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How To Find Your Next Role Within the Hidden Job Market

by Jeff Kramer

You can shorten your job hunt by knowing how to use certain methods other applicants usually miss. After all, if you’re relying on job ads alone, you could spend a long time searching — advertised positions represent as little as 20 percent of total vacancies, and your resume often winds up in a pile with hundreds of other hopefuls.

The hidden job market, on the other hand, has plenty of opportunities and less competition. Here’s how to position yourself to take advantage of openings that haven’t been advertised.

Benefits of cracking the hidden job market

  • Achieve a closer fit  When you’re targeting companies you want to work for, you’re more likely to find a workplace where you’ll feel at home. A sense of belonging will add to your job satisfaction.
  • Weigh in early How would you like to write your job description? Contacting potential employers early in the process may allow you to shape your position to suit your strengths.
  • Receive more offers  The average corporate job opening that’s advertised attracts up to 250 resumes. Your odds increase when there are fewer candidates under consideration.

Start by networking

  • Go online — LinkedIn and other platforms make it easy to research and contact companies that interest you. Be sure to keep your profile updated because hiring managers may be looking for you too.
  • Reach out to recruiters — Many positions are filled through employment agencies. Call up a recruiter to schedule a consultation and stay in touch so you can hear about future developments.
  • Volunteer your services  Use your skills to support a worthy cause. You can make new contacts and impress them with your expertise at organizing events or tracking finances.
  • Join a job club  Fellow job hunters often have valuable leads. Start a club or find one through community listings.
  • Attend events — Conferences and networking sessions can help you touch base with lots of contacts in a short time. See what’s on the calendar at your professional association or read industry publications.
  • Contact alumni  Dig into your college alumni group for information and referrals. Some companies have similar resources for former employees or you can approach them on your own.
  • Seek referrals — Ask your contacts who else they would suggest for you to talk with. That way you can create a pipeline of information interviews and coffee dates.
  • Focus on giving  Remember that networking is more about giving than taking. Offer to help others before you ask for something for yourself.

Become an insider

  • Complete an internship  If you excel at your summer position, you may have a shot at joining the staff. Pick a company with a track record for hiring interns and ask your supervisor for feedback.
  • Consider temporary positions  Even if you’re looking for a permanent position, it may be worthwhile to accept temporary roles, especially if you’re currently unemployed. That way you may be able to view internal listings on the company intranet, as well as network with employees who could have a say in hiring you.
  • Do contract work  Contract assignments are another way to showcase your abilities at any stage in your career. Exceed expectations and let the company know what kind of opportunities you’re looking for.

Companies often bypass job advertising to save money and do more targeted outreach to candidates who are more likely to match their needs. By tapping into the hidden employment market, you can impress those hiring managers and find your perfect next job.

Jeff Kramer is the co-founder and Chief Information Officer for several partnerships, including Syzygy Solutions, a national consulting firm, and Velossent, a breakout emerging talent attraction and recruiting firm.

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