Tapping into the Hidden Job Market is a Full Time Job (Part 1)

Posted by | August 6, 2012 | Tips For Job Seekers

A quick peek at job search engines pulls up hundreds of job postings. It makes you feel like there is a decent amount of opportunities, doesn’t it? How would you feel knowing that these posted jobs only make up a small percentage of the jobs that are actually available?

The common statistic that is thrown around is 15% to 20%. That’s right. Only 15% to 20% of jobs are ever actually posted. Absurd, I know. But think about it: how many jobs have you received because you knew someone? How many had a lead to a job that hadn’t yet been posted? Chances are likely that the majority of jobs came to in one of these ways.

The rest of the jobs out there, the other 80 to 85% of them, are in what we call the “hidden job market.” Finding them can be frustrating and time consuming. But once you find them, you’ll notice that your opportunities have now increased by an incredible amount.

Hidden jobs crop up due to many reasons. These can include impending retirements, expansion, technology changes, relocations, transfers, extra budget room and reorganization. One last reason can be that a position will arise due to the result of a problem – a problem that is costing an employer time, money and/or customers, so they create a new position to solve this problem.

There are several things you can do to tap into the hidden job market, such as:

• Research potential employers and the industry

• Contact potential employers directly through cold calling

• Access your current network and build on it

• Join a job search support team

Research Potential Employers

Conduct research to find out who are the employers that would be looking to hire someone like you. Read trade magazines, the local paper, check the telephone directories (both books and online!) do online searches and talk to people you know. Examine the company’s structure, what they do, what kind of people work for them, and the different departments. Also good to look for both positive and negative publicity about them. Learning about companies will help you to target both your job search and resume to what they are seeking.

Contact Potential Employers

If you don’t know anyone who can provide a referral for you, try cold calling the company. Since you’ve already researched them, you’ll have come up with a name or two of the appropriate person you would want to talk to. Rather than saying outright to them “Hey, I’m looking for work; are you hiring?” try asking for an informational interview first. An informational interview is a quick meeting you request in order to learn more about the company and/or the person you wish to speak to. It should only be about 10 to 20 minutes long, and you are asking most of the questions. You are doing two key things here: learning about the company, and making a contact on the inside.

The purpose of an informational interview is simply to gather information – it is not a time for you to slide your resume across the table and ask for a job. Often times, people will do this and their credibility has been shot, as the person who was kind enough to spend time with them feels that they have misled them and used them as a simple means to an end. Rather, wait until after the interview, send a follow up note and make mention that you feel it’s a great organization and you’d love to work there. Leave the ball in their court.

~ Melissa Macfarlane is a Career Development Professional with Northern Lights Canada.

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