by Rachel Vilsack

A previous blog entry provided an introduction to the hidden job market and the reasons why some jobs might not be advertised. In fact, there is good evidence to suggest that the hidden job market represents a significant portion of available jobs in Minnesota. If this is the case, how do you uncover the hidden job market?

Target Your Market
You won’t find an unadvertised job by searching job boards or help-wanted ads. Instead, target your market by identifying businesses in your local area or in a particular industry. Create a list of companies you might want to work for and learn more about them by visiting their website or conducting an online search. Research is important because the more you know about a company, the better able you will be to sell your skills and experience.

Direct Connection
Networking is also an important step in the job search process. Think about your friends, family members, neighbors, former coworkers, or connections on LinkedIn. Does anyone you know work at the companies you identified? If yes, reach out to them. Let them know you are looking for a job, and you are interested in their employer. Tell them why you’d be a good addition to their company, or consider sharing your resume with them. Don’t assume they already know your skills or experience because they know you! Remember, many companies rely on referrals from coworkers to fill open positions.

Reach Out
If you don’t have a direct connection with an employer, you may want to reach out to the business directly. Give them a call or stop by. (Make sure you pick a time that is most convenient for the employer.) You can ask them directly if they have any job openings, or you can use the details you learned about the company in combination with your elevator speech to make you stand out. Express interest in their business, and explain why you’d be a good addition to their company.

You could also request an informational interview, or a face-to-face meeting, where you can ask additional questions about the company or industry. Keep in mind that the purpose of an informational interview is not to ask for a job, but is an opportunity to get leads and develop key contacts that will help tap the hidden job market. (Here are more informational interview tips.)

Don’t worry if you receive a “no, thanks” after connecting with an employer. They may not have an opportunity for you now, but that doesn’t mean an opportunity couldn’t develop in the future. You want to be the person that the manager or human resource professional thinks about when an opportunity DOES arise. Be polite and respectful. Remember, employers want to hire people they know, like, and trust.

Rachel Vilsack ( is the Coordinator of Special Projects for Minnesota’s Labor Market Information Office at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

One thought on “How to Uncover the Hidden Job Market

  1. You have it right. It is pointless to respond to hundreds of job ads.

    Pick the companies and industries you want to work in and start contacting people there. Services like or can help you find the right people to get in contact with. Then send your resumes and even go old school and make phone calls and start talking with people at those companies and in your industry. This is how our parents did it before there were job boards on the internet where we could easily respond to ads all day.

    (protip: the easier it is for you to apply for a job, the easier it is for everyone to apply for that job)


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