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Career Corner
Don't just go for the easy opening

Judi Craig -- In case you're thinking of contacting a company for future employment only when there is a posted "job opening," you may be eliminating a large part of the job market.

Many, if not most, jobs are never listed in the newspapers or on the Internet. If you ask a company representative about "vacancies," they may correctly tell you there are none when, in fact, you could well find employment in that organization.

The truth is that many companies have an employee who may not be performing up to par. The individual may lack desired skills, not get along well with others, be disorganized or fail to meet productivity requirements. Or an employee may lack the necessary competencies to step into a new role that's coming up in an anticipated reorganization, downsizing or merger.

Perhaps the manager doesn't want to remove the person because she knows there will be so much more work for everyone else while a new hire is recruited, interviewed and selected. That whole process takes time (something we're all short on) and puts more stress on other people who have to pitch in and make up the work that used to be done by the person who leaves. Resentments often surface ("How could the company have done that to an employee who's been with us that long?") and morale can decline as everyone begins to wonder "who's next?"

Then there's the expense of a search for someone to fill the new position. And maybe a relocation package.

Also, executives and managers tend to put off the unpleasant task of demoting or firing someone. It's easier to rock along with the status quo, especially if the person who has to deliver the bad news is someone who doesn't want to be perceived as a "bad guy," personally disagrees with the decision, is highly empathetic with the person in question or is simply conflict avoidant. Besides, demoting or firing someone is just not a fun thing to do.

But if someone very qualified comes along, who isn't more tempted to make the necessary change? This is where you, the job seeker, have an opportunity.

Now imagine this scenario: You're an executive in a company and you get a letter that comes across your desk, addressed specifically to you. You open it and discover that the writer obviously has researched your industry/company well enough to sense what it is that you need -- specific qualities, experience, etc. -- and is telling you what he could do for you. This claim is then followed by four to six bullets outlining specific accomplishments -- including quantifiable measures -- that the writer has achieved. Then follows an invitation to contact him or her for an interview. Wouldn't you be impressed?

Let's face it: To get a job, you need to get an interview. Once in the door, you have an opportunity to sell yourself. If the interviewer likes what he sees, his mind clicks into thoughts of where you could fit in to the company -- and to those you might replace.

It is even possible to sell a potential employer on a job that you basically create for yourself. There may no ready fit for you. But if they are sold on you, you can brainstorm with them on the possible ways they could use your talents. You might create a new position right there during the interview, essentially outlining your own job description.

The point is, don't just go for companies that you know have an "opening" or you could be dealing yourself out on a terrific job.

Judi Craig, Ph.D., MCC is an Executive & Career Coach in San Antonio, TX and President of COACH SQUARED, INC.

© 2003 CareerBuilder.com

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal or medical professional.