How to Leverage the Hidden Job Market

How to approach the hidden job market

The hidden job market is a term given to the group of jobs that are not advertised publicly. This could be due to several reasons that may include the vacancy being filled by an internal candidate, through referrals or by headhunters targeting specific candidates. ‘Hidden jobs’ are always at par with the jobs advertised in the standard job market and include all the benefits and perks that accompany the latter.

Why does the Hidden Job Market Exist

There may be multiple reasons for the existence of the hidden job market. Let’s have a look at some of them:

1) Confidential Hiring

A job may not have been posted for the simple reason that the employer does not want to disclose it until the actual hiring is done. Sometimes a company may be expanding, merging with or acquiring another company, or restructuring, all of which are typically highly confidential. The employer may not want to disclose this hiring as this information may have a negative impact on the confidence that major stakeholders, such as the investors and partners, have in the business. For example, c-suite hiring is always confidential in nature and is hardly advertised in the public eye.

2) Referrals and Internal Hiring

Referrals are considered to be a powerful tool for hiring today. Referred candidates are always someone’s ex-colleague, partner or associate, or someone they know in a personal capacity. This gives a sense of security and assurance of the quality of referred candidates to the employer. Many executive positions are not advertised on job boards or career websites as most of them are filled in internally through promotions or transfers. This is an efficient process that ensures screening for cultural fit which is an important factor. The poor cultural fit between the organization and the candidate can have a negative impact on their performance, thereby affecting the overall organizational performance at this level. Other advantages of using such methods are decreased cost of hiring, in terms of advertising and publicity, and less effort as there are no applications from external candidates.

How to approach the Hidden Job Market

Now that we know the basics of the hidden job market, let’s have a look at how to approach the jobs that form a part of the hidden job market. 

1) Identifying Potential Sources of Information

One of the best ways to learn more about the jobs in the hidden job market is to actively research and look for potential sources of online and offline information. The objective here is to discover hidden opportunities through a firm’s circumstances. Some good sources of information could be:

a) Newsletters and Annual Reports

Keeping a check on the company’s newsletters, annual reports, investor relations documents, and press releases may help you keep track of the relevant changes occurring in the organization. Sometimes events like mergers and acquisitions may hint at executive openings. This can be the first step followed by strategic networking. 

b) Websites and Publications

The company website may give you insights into the new products, services, and projects the company is dealing with. This could be a good opportunity for you to relate it with your area of expertise and check with them if a relevant opportunity has arisen.

Some other websites such as LinkedIn & Glassdoor and social media accounts on Instagram & Facebook may also provide similar information on the new changes in the company. Another important source of information could be business-focused publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. 

2) Networking

Although professional networking is said to be a part of the job search process, it is an ongoing process. You should add valuable connections to your network irrespective of your employment status. The hidden job market is easily accessible to candidates with strong connections. These connections can help you identify the right opportunities for you and refer you, in case a need arises. 

Unfortunately, a lot of us who do not understand the importance of the networking process do not practice it, thereby losing some great opportunities. Research says that referred candidates are considered to be of high quality in comparison with the non-referred ones. Help people refer you by creating strong networks!

Here are a few ways by which you can network efficiently: 

a) Professional Events

Professional events such as summits, conferences, and round-tables are a great way to meet new professionals working in different sectors and industries. Associations like the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and  Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) organize regular events for their members. Companies like Forbes organize annual events like Forbes Under 30 Summit which are a huge opportunity for people to interact and make connections, which can be helpful at a later stage.

b) Alumni Associations

Alumni associations and events are another great source to network and add valuable connections. Most of the professionals attending alumni events are working in different parts of the world in different industries. Interactions at an event like this might lead to an introduction to an opportunity that has opened up in a different organization. 

c) LinkedIn Networking

LinkedIn is one of the biggest networking platforms in the world. It is believed that about 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to look for talent. A lot can be done if the right resources are put to the right use. LinkedIn features can be used to engage and network efficiently, and build a valuable network that may be able to provide job search support at a later stage. The support may not always mean being referred for a job but it may also include visibility to the extended network of another person which may expose you to various opportunities and contacts. 

d) Speculative Applications

Many small businesses do not advertise their vacancies actively but may have an unexpected opening. Browsing through your target companies’ websites and looking for contact information to shoot an introductory email may be a reasonable idea. This will not only let the employer know that you are willing to work for their organization but also help you showcase your passion and interest to work with them.

Some of the things to keep in mind while adopting this method are:  

  • Write a concise, easy-to-read email.
  • Attach your updated resume and cover letter.
  • Do not overload the email with information
  • Use professional language
  • Use an effective subject line

3) Applying

The above steps can only add value in practice when candidates close the cycle by submitting an application demonstrating their interest in an opportunity. Making applications is the most important part of any job search process and should be done the right way. It is important to use the updated resume and cover letter and ensure they are written keeping the best practices in mind.

Hidden job markets may provide a great opportunity but they are not the only good way to get a good job. If you plan out your job search process strategically, you will be able to target the hidden and the regular job market together, landing your dream role at the earliest.