Uncover the best-kept secret on finding a new job

The hidden job market could be the next way you find job search success. In this article, learn what the hidden job market really means, including its definition, why it's important that job hunters tap into this method of finding new opportunities, and ways to access it.

What is the hidden job market?

The hidden job market refers to jobs that employers do not advertise publicly. For job hunters, the experience switches from finding job adverts published online to engaging with employers about potential roles before the job ad is posted. 

There are several reasons why employers may choose to keep a job advert “hidden” from the public eye, ranging from saving costs on advertising to using employee referral schemes to find external candidates.

While keeping costs low is an obvious benefit of this recruitment method, it can also help to provide high-quality candidates for the vacancies, as they are likely to understand the company's requirements already and be a good fit. 

Here is an example of the hidden job market: you work in a marketing department, your boss is hiring for a vacancy in the team and you know someone that could be a good fit from a previous job. You might speak with your contact and refer them for the opening. That referral could be more valuable to your employer than posting a job advert and waiting for “cold” applicants. 

A referral effectively pre-qualifies a candidate and can significantly reduce the interview steps and hiring timeline. A win-win for job hunters and employers alike.

Why it is important to tap into the hidden job market

Accessing the hidden job market is an extremely advantageous route to finding a job and is one of the many ways to find a role in a crowded market. Research suggests that around 70% of jobs are not advertised publicly and many experts suggest that at least 80% of all jobs are filled through a personal network connection

On top of that, getting a referral for a job vacancy from someone who is already working at a company can give a candidate impressive odds. While only 7% of applicants get an employee referral, referrals count for 40% of all hires. And on top of that, research suggests that applicants hired from referrals often begin their position quicker and have greater job satisfaction, proving that the hidden job market is something that job hunters cannot ignore.

How to access the hidden job market

As the stats suggest, tapping into the hidden job market requires effective networking to boost your relevant connections, share professional goals, learn about the undisclosed opportunities, and help you find a job fast. Here are a few ways to broaden your network and discover hidden jobs:

Explore opportunities at your current company

If you enjoy working at your current company but are seeking a change, you can speak to other departments to see if there are internal openings. One part of the hidden job market includes vacancies proposed for internal candidates. 

Look to connect with staff in departments that are of interest. Ask about any current openings or even prospective roles that could be created for you if you think your skill set may be a good addition to the team. Even if there isn't a vacancy right now, continue to cultivate the relationships, as your contact may reach out when the right opportunity arises.

Since you already have a job at the company, it's best to conduct this process discreetly. However, it will depend on the relationship you have with your manager. When an internal vacancy you want to pursue arises, speak with them about your intentions, framing the opportunity in a positive way for yourself and the company. 

Discussing the vacancy with your manager ahead of time and being honest also demonstrates your respect for them and the company - especially as you will be able to help find your replacement ahead of time should you be successful.

Reach out to your existing network

If you are looking for a new job, contact existing connections within your profession. Be as specific as you can about the types of roles you are looking for and your ideal field or industry. Even if they are not aware of current openings at their company, they can reach out if a position arises. Alternatively, they may be able to connect you with someone at another company with relevant vacancies.

If you haven't spoken with your connections in a while, take the time to craft a warm, empathetic message so that it doesn't seem self-serving. Then keep your connections strong by interacting with them regularly. For example, you might interact with recent social media posts or share content they might find useful. By sustaining communications, you keep yourself in the front of their minds. 

Join online and in-person networking groups

There are plenty of online and in-person networking groups that can be used to expand your connections. They can be related to your specific location or your profession and are a great way to keep your ear to the ground for hidden jobs.

Similar to developing relationships with your existing network, creating new relationships works well when there is a mutual exchange of pleasantries, advice, and insights as it creates a genuine, collaborative foundation. 

For example, at a local meet-up you may speak to other job hunters in a different industry but are aware of a potential opportunity for them. Alternatively, at an industry meet-up, you may come face-to-face with people from companies you may want to work for one day, but for now, are happy to share relevant industry information or advice. 

Remember, keep the new connections strong, even after you have found work.

Be active on social media

Using LinkedIn to build your network of contacts is a surefire way to tap into the hidden job market. Start by following companies of interest and identify key employees within the company that could be worth engaging with. 

Once you have a shortlist of employees, build rapport slowly, rather than immediately sending a connection request and asking about potential openings. For example, you may follow their profiles and start to engage with their content relevantly and respectfully, to begin with.

In addition to broadening your network on LinkedIn, keep your social media profiles up to date with your current role's responsibilities and accomplishments and your job search goals if you can. Post regularly and consistently on your own profile and in relevant groups, to keep your social media presence fresh. It will help to create a positive impression when your connections see your profile - and even more so if they have job vacancies in mind for you.

The hidden job market is every job hunter's secret weapon, as it's often left untapped but is full of high-converting potential. If you want to get your LinkedIn profile in tip-top shape and ready for networking, TopCV's LinkedIn Profile Makeover can help. And if you're ready to start circulating your CV, submit your CV for a free review and make a strong impression.

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