Experts estimate that roughly 80 percent of available jobs are never publicly published or advertised, according to an article from Experience. These jobs comprise what some call the “hidden job market.”
In part, employers do this to save money: unpublished jobs mean no promotional costs. Mainly, however, employers do this because they’d rather fill open roles through referrals. Referred candidates are cheaper to hire, easier to hire, and they outperform non-referred candidates once they’re on the job.
And so, hiring mangers refrain from publicizing jobs. Instead, they search through their own networks and the networks of other employees at the company to find high-quality candidates.
For job seekers, this information means that, while the Internet may be a great way to find the 20 percent of jobs that are advertised, it can’t be the only tool you use. Tapping into the hidden job market to find the other 80 percent of jobs usually means doing some legwork in the real world.
And what might that legwork look like? It’s pretty simple, really: contact the company you want to work for; ask for the hiring manager’s name; send your resume and cover letter directly to them.
If you want to really boost your chances of finding jobs in the hidden job market, you should also network with people who have inside knowledge about unposted positions. You can use LinkedIn to search for such people. You can also target specific employers on LinkedIn by posting your resume directly to their “careers” pages. (Of course, it helps if your resume is professionally written.)
A Few More Ways to Tap Into the Hidden Job Market
1. Join a Professional Association
Not only will this help you network with people in your industry — who may be able to refer you to unpublicized jobs — but it will also help you build a stronger resume. Adding information about your professional association to your resume is a great way to optimize your resume keywords.
Be aware, however, that most associations charge membership fees. Depending on your employment situation, this may not be a financially feasible way to tap into the hidden job market.
2. Use Alumni Associations
Reconnect and network with college friends through your alma mater’s alumni association. As a bonus, joining an alumni association often gives you access to college career centers and special alumni-only networking events.
Volunteering is a great way to develop new skills while giving back to the community; it’s also a great way to expand your network.
Note, too, that you can use volunteer work to fill any gaps that may pop up in your employment history. Employers will look favorably upon your dedication to social and personal betterment.
4. Use LinkedIn to Increase Your Visibility
The vast majority of recruiters are on LinkedIn today, so be sure to fully complete your profile. Keep it updated at all times — you don’t want a recruiter to come across your profile when it’s old and outdated.
A Note About Networking
Networking is key for tapping into the hidden job market. However, you need to remember that networking is about building relationships. You should always make an effort to keep in touch with the members of your professional community, regardless of your career stage.
Be patient: relationships develop over time. Give back and provide something of value to your network; don’t overemphasize your own needs at the expense of others. People in your network will be more willing to help you if you’re willing to help them.