Most of the jobs out there are not advertised

Dear Working Wise: I want to get back to work as soon as possible, but I don’t see any job postings for similar work. I want to start contacting employers directly to see if they are hiring. Do you have any tips? Signed Eager to Work

Dear Eager: Cold calling is a great addition to your job search tool box. Some experts estimate that up to 80 per cent of jobs are unadvertised.

Before you get going though, you might want to attend a career or job search workshop.

Alberta Supports Centres or Alberta Works Centres offer free workshops that can help you inventory all of your transferable skills. Taking stock of all you have to offer employers may open up new job opportunities that you may never have considered. You can find the centre nearest you by clicking

Once you know what kinds of jobs you’re looking for, use these tips to put your best foot forward when you contact employers.

Identify potential employers

Create a list of employers who need skills like yours. Check industry websites, job fairs, and job boards for ideas. Ask your network of friends, family, and colleagues for leads and contacts.

Research target employers

Learn about the company and what relevant positions they employ. Find out who has hiring authority for those positions. For more information on researching employers, visit

Target your cover letter and resumé

Don’t send a generic cover letter and resumé to every company you can think of. Target them to the job you want and the person who can hire you. At the end of your cover letter, ask for an interview. For help with your resumé, visit your local Alberta Supports Centre or use the Career Information Hotline’s free online resumé review service at

Write a script

Write a 30-second introduction that includes: your name, who referred you, one or two of your relevant qualifications, one achievement that you’re most proud of, the position you are interested in, and a brief statement about the company that tells the hiring manager that you’ve done your homework.


Call the hiring manager, use your script and ask for an interview. If you can’t get a meeting, ask if you can email your cover letter and resumé to them directly. If they are not hiring, thank them for their time and ask when you can contact them again. Even if they aren’t hiring, they might give you a lead on someone who is.


Some industries/employers will appreciate you taking the initiative to visit them in person — it will make you stand out from the stack of resumés they already have. Smaller employers are your best bet. Other employers/industries will consider an unscheduled visit inappropriate. Use your best judgement.

For more job search tips, visit and read the Advanced Techniques for Work Search booklet.

Good luck!

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services. This column is provided for general information.

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