by Rachel Vilsack
Many employers find workers without posting a job online. In fact, it’s often estimated that 80 percent (or more) or jobs are never advertised. This is called the hidden job market. The term “hidden” doesn’t mean the jobs are necessarily a secret or that the employer doesn’t want you to know they have an opening. But it does mean that if your search strategy is to only check online job boards, you may be missing out.
Ultimately, employers want to hire people they know, like, and trust. Receiving applications, resumes, and conducting interviews are great ways for employers to get to know job candidates, but it’s also a time-consuming process. For an employer, the search for a potential employee begins well before they post a job. It might include figuring out what skills and experience are necessary for the job, writing a job description, and setting salary and benefit options with their finance and human resource staff.
Target Your Market
You won’t find an unadvertised job by searching job boards or help-wanted ads. Instead, focus on targeting 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 company 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.
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 so, 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.
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 fit.
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.
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.