AFPAAA - So You're Looking For Another Job ...
A. Preliminaries

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4. Spot Opportunities 
"The Hidden Job Market" or How To Identify Jobs In The Making 

Promoters and outplacement counsultants alike trumpte the virtues of "the hidden job market", as though it is something mystical and only they have the arcane knowledge to tap it. In the words of the song, "It ain't necessarily so...". Remember back to the hiring process we laid out in the beginning, and think of the hidden job market as a succession of spot opportunities to solve an organization's problems, with you as the solver. 

What is a Spot Opportunity? 

A spot opportunity is reported information which can be used by a job seeker to uncover or create employment opportunities. Anything that has happened, is happening, or might happen in any working environment of interest can present a spot opportunity. 

Examples ...

News of an executive's promotion or the recruitment of a new senior manager is a basic indication of opportunity. Rarely will an executive keep all of an inherited staff. Several new hires usually occur during the first six months. 

Raising new capital through public offerings or major bank financing normally indicates that a firm is planning business development or trying to solve a financial crunch. In most instances, some new funds will be spent on hiring additional personnel. 

New buildings or new office space leases typically suggest business expansion. Usually a firm will move rapidly to fill up expensive space by hiring from outside. 

Why Are Spot Opportunities Important? 

The techniques for capitalizing on "spot opportunities" are among the most powerful approaches among all interview-producing methods. It takes a modest amount of work to locate these spot opportunities and a little creative effort to capitalize upon them. However, your time investment is likely to produce exceptional rewards. 

Philosophically, all change represents an opportunity, and change is inevitable. Companies need help to cope with change and you can provide that help. Spot opportunities can be advantageous to a job seeker in the following ways: 

1. They allow an applicant to have control over "being at the right place at the right time." 

2. Capitalizing on a spot opportunity can give you a competitive edge over other candidates who appear to be qualified. Jobs are awarded to individuals for reasons other than the face value of their qualifications. Showing originality, initiative, foresight, etc., will positively influence a hiring decision. 

3. A spot opportunity approach suggests to the reader that you possess desirable qualities such as being creative, perceptive, unique or resourceful. You demonstrate a desirable, aggressive nature and make a dramatic, positive impression. 

4. Your spot opportunity response focuses on an immediate need of the organization at an opportune time. 

5. Making yourself known through a meaningful communication saves an organization money on recruiting expenses. They will prefer you, in part, for this reason. 

6. By using spot opportunities you increase your marketability by avoiding competition. The concept allows you to attract attention and create interviews before competition emerges. 

7. Since a specific position is not necessarily defined, the employer is more open to suggestions and general discussion. The opportunity to "create" an ideal job description is more possible. 

8. Barriers normally erected by personnel departments and secretaries can be circumvented by using spot opportunities. For the most part, you are communicating directly with the hiring decision-maker. 

9. The spot opportunity allows you to make a tailored letter-resume response which highlights relevant information about the company's situation and your capability. The approach does not require you to furnish complete details concerning your background. Liabilities can be suppressed or hidden. 

10. Your correspondence can serve as an ego boost to the reader and be quite favorably received. It shows that the public is aware of the company's activities. Your contact can be a pleasant interruption in a hectic business day. You will be fostering a friendship at a high level and working to develop what could become a valuable personal contact. 

11. The very approach you are using indicates a sincere interest in the organization. Firms like to hire people who really want to work for them. 

Where to find Spot Opportunities 

You don't have to look far for spot opportunities. they are passing in front of you on a daily basis. Up to this point you probably have not capitalized upon this information. 

Spot opportunity information can be obtained from the following sources: 

Well known newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and local papers from your area of geographical preference (Miami Business Journal, Atlanta, Business Chronicle, Houston Business Journal, etc.) provide a wealth of information within feature articles, product or company advertisements, highlights of personalities in business, industry surveys, and the classified section. 

General news and business magazines such as Fortune, Business Week, Forbes, Venture, Inc., U.S. News & World Report, Time, Newsweek and periodicals from a specific geographical area Business Atlanta, New Jersey Monthly, New England Business, etc.) can provide an abundant source of spot opportunity situations. 

