Accessing the Hidden Job Market

When searching for a new job, most people turn to online platforms and company websites to land a new gig. There are a number of challenges with trying to secure a new job in this manner, but the two biggest hurdles are (1) competition from other applicants and (2) fake postings. 

There is an alternative though that may lead to better opportunities; that avenue is to tap into the hidden job market. The hidden job market is the realm of jobs that are open, unadvertised, and accessible. But to access the hidden job market, you must have a plan and be willing to put forth a little more effort than just clicking send.

Here is why accessing the hidden job market may be a better option. 

First, those jobs are not advertised and therefore have fewer applicants. And while the jobs are technically open, the hiring manager has not given them to their internal hiring team — yet. The hiring manager has only begun to access their network to try and generate a referral stream or to approach someone they’ve worked well with in the past. Usually, this will yield results (or not) within three to four weeks of the job being open before it is advertised on the open market, allowing you to get in the door before the masses. 

Second, most of these jobs are real, unlike some openings you’ll find online. Some advertised jobs may have been filled and not taken down; a company may be preemptively aggregating applicants for an unbudgeted job opening; or worse yet, a fabricated job could be advertised to make it seem as if a company is growing or it could be an unscrupulous recruiting firm’s attempt at gathering talent.

Tapping into this market is not too complicated, but it will require you to think more like a marketer and a salesperson than a job seeker. After all, you are marketing and selling your talent, right?

First, you will need to create a LinkedIn profile or polish your current one. Add a high-resolution photo and make the information consistent with your resume. In the digital world many hiring managers are seeking skills rather than experience alone, so don’t skip the skills section of the profile!

Second, reach out to your professional network to see if you can generate any leads. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, telephone, and/or email to let people know you are seeking a new role. A lot of people overlook Facebook as a job search platform, but who better to ask for help than people in your personal network? Most would love to help and some may make introductions internally at their own companies or make you aware of open positions.

Third, identify reputable search firms that work with companies that you want to work for. Often times these firms are already working jobs that are not advertised, and the search professional will be your advocate and guide you through the process.

Fourth, identify 25 or more companies where you believe your skills and experience would be applicable. Then, locate the hiring managers that run departments where your skills and experience could be needed (LinkedIn is a great resource). For example, if you are a Capital Equipment Salesperson you would make a list of several companies that either manufacture or sell capital equipment, then you would search those companies on LinkedIn for the immediate sales manager to your role, and his/her boss as well.

Fifth is the approach. If you are unfamiliar with the people you are reaching out to, then you will be best served to start the relationship by asking them to connect on LinkedIn. Your connection attempt should be custom, not the “canned” LinkedIn connection request message. The message can be as simple as: “You and I are both engaged in the financial markets and I noticed we were not connected on LinkedIn, so I thought I would send you an invite.”

Finally, get yourself noticed on LinkedIn by creating videos, posting relevant industry information, or at the very least, liking and sharing content several times per week. 

Conducting a career search is never an easy task. If you are unemployed, then you should invest at least 20 to 30+ hours per week in your search. While applying to online job ads may seem easier, the hidden job market produces the most exciting and career-enhancing opportunities.