Every job seeker is familiar with help-wanted advertising, it's far and away the most popular means of looking for work (although only 14 percent of all jobs are advertised). Because it's so popular, competition is fierce. You'll be lucky if the companies you respond to even drop you so much as a "thanks for applying" note. Sitting by the phone or watching for the mail carrier is an exercise in futility and a sure way to sink slowly into the depths of depression.
Does this mean to forget help-wanted ads as a means of securing a job? Absolutely not. Although competition is rugged, and the jobs for you are few and far between, remember the commandment: when looking for work use every conceivable means. Acquiring and responding to help-wanted advertising will comprise a small, integral part of your all-out campaign. It's imperative you understand how to most effectively use this resource. There are two types of help wanted ads: classified and display.
These ads are found in the classified sections of newspapers and a few trade journals. The section they are found in is usually preceded by the heading Employment or by Employment Opportunities, in most publications they are listed in alphabetical order according to occupation or job title. It's relatively inexpensive to run a classified ad. Smaller, less well-heeled companies and organizations often use this medium.
Start-ups, nonprofit, and low-profit institutions and agencies, direct-sale, multilevel, and "no-experience-needed" type companies depend heavily upon classified advertising for hiring. Rarely will you find middle to upper-level positions advertised in the classifieds.
The following is a typical classified ad. You have undoubtedly seen some like it many times. How would you interpret it? An ad of this nature usually means someone has compiled a list of government job openings he or she would like you to buy. Whether these openings still exist or not is questionable. The location of many of these positions is just as questionable. If you have an extra $15 or $20 to shell out you could respond.
Here is another type of ad frequently found in the classified employment section:
You can bet that this is a sales job, commission only-when you sell you make money; when you don't-you don't. Sell what? Just about anything-books, vacuum cleaners, or magazines are three of the more common items. Notice that they don't want you to call. When you visit them be prepared for the sales pitch of your lifetime.
When a number is given and you call, they will insist that you visit their office if you want to obtain details about the position advertised. Once again, they'll sit you down and give you a sales pitch. The next thing you know, you wind up out on the street peddling their wares. If a company won't tell you about a position over the telephone, chances are high that it's a waste of your time.
A small machine shop is looking for a jack-of-all-trades who will probably be expected to work on a part-time or as-needed basis.
Companies usually reserve display advertising for management, degree-required, or hard-to-fill positions. Newspapers generally carry these dis play ads (often called box ads because they are boxed in with some sort of typeset border) in one grouping preceding the classifieds. In trade journals, they are frequently located near the rear of the publication or mixed in amongst the articles and other advertising. Sometimes the company logo or special artwork is used along with eye-catching typeset ting. This type of advertising falls into two basic categories.
Straightforward, In addition to a job description and job qualifications, contact information is given. If at all possible, you should try to come up with the name of the decision maker in your particular area and contact him or her instead.
Blind, Often called box ads because the contact information consists of a name or title and a box number. If it's a post office box, call the post office and ask what company placed the ad. Sometimes they will tell you. If it's a newspaper box ad and the position interests you, reply and move on. Maybe you'll get a response, maybe not.
Frequently, this type of ad is placed by executive recruiters or employment agencies. In some states employment agencies are required by law to disclose themselves. Ads of this type also give the employer the opportunity to have a headhunter screen the responses before forwarding those that look the best to the employer.
Why would a company place a blind ad? For several reasons:
- To eliminate an obligation to answer responses.
- To test the water; is there that certain someone out there?
- To maintain secrecy; maybe they don't want the current job holder to know they want to replace him.
- Maybe their reputation is unenviable.
Responding to Help-Wanted Ads
- Never reject yourself. If you want a job and think you can do it, go for it. Companies will always shoot for the moon, and then be quite happy to hit a star.
- Direct your inquiry specifically to the person in charge of your area. Use the telephone. Second choice? The mail.
- Never submit salary information. If you ask for too little, your value as the right person for the position could be questioned. If you ask for too much, you could price yourself out of the running. Companies usually ask, but job seekers should never answer salary requests when responding to an ad.
- Answer the ad immediately. You will be one of the few job seekers not directing your reply to the person or department given in the ad. So why wait? Head your competition off at the pass. The person receiving your reply, the person in charge of your area, will not have many responses to read unless his or her name was given as the contact in the ad. Your competitor's replies will be piling up on someone's desk, while the boss reads yours. If you discover the ad some days after it appeared in the media, also reply immediately. He or she could be sitting there unhappy with the available choices when suddenly your bid arrives out of nowhere!