The “hidden job market” — or jobs that aren’t publicly listed on job boards — might not be a term you’re familiar with, but if you’re currently job-hunting, it should be. According to a LinkedIn survey, 36 percent of recruiters believe that the hidden job market makes up between 50 and 75 percent of the overall job market, based on their own experience.
Find Jobs That Aren’t Advertised
The Hidden Job Market
For Patricia Figueroa, owner of Career Glow Up, a career coaching business, the numbers she’s seen have been even more daunting. “There are several reasons you should seek out job opportunities in places where they aren’t normally advertised,” she said. “For one thing, the majority of jobs are never posted online, because they are filled internally or via referral. This means if you are solely relying on job boards, you only have access to 20 percent of available jobs.”
Another factor to consider is how the pandemic has impacted job opportunities. “The current labor market is rebounding, but the COVID-19 pandemic has, no doubt, made job hunting — an already stressful undertaking that’s challenging to navigate — more difficult for recent grads,” said A-J Aronstein, dean of Beyond Barnard, a program that provides career and professional advising resources for students and alumnae of Barnard College. So how does a qualified job hunter actually find a great position? The answer, of course, is to work your network. Here’s how.
1. Lean on LinkedIn. Figueroa suggests joining LinkedIn groups in your industry and networking with recruiters, hiring managers and decision makers directly within those groups. (You can also use sites like RocketReach to obtain email addresses for hiring managers.) If you’ll be reaching out cold, Figueroa says it’s best to research the person online first by studying their LinkedIn profile, reading articles they’ve posted, clicking on “posts” to read any posts they’ve shared and scrolling to the bottom of their profile to find any potential shared interests. After you find something to relate with them on, then you go in for your ask.
Whether you’re reaching out through LinkedIn or not, be sure that your own LinkedIn profile is fully optimized by using all 220 characters available for your headline, and by using the proper keywords so your profile is easier for recruiters to find. Plus, “your bio or ‘about’ section should be personable,” Figueroa added. “It should expand on the summary statement on your resume and clearly convey your unique value proposition, key differentiators as a candidate, your passions and your strengths.” Aronstein also recommends tailoring any job materials to ensure that hiring managers know you’re interested in their roles and their organizations specifically.
Career consultant Brianna Watts also suggests actually posting on LinkedIn the types of jobs that you’re looking for, and specifically asking people in those posts if they know of similar available positions. “You have to be bold in your job search,” she said. “If there’s a specific role or job you want, you have to find it, it won’t just fall into your lap.”
2. Call on your current network. By putting yourself out there and marketing your skills to your current network, you’ll be more likely to hear from those people when opportunities arise. “Start communicating with people in your immediate network, and when they have a clear understanding of what you want to do, you never know what opportunities they might know about,” said Watts. Also remember, spending time connecting with real people can not only be more productive than blasting your resume to a trillion places, it can also be more psychologically rewarding Aronstein added.
As an aside, Watts suggests having all your documents — like your resume — and social profiles — like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram — up-to-date and professional before you start any outreach. This will allow you to can apply for openings immediately after you learn about them.
3. Start at the end. Dr. Marsha D. Brown, a mental health expert who specializes in stress management and avoiding career fatigue, always suggests working backwards when it comes to your career. As far as jobs go, that means, “figuring out what companies you want to work for, then finding out more about the company,” and using that to your advantage, she said. That might mean learning the company’s mission and what causes they champion, and then volunteering for an event or helping them out in some way with it. This helps you get your foot in the door and stay connected, Dr. Brown said. From there, you can find more about the opportunities that become available.
4. Create your dream job. Don’t assume that if a job isn’t listed, the company doesn’t need it. “I believe that it’s a good idea to create opportunity that doesn’t exist,” said Watts. “Some of the best jobs are usually created through conversation, or sought after because the person was brave enough to seek out an opportunity that was not otherwise publicized or advertised.” Watts did something similar in graduate school, when she wanted an internship to work with a former mentor. She reached out, told her mentor that she would love to work for her, and suggested they create a role. After some back-and-forth, Watts was granted an internship that ended up giving her some of the most valuable work experience she’s had in her career to this day.
As you’re searching for jobs, keep in mind that it’s cheaper for companies to not have to post the role externally, and hiring managers would rather hire a candidate that has someone who can vouch for them, said Figueroa. “That’s why networking is so key,” she added. Remember to always approach networking in a relational way, “because, at the end of the day, we’re all human,” said Figueroa.
– Cheryl Lock