Accessing the hidden job market

The hidden job market comprises all those jobs that are never advertised. This may be because the employer wants to hire someone confidentially or because the post is still unofficial or because they don’t want to pay expensive advertising costs.

It may also be because they have preferred methods of finding candidates such as reconsidering previous applicants, using headhunters or getting preferred recruitment consultants to search their files for suitable applicants.

An astounding 70-80% of vacancies are filled this way. Not many people know about this hidden market, which means the majority of people are all focussing their efforts applying to the same 30% that are advertised. This makes the visible vacancies far more competitive and leaves each candidate with less chance of getting the job.

So how can you how to access the hidden job market?

Use each of the steps below to build your understanding and experience of the hidden job market and to find the most appropriate method for you and your choice of career:

1. Identify the employers to contact

  • Read the papers to find out which companies are expanding, relocating or developing a new product or service.  National newspapers will contain articles on industries, commercial sectors and specific organisations.
  • Research company websites for information about opportunities.
  • If you are a student or a graduate use your Careers Service and find out where previous graduates from your course have initially started working. University vacancy bulletins often receive vacancies that the press does not.

​​2. Build your network

The wider your network, and the more often you use it, the better it works. Talk to friends, relatives or people you meet as they may know where there are jobs that are not advertised. Maintain contact with ex-colleagues and meet with them as well as recruiters and past employers. Networks need to be maintained regularly (even when you’re in employment) to get them to work effectively for you.

3. Attend careers fairs, events and seminars

Attending these types of events means you are meeting new people face to face: potential employers, recruiters, colleagues, new and old friends may be there. They are a huge opportunity to build up your network and make a good impression on somebody who could really help your career now or in the future.

4. Build relationships with recruitment consultants

If you can get the attention of a relevant recruitment consultant they can offer you an invaluable service: put you forward for jobs, tell you about unadvertised vacancies, advise you on your CV and interviews. And it’s free!

To get the attention of a good, relevant recruitment consultant, start by doing your research; then approach your chosen consultancy by calling direct and following up with your details on email. Most of all, meet face-to-face and work hard to impress them. Too many job seekers fail at this hurdle because their approach is not direct or professional enough.

5. Approach employers directly

Many employers may not be advertising, but still have work available. Or they may even be prepared to create a post for the right applicant. It’s often worthwhile contacting companies to ask if they have work. It is usually a good idea to ask to speak to the personnel manager, recruitment manager or human resources department. However, if you want a job in marketing, for example, it may be worth contacting the marketing manager or director.

You can either phone them or visit them in person. If you do the latter, dress as if you were going to an interview. Sometimes going in person can be the best way of doing this as you can make a good impression and show that you are keen to make an effort.

You can also make a speculative application. If you do this:

  • Make sure your CV is relevant and specific to the role in question.
  • Find out the name and title of the appropriate person to send your application to.
  • Remember the importance of your covering letter.
  • Make clear the sort of work you are seeking – temporary, long-term, voluntary work etc.
  • Follow up the letter in two weeks to see if you can meet for a discussion – don’t call this an interview.

6. Work on your spiel

Whether talking to a recruitment consultant, employer, ex-colleague or friend make sure you really know and can describe what you want to do and what you have to offer. You need to be targeted and specific: saying you are flexible and willing do to do anything will not help you.

Now that you know about this invisible job market, you will be able to devote the right ratio of time between hidden and visible vacancies, spending more time on the hidden and less competitive vacancies that do exist. In some cases, you may even be the only applicant!MY NOTESLearning Path

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