The Hidden Job Market, What Is It and What Does a Job Seeker Do to Get a Job?


Today, job seekers are lured to advertising, books, DVD’s and webinars on the so called hidden job market. Let’s bring this out into the light so it is not hidden anymore.

The people who are peddling the information on the hidden job market want it to stay hidden so more will participate in whatever they are peddling. Otherwise, if it is brought into the light, they have nothing to sell. The allure of something that you need which is portrayed as hidden is deceptive but commonly used.

What are people talking about when they say there is a hidden” job market? Is there a deliberate conspiracy to keep people from finding jobs? The answer is no. Let’s start with what hidden jobs are in general.

I will not speak for those who are talking about hidden job markets but I will speak for my partner and I who have a combined 50 years in talent acquisition. As a result, on a daily basis, we have talked with companies of all sizes in many industries. What we learned a very long time ago is that many jobs are not advertised by companies. A logical question is why would companies not take advantage of advertising a position? There are numerous reasons.

One reason why jobs may not be advertised is that they get too many responses by people who are not qualified for their positions. The problem for the company is it creates an administrative nightmare. Imagine having to sort through hundreds if not thousands of resumes. This has become widely problematic due to the fact that over 30 million Americans are desperately seeking sustainable employment or just a paycheck. Others choose not to advertise as they feel that networking within their industry or industry associations is the best way for them to find the qualified people they want. Still others do not want to expose to the public and competitors that they are lacking a certain talent or experience base.

There are other reasons that could be listed but that is not the point of the article. The point of the article is what should you do with this information and what does it mean to you? It can mean the difference between getting a job and not getting a job.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there are approximately 3 plus million open positions in the United States. Add to that the hidden jobs you have heard about. Again, from our experience over the last 50 years and 5 recessions, we know there are approximately 6 million open positions that are not advertised right now. That means if you have been spending all of your time with job postings you have missed twice as many open jobs.

How do you uncover these jobs? Is there a secret? It is not a secret. It is a learned skill. It is true that with the Internet it is much easier to find them but, it still requires the ability to effectively talk with people.

The basic steps are:

1. After you have determined your skills, experiences and accomplishments from your career and education, consider what industries you either have come from and/or those in which you want to work.

2. Today, the American economy is recovering but not as the economy that went south two years back. You will also need to determine what other sectors and industries will value your skills and accomplishments.

3. Conduct research in those industries and find companies that you feel may be a fit. The research is done through the Internet and using databases such as Reference USA or other similar databases. Most public libraries have such a database. They are searchable by SIC codes, NAICS, key word, or other criteria.

4. Take the list of companies you come up with that you feel might be a fit for you and then do what most are reluctant to do…pick up the telephone and call them.

5. Do not call HR but an open department of the company such as sales and marketing, investor relations, procurement, etc. They have people who are used to open outside dialogs.

6. Discuss with them the state of the industry, their company, what the outlook is and other questions.

7. Eventually you will get to a point of asking if they know if there is any hiring going on in the area where you would work. They may not know. Do the obvious; ask who is in charge over that area and ask for their extension. Most people are very willing to provide that information.

8. Call that person and do the same with them and ask questions that relate to what you do. Eventually you will get to a point where you can ask what needs they have now or in the near future. They will tell you.

9. If they have none, nothing is lost, as you have a good contact for the future there.

10. If they have an opening, discuss it with them. It can lead to you offering or them asking for you to provide information directly to them.

These steps are the very basics of finding the so-called hidden jobs. Not very glamorous nor is it very complicated. They really are not hidden, you just have not acquired the skills to find them and make the most of them. There are skills to learn that will refine that process greatly and make it very effective. Remember, if you find five companies where you are talking to a hiring manager about a real opening, you stand a good chance to gain an interview. That is better than a boatload of resumes sent blindly to job postings or even worse, unsolicited to companies.

The broken system of Get a Resume-Send a Resume-Hope fails in all ways in finding a job where they are posted somewhere. This very ill advised practice is the worst way to discover positions that are not publicly posted.

Keep in mind; this is only one of the many steps and skills required for gaining a sustainable job.