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What is the hidden job market and how can you get access?

What is the hidden job market and how can you get access?

Artwork by: Nadiia Zhelieznova

  • What is the hidden job market?
  • How to access the hidden job market
  • 1. Start with your current company
  • 2. Maximize your existing network
  • 3. Affiliations
  • 4. Social media
  • 5. Recruiters
  • 6. Prospect
  • 7. Volunteer
  • 8. News alerts
  • Key takeaways

Have you heard about the hidden job market? We explain everything you need to know about the hidden job market and how you can leverage it to find your next job opportunity.

The hidden job market may sound a bit like the black market of job hunting and a risky prospect, but it’s actually not that sinister. Navigating your way to the hidden job market has the potential to open you up to a world of new job opportunities and help you get ahead of the competition. 

So, what exactly is the hidden job market, and how can you get access to this potential gold mine of job prospects? 

Employers don’t always advertise every job opening and many encourage internal applications, employ recruiters to fill a position, and/or seek employee referrals. These approaches are on the rise, with many studies highlighting a higher percentage of applicants hearing about job opportunities via these channels over more traditional approaches. 

Ready to get started? Read our top tips to tapping into the hidden job market, including:

  • What is the hidden job market?

  • How to access the hidden job market

Statistical Insight

According to CERIC, the hidden job market is definitely alive and kicking. Survey findings highlighted that 67 percent of businesses use employee referrals as their recruitment channel of choice, 52 percent appointed internal candidates and 24 percent outsourced the search for suitable candidates to recruitment firms.

What is the hidden job market?

When a company doesn’t advertise jobs publicly or immediately, and keeps these roles a bit hush-hush as they try other recruitment channels, this is known as the hidden job market. This approach can prove beneficial to an employer in terms of achieving significant cost and time savings as well as simplifying the recruitment process. 

If the company decides to hire internally, it will be much cheaper than the cost of recruiting externally and ensures a smooth integration to the team. Employee referrals are extremely popular too, with employee retention rates trending higher and recommended candidates proving a great addition to the team. Outsourcing to a recruiter is another option, taking the stress and time implications out of the recruitment process.

How to access the hidden job market

So, now that you know exactly what the hidden job market is, let’s explore how you can access this treasure trove of potential jobs. Here are some top tips: 

1. Start with your current company

While you may feel that looking for pastures new in terms of a job opening is the best option, the grass isn’t always greener. Staying with your existing company, but taking on a new challenge, can be a great way to take your career forward.

Talk to your colleagues, supervisors, and managers about any upcoming opportunities and express your interest in staying with the company and contributing to their success. If nothing is available at that time, at least they will know that you are interested in a new challenge and are likely to give you the heads up if a suitable opportunity arises.

  • Keep upskilling and reskilling. Learning new skills will make your profile stand out.
  • Training programs also allow you to meet new people and extend your network.
  • Shout about wanting to change course within your existing company.
  • It’s important to be discreet and not be perceived as someone who really dislikes their current position.

2. Maximize your existing network

Networking is a key way to stay ahead of the game and uncover opportunities in the hidden job market. Maximize your existing network by interacting regularly with these peers and professionals, whether this is virtually or in-person. Nurturing these relationships over time will ensure that you don’t miss hearing about an upcoming position.

3. Affiliations

Affiliations can often be overlooked when it comes to job hunting. Whether you connect via alumni and professional associations, or regularly attend industry events and conferences, affiliations can be a great way to expand your network.

Reach out to your alumni network to see if they have any recommendations of possible job openings. Check out professional associations operating in your chosen field who may be organizing networking events you can attend.

4. Social media

Employers are increasingly utilizing social media in their recruitment, marketing, and brand positioning efforts. Following, connecting, and identifying with your target organization's mission, vision, and objectives will help you forge a connection.

Identify key employees in the company, then engage with their content, build rapport, and share your unique insights to show your industry expertise. This could include sharing interesting and credible articles or sources and creating your own content.

Expert Tip

Informational interviews are a great way to network and access the hidden job market. These meetings usually occur between employees of a company and individuals or job seekers interested in joining that company. This gives you an opportunity to learn more about a specific role, the company, and maybe even upcoming jobs.  

5. Recruiters

Companies may use internal and external recruiters for the hiring process. It’s worth doing some research, then reaching out to the recruiters that your target companies use. 

Try to avoid asking about specific opportunities and aim to build rapport first. This will ensure you don’t burn any bridges and make a great first impression. Keep your online profiles up-to-date too, as this will help you capture the attention of the right recruiters as they search for potential candidates.

6. Prospect

You might think it’s a long shot to send your resume prospectively but maybe not if you target the right company at the right time. Don’t wait for a job to land in your lap; take control and contact your dream company to express your interest in working for them. 

Conducting some background company research and Identifying a contact at the company is vital. This will ensure your message is relevant and doesn't fall into the void. Send an email, letter of interest, or social media message to open the conversation and tell the company what you can offer them by showcasing your skills, experience, and career highlights.   

7. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to make connections and show your commitment to a company. Whether this is related to your personal or professional interests, you are bound to meet new people, increase your chances of hearing about job opportunities, and maybe even secure a great referral from an internal employee.

8. News alerts

Set up some news alerts so you can keep up-to-date with any news from your target companies. If a company announces plans for expansion, it’s more than likely that they will need to hire staff to deliver their growth plans. There’s a great chance that reaching out to the employer at this time with a show of interest could lead to hearing about a job opening. 

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Key takeaways

  1. The hidden job market is an often overlooked and underused channel that can enable you to learn about upcoming job opportunities ahead of the competition.

  2. Employers are increasingly using the hidden job market with employee referrals, internal hires, and outsourcing of recruitment activities proving popular options.

  3. Exploring different routes to the hidden job market is time well spent. Networking, affiliations, social media, job prospecting, volunteering, and keeping up-to-date with company news are key ways you can crack the hidden job market. 

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