You really want to work for a company, but no job exists there for the type of work you want to do. Fret not. You can land a job at the company even if it doesn't have a position open for the job you want, but you've got to do some extra legwork. It will be up to you to sell both yourself and the position you think the company needs.
Before you pick up the phone or fire off a cover letter, study the company and every aspect of its business. You're going to need to show company officials that hiring a new employee will benefit their company in some way, and to do so you've got to translate your skills as necessary to its business. Find out what its weaknesses are by researching area competitors. What do other similar companies have that this company lacks? For example, maybe you want a marketing position at this company. Figure out where it's lacking in marketing and PR. Does it need a better website? What about social networking? Make sure you're thinking of ongoing processes that will help the company, not one-shot deals that can be taken care of quickly by a contractor or freelancer.
Format the Resume
Tailor your resume in a way that it shows your biggest strengths relative to the position you want. For example, if you have both teaching and customer service experience but want a position in advising, create a functional resume that shows the breadth of knowledge and skills you have. A functional resume organizes your skills into categories rather than a chronology of your work experience. You might have two or three categories, such as "Supervisory Skills" and "Customer Service Skills." Under each category subheading, list bullet points with a strong active voice and discuss what you've done in the past. For example, you might list, "Led group discussions in college-level writing workshops; Assisted students with revision of written work."
If you're applying to a large company that has no posted job for the position you want, you won't get anywhere by sending an HR manager your resume. But, you can get somewhere through networking. If you have a contact within the company, let her know you're interested in work and make sure she has a full understanding of your skills and experience. Send your resume directly to your contact, and ask her to pass along your resume where she sees fit. A direct, personal recommendation is much stronger than an anonymous application through the system. Work your networking skills by attending conferences, social events and trade shows in your field.
Request an Interview
At the end of your cover letter, request an interview by suggesting that you are available to meet and discuss the possibility further. "You'll be hearing from me," is too heavy handed. But, a light "I look forward to talking to you more about this position. I am available to interview anytime in the next two weeks." Since you've made your pitch, the ball is now in the company's hands. Give it a bit of time. If a week passes and you don't hear anything, you might send a follow-up email to inquire. All correspondence is a demonstration of your professionalism, so even if you grow discouraged, never convey that in your emails. Stay smooth, positive and professional.
Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.