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   OCTOBER 2012  


hidden job market secrets
What You Need to Know About the Hidden Job Market

By Debra Feldman, JobWhiz, Executive Talent Agent

If you have been looking for a new executive position or have been an executive job seeker during the past few years, you probably know about the hidden (or unadvertised) job market.  It’s likely that you have heard from friends and colleagues how they found jobs through a networking contact, and by now you probably know that more people today are landing jobs through personal referrals, networking or word-of-mouth than as a result of answering ads or being recruited out of their current jobs.

Today's employment situation is different from the pre-recession job market. There are fewer outside recruiters filling fewer overall corporate positions and, in general, the job market is less fluid because there are fewer new jobs being created and less turnover among employees who are reluctant to leave a relatively secure situation. This employer’s (vs. candidate’s) job market means that individual job seekers must be smarter about their job searching strategy,  and they must work that much harder to find and land a new job.

The hidden job market consists of real positions, which usually are not intentionally kept secret by employers.  When companies have a challenge, they rarely keep this a total secret (problems don’t disappear without intervention!). However, circumstances may delay announcements or obscure visibility to all but a few insiders. Every active and future job seeker should be aware of and know how to access the hidden job market.  Positions that are not advertised are yielding the majority of today's new hires. The trick to accessing these unadvertised jobs or the hidden job market is getting on the inside track by being connected to those who have authority to create a new position or know first about potential openings.

Advertised positions quickly produce a large volume of resumes and applicants, often more than the employer can effectively manage.  If a candidate can be among the first to learn about a prospective open position and get in front of the decision-maker early in the recruiting process, this is a competitive advantage.

Every serious candidate's goal should be to access potential opportunities before official public announcements. Candidates should seek to connect directly with hiring decision-makers with a customized presentation — not just a standard resume or a LinkedIn profile — to express their extraordinary qualifications, promote their relevant abilities (that exceed the employer’s basic requirements) and make a favorable, memorable impression that will stick top of mind with the hiring authority for any future opportunities.

The unadvertised job market falls into three main categories which are detailed below.  Penetrating the hidden job market is no simple task.  Strong networking, strategic target marketing, compelling skills presentation, unrelenting persistence and steady follow-up are the best ways to get on and stay on hiring authorities’ radar screens and be valued as a top candidate. The three categories are:

  1. A position that is created specifically for a particular candidate, the impetus coming from the fact that the candidate is available to the employer at the right time for both to reach an employment agreement. The job opening did not exist until that individual and the employer connected and identified a new role, justifying a new hire.

  2. A position whose current incumbent will be eliminated when a replacement is found. There is no vacant position; the new person smoothly slips in allowing the old one to leave. Sometimes employers are too busy or do not want to make the required investment or there is some other business reason for maintaining the status quo. But, if or when the right solution/candidate appears, then the company reorganizes and hires a new employee into that position (and the present employee in that job may be reassigned or terminated).

  3. A position that is approved, budgeted and vacant, but it is only known to insiders, those with a direct connection with the hiring decision-maker.  It is not an official opening, is not publicly advertised and the hope is to find the right employee through a trustworthy referral.  The employer is counting on the company's network of professional contacts to streamline the process and help identify a credible, well-qualified prospect — and avoid a lot of resume screening.

To summarize, job seekers land an unadvertised position in the hidden job market when:

  •  a position gets created just for them (being at the right place at the right time); or

  • an employer restructures to hire them; or

  • the candidate is known by the hiring authority or has a connection to a trusted colleague, and the candidate is seen as someone who can provide solutions to the employer’s challenges.

The secret to penetrating the hidden job market today and getting a choice new position is having the right inside contacts before a job is officially announced or advertised — and being the hiring decision-maker’s top choice.  The right inside connections are like “career insurance,” providing direct access to new job leads before positions are advertised along with the possibility of being recruited and being able to nominate yourself and others for plum roles.

All Rights Reserved by Debra Feldman 2012. Reprinted with permission.

Comments on this story may be emailed directly to Today's Engineer or submitted through our online form.


Debra Feldman, founder of JobWhiz, is an executive talent agent with more than 20 years of senior management consulting experience. She uses networking to identify and connect candidates with unadvertised new career opportunities in the hidden job market. For more information or to email Debra visit JobWhiz.com.  Follow @Debra_Feldman or JobWhiz on Facebook.



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Other articles by Debra Feldman

Nov 14
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May 14
How to Launch a Productive Job Search or Invigorate a Stagnant Campaign

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