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How to Find a Job Before It's Posted

Use these strategies to get a head start on other job seekers

- October 15, 2012
You know the drill: A job posts on the Internet; you respond and keep your fingers crossed for an interview. Whether you are looking for a permanent or temporary gig, is there any other way to find out about plum positions before the masses do? Yes, in fact.

Mediabistro's Revolving Door newsletter is a good way to stay on top of the industry, and job boards like ours are always brimming with opportunities. Following companies and individuals who hire on Twitter and LinkedIn is a good start, too.

We asked creative professionals and career counselors for other strategies to find out about jobs and projects before they are announced. In trying some of these techniques, you'll stretch your networking muscles and get a jump on that dream job before your competition does.

1. Contact companies directly.
Amy Phillip, an executive career coach based in Brooklyn who runs Career Certain, recommends connecting directly with the person that hires. For journalists, that's often the editor or managing editor, while it can be the director of marketing for copywriters and bloggers. "Find that person on LinkedIn and send an introduction," she said.

She advises job hunters to create a list of companies that you want to work for, and then use social media or other research methods to find out names and contact information of the individuals you want to target.

"I oftentimes think three points of entry into an organization is the best way to approach it," she explained. That can entail going through the managing editor, a colleague in the design department and a human resources person. She notes that you may not want to reach out to the HR director, as he or she is probably very busy. Instead, connect with a junior HR assistant who has less on his plate and is directly responsible for scouting talent instead of leading the company’s human resources strategy.

Human resources departments also have people in charge of recruitment and talent acquisition that you can approach -- those are the ones that you should be hitting up, Phillip said.

"Finding gigs isn't about job hunting as much as it is marketing yourself and your brand."

"That's what they do for a living; that's their job. The chance of them responding is far greater than anyone else," Phillip added.

Lyuba Ellingson, co-founder of, recommends using the advanced Twitter search tool. She says to enter keywords such as "hiring" within a specified number of miles from your current location, and to experiment with various keywords related to your desired position. You can also save the search for later, she added.

2. Pop into a chat.
Social media is definitely a useful research tool, but did you know you could use it to do more than find contact information?

Ellingson says Twitter chats are a great resource for real-time information. The chats occur with back-and-forth tweets that contain a common hashtag during a specific time. Some chats to check out include #LinkedInChat, #careerchat, #HFchat and #jobhuntchat.

Before participating, make sure your own social media profiles are in tip-top shape, though. "Once you start communicating with these people, they will look you up. If you don't look excellent and present your personal brand in a quality manner, you are wasting your time," she said, adding that recruiters will look for your written communication skills, culture fit, personal brand inconsistencies and, yes, even incriminating photos.

"If a job seeker is going to put themselves out there, they need to show the very best," she said.

3. See who is viewing your profile.
This tip applies specifically to LinkedIn. (And, if you haven't visited the site lately or updated your profile, you should.)

"One of the most effective things I do on LinkedIn is reaching out to people who have viewed my profile," Ellingson noted. She sends a note to the viewer to acknowledge the visit and see if the person needs additional information. The follow-up enables writers to make contact with someone who is already potentially interested, so you're not reaching out to a stranger. If you contact the visitor soon after they saw your profile, the person will probably recall your name more quickly, too.

"The responses to this have been mind blowing," she said, adding that she has secured jobs this way.

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4. Target your approach.
Thursday Bram, a content consultant based in Maryland, said she tries to network with people who hire for the different services she provides, like blogging. To find leads, she pinpointed companies that design blogs, because their customers most likely will need content for them. "I can make the connection with them, and they then recommend me to their clients," she explained.

When she was looking to target the real estate industry, for example, she teamed up with a Web designer who had clients in that field, and they produced white papers on how real estate pros could better market themselves. Then, when people searched for real estate marketing help online and came across those papers, they turned to Bram for other projects.

Carol Tice, a freelance writer and writing business mentor based in the Seattle area, said finding gigs isn't about job hunting as much as it is marketing yourself and your brand. "You have to start marketing your business proactively," she said.

Tice recommends going beyond just applying for positions and instead thinking about the people who need your services, just as Bram suggests. Once you target them, ask about possible positions or projects. Tice says freelancers do well with this approach, because some companies have extra tasks to hand off but cannot hire a full-timer. Most of the time, she adds, they are too busy to go find that person.

"The vast, vast majority of good-paying jobs will never be advertised."

"That's why you have to send those letters of introduction and send those queries and present yourself as a solution to their problem," she added.

5. Ask for referrals.
Tice says it is imperative to realize that not all jobs will magically appear on the Internet. "In fact, the vast, vast majority of good-paying jobs will never be advertised," she said. "Stop waiting to spot them in ads."

Instead, she advises writers to join networks and stay up to date on competitors in their geographical area. "We do all tend to refer each other," she said of her fellow editorial acquaintances.

She cited the 2012 Freelance Industry Report, which states that more than 50 percent of the participants used referrals and word-of-mouth to line up gigs, while 17 percent claimed that tapping personal and professional networks helps.

Tice, who mentors other writers, says she finds that many of them do not ask others if they know someone interested in what they do.

She also suggested that job seekers stop looking at ads for at least 30 days, because the constant browsing can feel demoralizing. Instead, tap into your network and let them open doors for you. "Ask your existing clients if they will refer you," urged Tice. "That is the easiest marketing you'll ever do and it's the most effective."

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Kristen Fischer is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) living at the Jersey Shore. Visit for more information.

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