How To Access The Hidden Job Market: Action Steps You Can Take Now That Really Work!



The most recent reports show the rate of new hires barely surpasses the rate of job separations. There was a 3.3% increase in new hires offset by 3.2% in employee turnover. So, while there are job openings out there, the situation is basically static.

Looking in all the wrong places

Companies claim they are not creating new jobs and hiring, and that may be true to a degree. But it doesn’t tell the whole story because they are still hiring. It is just that they are replacing employees rather than adding them. This makes them reluctant to advertise because of the expense and desire to avoid a rush of incoming interest.   So, if you are job hunting, you may be looking in all the wrong places. You aren’t likely to find your next job by looking at job ads. Instead, redirect your search into the hidden job market.

Targeted marketing

According to analysts (depending on the source you look at), as many as 80% of the jobs available are not advertised; others say that 75% of the jobs are self-created. The job hunter wants to cross paths with the employer’s needs. The employer is making a quiet search, avoiding the newspaper ad, placement agencies, and online job boards.

Employers find it prudent, cost effective, and efficient to focus on specialized labor banks, to mine previous candidates in the pipeline, and to network their employees for referrals. Working the hidden job market is faster and economical than enduring a tsunami of resumes.

The hidden job market is still the employer’s market because of above-average rates of unemployment in most areas. But, because it is somewhat static, the employer wants to operate close to the vest. Small and mid-sized employers, for example, are more successful using free sites. There’s, of course, but there are also sites specific to human resources, engineering, nursing, sales, and the like.

Avoid the obvious

You do not want to be where everyone else is. The brand-name big search sites are filled with people from outside the area, people who are over- and under-qualified, and people who put a price on their own head.

You need to renew your job search tools with more focus.

  • Focus on websites that specialize in your skill sets, your community, and your industry expertise.
  • Identify websites in your job sector or profession.
  • Use websites, forums, and listings posted by professional associations.
  • Make aggressive and scheduled visits to select employer websites, many of which post jobs available.
  • Mine networks like LinkedIn for personal connections to friends, business acquaintances, and class mates who can show you the direction  and/or open the door.


Networks circulate around you. In addition to family members, there are your neighbors, church community, volunteer network, association membership, work colleagues, former employers, and the people you supervised in the past. Work them all with phone calls asking what they know, what they have heard, and who they know that you should talk with.

Market yourself

  • Package yourself with a professionally written resume and business cards.
  • Build a directory of key persons at the companies that interest you.
  • Skip the HR department. Put your resume directly in the hands of the senior manager of the functions you want to work.
  • College alumni offices know who works where and can connect you with an employed mentor.
  • Research the employer extensively becoming an expert on the business.
  • Military veterans have a number of groups that encourage and facilitate their hire.
  • Learn how to read want ads for the education, skills, and abilities preferred. Gear all your resumes, letters, and emails directly to those points.
  • Google jobs in (your city), jobs in your (preferred industry), and jobs in your (field).
  • Approach the business owner directly in small employer situations.

While you are at it, clean up your appearance and language on social media. Reassure your network contacts of your readiness and rightness for the job. If you are a referral, you owe them.