The hidden job market consists of all the jobs that are filled without ever being posted online. Hiring Managers generally circulate these roles internally or create them for a specific individual with unique skills. Employers who don’t post job listings often do so to save money, drive efficiency, restrict public knowledge of business changes, and secure high-quality applicants from referrals.
How to Get an “In”
What’s the trick to accessing the hidden job market? Being interested in other people. By approaching others with questions about themselves, you can develop rapport, gain vital information, and build a network of people who can help you land that job.
A 2016 LinkedIn survey of 3,000+ people revealed that 85% of all jobs were filled via networking. Now, this survey may be biased because it was launched by the #1 online networking platform, but even if the answer was half that many, it would create a compelling case for including networking in your job-search plan.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Expanding Your Network
- Identify five or so companies you’d like to work for. Some selection criteria may include the company mission and vision, current events, what you’ve heard about working there, and the nature of the work you expect you’d be doing. Don’t worry about whether there is a job posted that would suit you or not.
- Mine LinkedIn for employees of these companies that work in your field. You can do this by typing the company name into the LinkedIn search bar and then clicking on the link that says, “See all ## employees on LinkedIn ->.”
- Send a message to connect with those employees of interest. The more people you reach out to connect with, the better, although I’d recommend not contacting six people in the same department, as you could appear as a spammer.
- The message you send should be something like, “Dear (Name), I’m exploring various jobs and organizations, and your role seems very interesting. Would you be willing to take a few minutes out of your day to tell me about how you landed here and how you feel about it? I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to hear your story. Are you around for a quick call or video chat this week?”
- During your call, don’t pitch, gather. Prepare some questions you’d like to know about the company and the person’s role before your call. Pay special attention to the content of the conversation. If it turns to you, turn it back to the person. This call should be purely to learn about the individual and the company.
- Follow up with a thank-you note via private message or email. Express that you appreciate the person’s time and insights. If the job sparks your interest, you can ask a question like, “Since our conversation, my interest in (company name) has grown. How would a person like me go about getting a job with your organization?”
- Notice that this is an open-ended question that invites further discussion. If you say, “Do you have a job for me?” the answer could very well be, “No.” Instead, by asking an open-ended question, you’re sure to get a more positive response. (Open-ended = questions that can’t be answered by a simple “yes” or “no.”)
What to Expect from this Approach
Networking takes time and thought, but the rewards are abundant. By connecting with 20 – 30 people at companies that interest you, you’re vastly expanding your prospects of securing meaningful work aligned with your values as well as enhancing your web of allies for future opportunities.
If you’re hesitant about “bothering” people, don’t be. Most people enjoy helping others. In fact, Time Magazine lists helping others as the secret to happiness. I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say that this means you’re doing people a favor by asking for help, but, at the very least, you’re not causing any harm!
Just do it. Ask for help. Grow your network and snatch up an unlisted job!
I have trained in today’s best practices and most effective tools to assist you with “all things career.” Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have a career question, you feel stuck, or you’d like ongoing support for professional growth. As your PERSONAL coach and writer, I’m here for you!