restructuring of departments and or teams.

Can you see how a timely application from a qualified candidate could be warmly welcomed, eliminating the need to advertise or instruct recruitment consultants and pay their high fees? 

There’s far less competition when you apply for unadvertised jobs

Despite the fact that most jobs never get advertised, most people don’t send speculative applications to companies.

Think about that for a minute.

Your application could be the only one or just one of a handful for a particular opening.

You won’t get lost in the crowd and you will have a much better chance of being considered in the absence of high competition.

You can bypass Applicant Tracking Systems

Most advertised positions will involve adding your details to a company’s Applicant Tracking System.

Whilst these are necessary due to the high volume of applications companies receive today, they can cause serious issues for both the jobseeker and the employer.

Jobseekers need to ensure they submit an ATS friendly resume so they don’t get rejected. If they don’t, employers and recruiters can miss out the best talent just because of design issues.

A speculative application bypasses this and gets straight to the decision makers instead.

Before you rush off though and start reaching out to loads of companies directly, I do have a word of caution.

Don’t apply for unadvertised jobs until you have done this

Whilst a timely application from a qualified candidate will be warmly welcomed, the reverse is also true.

Sending out generic approaches with little thought or research will not get the results that you want and will definitely work against  you.

At best you will be ignored but at worst, they may get irritated which will not help you when there is an advertised vacancy in the future.

Remember, you’re being proactive and trying to ‘sell yourself’ to the company.

To do this effectively you will need to have a good understanding of what the company needs now and provide an answer for a problem they might not currently have (or know they have), but are likely to have in the future.

This all comes down to putting in some research.  Check out their company website, their LinkedIn page, and set up Google alerts for their latest press releases. And don’t forget to reach out to your contacts that may have inside knowledge or even better, a name of someone that could be a mutual acquaintance.

Once you have completed your research, you will be ready to put your killer cover letter together.

The 7 sentence cover letter to use when you apply for unadvertised jobs

The trick to getting this right is having a great balance between selling yourself and using the right tone.

This can be achieved if you follow this formula.

Start with why you are writing to them

These are busy people so you need to get straight to the point to enable them to speed read your application.

 

Tell them why you want to work specifically for their company 

You need to let them know that you are not desperately sending your resume out to ‘anyone that will have you. ’

“The reasons I want to work here are…” This is where your research is crucial because it proves that you are serious about their company.

Explain what you can offer and why you’re a great fit.

"I offer X years of experience in this particular industry/sector, performing these particular jobs which makes me a great fit to support your organisation and the products/services it delivers."

Give a significant relevant achievement

Be careful to keep this relevant. It doesn't matter how impressive an achievement is, it will have little impact if they can’t see how it could benefit their organisation.

“In particular, one of my biggest achievements to date has been ….. [explain] and I would relish the opportunity to deliver the same results for [their company name].

Point them to your resume

“To gain a quick overview of what my contribution could be, please take a look at my profile on my attached resume.”

You are telling them that your resume has a profile they can speed read plus it will make them curious to take a look.

Add a call to action

“I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about any current or upcoming positions that may be a great fit for my experience.”

Thank them 

“Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to talking with you soon.”

Cover letter sample for how to apply to a company when they are not hiring

So what does this look like in practice then?

To help you put yours together, here is an example of what this looks like as a complete cover letter.

This is based on a Project Manager but you can see how easy it is to adapt to any industry or skill set.

Dear [hiring manager/recruiter’s name]  - you will have gleaned this from your research.


I am writing to enquire about any potential opportunities at [company name] that may fit my skills and experience.


The reason for contacting you specifically is that my research showed that you mainly deal with X projects, which is my main area of interest and expertise.


I offer [insert number of years] years of experience within [name your industry/sector] underpinned by [name specific skills or qualifications].


For example, one of my biggest achievements to date has been the X project where I successfully ….. [explain] and I would relish the opportunity to deliver the same results for [their company name].


To gain a quick overview of what my contribution could be, please take a look at the profile on my attached resume.


I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about any current or upcoming positions that I could make a positive contribution to.


I appreciate how busy you must be so thank you so much for your time and consideration and I look forward to talking with you soon.

Key Takeaways

Companies are constantly recruiting but typically just a few positions actually make it out on to their career pages or get promoted on job sites.

This means that it is a great idea to reach out to potential employers and apply for unadvertised jobs.

However, you must put in the research so that you can explain why you want to work for them and why you would be a great fit, otherwise you may come across as looking desperate.

If you use this cover letter formula, they will want to snap you up before their competition gets the chance to hire you

Mark Daniel

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About the Author

A global resume writer and career coach, Mark is known for his honest, direct, and hard-hitting advice, helping people manage job applications and succeed at interviews. Now based on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, he is the co-founder of Real Life Career Advice and the Hi Vis Hub. A prolific publisher, Mark contributes to several industry magazines and his daily career advice blog to his 45,000 LinkedIn followers.

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