Here, we describe what the hidden job market is, and more importantly, we explain some of the major ways that you as a jobseeker can break into it … and dominate it.
If you are one of those jobseekers who …
… has been sitting alone in a room sending out umpteen resumes a day, then hopefully this guide reorients the focus of your job search toward expanding your network of contacts rather than responding to the latest job post.
And even if you aren’t one of those types of jobseekers …
… even if you already knew how critical it is to be social in your job search and to increase your list of industry contacts, then hopefully this guide provides other ways to expand your network that you did not know before.
Either way, just remember this – the hidden job market is not something you can avoid – it’s here and it’s here to stay, and the sooner you learn to tap into it and become a truly hidden job market player, the sooner you’ll find your next job.
If you’re like many job seekers, you’ve probably read more than a few articles about the best ways to find a new job.
And in your reading, you may have been introduced to a number of buzzwords. And one of those may have left you scratching your head: namely, ‘the hidden job market’.
The hidden job market?
Sounds darn right spooky.
And if you continued reading without investigating any further, then good thing you came across this guide.
Because here’s the thing – knowing what the hidden job market is and, more importantly, knowing how to effectively tap into it may be the single most effective tool in exponentially increasing the number of quality, real job leads available to you; the kind of job leads that lead to actual jobs.
The goal of this guide to give you a little background info on what the hidden job market is all about and, more importantly, to give you a few key tips on how to tap into it and dominate it. So, let’s not waste any more time.
Why don’t we jump in and answer some questions that by now you’re probably very anxious to know the answer to – namely, what exactly is the hidden job market?
What are hidden jobs?
And what makes them so hidden?
What Is The Hidden Job Market?
At some point, you’ve undoubtedly heard the statistic that more than half of all open jobs are actually never publicly advertised or posted on a public job board.
In a similar manner, you more than likely also heard of someone, perhaps a friend or family member, who found a new job not as a result of submitting a resume to a company, but as a result of knowing a friend or contact at a hiring company.
These are very real statistics and they cut at the heart of what the hidden job market is all about.
The hidden job market is not a term used to describe some esoteric or abstract thing.
Not at all.
It’s a term that describes the spectrum of open jobs whose availability is never advertised in a mainstream hiring environment. And because these positions are never advertised in that type of hiring environment, they are essentially hidden from public view.
So, if hidden jobs are not publicly advertised, then how are candidates found to fill the openings?
Well, this brings up the second defining feature of hidden jobs: namely, candidates for hidden jobs are not found via public postings or job boards, but rather through networking, word of mouth and/or insider contacts.
Thus, that friend who found a new job by knowing a contact at a hiring company essentially found a job that existed in the hidden market.
And have no doubt – the hidden job market is not a small, temporary or locally-isolated phenomenon.
The hidden job market is big, it’s here to stay and it’s not just a national force – it’s an international one too.
It was mentioned earlier that more than half of all available jobs can be considered hidden jobs.
This, fortunately, or unfortunately, as the case may be, is probably an overly conservative estimate.
In fact, it’s estimated that 85% of all available positions are filled before they ever make it to public job boards, meaning that they are essentially hidden jobs.
Now that you understand how the dominate the hidden job market is, you also understand why you as a jobseeker need to know its in’s and out’s and how to turn this crucial section of the job market from a potential liability to a true advantage.
Let’s explore a little deeper.
How The Hidden Job Market Was Formed and Its Reason for Being?
Say you’re a manager and say you’ve been charged with finding a candidate to fill a recently vacated position in your department.
How are you going to go about filling it?
Hiring managers face this question time and again and their response, more often than not, is not to turn immediately to public job boards and postings.
Here’s one of the big problems with large, online job boards from the hiring manager’s perspective: they attract a very diverse and very large pool of candidates, which means, if the manager uses these boards, they will be inundated with a sea of resumes to go through.
Most hiring managers are looking for a very specific kind of candidate with a very specific set of skills and experience.
So, receiving an avalanche of resumes from every spectrum of the candidate experience and skill set does the manager little good; in fact, it means the manager and his or her team must spend a lot of manhours going through all those resumes.
And even after the manager sifts through all that paperwork, he or she still may not find a candidate they’re happy with.
So, rather than first turning to job boards, many hiring managers turn first to people they know either internally in the company or people they have worked for previously.
