How to Navigate the Hidden Job Market
As a job seeker, your go-to search strategy may be to rely on advertised positions. But there’s an additional route you can explore to identify job openings—and it may be even better at helping you find and land professional opportunities.
It’s known as the “hidden job market,” and once you understand how to navigate and leverage the hidden job market, you’ll gain an advantage over the competition in your industry.
What Is the Hidden Job Market?
The hidden job market is simply another way of referring to any job opportunity that isn’t posted, listed, or otherwise advertised on job boards, social media, company websites, or other job search forums. “A huge percentage of jobs—especially higher-level jobs—go to people who didn’t stumble upon the job posting on Indeed,” explains Devon Fata, CEO of the web design firm Pixoul.
Employers who rely on the hidden job market aren’t necessarily trying to be secretive about their job openings or keep news of them from qualified candidates; they simply may have one or more reasons why they want to avoid announcing the positions publicly.
For example, hiring managers may initially want to keep their candidate search more targeted, starting with internal candidates before considering a wider pool. Or, some employers may want to avoid the costs of formally advertising the position and recruiting for it, both in terms of money and time spent. Other companies may have legitimate privacy reasons for wanting to keep the job vacancy under the radar screen, such as when they are launching a new initiative that hasn’t been announced yet.
How Can You Find Jobs in the Hidden Job Market?
If a role isn’t publicized, how can you know about it? Fortunately, there are a number of straightforward strategies that you can use to unearth intelligence about jobs that haven’t been advertised.
1.Use Online or Offline Networking
One of the best ways to find out about hidden job market opportunities is through networking, whether using an online platform like LinkedIn or through real-world networking opportunities. For example, while LinkedIn won’t have the hidden market job opportunities listed per se, you can ask around in your network or try to form new connections with people who work at employers of interest to you—and they may become a pipeline to hidden market jobs.
Fata maintains that networking is the essential key to finding hidden market jobs. “Take the time to chat with everyone you come across in your professional life, because you never know when one of them is going to have an opportunity for you,” Fata says.
Scott Hirsch, CTO and cofounder of TalentMarketplace, an AI-powered HR platform for tech companies and candidates, agrees that to find jobs in the hidden job market, you need a solid network, which often starts with connecting to people on LinkedIn, finding a common topic, and building a relationship.
“Pay attention to any updates they may post on their profile or private groups,” Hirsch recommends. “It’s also good to keep an eye on any company or position changes so you can reach out to them and ask if there are any other positions available.”
2.Start With an Internship or Volunteer Position
Another way to keep an ear to the ground and potentially be among the first candidates in the loop for as-yet-unpublished openings at a company where you’d like to work is by starting out as an intern or volunteer.
In an unpaid role or internship, you’ll gain access opportunities to the company’s decision-makers and may be able to learn about hidden job market options. You’ll also have the chance to show a potential hirer the skills that you bring to the table without being interviewed, making you a more desirable candidate if an internal opening arises.
3.Talk to People in Your Company or Industry
Your current company may have hidden market jobs available in different departments that you won’t know about unless you ask around. While this type of networking requires tact and discretion, as a company insider, you’ll have the inner track on these internal opportunities.
Take the time to talk to your peers cross-functionally about what jobs could be coming down the pike. You can take this same approach at an industry level, identifying people or organizations where you might like to work, and then using online or offline networking to connect with them.
“If you are interested in working for a certain company, reach out to peers who work at that company to see if they’ve heard about any open roles,” advises career coach and certified professional resume writer Colleen Paulson.
Once again, LinkedIn can be invaluable in these hidden job market efforts. “If you don’t know anyone who works at the company, start following the company on LinkedIn,” says Paulson. “Learn more about what their goals are and figure out how you can help them to reach their goals.”
She adds that it’s also okay when pursuing hidden job market opportunities to use LinkedIn to reach out to leaders in the organization and let them know that you have done your homework and have ideas on how you can make a difference. “With the Great Resignation, a lot of companies are quietly looking for good talent and if you can make a case for how you can help, you have a strong chance of getting the role that you are looking for,” Paulson concludes.
Find Hidden Jobs
Through networking, internships, volunteering, or a combination of these things, you can tap into the hidden job market and find a position that fits your life.
And whether a job is hidden or not, Start Work Now can help. Take the tour to learn more about the benefits of a Start Work Now membership.