Trade Journals 
Industry and professional magazines are the best way to keep abreast of the current happenings in a particular field of interest to you. Standard Rates and Data Services, Business Publication Rates and Data is a business library resource book that can give you complete information concerning types of trade journals. Frequently specialists and individuals who have been in their field for many years are surprised when they see a complete list of trade publications. Often you will find several sources that are unfamiliar, yet very valuable to your job search. 

Professional Journals 
Many associations publish professional magazines, directors, trade catalogs or newsletters. Valuable data concerning professional trends, and names of key influentials, can be obtained from a journal article or membership directory. Often, trade and professional associations will have formal or informal position referral services. they serve a clearinghouse role matching candidates to known openings. Information regarding associations can be obtained in the Encyclopedia of Associations

Television & Radio 
The news, commercials, commentaries and talk shows may also provide information pertaining to new products, business and consumer issues, etc. 

Being There! 

Don't overlook the power that first-hand information can offer to you. Attendance at speeches, seminars, trade shows, and conventions are naturally part of any professional's career development. You do not have to be an organization member to attend most events - a business card is often sufficient for admittance. 

Use this time to obtain information regarding products, industries and/or key individuals. This information may be in the form of a trade show directory, product literature, etc. Chance meetings, social events or an impromptu walk-in to a company of interest are also ways in which you can gather information and generate interviews. 

How can you Assess a Spot Opportunity? 

To do this you need to let your creative energy begin to work for you. Ask yourself: "What need can I project from this situation and how could that mean a job for me?" Be sure to "read between the lines." 

Once you've identified a spot opportunity which is appropriate to a target organization, you should make a direct plan of application of that same situation to other companies, in the same business. Do a little research beyond the spot opportunity. An excellent reference source is Predicasts F&S Index which abstracts articles in business magazines and newspapers. F&S is organized by specific company names and also by subject areas. 

By talking to the competition, you may surface additional information. Often an entire industry is similarly affected. 

Use techniques followed by individuals in sales. For example, an insurance salesman will follow birth announcements or home sale transactions to uncover business potential and generate leads; construction materials salesmen contact people who apply for building permits, etc. 

What To Look For (People, Places, Things) 

Information About Individuals in Management 

    1. Promotions 
    2. Transfers 
    3. Retirements 
    4. Resignations 
    5. Deaths 
    6. Management Profiles 
Change in management can mean two things: a) a position has been vacated and b) the executive in a new position may be getting rid of "dead wood" to bring new people on board who will better fit a personal management style and way of thinking. 

Information About Companies 

    1. Rapid Growth 
    2. Relocation 
    3. Expansion 
    4. New Plants/Offices/Leases 
    5. Acquisitions 
    6. Mergers 
    7. Divestitures 
    8. Capital/Equity Offerings 
Change in company status through new ownership or location routinely suggests a need for new personnel since a substantial percentage of an existing staff is usually unwilling to relocate. Also, new management typically feels it can do better and wants to bring "new blood" into the company. 

Information About Products/Services 

    1. New Products 
    2. Product/Industry Trends 
    3. Troubled Products/Industries 
An upward or downward swing of an industry or product denotes a need for help in effecting cost reductions, business turnaround, etc. New talent is often essential to bring this about. 

Situations To Consider When Searching For Opportunities: 

    1. Growth in a particular department or division of a company. 
    2. Overall growth in a company (revenues, products, personnel). 
    3. Industrial growth within a particular geographical location. 
    4. Capital investment programs. 
    1. Poor earnings report. 
    2. Declining sales. 
    3. Deteriorating financial or business conditions. 
    4. Escalating costs. 
    5. Any problem which you have the expertise to help solve. 
    1. Change in management style/philosophy. 
    2. Change in company's emphasis, i.e., shift from R&D to marketing. 
    3. Change in management personnel. 
    1. Need for additional staff to meet government regulations. 
    2. Need for additional staff to keep up with consumer demands (sales, customer service, production, etc.). 
    3. Advertised need for staff in production, engineering or sales departments may mean eventual need for additional staff in personnel, administration, finance, senior management, etc. 
Questions To Ask Yourself: 
  1. Does the situation suggest that there will be a need for additional people? 
  2. Is this a situation where my capabilities might be useful? 
  3. What could I do to help these people? 
How to Respond to a Spot Opportunity 

One effective approach in using spot opportunities is to send an individually typed letter-resume with a phone call follow-up. The basic content of your letter can be adapted from the source article and the content of your basic resume. The more you relate to the situation, the better your chances of success in gaining an interview. 

