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Look For Work

How to Find Unadvertised Jobs

About 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.

Know what kind of work you want

You’ll have more success if you have a clear work search goal in mind. You’ll need to assess your skills and experience and decide what plan your career.

Once you know your 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.
    • Search for employers in your community using a search engine.
    • Browse employer websites.
    • Use job search engines and job search websites. Check out the websites of professional and industry organizations in your field.
    • Use business directories to research profiles of companies and their contact information. You’ll find them online or at Alberta Works Centres. To find a service centre, go to an Alberta Supports Centre.
  2. Research potential employers
    Research employers before you contact them. This will help you figure out whether you’re a good fit for the organization. It will also help you make a good impression if you contact the employer. Try to find out who does the hiring in the organization.
  3. Choose the best way to contact employers
    You can contact employers in person or by phone, email, or 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, do they use employment agencies or campus placement offices to fill some positions, but not others? Ask your network, research the employer or phone the employer directly.
    • Assess your personality and skills
      If you’ve found several ways to contact employers for the type of work you want, choose the method that works best for you. Do you usually make a good first impression? Try to see employers in person. Do you sound pleasant and confident on the telephone? Give them a call. If you can write a great cover letter or email, contact them in writing.
    • Think about your work history
      If your work history has gaps that are hard 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 situation 
      If you live some distance from these potential jobs, you may have to rely on your phone or writing skills.
  4. Identify the person to contact.

    Try to find the name of the person with hiring authority before you contact the business. Having a name is useful for starting your cover letter or getting past the receptionist.

    If your research in step 2 did not identify the person with hiring authority, call the business. Ask the receptionist for the name of the person who does the hiring.
    • If you want to meet face-to-face, find out when this person may be available to speak to you. When you walk in, ask for the person by name.
    • If you want to talk to the person over the phone, ask to be put through. If the receptionist won’t put your call through, call back another day and ask for the hiring authority by name. 
    • If you’re sending an email or letter, address it to the person who does the hiring. Avoid the To Whom It May Concern approach.
  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
    • Include a brief statement about the company that tells the employer you’ve done your research. For example, “With all the new contracts your company has lined up, I thought you might be looking for someone with my kind of construction experience.”
    • Practise role-playing your script with a friend.
    • Use the script to start 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 goal is 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? 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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