In this internet-dominated society in which we live, there are those who would have you believe that there are no longer any secrets. These people have clearly not engaged in a job search lately. It’s been reported that up to 80 percent of all job openings aren’t advertised or otherwise likely to publicly see the light of day. A hidden job market exists. Finding evidence, however is a challenge, which is particularly troublesome if you happen to be looking for a job. One of the primary reasons for the “below the radar” employment market is the lagging economy which has caused more companies to rely on their own employees or specialized talent pools to fill openings.
So, how does one deal with this hidden job market? How can you overcome the efforts employers make to limit the number of applicants for openings, knowing as they do that they will be able to choose among more than enough qualified candidates without having to open the flood gates of response that print advertising or online posting would generate?
Unlike the hidden job market, the answers to these questions aren’t really secret. In fact, the tools suggested are the same you would use to augment any job search. However, the harder jobs are to find, the more you’ll need to resharpen the arrows you already have in your quiver, so to speak:
- Networking. Yes, we know, everyone networks, although few enjoy doing so. But we’re not talking here about attending the latest Chamber mixer or meeting of your college alumni association just to go through same motions you and everyone in attendance went through last time and the time before that. Network with a purpose. Talk to people you know in the industry and ask questions: About the industry, about their company, about whether they’ve heard about upcoming openings or changes.
- You’re not really linked in if you don’t use LinkedIn. First, review your profile to ensure that it’s current/applicable to your present circumstances. Now, visit the LinkedIn profile of all of your contacts. Yes, all. See what’s up with them. Congratulate those who’ve found a new job or otherwise advanced their careers. These individuals may actually have a good feel for the hidden job market precisely because their circumstances have changed.
- Reconnect. Fallen out of touch with friends or family members? Getting back in touch and getting caught up may actually help get you a new job. There are few job search feelings worse (well, other than rejection perhaps) than the one you experience after telling your Uncle Frank or cousin Sal about your efforts to find work and having them respond with “Oh, gee, that’s too bad. I wish I had known sooner….”
- Research. Make it a project to conduct research into the industry that interests you and the companies for whom you would consider working. Really research. Discover all that’s publicly available. If the hidden job market is the product of employer stealth, consider this your reconnaissance. Organize the info for future use such as…
- Cold-calling. Draft a cover letter integrating the info you’ve uncovered. Tell the employer when you’ll be calling to follow up. And do so.
- Volunteer. What’s the worst that can happen? It may or may not generate a job lead. But it will build your network and give some gravitas to your resume that isn’t work-related. Relationships built through volunteer activities are often less formal yet deeper than those which arise from regular networking.
The hidden job market: It doesn’t have to be hide-and-seek.