Career Advice  

Where the Jobs Are: Secrets to Finding the Hidden Job Market

Where the Jobs Are: Secrets to Finding the Hidden Job Market

Did you know there is a hidden job market where 70% of people find their next opportunity? Networking is an extremely effective way to find a new and exciting career, since up to 80% of jobs are filled before they’re advertised. Even for posted jobs, networking makes it much more likely you will land an interview. Finding, let alone busting into, this hidden job market can seem elusive. With a few insider tricks you can network like a pro.

Get Targeted

As with most things with your career, some prep work is necessary in order to successfully tap the hidden job market. When it comes to networking, that means creating a target list.

Seek out and write down the names of companies you want to work for. Do a deep dive into an organization’s culture, benefits and what their employees say about them to determine if it truly is a place you would thrive and enjoy working at. Similarly, identify and list posted jobs that are of interest to you. Stay focused on a key few so you can be very targeted.

Find the Decision Makers

Next, determine your key contacts at those organizations. These individuals will depend on the job you’re looking for. For example, if you want to be in marketing, find the company’s marketing leaders on LinkedIn.

Think in layers when it comes to your list of connections. Who would be in charge of hiring you? Who would be your direct supervisor? Then work your way down and determine who might be potential co-workers. 

Finally, do you know anyone at the company? They can help you tap into the hidden job market and make introductions for you. Having a current employee within the organization who can go to bat for you goes a long way with the hiring committee.

How to Connect

Before you connect with these individuals, determine the best way to start the communication process. This will vary from person to person but will help increase your chances of getting a reply.

If an individual is very active on social media, maybe a direct message is best, especially if you can comment on something they’ve recently posted. Are they heavily involved in the community? Maybe there’s an acquaintance who could introduce you. On LinkedIn, a 1st- or 2nd-degree contact could help open the communication door to leveraging the hidden job market.

Making the Connection

Once you have established your target list and the best way of connecting with individuals on that list, it is time to craft your introduction.

Step 1: Your introduction should naturally lead the other person to ask follow-up questions.

At IMPACT Group, we coach job seekers to first present themselves. Don’t bank on the connection doing any research on you. Be clear on who you are, what your brand is and why you are reaching out.

Step 2: A pro tip during your outreach is to try to establish a personal connection.

Maybe you went to the same school. Perhaps you have a common acquaintance. Are you passionate about similar things? Establishing a personal connection makes you more memorable and the connection more willing to talk with you.

Step 3: Explain the mutual benefit of your connection to demonstrate your value right away.

They shouldn’t have to think twice about the value you can provide them and why it’s worth their while to speak with you. This could be something like providing a customer lead.

Step 4: Give a call to action.

Ask them to call you back, send you an email or message you on LinkedIn – anything to keep the communication process flowing.

Networking can be an intimidating endeavor, but studies have shown it’s the best and most common way people land jobs. Who you know matters, so get out there and make some new connections!


Contribution by Lauren Herring

Lauren Herring is the CEO of IMPACT Group. She propelled the company into a global career development leader. As a second-generation female business owner, Lauren is uniquely positioned to help future women leaders succeed. She is passionate about building a better world and helping people reach their career goals. Lauren serves on various boards like Boy Scouts, Washington University’s Women’s Leadership Forum, Connections to Success which helps people in the cycle of poverty gain economic independence and St. Louis Regional Chamber, which supports the economic growth of the St. Louis community.

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