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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.
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:
Television & Radio
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
Information About Companies
Information About Products/Services
Situations To Consider When Searching For Opportunities:
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 -
2nd & 3rd paragraphs -
Body of Letter -
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
Source: New Plant Relocation/Expansion
Source: Company Growth
Source: Impromptu Walk-In
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