Only a small percentage of jobs are filled by recruiters, in fact the percentage doesn’t increase greatly with advertised roles either. The majority of roles filled are through other means – now I have always said that recruitment can be like a lottery, you need to be in the right place at the right time. However there are some things you can be doing to ensure you are likely to be in the right places and highlighted specifically for upcoming roles and roles which haven’t necessarily been identified.
- Networking – personal networking and social contacts are a valuable tool when you are looking to secure a new position, do keep in touch with your contacts regularly and not only when you want something! Update or create a LinkedIn profile and connect with your previous employers, colleagues, friends etc. Make sure you join groups and get involved in discussions, this keeps you at the forefront of people’s minds but also demonstrates your passion for your profession and you can easily gain new valuable contacts through this practice. Go to PM specific events, there are a fair few which are free to attend – go listen to seminars and network with delegates to strengthen your contacts list. Join in social networking discussions beyond LinkedIn – twitter has a regular gathering on a Friday afternoon under the hashtag #pmchat – the topic differs from week to week and it is a great opportunity to talk live about PM related subjects with other Project Professionals.
- Create opportunities – if you are already in a contract or employed you can take the consultative approach and get involved with other project teams, understand what changes are afoot and identify how you could tap into these changes. Even talking to other PMs over coffee and hearing their challenges can unearth some interesting pieces of work you can take to Head of Projects etc.
- Direct approach – I can almost hear your sigh at the thought of a speculative application, after all in the past you have done this and received the generic response of “keeping your details on file”, but there is a more effective way to approach businesses.
- Create a list of companies you would like to work for and know have project management functions.
- Research the companies, track them online – identify changes, look at anything which might generate jobs, from new product launches to mergers.
- Identify Heads of Projects – a bit of searching online will soon generate some names and contact details.
- Draw up a tailored cover letter, talk through the change you have identified and match up your experience to how you have delivered similar change in the past.
- Tweak your CV to ensure it is relevant to the business and look at other employees’ profiles from that business to grasp an idea at what attracts the business to them.
- Approach the contact, be assertive but not pushy and ask for a call or to meet for a coffee to discuss.
The direct approach is time consuming but, think about how your chances of securing a new role have increased significantly by demonstrating key skills such as being proactive, commercially astute, good researcher etc. you could also save them costly recruitment fees moving forward and avoid the long queue for a role which has later been adevertised.