The Hidden Job Market: What it is and How to Find It

sign board saying 'Dream Job This Way'

Dream job | Source: iStock

If you’ve been having a tough time finding a job, you may be looking for other ways to get in front of hiring managers. One place you may not have been aware of when it comes to your job hunt is what’s known as the hidden job market. If you take the right steps, you can unlock a whole new world of job opportunities.

What is the hidden job market?

Jobs located within the hidden job market are ones that are not advertised to the general public. The hidden job market also refers to jobs that are advertised but go to insiders. Jeff Lipschultz, founding partner of recruiting and employment consulting company A-List Solutions, estimates that at least half of all hiring is done through this veiled market.

Career expert Donald Asher said unless you know where to look and are connected to the right people, most of the jobs will go to people who have insider knowledge. “In a good economy, about half of all jobs go to someone who did not respond to an advertisement of any kind. They had friends on the inside, or they walked up at the right time. In a bad economy, even more jobs go to insiders. Employers can have their choice of candidates—too much choice,” said Asher in Cracking the Hidden Job Market: How to Find Opportunity in Any Economy.

Why jobs are hidden

Lipschultz explained in an article on that some jobs are hidden due to confidentiality issues. For example, if a current employee is about to be replaced, his or her job may not be publicly advertised. Furthermore, some companies do not want to be inundated with responses from thousands of employees and have to wade through many applications before getting to the qualified candidates. Consequently, they may only let their personal network know about a job opening.

How to find employment within the hidden job market

Man satisfied with work

Man at work | Source: iStock

Here are some tips for unveiling the job you want.

1. Tap your network

While gaining access to these hidden jobs may require a bit more effort, all hope is not lost. You can successfully crack the hidden job market if you play your cards right. You don’t necessarily have to know all of the key people to get your foot in the door. Almost everyone has a friend of a friend who knows someone with the ability to get your resume passed along or get you an interview at your desired place of employment. The first key is to look at your existing network to see who may be able to point you in the right direction. That’s why it’s important to remain in contact with former co-workers and to keep your LinkedIn profile updated. You never know where your next lead may come from.

2. Don’t limit your search

Asher said it’s important to know that all industries are always hiring at different times, regardless of the economy. Don’t let news of mass layoffs at a particular company deter you from attempting to gain employment with a certain employer. “Even when you read that an industry is imploding, it’s hiring at the same time. When you read that a large company is laying off thousands of workers, it is almost always hiring some new people at the same time … People die on the job and they need to be replaced. People decide to retire. They get injured. They go on maternity leave. Too many people take vacations at the same time, yet the work still has to get done,” said Asher.

3. Talk to people

Take advantage of every opportunity. You never know—a hiring manager for your dream company may be standing next to you in line at Starbucks. Don’t be afraid to chat people up and mention that you’re looking for a new job. Asher also mentions the importance of asking for informational interviews. When you meet someone face-to-face, it’s more personal. Making a personal connection could significantly increase your chances of being remembered when a new position opens up. “Your biggest job as a job seeker is to talk to people. That includes the classic interviewing for a known opening, of course, but it also means talking to everyone about your search. It also includes all modalities of contact: face-to-face, over the phone, via email, even old-fashioned snail mail. It definitely means working your contact on social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and others,” said Asher. So if you’re shy, get over it. Your next conversation could be the one that lands you your dream job.

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