Should I apply for that dream developer job even if they’re not hiring?
Regardless of our age, the concept of a dream job never truly leaves us. Whether it’s troubleshooting bugs for a giant like Google or developing software for the next unicorn startup, we always have that one thing we’ve always wanted to do. However, realizing that dream of becoming a rockstar developer isn’t that simple.
More often than not, the companies that we absolutely, truly, and hopefully want to work for are—sigh—not hiring. They are notably absent from online job portals. Their websites are barren of any job openings. For all intents and purposes, they are closed to any new applicants. Or at least, that’s what it seems.
So should you settle for a deadbeat 60-hour IT job at a firm you don’t believe in?
Even if your dream company isn’t advertising any new openings for developers or software engineers, you should still send in your resume. The pros severely outweigh any cons you might think of.
In fact, here’s the biggest reason why you should still apply: there’s absolutely nothing to lose.
The worst that can happen is a rejection letter that confirms a theory you already have—that they’re not hiring at the moment. You just wanted to ask if they had an opening, anyway. A “no” is just a “no.” There are other companies. They can’t chastise you or ruin your reputation for taking initiative. At the very least, you’ve already got one foot in the door. And that’s what matters.
It’s also very likely that the company is still open to new applicants despite their absence on online job portals.
In a Quora thread, recruiter Stefan Lilienkamp states that “companies are always looking for great people even if they are not officially hiring or even (believe it or not) if they are in a phase of headcount reduction.” Companies will never say no to a great employee.
In fact, only 25.1 percent of software developers today have been hired from online job listings. Most companies today value real, personal relationships in the hiring process. Rather than relying on the internet like waiting for fish to bite on a pole, hiring managers would rather approach potential candidates directly for a job application. There is no reason why you shouldn’t contact them directly as well.
Conversely, only 13.1 percent of developers are actively looking for a job. That includes you. While others are passively waiting for opportunities (or not looking at all), you already have an edge by contacting employers directly.
Even if they really don’t have any job openings at the moment, you’ve already placed your resume in for consideration for when they do need new applicants. By contacting them directly, you’re already ahead of the hundreds of applications they’ll potentially receive when they open their doors for applicants.
It also places you in a very positive light as a jobseeker.
It shows that you’re brave for applying to them directly and that you’re really serious about working for them. As long as you really do have passion, that is.
Passion (or lack thereof) is a fragrance that can be sniffed from a mile away. It will require you to research about the company, rather than just bullying them with “Hey, I want a job.”
If you really are passionate about onboarding as their next big software engineer, cite what you can offer to their team in your cover letter. Passion and bravery are two values that will make them stand up and take notice.
What else can you say besides “give me a job?”
Share your portfolio. Identify what they really need—areas where they might be struggling in, problems that they’ve encountered before, technologies that they might be missing. Don’t be afraid to tell them how you can help them improve as a company.
In another Quora thread, blog author Nick Nolder narrates how he got a job simply by asking a non-hiring company which markets they were struggling in.
Also, try to contact officers or directors of the department you aim to work for, besides the hiring manager.
Writing a cold cover letter is a game of self-marketing. As Nolder says, it’s about “making [yourself] as likeable as possible.” Applying for an unadvertised job isn’t the same as applying for an advertised one. An expertly crafted one brings out your bravery, your passion, and the value that you can add to the team.
After poring through dozens to hundreds of applications, all hiring managers want the same thing: that one standout developer that will make them say “yes.” Courage by applying for an unadvertised job is already half the battle won.
No pain, no gain. Applying for a job opening that doesn’t exist seems like a daunting task. It can feel like barging into a party where you’re not wanted. But here’s the truth: everyone is always looking for someone great. There is no harm in creating your own opportunities.
At worst, you’ll receive a “no” but life moves on. At best, you stand a chance at a dream job in an amazing company.
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