If that fails to yield results, they then start networking and seeking recommendations from trusted sources in their network of contacts.
It is here – when the manager turns to his or her network of contacts – that the job opening has truly entered into the hidden job market because, although the position is open and although the manager is actively seeking candidates, the position has not been advertised in any public, mainstream hiring environment.
Only when the manager’s network of contacts has failed to yield a suitable candidate will he or she then – and probably reluctantly – turn to a public job board to advertise his or her need.
However, you can bet that even after the manager publicly advertises the opening, if a suitable candidate happens to appear suddenly in his or her network of contacts, that candidate will have an edge over any other similarly qualified candidate that appears via the avenue of public boards.
Now besides avoiding an avalanche of resumes, turning to a network of contacts rather than publicly advertising their position offers other advantages to the hiring manager.
For one thing, the manager’s network is most likely made up of people he or she has done business with. Therefore, it is a much more trustworthy source compared to something like a national-based hiring site.
In addition, the manager’s network promises the manager a candidate who is more likely to have the real qualifications necessary to do the job well.
But, there are other, less obvious, reasons as well:
- publicly advertising an open position carries with it a very real risk to the hiring company – that risk being that, in publicly advertising their staffing needs, the hiring company could be revealing sensitive company information to their competitors, which would be very damaging to their business;
- additionally, although a personnel change has been decided upon by the manager or the company, that position is still being occupied by an employee. In certain situations, the employee is not even aware his or her impending dismissal or reassignment. It is for this reason that the manager seeks to avoid advertising his or her future staffing need.
Hopefully, you now understand some of the main reasons why the hidden job market exists.
And hopefully, in describing these reasons, it reiterates just how real and powerful the market is. Ideally, it also reveals the key to mastering the hidden job market.
The key to mastering the hidden job market is to figure out a way to get yourself as a jobseeker within a hiring manager’s sticky network of contacts so that you can be a name on his or her Rolodex and not a name on a resume that gets quickly tossed out.
We’ll discuss the best ways to go about doing this.
But first, let’s describe a little more what this hidden job market is all about and, specifically, what kind of jobs are found within it.
What Kind of Jobs are Found in the Hidden Job Market?
Some people think that word-of-mouth hiring, and even networking in general, is the exclusive purview of executive, high-income, white-collar positions.
But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, high-level executive positions are hardly ever publicly advertised and, yes, their hiring methods rely almost exclusively on industry contacts.
But, hiring through networking is not in any way, shape or form limited to high-income, white-collar positions.
Almost every type of industry and every type of position incorporates networking to find suitable job candidates, thereby creating and expanding upon the hidden job market.
Thus, every type of job seeker should be aware of the hidden job market and should make it their purpose to tap into it and dominate it.
And if there’s one thing that hinders this purpose of the jobseeker to tap into and dominate the hidden market more than anything else, it’s the trend for job seekers to rely too heavily and sometimes to the point of exclusively on online public job listings in their search for a new position.
Let’s get into that now.
Also, a more discerning selection must be made in deciding which public job boards to focus on.
It should be known that when employers do publicly advertise their employment needs, they often advertise on smaller online job boards that are free and cater to their specific industry.
So, try to research if your specific field of interest has these smaller online job boards.
And if they do, comb through their listings on a regular basis.
Additionally, try another online resource that is not quite as well-known as national job boards – namely, jobs boards.
Jobs boards are job boards that advertise postings created mostly by recruiters for large companies.
The job boards are divided based on industry.
Type in a description of your industry into the Google search bar, say finance or marketing or sales, followed by .jobs. For example:
What’s great about these jobs boards is that they’re not quite as well-known in the job market world, which means less competition for you.
Additionally, members of these boards are guaranteed to be real, live recruiters or hiring managers; therefore, there are postings of real, live positions.
But, to reiterate – only 10% to 20% of your time should be spent scouring online resources and sending out resumes.
The rest of your time should be spent navigating and becoming a “player” in the hidden job market.
But, what exactly does that mean? Well, we brushed on the idea earlier – the idea that jobseekers must find every way possible to penetrate the hiring manager’s circle of contacts. Let’s now dig a little deeper and discuss how exactly to go about doing that.
How to Become a Player in The in The Hidden Job Market
Hopefully, by now you’re more anxious than ever to learn how to break into the hidden job market. Good thing, because we’re going to explain just that.
