On a busy Monday afternoon, I received a call from a former colleague. His company had a role that fit my profile perfectly. Though I couldn’t find the job post online, I got all the necessary information from my acquaintance. In less than three weeks I applied for the job, interviewed, got the job, and signed the offer letter. And, the person who referred me got a good referral bonus too! Sounds like a breeze, doesn’t it? This could have never happened if not for the hidden job market.
Job seekers worldwide have often heard this term, but, what exactly does it mean? And, how can job applicants tap into this network?
At its core, it is a bunch of jobs that aren’t formally posted or advertised by companies. Recruiters and hiring managers find the right employees via various routes but not regular job boards. Does this mean the hidden job market is only for a privileged few? Well, not really. It is accessible by anyone if they know how to do so. Continue reading if you wish to know what the 5 vital steps are to leverage this subset of the job market.
What is the Hidden Job Market?
When there are job openings i.e., open roles in a company, but the recruiter or hiring manager decides to not advertise on platforms like Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, and others, such jobs fall into the hidden job market category. One might wonder, why would a company not post on job boards? Aren’t such platforms designed to help supply meet demand? According to Insider, nearly 7 out of 10 jobs are not advertised publicly.
Here are a few reasons why some companies do not advertise on job boards:
- Find talent within the company or via referrals
- Job boards are expensive
- Not enough bandwidth to review and interview hundreds of applicants
- A unique skill set is required for the role
- Have not got much success on job boards previously
- The role is not fully structured or ready to be advertised
Tip 1: Tap Into Your Network
On average, we all have 100 personal and professional connections. These are people who know us from school, college, university, and former workplaces. In turn, each of these connections has 100 connections. With one degree separation, you now have 10,000 in your network. If this sounds like an oversimplification of networking, then let us take a step back. Of the 100 original connections you have, how many know what you are up to and what you are currently looking for? Get out of your comfort zone, drop them a mail or an instant message, share your life updates, ask for a favor, but most importantly, just start a conversation. Even if they cannot directly help you find a role in their company, these connections could introduce you to the right folks.
Steps to Follow Before You Send Emails and Messages
- Do thorough research on your connections, where they work, and what they do
- Make a list of people who could potentially refer you
- How do you know this person? Jot down what they know about you and what more you can add
- Update your resume and bio. Keep it handy
- If there are any special achievements or incidents that can be used as ice-breakers, make a note (see the below example)
Sample Instant Message to a Former Colleague
I recently came across a post regarding your promotion. Congratulations! You are a wonderful person and an even better project manager. I thoroughly enjoyed working with you at XYZ ltd in 2015.
I would love to know more about ABC corporation and how your experience has been so far. Please let me know a convenient time to connect. Thank you. Take care.
Tip 2: Join Networking Groups
It’s a lot harder than it sounds. However, getting a good job in a hard economy involves a struggle. The hidden job market has fantastic opportunities and going out of your comfort zone will be well worth the effort. Here are a few networking groups and platforms that you can join:
And, if you aren’t already an active member of your school and college’s alumni network, then get started at the earliest. Universities, especially, have career teams and internal job boards that alumni can leverage. Do your due diligence, make a list of prospective companies you wish to apply to, reach out to associated alumni, and write personalized emails. This is a credible way to make connections and get assured responses.
Tip 3: Update Your LinkedIn Profile and Resume
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful professional tools available today. With its constantly evolving algorithm, updating your profile and including all the right information is important. Remember to use appropriate keywords and terms that will help your profile stand out. If you are currently in a role and do not want your employer to know that you are looking for new opportunities, then be very careful while updating your profile.
Before you reach out to your connections or send out new requests, update the following information on your LinkedIn profile:
- Update your profile headline
- Add a recent photo of yourself
- Add or edit work experience with relevant keywords
- Provide complete and factual school and college information
- Share a link to your website, blog, or portfolio, if it applies
- Include certificates, whitepapers, ebooks, videos, and rich media to make your profile unique
When compared to a LinkedIn profile, a resume is a lot more detailed. There is no room for videos or any such media. It is highly recommended to include key achievements and metrics in order to stand out. Also, according to Forbes, the most impactful resumes are one-pagers.
Tip 4: Reach out to New People on LinkedIn
If you are interested in a company, explore its LinkedIn page and find employees who are on the platform. You can filter to check if there are any 1st or 2nd-degree connections. If you have a 1st-degree connection in the company, then follow Tip #2. If not, stick to the following steps:
Check the employee’s profile: What do they do, how long have they been there, what is their professional background, and so on
Ask for a referral: If you know someone in common, then you can ask to be referred. This is a professional and credible way to approach someone new.
Find a common element or something unique: You could be from the same university or might have a certification in common. If you do not find anything common, do not fret. Find something that is unique on their profile and use it as an icebreaker.
Send a message along with the request: Nobody is obligated to accept your connection request. Adding a short message will let the receiver know why you have sent the request. It will be a lot easier to take things forward.
Find multiple people in the same organization: Do not spam members, especially not recruiters. However, look for 3-4 employees in departments that interest you. Ask them about their experience, open roles, company culture, and growth opportunities.
Tip 5: Help Companies Create Roles for You
The corporate world is evolving at an unprecedented pace. Companies might not have listed a role not because they did not wish to but because they did not know there was a need for such a role. If you believe you have a unique skill set and can help companies solve pressing problems, then carve out opportunities.
Do the necessary research, update your resume, keep important files and documents ready in a folder that can bolster your argument, and send out a mail. You can easily find the email id on LinkedIn or the company’s website.
Sample Email to Send to a Prospective Employer
Hello Team ABC,
I am a content marketer with 12+ years of experience. For nearly two years I have been closely following your company’s progress. From a young age tech startup to a fully-funded company, you have come a long way. I believe I can add value to your organization and help you move closer to your vision. Also, I have worked with three other startups in the same domain and helped them become unicorns.
While browsing through your website, I noticed that you do not currently have a content marketing manager on your team. I would be happy to talk to your Marketing Lead or Chief Marketing Officer and present an organic content marketing plan for 2023. My educational experience includes a Master’s in Business Administration from XYZ University, London, and a post-graduation diploma in Journalism from WWW University, Wales. I can be reached at (insert phone number) and (email address).
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The Power of Upskilling and Reskilling
Uncovering the hidden job market boils down to continued diligence and hard work. Apart from contacting people, establishing relationships, and knocking on as many doors as you can, it is also important to keep upskilling and reskilling.
Learning new skills will help your profile stay on top of the pile. As a part of every program, you will also get to build a great network of contacts.
In association with the world’s best universities, Emeritus offers high-quality programs in a wide range of topics. Click here to explore the entire portfolio and accelerate your career today.
By Manasa Ramakrishnan
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