Shooting in the dark: Applying to confidential job postings

February 10, 2010 at 6:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Posted by: Rebecca

Rebecca’s job search lesson #173: Spending my free time networking and making new connections will prove to be far more valuable than spending hours glued to job boards.

Although the sales-related postings and shady offers (you know what I’m talking about: the ones that say you’ll make $80,000 in one year while working from home) plaguing job boards can be annoying, I don’t think it hurts to browse these job sites.  I found my first non-retail job at a mental health office through a confidential classified ad, and I absolutely loved it.

Since I had a positive experience with my last response to a confidential company job posting, I was excited when I found a confidential public relations posting on that fit my career goals and skills set.

However, applying for this job quickly turned into a stressful experience.  Here’s why:

  • To Whom It May Concern…?

My public relations professors drilled it in my head: It’s unacceptable to be lazy when searching for a job.  If you’re sending a cover letter, you should always do your research and find out who you’re sending the resume and cover letter to.  But if I don’t even know the name of the company, how can I direct the cover letter to a specific person?

  • I can do something for your company… if I knew what you did

The online job posting gave a solid list of skills needed for the position.  I knew I had the skills, but how can I tell a company I’m a perfect fit if I don’t even know what it does?  If I knew the company’s specialty, I may be able to make a stronger case for why I’d be an asset.  I also like to check out a company’s Web site to see if the organization seems to fit my personal goals and ethics, which is impossible to research when the company is confidential.

  • Creating an online presence… for a ghost

The job was primarily social media based.   Again, it’s difficult to gauge an organization’s current social media presence if it won’t reveal its identity on a job board.  How can I tell you how I’ll increase your Web presence if you won’t even tell me your name?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure this company does amazing work, and it seems like an excellent position.  I just never realized how difficult (and aggravating) it is to write a cover letter and sell your soul to an organization that won’t even reveal its name.

Students and entry-level pros: Have you ever applied to a confidential job posting?  If so, what are your experiences?  If you represent a company that lists confidential postings, what advice can you share with applicants?


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  1. I am working as Communications-PR in single company from 5 years and now looking for change. It has been very hard for me to find the right job. I have no time to sort out jobs from job-boards. Where is the best location to search for job only in Public-Relations ?

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