Here, at its most fundamental level, is what breaking into and dominating the hidden job market is all about: it’s about using a combination of networking and direct contacts to penetrate into the networking circle of hiring managers.
But, what does that really mean? Well, let’s delve a little deeper into this two-prong approach and see if we can start shaping a clear plan of action. Let’s start with the second prong of action, namely direct company contacts.
Direct Company Contact – Tapping the Hidden Job Market
The idea of sitting behind your computer and sending out hundreds of resumes to managers you’ve never met and to companies you’ve never had contact with, you have to understand is the strategic opposite to not only this first prong of action, i.e. direct company contacts.
But on a greater scale is the strategic opposite to the entire philosophy behind becoming a player in the hidden market.
Becoming a player in the hidden job market means becoming proactive – truly proactive – in your job search; and, above all, it means becoming social and people-oriented in your job search.
And if you’ve put two and two together, you know what this means as far as this second course of action – it means contacting hiring companies directly and outside of the public job-posting-resume discourse.
It even means contacting hiring companies before they are even hiring before there is even a job to be had.
Contacting companies directly is part of the deal if you want to be a player in the hidden job market.
But, this beckons a more fundamental attitude or perspective shift in your approach to searching for jobs.
It means that rather than simply casting about looking for open, publicly-advertised positions, you must focus on a specific job field and even a specific set of companies that you’d like to work for.
Heighten the focus of your job search in this way and you’ve taken one very large and fundamental step to cracking the hidden job market.
Great, you’re probably thinking, but how do I go about contacting companies that I’d like to work for?
How do I do it in a way that casts me in a favorable light and doesn’t make me come off as obtrusive?
Well, let’s get into some of the strategies and best practice methods now.
Okay, you now have an idea of not only what job field you would like to direct your attention toward, you also have an initial list of companies that have attracted your interest.
The next step is to do a little research and gather some background information on these companies.
What specifically is their line of business?
Who are their competitors?
What are their organizational goals, short-term and long-term?
And, in your research, if you happen upon the contact information for the manager who manages the department of your interest, that is very helpful.
Many times, especially in the case of large employers, companies will include a profile of their primary department managers, inclusive of a photo, brief bio, AND business email contact, so keep an eye out for that kind of contact information while conducting your research.
If a company of interest is hiring, then send your resume directly to the hiring manager’s business email address, so as to bypass the company’s HR department, as well as its online job board.
And when you do send your resume to the manager, make sure to include a cover letter that in one shape or form demonstrates the research you’ve done on the company.
As a quick side note, here’s the great thing about sending your resume directly to a hiring manager – you know, almost without a doubt, that he or she will be in receipt of your resume.
If you submit your resume via the company’s online job board on the other hand, then it must first pass through the HR department before landing on the manager’s desk.
And who knows what could happen with your resume in between the HR department and the manager’s office.
Also, anytime a resume first lands with the HR department, it will undoubtedly be lumped in with hundreds of other resumes before being sent to the manager’s office, which means your resume will not get the attention it needs and deserves.
Now if a company of interest is not hiring at the moment, that’s fine – that doesn’t mean you should strike the company from your job search.
Get a hold of that manager in the department you’re interested in.
Then, see if you can schedule an informational interview with that manager.
If you are able to schedule an informational interview with the manager, the first thing you must remember is to NOT ask the manager about their hiring scheduling or if he or she will be hiring in the near future. Instead, pick the manager’s brain; ask for their advice on how to get a job in the industry or what their own history was as far as them getting to their current position.
And remember – you researched the company beforehand, so if you can provide advice or suggestions that would help the manager’s business, by all means, give it.
The greater an impression you make and obviously the more favorable that impression is, the better.
After all, who knows – that manager may be hiring a month or two months down the road and may remember your meeting with him and may just give you a call to see if you’re available for a position.
Or that manager may know a colleague at a different company who is currently hiring and may be kind enough to refer your name to that colleague.
If that happens, then you can confidently claim to have not only penetrated the hidden job market but have begun to dominate it as well.
Hopefully, you can deduce from this section that the more industry people you know and the more companies that you contact, the more likely you are to tap into the hidden market and, thus, the more likely you are to find a position.
Which brings us to the next prong of action in successfully cracking the hidden market, one which is unmistakably the most important course of action – namely, getting out there and networking, networking, and networking.