Tapping into Hidden Job Markets

The phrase ‘hidden job market’ refers to a pool of job opportunities that exist but are not advertised through job search sites or on an organization’s website. I know…I know… it seems counter-intuitive that there could be jobs available that are never advertised. Forbes.com recently stated that the hidden job market accounts for 80% of hires and that most employers “prefer to fill positions without advertising. It saves money and time.”

Most people writing about and advising on the hidden job market offer examples on how to “uncover” and “tap into” these seemingly non-existent jobs (or internships for that matter)!

So how do you find and apply for jobs that don’t turn up in your standard job search? Ultimately, you need to expand your view of what you know regarding the industry or field you wish to pursue.

Applying to posted job openings is how most people spend their time when seeking a job; you need to diversify your approach for the best results. New job seekers and professionals who are changing jobs can benefit from the following strategies for both good-old publicly posted jobs and the hidden ones:

  • Target the type of job you want; develop a list of leads – companies/organizations, people and ideas that interest you and that you would like to be a part of.
  • Profit from chance encounters which happen through networking, social media & online interactions, and industry-specific conversations. You have to meet and talk to people.
  • Be active in your pursuits – call people you know and follow-up on applications. The point here is to stay on an employer’s radar so that when a new position opens up (or their new hire doesn’t quite work out), they know you might be a viable candidate.
  • Research employers who need someone just like you and make contact with these employers. This isn’t to say you should bombard employers asking when positions will be opening up, but meet them at networking events, contact them for information interviews, follow them on social media, etc. Again, it’s about being on their radar without pestering employers.
  • Strategize: Submit your information to well-researched companies where your skill set, past accomplishments, and previously established relationships exist and where there is a clear cultural fit.
  • Always be prepared to sell yourself. A great way to do this is to focus on employers where you are already a good fit. Use your network and research abilities to tailor a pitch which will demonstrate why you are the perfect candidate for those employers. Even if they didn’t know they needed you, you can convince them otherwise!

The hidden job market represents opportunities that are not public knowledge. Start to market yourself in the hidden market so you aren’t competing against the largest pool of candidates – those applying to publicly posted positions. And the sooner you put a plan into action, the better. The earlier you reach out to those who might be hiring now or in the future, the better you’ll be positioned to outshine the competition.

Editor’s Note: This site was hacked and the original content lost in 2014. This article, originally published in 2013, was recovered form a draft version and updated. #lost&found