By Marie Zimenoff
Career Thought Leaders & Resume Writing Academy
Westgate Executive Branding & Career Consulting
When we speak of the hidden job market, we are talking about the wealth of jobs that go unadvertised and the roles that are filled by referrals even though they may be advertised.
Hidden jobs may be a job that does not currently exist in a company or is not currently hiring. They are in the pipeline with funding in place, but without the right person to fill the role. Organizations may be in the process of succession planning for an incumbent who will soon retire or transfer to another position.
Between 80%–95% of senior level positions never get advertised. There are statistically less jobs in senior positions anyway and if only 5% are advertised, this means limited availability for executive opportunities.
Some companies hire executive recruiters who work solely for the company, which means the available jobs never make it to the market. For competitive reasons, companies may undertake the recruiting process in private, so the information is not made public.
Why you need to access the hidden job market
Most people do not know about the hidden job market. The majority of people apply for advertised roles through traditional methods like job boards. This requires a significant time investment and usually yields low returns.
You can beat the numbers by being proactive in applying for the jobs that are not advertised. Statistically, it is better to be the 1% applying for the 95% of unadvertised senior roles, rather than the 99% applying for the 5% of advertised jobs. This will always produce a much higher success rate.
The opportunities are everywhere, but for the best success rate, you need to become known within the organization before the job is ever advertised.
Who is the hidden job market for?
The hidden job market is available to anyone, not just executives. Maybe you are having to search for a job for the first time after a formerly successful career. Maybe your current organization is undergoing a merger or acquisition, or your industry of expertise is disappearing.
Maybe you have been in a steady sequence of promotion and now you want to take control of your career progression. Perhaps you are returning to the labor market after caring for family or early retirement. The information here can help anyone looking for opportunities, either inside or outside their current organization.
Where to begin
It is important to realize that it is in your control. Levelling up your career is not just about networking. It goes beyond that. Accessing the hidden job market requires that we start with a defined marketing plan. This includes being clear about:
- the types of roles you are targeting,
- your strengths and unique value to bring to those roles,
- and your target companies or industries.
With this information, you can create a job search plan of how to connect with the target companies and communicate your value.
Many job seekers and career professionals think that networking is key when applying for new positions, but their understanding of what networking means is often misconstrued.
Networking does not mean attending cocktail and industry events. New job opportunities are unlikely to come from a new person you meet at a random networking event. This would be like winning the networking lottery.
Networking is most often with those people you already know, like, and trust. Building upon existing relationships is easier, faster, and more comfortable than trying to forge new ones.
Building your brand
It is essential to have a well-defined and consistent message of what you do and what you want to achieve when discussing with decision makers and colleagues. This makes you more confident and will instill decision makers with trust and confidence in you. Good branding will attract interest from potential employers and save you a lot of work in self-promotion.
Part of your brand is what you see as your strengths. A great way to identify these for yourself is to detail the story of three accomplishments you have made or times when you were successful in something specific. Review these stories and look for themes. What do you consistently do well? What unique element do you bring to everything you do?
The perceptions of others also define your brand. You can understand this external aspect of your brand and rekindle networking relationships by reaching out to your professional network. Select between 7 to 12 people you know, like, and trust – colleagues and supervisors are the best place to start. You can use a tool like the 360Reach to gather their feedback (here’s a list of coaches that can help you through this process) or contact them directly and ask how they would describe you.
The feedback you gain from each of these processes can be used for branding components in your career marketing materials, including your resume, LinkedIn profile, interview answers, and much more.
Your centers of influence
Your network can be anyone, friends, family, co-workers, or acquaintances. Do you know someone in your network who works in your target industry or can help you out with a reference? Identifying these specific people – your centers of influence – can help move your job search forward faster.
People in your colleague group, past and present, know you the best. They have seen you in action and can give you the best recommendations. Spend some time identifying those individuals and doing research to see who is still active in your target industry.
Before you contact anyone, it is important to define exactly how you think this person can help you. If they cannot help you, they might feel unsuccessful.
The best way to engage your network and receive help is to signal to them you are in motion.
Many of us find it awkward to ask for help but it is important to find a way to ask so they know we want it. You can also use your network as a source of information by simply starting conversation about your industry. This removes awkwardness and needs no payback. Maybe you can return the favor by paying for lunch or send them a small gift as thanks. Perhaps you help them in their career in some way.
Project execution is the ability to formulate a strategy for success and execute it. You need consistent effort and tenacity, but without being pushy. Follow up on interviews and conversations. Be conscientious and thorough when executing your plan.
The execution stage is the place where most people falter because it has its internal challenges. You have to find a way to overcome the discomfort around asking for help from your network. Many people are happy to assist and it can even be beneficial for them in their organization to bring onboard quality colleagues.
Are you a coach looking to improve your job search results with clients? Check out the Certified Hidden Job Market Coach program
Are you a job seeker looking for help with your job search? Find a Certified Hidden Job Market Coach here
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