How Do I Find out about Unadvertised Job Openings?

Sheri Cyprus

The higher the unemployment rate and the tougher the economy, the more important it is to seek out job openings that aren't advertised. More people out of work means more people looking for work, which in turn means more people applying to advertised jobs. Sometimes, there are literally hundreds of job seekers applying to one print or online employment ad. To keep ahead of your competition, let everyone and anyone know you're looking for work, plus join job clubs and professional organizations. Also, conduct a career search so that you understand what skills you have or could develop that are in demand in today's job market.

Joining a professional organization or club is a good way to hear about job openings.
Joining a professional organization or club is a good way to hear about job openings.

If you have skills that are in demand, you'll be ready to apply for a job that you hear about through networking or other unadvertised methods. One way to find out about unadvertised job openings is to contact the human resources department of companies you feel qualified to work for. Rather than asking about open positions directly, state that you're conducting an informational interview and ask for just a few minutes of the human resource manager's time. Mention your skills and ask which departments might need someone to provide those skills at the present time or in the near future. It's best to have as much previous knowledge of the company and their needs as you can, and then follow up with a thank you card within a few days after the interview.

The clerks and other workers at a business might know of future openings.
The clerks and other workers at a business might know of future openings.

Joining professional organizations and reading their newsletters or attending meetings is often a good way to discover openings in your chosen field. Keeping in touch with professors and instructors is also a great idea, as they may know of current entry level or other career openings you may be interested in. Plus, contacts in your profession who are familiar with your skills and abilities are always helpful for references to use on your resume.

Some companies allow job seekers to fill out applications they put on file until they have an opening.
Some companies allow job seekers to fill out applications they put on file until they have an opening.

Job clubs or work resource centers in your area may be a good source of unadvertised job openings since local businesses looking for workers may contact these organizations directly. Keep in touch with such community groups on a regular basis, as being there at the right time could mean finding at least a temporary job that matches your skills and gets you more experience. The more people you tell you're looking for work, the more likely you are to discover someone with a lead for an unadvertised job that may be worth checking out.

Don't forgot to look for specialized online job boards like OptJobs for career opportunities.

Inquiring about any job openings can lead to an application for an unadvertised opening.
Inquiring about any job openings can lead to an application for an unadvertised opening.

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Discussion Comments


@Izzy78 - I completely agree. When I was looking for one of my first jobs, I got an email from the student services person in our department about a job she thought would suit me. The job was never posted on the company's website, because they were looking for a specific type of individual and wanted to hire quickly. If it wasn't for me talking to the person in student services, she never would have known I was interested in those types of positions, and I never would have known the job existed.

Now that I have been a part of the work force for several years, I can say that you should never underestimate networking with other people. I go to a lot of conferences and meet students from all over the place. You would be amazed how much you have in common with other people. Along with that, making a good connection with someone will keep you in their mind, and they may approach you about future jobs with their company or about other jobs they know of.


@stl156 - Those are some great questions. I work in natural resources where very few jobs are posted on the big websites, and I actually got my job from an unadvertised opening. Since you didn't mention your field, I can't recommend anywhere specific, but I think the same general rules could apply for a lot of different careers.

First off, since you mentioned that you just graduate, by all means talk to your professors about potential jobs. Believe it or not, most professors talk to people outside academics either for research or just as part of business. Even though a lot of my professors didn't work in the same career path I went into, they still knew a lot of people and can possibly give unsolicited recommendations to employers or even call in a favor from someone.

On top of that, look for university sponsored job boards from your college and others. In my field, jobs will rarely be found on big name search engines, but if you go to the department websites at different universities, you can often find job boards specific to your career. Best of luck to you!


@matthewc23 - Great point. Dealing with HR is the first step in many job searches. If you're constantly calling about an application or bothering them, you'll come off as needy, and they may not call you for an interview even if you are qualified for an opening.

On a different note, I am very interested in what everyone feels are the best ways of finding unadvertised job openings. I just graduated from college, and I am having some problems finding jobs, because my field is relatively small, and openings aren't posted on the normal job search websites.

I want to make sure I maximize my resources and am curious to know how others have found success. Should I be cold-calling companies? Should I just stick to getting job announcements from professors? Any help is appreciated.


@LoriCharlie - Agreed. I could definitely see where trying to do one of these "informal interviews" could hurt you. At the same time, I think maybe part of it would depend on how you presented it to the HR person. If you specifically asked if you could have an informal interview, the person you are talking to might immediately think it's going to waste a lot of time and decline.

On the other hand, if you have a special skill or training for a certain job, it might be good to quickly add to the conversation that you have X skill and would be interested in knowing if the company has any positions needing that skill or if there may be potential openings in the future.

Regardless of how you approach the situation, the thing to always remember is that you'll be judged on every interaction you have with a company, so don't waste the human resource person's time, and don't feel bad if they don't seem interested in talking. Like others have mentioned, they are very busy people.


@sunnySkys - I can see why your friend feels that way. I also know someone who works in human resources, and she says she's inundated every single day with calls about whether there are any local job openings. And it gets even worse if they're advertising for help. Then you get fifty people calling to find out the status of their applications!


I've never tried calling a human resource department and asking for an "informational interview." I'm not even sure this would actually be the best thing to do. I have a friend who works in the human resources department at her company, and from what she tells me, she's very busy.

She told me awhile ago she's a lot more likely to spend a few minutes responding to a direct question about whether there are any jobs open current job openings rather than an "interview" over the phone. Other companies might be different though.


@strawCake - That's really good advice. I actually have a friend who got a job through someone he met at a networking event. And I have a lot of other friends that got a job because they knew someone at the company. Strangely though, I don't know too many people who have gotten jobs through those job search websites.


These days, I think it is really essential to pull out all the stops when you're job hunting. You can't just use job search engines online and apply for those jobs anymore. Now, you really need to know someone or have an "in" at a company.

That's why networking is essential, just like the article said. In addition to joining professional organizations, you should also research networking events for your industry. These events are usually very casual, but you can meet people that might be able to help you get a job.


Crispety- I agree with you and I think that the writer made an excellent point regarding professional organizations.

Professional or trade organizations relating to one’s line of work really provides all sorts of job leads. Sometimes they are simply posted in a newsletter, while other job leads are obtained through seminars and conferences.

Sometimes the hiring manager is present at the conference and might offer an informal interview and let you know about an upcoming opening or position that has not been advertised yet.


Great article- I agree that networking is the key to finding job openings that go unadvertised. The best jobs fall under this category.

The reason is simple. Many companies seek referrals from successful members of its workforce. Often these referral bonuses could be as high as $500 or more if the prospective candidate gets hired.

Firms do this to attract more of the same type of successful employee. It is really a win-win situation because the referring employee gets validation for his or her referral and the company saves money on recruitment costs.

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