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Many jobs are not advertised. This creates a 'hidden' job market where information about jobs is circulated through employers' networks, co-workers, business associates, friends and acquaintances.

Positions may also be created by employers in response to a direct approach from a job hunters. This approach demonstrates the job hunters motivation and ability to find solutions to a problem.

If job hunters are only looking for jobs on job search sites this could be limiting their chances of a successful outcome.

Finding hidden opportunities takes some work. Job hunters must have a specific industry or occupation in mind so they can target their efforts. The best approaches include using networks such as family and friends, current and previous employers or colleagues, and through direct contact with employers in the specific industry.

You will need to start by researching major employers and look at their website to see any careers information provided. Looking at past and present job vacancies will show you the type of skills the company is looking for, whether they employ at a particular time of the year. It may also give some idea about their application process.

Some other ways to find a potential employer:

  • You can call the employer to ask about the skills they recruit and if they use apprenticeships and traineeships. Ask if you can provide an application for future positions.
  • Set up job alerts on employer websites (if that option is available) to always be prepared. Some employers only recruit at certain times of the year.
  • Subscribe to newsletters from the industry you would like to work for. You can use a web search like Google to find industry groups you are interested in.
  • Volunteering is another option. This will help you meet employers and develop your networks. At the very least you will have practical experience to put on your resume.
Construction employer wearing a hardhat

Guide to Approaching Employers

Approaching an employer directly is also known as self-marketing or cold calling. Start with a list of potential employers and contact them to see whether they have any openings or are interested in taking on an apprentice or trainee.

Step 1 - Make a list of employers

Use a search engine such as Google to find local employers, or if you are out and about and you see a ute, truck, shop or factory that indicates an opportunity for an apprenticeship or traineeship. 

Make a list of these employers, including contact details such as their address, phone number and website.

For example, here are useful search terms for some specific industries:

  • Aircraft maintenance and repair - airlines, aeronautical
  • Animal care - veterinary clinic, animal shelter or animal welfare agencies, pet grooming
  • Childcare - child care centres, after school care centres

Click the link to download AATIS' Steps to Approaching Employers Guide.

Step 2 - Contact an employer

When applying for an apprenticeship or traineeship with an employer who does not have a position listed on their website, it is best to contact them directly by phone and ask to speak to the person responsible for hiring new staff. If they are not available ask for the person's name, job title and email address, and contact them through email.

Before calling:

  • Prepare by reviewing your resume
  • Practice what you are going to say
  • Write down your opening words so that you can read them out in case of nerves

Here is a sample script that to use when calling an employer: "Hello, my name is _____________. I understand that your company does _____________ and that is my area of career interest. I am wondering if you have any current apprenticeship/traineeship/job openings?"

If the contact says no, ask if they anticipate any openings in the future or if they know of anyone in a similar type of business that does have an opening. Make sure to get the full name, title and contact details of the person you spoke to. Keep a copy of your resume open in front of you for reference in case they ask questions.

If the employer seems interested, ask to meet them to discuss possibilities in more detail. If they can't meet ask if you can send them a resume. Whatever happens, thank the contact, send them a thank you email and restate interest in working for their organisation.

Approaching an employer in person

You may need to approach an employer directly by door-knocking. If you are using this method take copies of resumes to leave with the employer or the employers contact person. If you are underage or just need moral support take someone with you.

Keep the information about their organisation, including the details on the person contacted to and when. This information may be needed again.

What to do after you have made contact

Always follow up! There is absolutely no point going to all that effort in contacting an employer, either by emailing, or door-knocking and giving them your resume if you don't follow up with them. It will show initiative and that you are really keen.

For more information about how employers recruit and interview their apprentices and trainees, have a look at Australian Apprentices - Employer Stories video series on our MyGain YouTube channel.

Youth Central - Ways to find a job

Youth Central - Ways to find a job

There are lots of ways to find a job. Youth Central has information about cold calling, using your networks, and finding jobs online.

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Facebook

There are many opportunities to search for employers or industries on social media. There are community pages such as Employment and Local Trade Jobs that can be used to search for employers.

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MyGain

Explore the wide range of occupational videos relating to Australian Apprenticeships through the Australian Apprenticeships Pathways YouTube channel.

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Job Jumpstart

Get tips on résumés, cover letters, interviews, networking and presentation and work experience, improve job search strategy and choose the right field for work or study.