Job boards are no longer anywhere as significant as they once were and research shows that only 30% of available jobs make it to job boards.
The majority of jobs are in the so-called "hidden job market".
Fortunately, you can make life much easier and far more productive for yourself simply by cracking this market.
The reason the so called "hidden job market" even exists is simple - employers prefer to hire people who are the least risk or in other words - less likely to screw up. Not to be pessimistic, but the first priority in hiring someone is usually self-preservation before anything else.
The trick then is to move up the value chain by becoming known to the people that are need your services and trust that you will do a good job.
To do this you need to tap into the massive network that is all around us and is often hidden simply because we are not looking for it.
These people include acquaintances through LinkedIn and job recruiters, people known to them from places other than the office and those already working in the company in increasing order of preference.
The aim of this page is to help you access this job market and provide an effective means to reach it. This option is a much easier one for you as opposed to applying through the job boards which only present a tiny fraction of available jobs, afford a lot of competition and sometimes offer jobs that are non-existent. I mean, it goes without saying that thousands of people may have applying for the same job as you. They may even have the same qualifications.
There are five steps in total all of which are easy to follow and understand. By the end of the post you will realize that the hidden market might as well be in plain sight.
Step One: Create a list
This step requires you to write down all the people known to you who might help you in this search for the hidden job market. These people include: recruitment consultants, LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, family, friends, and friends of friends, people you see on day-to-day, colleagues and ex-colleagues, clients and ex-clients, club and group members and even the parents to your children’s friends. The list is not limited to what I have compiled so feel free to add even more of your acquaintances. Step one shows you just how many people you know and by the end of this step, you will be pleasantly surprised to realize that you know very many people. The list will be expansive for everyone as we are all bound know more people than we care to find out. It is time to let your 3000+ Facebook friends help you out. When it comes to job hunting, you just do not know who it will be that might just sort you out so keep your options open at all times. Stay positive.
Step Two: Categorize them
The next logical step in trying to make these people useful to you is to categorize them by just how well you know them. Create three categories for this purpose. Category A should comprise people who you trust and know are willing to help you. More often than not these are family, friends you have known for a long time and clients and colleagues who you are on a first name basis with. Category C should be those you do not know well enough and/or aren’t very willing to help you. Some people on social media whose requests you accepted and think you know but aren’t sure or people you only met once or twice. Others were introduced to you by friends. Category B are the people in between those two categories. This should not be difficult to do but will take a while considering the massive list you are working with. Be patient and keep going. It will all count in the end.
Step three: Obtain their contacts
Having decided where to place everyone on your list, it is important to prioritize getting the email address and/or phone number of the persons who are on your category A list. They are well known to you so this shouldn’t be difficult. Some contacts will have to be obtained on facebook and twitter or even through your mom. The end justifies the means on this one. The persons in B and C will be done later. Obtaining a useful list of personal contacts is paramount for the next step because it creates a means for your message to reach them directly.
Step four: Write two paragraphs
You will need to write two simple paragraphs that will define your next plan in step five. These are the Whys, the What’s and the How’s of the job you seek i.e. Why you would like the job, what job in particular you want and how you are going to get the job. This step zeros in on the particulars of the job. It narrows your focus in on the exact job that you want and are qualified for. The paragraphs should be as follows:
The first one clarifies what kind of job you want. This entails the following:
The type of work you are looking for e.g. consulting, sales, marketing, communications, project management, finance etc.
The specific sectors you would like to work in such as banking and finance, healthcare, engineering, insurance, film and T.V etc.
Zero in on one or two example job positions for example project manager, coach or vice-president of marketing.
Other important factors including the size of company, the working hours, other perks, company culture, salary needs etc. These serve as a guide in to understanding a little more about yourself and what you are all about. The person who has a job for you needs to know all this about you as well.
You may end up seeing yourself as a marketing consultant for a health institution working 8-5 and making $5,000 annually for instance. That’s a start. Perhaps a soccer coach or a languages teacher at a local high school. Your ideas are beginning to take shape and your focus is attaining more clarity.
The second paragraph should elaborate your qualification for the job, that is, suitable skills and the experiences that you possess. These are the things you would ideally write on your resume. Have you served at the position you are applying for before? How long have you been in this line of work? These kinds of questions guide the filling of the paragraph. It also shows why you are the perfect fit for this particular job. Focus on your value system and remember that though this may take some work, it is very worthwhile. While this paragraph serves to enable the other person to know you a little better, it also serves as a point of self-assessment and introspection all of which guide you further to the job you really want.
Step five: create a plan
By the time you reach this step, you now know who you are reaching out to and what you want to tell them. This is the action step. You may email them or send a message on LinkedIn. A sample message such as this would do.
Hi, I’m a fellow XYZ University alum and came across your profile. I graduated in 2011, also with a degree in Arts, and have been working in the PR industry for the past few years. I’m currently job hunting and hoping to make the transition from the agency side into a role at a nonprofit or university. I really admire your career and was wondering if you might be willing to offer some advice or perhaps chat by phone? I would really appreciate your time and would be happy to do anything I can to help you.
Thank you and Go Broncos!
A phone call should use the same general format as the message. You should be clear and brief. Precision is important as you relay your needs because you do not expect them to give you a job but rather you seek their advice which is complimentary to them and put you in a great position!
Important pointers for the call include:
Mention a person you have in common or a country or a place of education that connects you in some way. This does not have to be work related at all. It just serves to break down the invisible wall of unfamiliarity. They may not even remember you but this makes you have something in common.
Be up front that you are job hunting and what you are trying to do. Don’t beat about the bush.
Ask to meet or speak to them to learn about some aspect of their job or something that could help you towards your goal. Kindly remember that you are not asking directly for work. You want to make it easy for them to say yes and actually just be genuinely interested in what they have learned. Be polite and courteous and listen to what they have to say. Don’t forget your manners so remember to thank them for their time at the end of the call.
Remember that portraying confidence and a positive attitude are equally important in carrying this out and go a long way in reinforcing what these people already know about you. Rome wasn’t built in a day so be encouraged to keep going. I hope you find this helpful. Good luck and have fun!