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Find Work by Contacting Employers Directly

An estimated 80% of the jobs available at any given time are unadvertised. How can you find out about them and apply? One of the best ways is by contacting employers directly.

This approach will be more effective if you have a clear work search goal in mind—assess your skills and experience and decide what kind of work you’re looking for. For help setting your work search goal, check out plan your career.

Once you know you work search goal, follow these 6 basic steps when contacting employers directly.

  1. Identify potential employers
    • Tell the people in your network you’re looking for work and want to contact employers directly. Ask for their suggestions.
    • Watch for now hiring and help wanted signs in your community.
    • Look in the Yellow Pages, in print or online at
    • Browse employer websites.
    • Use job search engines and job search websites. Check out professional association and industry organization websites in your field.
    • Use business directories to research profiles of companies and contact information. You’ll find them online or at Alberta Works Centres. To find a service centre, go to the Alberta Works/Alberta Supports Centres.

  2. Research potential employers.

    Find out all you can about employers before you contact them. Learning about an employer will help you determine whether you’re a good fit for the organization and make a positive impression if you contact the employer. Try to find out who has hiring authority in the organization. Find out more information about researching employers.

  3. Choose appropriate ways to contact employers.

    You can contact employers in person, over the telephone, by email or by mail. Use these suggestions to decide which method to use:

    • Consider the type of work you want.
      How do most employers hire people for the type of work you want? For example, they may use employment agencies or campus placement offices to fill some positions, but not others. You may find out by asking your network, researching the employer or phoning the employer directly.

    • Assess your personality and skills.
      If several methods of contacting employers are acceptable for the type of work you want, choose the method that works best for you. If you usually make a good first impression, try to see employers in person. If you sound pleasant and confident on the telephone, call employers. If you can write a great cover letter or email, contact employers in writing.

    • Think about your work history.
      If your work history has gaps that are difficult to explain briefly or in a positive way, contacting employers in person or by phone is probably a better approach than sending letters or emails.

    • Consider your personal circumstances. 
      If you’re approaching employers located some distance away from where you live, you may have to rely on letters or email.

  4. Identify the person to contact.

    Try to find out the name of the person with hiring authority before you contact the business. If you show up or call without that information, you might not get past the receptionist.

    If your research in Step 2 did not identify the person with hiring authority, try the following suggestions:

    • If you’re contacting an employer in person or by phone, call ahead and ask who has hiring authority for your type of work. Find out when this person may be available to speak to you. When you walk in, ask for the person by name.

    • When contacting an employer by phone, ask the person who answers the phone for the name of the person who has hiring authority. If that person is reluctant to put your call through, call back another day and ask for the hiring authority by name. 

    • If you’re sending an email or letter, avoid the To Whom It May Concern approach. Call the employer to find out who has hiring authority. Make sure you give your email a subject that shows the employer that your message is not spam.

  5. Make contact.

    The more experience you have contacting employers, the easier it gets. Being prepared will help you feel more comfortable:

    • Write a 30-second script that introduces you to an employer in person or over the phone and includes:
      • your name
      • who referred you (if someone did)
      • one or two highlights from your background, e.g. your education and work history
      • the type of position you’re looking for
    • a brief statement about the company that tells the employer you’ve done your research, e.g. With all the new contracts your company has lined up, I thought you might be looking for someone with my kind of construction experience.
    • Practice role-playing your script with a friend.
    • Use the script as the basis for the first paragraph of your email or letter to an employer.
    • Update your resumé. Have it by the phone when you call. Leave it with employers you meet. Send it as an attachment with an email. Enclose a copy with a letter.
    • Ask employers if and when you could contact them again.
    • When you contact employers by mail or email, ask for an interview in your closing paragraph. Give a date and time you will call to see if an interview is possible.

  6. Follow up.

    Phone the employer about two weeks after your initial contact. Your objective is to get a job interview:
    • If you sent or left a resumé, ask if they have any questions about it. If they don’t have your resumé, ask if you could send it.
    • Ask for an interview. The worst thing that could happen is that the employer will tell you there are no openings at this time. The best thing that could happen is that you get that interview.

Be professional and persistent

When contacting employers directly, aim to be professional and persistent. You never know when you will connect with an employer who’s hoping to hire someone with your qualifications and experience.

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