7 Ways to Unlock The Door to The Hidden Job Market

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key going into lit keyholeData from the U.S Department of Labor indicates that only a miniscule 5 percent of job seekers obtain jobs through the open job market, which consists of help wanted ads, the internet and print publications. This, of course, begs the question, “How are the other 95 percent of job seekers finding jobs, if not through jobs boards?”Apparently, 24 percent of candidates obtain jobs through cold-calling companies directly, 23 percent acquire jobs through agencies and careers services and a massive 48 percent obtain their jobs through referrals/word of mouth.

So, what does all this mean? It means that if your job search strategy is purely focused on applying for jobs that have been explicitly advertised then it is deficient, as you are closing yourself off to the vast proportion (95 percent arguably) of the job marketthe hidden job market. Therefore, job seekers must be able to find effective ways to tap into this hidden job market and below I have outlined seven ways to help job seekers do just this.

1.Visit the Employer Website

At first glance this does not seem particularly hidden as everyone knows where the company site is.  However, because not all employers advertise on jobs boards, particularly smaller employers with good networks, the company website may contain jobs that have not appeared on the open market – and are therefore hidden from the majority of job seekers who tread the beaten path of jobs boards.

So, I’d recommend that you do some research and develop a well targeted list of prospective employers, (especially smaller employers) that you wish to work for (your favorite companies) and then visit their websites and sign up to any job alert system they may have or follow them on Twitter. You will then become part of their close network, have your ear on the ground and will be the first to hear about possible job opportunities.

2. Check the news feed of your favorite company career sites

We are not done yet with the list of your favorite company websites. You should check the news section of these websites for clues, hints, whispers or gossip that they may soon be hiring. Signs that a company may be hiring soon include:

  • Employee left the business or received a promotion, leaving a potential vacancy
  • Company won some major business and may need to staff up to meet demand
  • Company launched a new product/service that may require additional skills or headcount to market
  • Business is expanding and opening new offices

3. Twitter – follow key figures in your favorite businesses and become valuable to them

Follow all your favorite companies, (which we recommend is a list of well researched, well targeted prospective employers), and follow the HR or office manager so you will hear about job opportunities. Also follow relevant hiring managers and department heads as you may be able to pick up clues about possible job openings long before it becomes a vacancy.

Become recognized as a valued follower by tweeting them relevant news/stories.

4. Cold calling/emailing targeted organizations

As the research showed, nearly a quarter of jobs on the hidden market go to cold calling job seekers, so you need to get in on this. Once again, get a hold of your list of well targeted and researched prospective employers and call them. You can either go down the list, calling them one-by-one, or focus on calling those where you have some kind of lead/gossip that there may be vacancies appearing soon. Timing is everything. Do your research and always have a relevant-named contact to speak to and follow good AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) marketing practices when trying to sell yourself to a potential employer over the phone.

5. LinkedIn

Follow, connect with and monitor individuals who currently work in your desired role within your favorite companies. Watch out if they move or are promoted as this may signal a vacancy meaning you can get on the phone to the employer, as in step 4.

6. Wider news and press

Follow and join a selection of the leading industry based news services as they can be great sources of potential whispers about a business, which could signify potential vacancies. Know what to look for, e.g. has a construction firm been made preferred bidder on a contract, or have there been any major contract renewals announced that could bring a hiring freeze to an end? It takes detective work.

7. Make yourself known and easily contactable on LinkedIn

Ensure you have a professional and fully completed profile on LinkedIn and Twitter and also include your full contact details in the approved LinkedIn Personal Information sectionindicate that you are open for offers. Also, update your skills section on LinkedIn as I hear this carries a lot of weight in recruiter searches. This will make it much easier for you to tap into the hidden direct sourcing/recruiter initiated job market, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of all jobs filled, according the CareerXRoads Source of Hire survey 2012.

Have I missed anything? Can you think of other techniques to help crack the hidden job market? If so, let me know by commenting below.

Read more in Job Search Advice

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.