This afternoon is the first of 3 interviews scheduled (so far). Today's is with a hip, young medical communications company that was recently spun off a large multinational corporation. From the website, it looks like it has maybe 15 employees, but looks of course can be deceiving. It's located in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City; that means hip and cool and exciting. There was no advertisement for this position. How I came to be interviewed is this: Remember the career counselor I consulted a couple of weeks ago? She urged me to get in touch by e-mail or phone with friends and former colleagues who left laboratory science for new careers, asking them for advice and contacts. A former colleague sent me detailed lists of contacts, one of whom is a head-hunter who places people in medical writing, education, and communications jobs; exactly what I'm looking for. She had no clients who matched me, but gave me the name and contact info for the head HR fellow at the parent company where I'm interviewing today. I looked him up on LinkedIn, saw he was once a dentist, composed an e-mail to him addressing him as Dr.-- and he called me right away! He was so pleased I noticed his title and used it. We talked a bit about life and work, and then he said he knew they had an opening for which I wasn't quite qualified, but I had the main qualifications already, and he was sure I could learn the ropes fairly quickly. Once again, your mother was right: it pays to be polite!
Next week's interview is at a small, independent medical education firm quite close to my house. I found it through one of the lists my former colleague sent me. They also weren't advertising any openings, but I sent an e-mail with my resume to the head of the firm, asking for more information. The next day they called to set up an interview at the earliest we could schedule one. The last interview was set up the same way.
I see from this limited experience that the career counselor was 100% correct when she told me that most job advertisements are not for real jobs, but mainly posted after a candidate has been found, to satisfy EEOC regulations. Dismaying, right? That's why she taught me to write an introductory letter, requesting information or an informational interview. Submitting a resume this way can lead to an interview; even if all you get is an informational interview, you can ask for more contacts in other places, and keep yourself in people's minds when openings come up.
It's a scary world when job ads aren't real and you have to play detective to find actual openings. Who knows, maybe I'll spot my sock during my interview travels.