What is the Hidden Job Market?

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The hidden job market is a term used to describe jobs that aren't posted online or advertised. Job seekers can tap the hidden job market by using networking connections to help find unadvertised job openings.

In fact, you might be more likely to score a job through the hidden job market than you are through regular channels. At least 60 percent of all jobs are found through networking – and many sources list far higher percentages.

Beyond the numbers game, being willing to look past the jobs that are listed on your favorite job search site or even corporate websites gives you a better shot of finding a job that will be the perfect fit.

What's In It for Employers?

Many employers choose to hire internally or through their professional network to avoid the lengthy process of open online applications. Instead of posting a job opening, some employers will choose other alternatives such as going through a recruiting firm, headhunters, and referrals from current employees.

This has several advantages for employers:

  • It's cheaper than listing jobs online via a paid service.
     
  • They're more likely to get quality applicants from current employees, who both understand the needs of the job and have a vested interest in only recommending good candidates – especially if they'll be working with whomever gets the job.
     
  • There's an opportunity for team-building through referrals, especially if they offer a bonus for applicants who are hired and stay for a certain period of time.
     
  • In many corporate cultures – think Google or Facebook – there's a lot of pride in the idea of a certain type of worker succeeding in this particular workplace. Getting new employees via referral strengthens the feeling of belonging, not just for the staff, but also for the hiring managers and decision makers.

    How to Tap the Hidden Job Market and Get Hired

    It is possible to find these opportunities as a potential applicant by expanding your network connections and advertising your professional objectives. Your first step should be to make sure you're reaching out via as many avenues as possible.

    What does this mean, practically speaking?

    • Say yes to invitations, and not just to formal networking functions. Go to the ballgame with your college roommate. Go to your cousin's baby shower. Make time to swing by your neighbor's barbecue. You never know when you'll meet the person who knows the person who has an in.
       
    • Practice your elevator speech. What do you want from your career? What do you have to offer an employer? What does your dream job look like? Don't worry – no one is suggesting you become the kind of bore who's always cramming their professional goals down everyone's throat. Just be on the lookout for opportunity, and don't be afraid to put yourself forward if one presents itself. Remember: if someone's hiring, they need a quality candidate as much as you need a job. You might be solving their problem, as well as your own.
       
    •  Update all your social networks to reflect your new mission. This can be dicey, of course, if you're still employed and hoping to move on, but if you're cautious and change details slowly, you can buff up your profiles without jeopardizing your position. The goal is to reflect your skills, experience, and goals without changing your headlines to, "JOB NEEDED ASAP."

      With a little care and effort, you can network your way to a new job, even if it's not listed on any job search site. Be willing to persevere, and the hidden job market might just produce the best job you've had so far.

      Related Articles: How to Use Networking to Find a Job | How to Find a New Job Fast