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In today’s crowded job market, competition for advertised roles is extremely high. Constant rejections, in addition to no responses at all, are difficult to deal with. Every setback can make jobseekers feel more desperate, only making the situation worse. However, there is an alternative to simply applying for advertised roles and registering with an endless list of recruiters: accessing the hidden job market opens up a whole new world of opportunity, and with over 70% of job roles not being advertised, this really is a key technique to find and secure the best role available.
So when we refer to the hidden job market, what do we actually mean?
Why it’s hidden, and how to unlock its potential
Many employers choose not to advertise vacancies initially, preferring to utilise other methods of recruitment where possible in order to save time and money. Maybe they have internal referral schemes or redeployment programmes; as many employer brands are growing ever more powerful, they are able to call upon their own internal applicant databases to fulfil vacancies. If employers are choosing to fulfil their hiring requirements in this manner and their vacancies do not become common knowledge, how can you ever stand a chance of finding out about them?
There are two approaches to unlocking the hidden job market: #1: networking and #2: making speculative approaches. Both of these methods are far more proactive than a simple search on your favourite job listings site.
#1: Networking relies on building and leveraging off a strong set of contacts, both professional and personal.
#2: Making speculative approaches requires time, research, preparation and perseverance.
Only by adopting both methods will you maximise the opportunities available to you in the hidden job market.
How to network
Networking involves building and using relationships with others in order to identify leads and take advantage of potential work opportunities. It’s more than emailing everyone on your contact list and asking if there’s a job going. Networking requires subtlety and confidence; in its most basic form, it really is all about opening up and having conversations. Here are few tips to help you develop and get the most from your network:
– Determine the key contacts within your network – i.e. those who might be able to offer you a job. Rather than asking them for a job directly, instead ask for advice and ideas. This way, your contacts will be more open to having a conversation.Offer something in return for their help, such as an article that might interest them, or your own support or advice on a project they’re working on.
– Ask for recommendations from individuals who work with many clients (e.g. accountants and solicitors).
– Follow up initial contact. If you hand out a business card at an event or speak to someone online, call or email them, or connect with them on LinkedIn at a later date to ensure that they remember you.
– Meet face-to-face wherever possible to build rapport.
If you have a clear idea of the type of role and organisation you are looking for, you can put together a targeted plan of companies to approach. With a bit of online research, you should be able to identify those who might be in a position to hire and therefore who to make contact with. This needn’t be a daunting process; it’s merely a proactive way of getting your details seen by the right people, at the right organisations. Here are Renovo’s tips for successful speculative approaches:
– Gather information on relevant companies using online resources and research books, including Kompass, Mint and Hoovers. Identify the most senior member in the department you are looking for a job in – not an HR staff member, who will simply put your application aside until they are hiring.
– Research the contact details of the staff member, including their precise job title, either through LinkedIn, the company website, or by calling the company itself. Double check spelling. If you can’t get their name right, chances are your email or letter won’t be taken seriously.
– Tailor your letters/ emails, it will not be read past the first line if it’s clear you’ve sent the same introduction to dozens of other companies. Address the letter as private and confidential – it will be more likely to be read by the intended individual rather than anyone else.
– The ending of your letter should be proactive. Instead of stating that you’ll look forward to hearing from them, say that you’ll call them next week to discuss the chances of a meeting – and ensure you do so.
The hidden job market represents over two thirds of the entire job market; this should therefore be reflected in the way you approach your job search and the amount of time and effort you are prepared to invest in this approach. By increasing your networking efforts and better targeting your speculative approaches, you will automatically increase the potential of your job search and be on track to proactively discover new opportunities outside of the public domain, with undoubtedly less competition than those advertised externally.
*Emma Louise O'Brien is a senior career coach at Career Transition and Job Search Support specialists Renovo and provides practical, tailored and supportive careers advice and job search techniques enabling individuals affected by redundancy, or those looking for a career change, to transform their lives. Emma Louise was awarded CDI Career Coach of the Year 2013. Emma Louise is also mum to Imogen, who is almost 4. She has worked for Renovo for the last five years and works on a flexible basis. Renovo;s support is delivered through an innovative blend of personal career coaching and access to the latest in eLearning technology. It has a range of support programmes to suit individual’s needs and budget. If you have any questions for or want any advice from Emma Louise, email firstname.lastname@example.org.