Have you ever conducted a job search and thought to yourself that there must be a better way to go about the task? Did it seem like you were spinning your wheels, doing the same thing over and over again, and not getting results?
It is a known fact that searching for a job online is not the best use of a jobseeker’s time. To track down the most job leads — leading to the most interview and job offer opportunities — jobseekers must use a combination of online job boards, search engines, and hidden job market resources. As much as 80 percent of all job openings are filled through direct and indirect referrals, not through job postings.
What is the hidden job market?
Hidden job market resources refer to the market of jobs that are not advertised in the public domain. In some cases, a hiring manager may choose not to advertise the open role and actively recruit top talent from competitors instead.
In many cases, hiring companies prefer to source candidates via the hidden job market for a multitude of reasons—it saves time and money, and because managers believe that the best candidates come from employee referrals or other sourcing strategies.
There is a disparity between our idealized picture of how jobs are filled, and a hard but often unstated reality: in any market, no matter how transparent on the surface, a significant proportion of jobs are either not advertised or already have someone’s name on them before the first interview.
There are many ways in which you can uncover hidden job market resources. These strategies work because they break into the middle of the hiring process, before there is a large pool of candidates. If you can make a strong case for your fit with an unadvertised position, you’ll face much less competition from other job-seekers.
Editor's Note: Before you tap into these career resources, build a resume that packs a punch. Keep an updated copy of your resume saved to the cloud, so you can easily download and share with job leads in real-time.
1. Network differently to uncover hidden job market resources
You may think that you hate networking, but in reality, you probably don’t. Just about all of us network every day, throughout the day: chatting with fellow commuters, making phones calls or sending emails to our suppliers or customers, updating our Twitter or Facebook status, talking to colleagues at work, meeting with friends or family for drinks or dinner after work. We just don’t think of it as networking.
But that’s the basic premise of networking — and why networking is such a valuable job-search tool. Networking is simply about building and maintaining relationships with the people around us. The more people we know directly and through our friends, family, and colleagues, the more powerful our network. Remember to not only maintain your current network but strive to regularly add new contacts — especially those who work at prospective future employers.
As a colleague of ours likes to say, job-hunting is now a contact sport — the more (relevant) contacts you have, the better your chances for success.
- First, you need to know precisely the type of job you are interested in pursuing.
- Second, you are not asking your network contacts for a job, but rather for information that may lead to a job.
When you’re ready to seek that next job, the simple way of uncovering hidden job opportunities and leads is to ask people in your network if they have heard of any openings for the job you’re seeking.
Networking to uncover hidden job market resources means that you want to connect with people who are "in the know." You shouldn’t be building your network only when you see a new job, but this should be an ongoing process. However, when you are in job search mode, it’s essential that you seek out people at the companies for which you would like to work. Tell them that you’re looking, and tell them what you’re looking for. Ask for their advice, and more importantly, offer your help as well. Networking is a two-way street.
Join a professional networking group. There are many of them, in a variety of fields, interests, and geographic locations. Your fellow jobseekers can be the best source of information for helping you to uncover hidden job market resources. They may also be able to help you make contact with hiring managers at your target companies.
2. Become an influential expert and unique hidden resource
One of the most significant benefits of social media is its ability to democratize influence. No longer are experts only found among the pages of Harvard Business Review, or in The Wall Street Journal. A blogger with a significant following is quite obviously an expert on something. Begin creating content (written, video, or infographic, for instance) to use to promote yourself and your expertise.
Adding your professional expertise to your personal career brand can make you a hidden job market resource — when you are an expert with specialized knowledge, you will be sought out by employers rather than it being the other way around.
3. Get away from your computer and online job boards
LinkedIn is great, and it has undoubtedly changed the way candidates search for positions and the way companies recruit. Getting out and meeting people in real life can uncover hidden job market resources. Maybe that means attending a conference, a networking event, or even a talk at the local library.
Be proactive and stand out. Follow companies that intrigue you, whether it’s because of their products, their unique management style, or their culture. Go where people from those companies will be, and get to know them!
The bottom line
You cannot dismiss the world of online applications and multiple Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS. But you should focus an strategic amount of time on online resources and on uncovering hidden job market resources.
The strategies outlined above can help you discover numerous hidden job leads. It’s up to you to run with these hidden job market resources and vet out your next opportunity!