Your goal in the letter is to write opening comments that will make your communication different from applications for employment. It is designed to focus on something that will be of concern to the recipient. The initial thought is intended to arouse interest and gain attention while the second thought is to offer some form of help, ideas, assistance, etc. Specificity and relevance are the keys. 

By offering help, compliments or insights, you foster rapport with decision-makers who could employ you or give you leads to potential job openings. These individuals could become contacts you could use throughout your career. 

Your letter format should consist of: 

1st paragraph - 
Comment on the event and where/how you became aware of it, (article, speech, conversation, etc.). 

2nd & 3rd paragraphs - 
Indicate your interest in the company or industry and motivate involvement. 

Body of Letter - 
Make a match between the company's apparent or projected needs and your background. Select appropriate highlights, achievements or skills from your resume which will demonstrate the fit between your background and the company. Do this as clearly as possible in relation to the implied or explicit needs in source article. 

Closing - 
Your final paragraph should indicate a planned phone follow-up and a desire to meet the individual. 

It may be appropriate to make a copy of the article, and attach it to your letter. This can be an extra impact device for motivating a response. Letters with attachments tend to get past the secretary more readily. The objective is to stimulate a favorable response to your follow-up call. 

It is essential in a job campaign that you begin to look at the business world through the eyes of the employer, as opposed to continually focusing on your own wants and needs. Your spot opportunity correspondence should direct itself to the employers' recent success, problems or change. Avoid false flattery and an excessive emphasis on the benefits you are seeking rather than the benefits to the potential employer. 

Sample Spot Opportunity Actions 

Source: Classified Section 
A senior level Engineering Manager earning $90,000 calculates that firms running massive ads to recruit various types of engineers must eventually need some top talent to manage projects requiring hundreds of new engineer recruits. 

Source: Promotion 
An Assistant Product Manager reads that a competitor firm recently appointed a new V.P. of Marketing. The article is in a trade magazine which is two months old. By this time the new executive has been in his job 3 to 4 months and has had the opportunity to size up his inherited marketing team. The arrival of a creative letter from the Assistant Product Manager accelerates termination of an existing Product Manager. The position is filled by the former Assistant Product Manager who achieved a promotion. 

Source: New Plant Relocation/Expansion 
An observation of structural steel work going up or landscaping, or a new office space sign, etc., indicates that in a few months there will be jobs in that new building which do not exist today. Find out who is moving in and you will be the mart candidate who gets there first. 

Source: Company Growth 
An Assistant Controller reads an article about the growth of an air freight company. In his correspondence he brought to their attention their need for an individual who could help control their growth. His operational orientation could help do that for them. He was called in for an interview and offered the Controller position. 

Source: Impromptu Walk-In 
An Assistant Superintendent of Schools wanted to change careers and relocate to the southeast. He flew to Florida for two interviews, at which time he utilized the 4 day stay to generate additional interviews. By walking into 7 companies, he received 5 interviews and won a position as a Training and Development Specialist. 

Source: Creative 
An unemployed materials executive who was interested in major pharmaceutical firms prepared an inventory to sales ratio chart for the top 25 firms in the industry. Some had deteriorating performance; others were below average. The first paragraph of the spot opportunity letter pointed out the writer had been in charge of a worldwide inventory reduction project for XYZ Drug Company. His past efforts had reduced investment from $520 million to $480 million. The second paragraph commented on the trend in that company and offered his help, ideas and assistance. Positive responses were obtained from many of the recipients. 

INDEX. BACK NEXT   5. Your Job Search Campaign

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