Did you know that a considerable proportion of job openings are never publicly advertised? If your typical job search revolves around examining the job listings, you are missing out on a vital opportunity to put yourself forward for these “hidden” job roles. They may not be in the public domain but that does not mean that you can’t find out about them. I know for myself, half of the jobs I have gotten have been hidden. Who knew?! Here are some things I have learned about advantage of the hidden job market.
Are there companies that you would love to work for? Don’t wait until you see a job advert – send them your resume anyway. Even if they are not hiring right now, you will be getting yourself in front of them for when they are looking to do this. There is also the possibility that hiring someone with your skills has not previously occurred to them until they come across your resume.
How do you approach a company when your application is purely speculative? There are several things that you will want to flag up in your cover letter. These include the job role that you are putting yourself forward for, your relevant experience, why you feel you would be a good fit for the company, and a request for a meeting to discuss your credentials in more detail. If you are successful in arranging a meeting, you can use the opportunity to request an interview when vacancies open up.
Where possible, make sure that you send it to the most appropriate person in the company. Your application is purely speculative and will not be expected so it is vital to get it to someone who is more likely to take notice of it. Sometimes, companies just will not have the need or the finances to take on another member of staff but taking a speculative approach can be well worth a shot.
Many people are wary of cold calling and this is understandable. First impressions are crucial and interrupting someone with an unsolicited approach can mean that you are off to a bad start straight away. Firstly, ask if this is a good time to talk. If they are busy, arrange a mutually convenient time and leave it at that. When you do get the chance to talk, keep things brief. Explain how you are and what you do but try not to go overboard. The main intention is to secure a face-to-face meeting, which is your main chance to impress.
In the hidden job market, getting that all-important “in” can be vital. For jobs that are not publicly advertised, your contacts can alert you to their existence. They may also be able to put in a good word for you to help your cause. I have used LinkedIn to help me with this. I keep in touch with old colleagues through it which keeps me on the radar for new opportunities.
Volunteering and Unpaid Work
It isn’t ideal but if you have your heart set on working in a specific field or with a certain company, unpaid work can secure you a role that would not otherwise be available to you. This can be useful if you do not have a lot of experience and are looking to boost your credentials. You are also in a strong position when the company is looking to bring in new staff. You will already have shown what you can do and through being part of the team, you will probably become aware of job openings before they are advertised externally.
I once volunteered on a community health advisory board. This opportunity allowed me to practice my management skills. The next time a management job opened up, I actually had the skills to apply which without that volunteer experience I wouldn’t have had.
It can be difficult to find the jobs that are not promoted in the public heart but with some perseverance, you might just find your dream job. Employers are often keen to hire someone that they are already familiar with or who is referred to them by a trusted contact. This means that many job openings are filled before the recruiter even considers posting a job vacancy. By expanding your job search to target these “hidden” roles, you can take advantage of this.
So, have you ever gotten a job that wasn’t posted? What was your strategy?