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Unsolicited applications for business and industry

They say that upwards of 80 per cent of jobs in the private sector are never advertised. That is why it is worthwhile to send unsolicited job applications, even though they are more time-consuming.

When you send an unsolicited application, you are applying for a position that you do not know exists or is vacant. But the benefit of this kind of proactivity is that you can get lucky and apply before a position is advertised and, in so doing, bypass the entire job queue. Sending unsolicited applications is time-consuming as it requires a good deal of research. And you also have to prepare yourself for a lot of rejections. But it is often worth it – it only takes one application to get lucky and hit a company with the right needs.

Steps for writing unsolicited applications

1. Choose between company or sector

There are two ways to send an unsolicited application. You can either target your application at a specific company, which requires a good deal of research. Or you can target your application at a specific sector, and send the same application to several companies. The disadvantage of sending a sector-oriented application is that it can be difficult for the individual company to see exactly how they can use you. Here it is very important to consider what you can do and what you want.

It is primarily in the private sector that positions are not advertised. However, there are examples of, e.g., temporary positions in the public sector that are not advertised. But generally there are rules stating that public-sector positions must be advertised.

2. Find companies

To find relevant companies, you can use your network, which may know where you and your competences might be needed. Your network will certainly also be able to give you useful advice and information about the company in question. You can also keep up-to-date on companies by reading the business sections of newspapers. Here you will also be able to identify growth companies which are often looking for new employees.  

3. Do research

If you are applying to a specific company, you need to do extensive research on that company. This can be very time-consuming, but it is worth it in the end. The company should feel that there is a reason why you are singling them out with an application. You can find information on the company on the Internet, by requesting information material or via your network.  

4. Be focused

First, you should find something special that you can offer the company. Remember that you are not begging for a job; you are applying because you have resources to offer to the company. You might present good ideas regarding the company. Perhaps you have heard about a project they are working on and to which you know you can contribute. Or perhaps you have simply read an article about the company in the newspaper and think your profile matches their company and that you have something to offer. Remember to be forward-looking and visionary. The boss or departmental manager should be able to say: "Hey, here's someone who is exactly what I'm looking for or whom I might need some day."

You need to present arguments for your relevant competences and for why they match the company. These can, of course, be your professional qualifications, where you describe the fields of work for which you are qualified. But because you do not know what specific position you are applying for, you can also increase the focus on your personal qualifications.

5. Be persistent

Conclude your application by saying that you will contact them next week to follow up on your application. That way you have a legitimate reason to call and talk to the recipient of your application. Do not leave messages with a secretary, but rather find out when the manager will be in. Do not expect them to call you back, so keep calling until you get through.

Prepare some questions about the company and about a possible position. Start out by asking whether they have read your letter and what they thought of it. If they have not read your letter, then summarise it. Set the stage for a personal interview. If they reject you outright, you might ask what they would do if they were in your shoes and really wanted to work in that particular line of business – is there something you could have done differently in your application etc. Or perhaps they know someone in the business who is looking for someone with your qualifications.

6. Send your application to the right person

Once you have decided where to send your application, it is important to send it to someone with management responsibility. It is clearly an advantage to send it directly to the management, thus bypassing the entire HR department. And there is no guarantee that the HR department knows beforehand when the need for a new employee will arise. So it is better to target departmental managers who know if the company needs you and who have the freedom to decide on their own whether to hire you.