The hidden job market. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Maybe someone’s told you that the hidden job market is where the “best jobs” are, or that you have to figure out a way to “tap into it.” If you can access it, you can avoid the hassle of writing resumes and cover letters, and bypass the process of submitting lengthy online applications. It might just sound too good to be true!
So what does it mean anyway? The hidden job market simply describes positions that aren’t advertised or posted online. It’s pretty simple – the company decides to hire the person before even bothering to post a position or recruit for the role.
Sounds great, right? I’ve put together a few tips based on my knowledge and experience to help you develop a strategy to access the hidden job market.
Hidden Job Market Tip #1: You’ll Need to Do Serious Networking.
Networking is the KEY here and I’m not talking about just basic networking, which might include attending 1 or 2 industry events and handing out business cards, or messaging a couple of people on LinkedIn and waiting to hear back about a job you already applied for. Almost everyone is doing this level of networking to some extent.
I’m talking serious networking. This might include:
– Attending LOTS of formal networking functions like career fairs, conferences, business events, professional networking groups, etc. (Not just 2 or 3 -see Point #3)
– Reaching out directly to LOTS of people in your existing network (Not just 2 or 3 – see Point #3)
– Connecting with friends and family and letting them know what you’re looking for.
– Building up your network by setting up informational interviews with contacts in your desired industry/company
Now, you don’t have to use all of the above strategies. But, if you do use all of the above, you’ll be significantly increasing your odds of success.
Hidden Job Market Tip #2: You WILL be rejected, so be prepared.
Now, I sincerely hope you can prove me wrong on this one, but the chances are… the first person you message is NOT going to offer you your dream job. If by some chance you get your dream job on the first try – that’s amazing (and, hey, I hope it happens for you), but the chances are unfortunately much more likely that the first person you message might not even bother to message you back.
I’m telling you this because you need to be prepared for rejection upfront. You’re not going to hear back from everyone you message. Not everyone is going to grant you an informational interview. Not all of your friends/family are going to be supportive and helpful about your desire for a new job or a career change. People are going to give you feedback you won’t like and that you won’t want to hear.
Guess what… That’s okay.
Your goal isn’t to hear back from everyone you message. Your goal is to hear back from SOME of the people you message.
Think about it: there’s lots of reasons you might never hear back from someone. Maybe they’re on vacation, maybe they’re busy and forgot, maybe they don’t know the answer, maybe they don’t think they can help you….
There’s an infinite number of possible reasons, and none of them are anything you should take personally. But before you get started, you need to accept that you won’t be hearing back from everyone.
Hidden Job Market Tip #3: Set Up a Plan and a Schedule, and Adjust As Needed.
Networking to access the hidden job market is hard. It’s not easy to do – that’s why you need a plan. I’ll be honest – I see a lot of people start the process and give up quickly. They’ll message a few people, set up a meeting or 2, and then give up after 2-3 weeks. That’s because this is a tough process, and it’s totally understandable why. Putting yourself out there isn’t easy, and a lot of people struggle with it. So how can you make sure you don’t get discouraged and give up? Here are a couple of tips:
What’s your strategy? Many people don’t have a strategy and that’s probably part of the reason they give up so quickly. Here are a few questions to think about:
– What do you want to get out of this? It shouldn’t be just “a job,” but it could also be to learn about jobs and companies that are out there.
– Do you know the exact job you want to get?
– Are you not 100% sure what you want? Do you want to learn more about industries, jobs, companies, etc.?
– Are you qualified for the job you want? If you aren’t, how can you become qualified?
– What questions are you going to ask your new contacts?
– How are you going to present yourself to new contacts?
The good news is you don’t have to jump in at the deep end when it comes to contacting people. I actually recommend taking it easier at first. Try setting up a weekly schedule where you clearly set out 1-2 hours to work on this, along with tangible goals for each week (such as number of people to contact, number of companies to research, etc.)
After the first couple of weeks, review your performance. How was it? Did you manage to keep up with the schedule you set yourself? Did you get any results? Re-evaluate your performance and adjust accordingly. Maybe you need to message more contacts because you didn’t make much progress. Or maybe you felt overwhelmed, and you’d like to message a few less.
Try to commit to at least a 3-6 month period of serious networking to build connections to harness the power of the hidden job market.
If you find networking to be a challenge (and honestly, who doesn’t!?) – a career coach or a career counsellor could help! It’s important to come up with a plan, be consistent, and keep it up – and a career coach can help you learn how to do that, and help maintain your motivation!
Interested in learning more about Career Coaching? I provide Career Coaching services to clients located in BC, Canada, and globally (I’m based in Vancouver, Canada). Learn more here: Career Coaching: Vancouver.