Finding the Hidden Job Market

3 01 2011

Happy New Year!  It’s 2011 – the calendar has turned over, but not necessarily the job market.  New unemployment claims are dropping, but the number of advertised job openings is not increasing at a fast enough rate to dramatically improve the overall job picture.

  • How many resumes did you send out last year?
  • How many responses and interviews did you get from your resume?
  • How many of the advertised jobs really exist?
  • How frustrated are you with your job search?  Probably a lot!

So, now is as good a time as any to start tapping into the “Hidden Job Market”!  And, get yourself a job, a job you want, and get it sooner than later.

So, you’ve heard about it – does it really exist, and if so, what is it?

It is estimated that 50% or less of the actual  job opportunities are advertised, so the remaining 50% or more are considered “hidden”.  The way to find out about these “hidden” opportunities is through people you know and people they know.

Why do employers “hide” their open positions?

It could be for any number of reasons, such as:  they are conducting a confidential search to replace someone who is under-performing, looking to transfer or leave, or retiring; they do not want to screen tons of resumes and interviews tons of candidates; the need exists, but the position has not been approved, and the manager will seek approval when they find the right candidate; hiring managers prefer to hire people they know or are referred by people they know and trust; etc.

So, how do you find “hidden” job opportunities?

It all starts with your existing relationships, and then developing new relationships. There are 2 approaches – a directed, active and targeted approach, and a more passive, general approach.

The directed, active and targeted approach starts with your identifying your target job market – the industries, companies and types of positions that are of interest, and then seeking out connections in those industries, companies and departments where those positions might exist.  Use the internet to research target industries and companies, and then utilize your existing connections and networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to make connections with key people in your target market.

The passive and more general approach is based on your developing and maintaining relationships with people, and not necessarily based on their affiliations with your target job market.  It could include relationships with professionals – e.g., CPAs, realtors, insurance brokers – family and friends, your children’s teachers and soccer coaches, and others you know and meet throughout your daily life.

The key to getting connected to the “hidden job market” is to be in contact with as many people as you can so that you are visible, and therefore, when someone has an opportunity or hears of one, they will think of you, and get in touch with you.  As I discuss in other blog posts, networking is about building reciprocal relationships, so it is not about job searching when contacting your existing connections or making new ones.  The job opportunity may not and probably does not exist at the time you make contact, but at some point, “hidden” opportunities will arise, and they will find you through your network.

I encourage you to build and maintain your network with both approaches as you never know when someone who is not associated with your target job market knows someone else who is.

For more information about networking and building relationships, please read my other blog posts about networking –

and visit the Networking Page –




3 responses

3 01 2011

Great advice! And so true. I have used this basic approach in the past, and while I did not land an actual job, I think it very much heightened my profile to the point where I could launch my own business.

4 01 2011
Jen Turi

Nice post, Stuart. It still comes down to who you know more than what you know.

5 01 2011

and who knows you!!!

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