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The Hidden Job Market Exposed

The Hidden Job Market Exposed

By Leeza Byers

I’ve had many job seekers ask me, “How do I get hired in such a highly competitive job market?” or “I’m not getting interviews, what do I need to do to secure interviews in this job market?”

Well, let me tell you a little secret that you may or may not have already heard about. It’s called the hidden job market and I’m going to show you how to use it to get hired quickly. What I’m about to share is actually some of the same advice I utilize during my one-on-one coaching sessions with my Courageous Job Seeker clients.

First, let’s dispense with a common misconception —- the hidden job market isn’t really hidden at all. It’s just not in plain sight. It’s referred to as the hidden job market because of how positions are created and filled. In most cases, jobs are created in one of three ways:

  1. A company is growing and creates a new job
  2. An employee quits, vacating an existing job
  3. An employee is fired from an existing job

When a company is growing, the owner, president, or other hiring authority may know they need new employees, but haven’t initiated the process yet. They may not have the time, the budget, or the willingness to go through the hassle of advertising and interviewing. So, while the need is real, the job itself remains hidden inside the head of the hiring manager.

When someone quits or is fired, managers will first decide if they can eliminate the job, or combine it with another position. If they decide a new person is needed, they will first look inside their organization for someone to fill the role. If that doesn’t work, they’ll likely ask employees for referrals. And if that doesn’t work, they may opt to run an ad through HR, or hire a headhunter.

In all of these cases, jobs remain hidden to the outside world for weeks, if not months. Hence the term hidden job market.

The only way for you to access the hidden job market successfully is to reach out to hiring managers directly before they opt to go the advertising or HR route. The hidden job market is your private laboratory to test the best methods for finding your dream job.

Job Search Strategy 101: Do Targeted Research
One quick way to discover new opportunities is by doing structured search engine queries. And it’s fairly easy to do. Here’s how to do targeted research, in two easy steps:

Step #1 Develop a list of companies you want to work for.
Here’s how you build that list. Before you start, you have to answer two questions: What job do you want? and Where do you want to do it? Tip: Use the Advanced Search option on

Now, if you spend a few minutes experimenting with different combinations of search terms, you should turn up a nice list of potential employers who can hire you —- your own private hidden job market.

Step #2 Find People Who Can Hire You:
Once you have a target list of companies, you need to find out who the people are in those companies that can actually hire you. A courageous job seeker would pick up the telephone, call and ask.

And for those of you who may not be so inclined, here’s another way to get the names of hiring authorities.

Visit each company’s web site and look for names of people who can say yes. Who are you looking for? Executives, not human resource people —- the latter group can only say NO… unless you’re another human resources professional. If you’re lucky, every corporate web site will identify its senior executives, including names, titles, phone numbers, career summaries and sometimes email and photos! Web information should be up-to-date, but I would still call the receptionist to confirm it.

Once you have the name of the person one rung up the ladder from the job you want, you need to process their name through Google again.

This will produce a list of press releases, and news articles in which they are mentioned, as well as conferences they’ve attended. Read an article or two and clip something memorable to use in your Value Proposition letter (my clients know that I don’t call them cover letters), in which you demonstrate your knowledge of the person, the company, and how you can help both.

When you send your value proposition letter, you can to write. “I read your article in… about… which prompted me to write.” Very powerful, and a great way to get interviews.

A word of caution though, these strategies only work if you know you’ve got a stellar career marketing kit that truly conveys your strengths/skills and achievements. If this isn’t in your tool kit before embarking on your job search, then what I’ve shared above will only be futile, as you’ve only got ONE SHOT to impress a decision-maker/hiring manager.

Leeza Byers helps professional women find careers by matching their strengths and interests to ideal jobs.

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