Key Points:

If the job you want isn't being advertised then it may be time to get off your backside and go door knocking.

That's the advice from Tom O'Neil, a specialist in human resource management, who says only 25 per cent of all vacancies are ever advertised - leaving the field wide open for those who are prepared to do a little more than scan the jobs vacant pages.

"My advice is for people to make a list of the companies they would like to work for - that should include firms close to where candidates live, because many small companies like to employ local people. Or take your pick of the top firms in your field of interest and contact them directly."

This approach to job hunting is called "cold calling" and it puts candidates in the driving seat. They scan the employment market - rather than the job market - and directly approach firms they want to work for. It takes initiative and determination.

O'Neil says that unless you want to work in human resources then you should not contact the HR department to ask for a job.

"They won't necessarily know that someone in the sales team resigned yesterday, or that the sales manager has got permission to hire another team member when you contact them," he says.

"So job hunters should contact the person who would actually employ them, the head of sales, head of marketing, office manager ... You might call today, and tomorrow someone at the firm resigns, then you may get a call back."

He recommends job hunters have a good cover letter for their CV and says CVs should not just include what you have done. But clearly state and quantify any achievement you have made in previous jobs.

"You miss one hundred of the shots you do not take," says O'Neil. "So, just like a mass advertising campaign, send off your letters and CVs. It's a numbers' game.

"The more places you send your CV the better your chances of landing an interview."

O'Neil says anecdotal evidence shows that people who literally knock on doors and visit potential employers stand the best chance of getting a job interview.

"Just walk down the high street, knock on the doors of businesses you fancy working for and try your luck," he says.

"A lot of times employers will sacrifice candidate quality for passion and determination. And nothing shows passion more than knocking on the door and asking to speak with the owner or manager for a job."

And for those reluctant to go door knocking he recommends just picking up the phone and calling. "What's the worst that can happen?" he says. "But the trick is to get past the receptionist without being transferred to HR."

O'Neil, who runs a CV writing company, recommends job hunters contact the person who has the most to gain from your call and to have a 10-second 'elevator speech' prepared.

"When you get through to a manager and they say 'tell me about yourself', you have just a few seconds to get their interest. So spend an hour or so jotting down what you can offer that company and what you can do for the manager. Stick to three key points such as qualifications and key achievements and weave it into a short story."

O'Neil says too many people tell potential employers that they want a job to develop their skills, etc. But he says most employers just want to know what applicants can do for them today.

"If a company makes widgets they want to hear that you can make widgets - because if they are not making widgets then no one has a job.

"And if you manage to learn new marketing skills along the way then good on you, a good employer will help with training later.

"But the key to getting a job is to show an employer that you can do what they need to be done."

Job hunters should also use rejection letters as another means of getting a job.

Always call to ask why you were not given an interview. Stay polite and business-like, and take on board any comments to help you do better next time.

Perhaps ask to visit the firm to learn more about it in an informal meeting or ask to take a tour.

Whatever happens, always write to those who responded with a thankyou letter and try them again in a few months' time.


Cold Calling

* List the companies you want to work for - the more the better (think 50 plus)

* Knock on their door with your CV and smile

* Telephone to speak to the person who will make the hiring decision (rarely someone in HR)

* Have a 10-second elevator speech prepared covering your key achievements

* Tell managers what you can do for them and their company

* Don't cold call first thing on Monday morning, late on Friday afternoon or at lunch times.

* Cold calling is what people did before job agencies came along