How to Access the Hidden Job Market

ID-10044840Few jobs are ever advertised; most experts estimate around 30%.  So if you are exclusively using traditional job search methods, you are cutting yourself off from 70% of the available jobs.  That does not sound like an effective strategy.  To be competitive, you absolutely need to be accessing the hidden job market.  Here are some tactics you can use to uncover those jobs:

Networking. If the word ‘networking’ gives you cold chills as you imagine yourself being forced to schmooze with strangers, you’re not alone.  However, there are lots of different ways to go about it.  Networking can be as simple as meeting one of your previous colleagues for lunch.  The key is to connect with people and to give them the opportunity to help you in your career.

Information interviews.  This is a great way to make new connections while also getting inside information about your industry.  Identify someone who works in your field, either through your network or through social media, and ask them if they would be willing to meet you for an information interview.  At the interview you can ask them questions about the job, the industry, job requirements and anything else that may be helpful.  If you handle the interview professionally then you’ve just made another contact for your network, and at the very least you are walking away with some valuable information.

Social media. Social media has opened up a lot of opportunities for job seekers.  Never before have job seekers had this much access to people who actually work in the organization.  However, if you want to connect with someone through social media, always be professional and respectful.  You may want to start by joining a discussion board or by commenting on a post that they made.  If they see that you share common views, they may be willing to continue the conversation.

Unsolicited applications.  When a company puts an advertisement on an online job board, you can almost guarantee that they will receive hundreds of applications.  At that point, it’s tough to compete.  However, if you can get your application in before they advertise, there is a chance they will want to meet with you to save themselves the trouble.  

Targeting jobs in the hidden job market can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but these tactics will set you apart from the crowd and will make it a lot more likely that you’ll be successful.

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Digital Art at

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