Tapping into the “Hidden” Job Market

By Robert Mandelberg, CPRW

When you learn how to tap into the unadvertised job market, your job-search will be much more productive and rewarding.

In the career-services community, it is a well accepted fact that approximately 80% of job openings are unadvertised. When I mentioned this to a colleague recently, she said this number is way off: It’s closer to 85-90%. One thing is for sure: More than ever, it is essential to be “at the right place at the right time” to achieve success in this increasingly competitive job market.

When you look at how companies seek candidates, this high figure makes complete sense. Think about how hiring is done where you work. When a position becomes available, does the company rush out to post the vacancy on Monster.com? Not likely. Most companies will first look internally for candidates and referrals. Additionally, company recruiters will use their sources, contacts, and databases long before they give up and offer the posting to a big job board.

And when a posting does make its way to a large job board, it can generate hundreds – or even thousands – of responses. How can anyone expect to stand out when their resume is among three or four thousand others? In fact, there is a good chance that your resume will never even be read if it not among the first few hundred received.

This is true across the board – from entry-level jobs through senior executive positions. If your job search strategy consists mainly of combing through big job boards for advertised positions, then you are missing out on four out of five openings. And it is highly likely that about 80% of job seekers are battling over those 20% of advertised positions. Does this mean that you should ignore the job boards? No, not at all. But let’s stop using them as the primary or only source of job seeking.

There is a much better way. But it entails more effort and commitment than simply scanning openings on Careerbuilders.com or Monster.com. By taking a proactive approach, you can bypass your competition and get your resume into the hands of the actual decision makers. Here is one strategy you can use to access the hidden job market:

Step #1: Identify your target position. The only way you capitalize on unadvertised job opportunities is by knowing what you are seeking in the first place. You must narrow down your focus to a specific position, level, and industry.

Step #2: Identify target companies. I realize that this is easier said than done, but once you narrow your job focus, you can then begin to make a wish list of companies where you would like to work. Through networking and online research (LinkedIn.com is a great source), you can then locate the hiring managers for the position you are seeking.

Step #3: Build your expert status by enhancing your credentials and increasing your online presence. Social networking, blogging, and article writing are three great ways to increase your online visibility and position yourself as a strong candidate once you begin to make contacts with hiring managers.

Step #4: Leverage your network of contacts to get an introduction into the company. Once you focus on your energies on contacting hiring managers on your list of ideal companies, you will be surprised how quickly you are able to gain introductions.

By switching your job-search strategy from passively combing job boards to proactively pursuing your ideal contacts, you will be in a much better position to be “at the right place at the right time” and take advantage of the unadvertised job market.

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