Updated: Mar 9, 2021
The ‘hidden’ job market sounds like some big secret everyone has been keeping from you, right? It actually just refers to jobs that aren’t advertised, and this could account for up to 85% of the job market, depending on who you ask – though that sounds a little extreme. Either way, it’s at least around 40%, which is far too many jobs for you not to be paying attention.
So if you’re starting to look for a job - whether that’s for your next career move, a career change or as a recent graduate - how do you find out about these secret jobs? Better yet, how do you get to be in the running for one? The answer comes down to a single word – networking.
There are a huge number of ways you can network, both online and in person. The first move is to talk to as many people as you can about your job hunt, from friends and family to colleagues who you wouldn’t mind knowing you are moving, to events and lectures. It’s all based on the premise that you never know who might know someone recruiting for a job that you might be interested in.
Sometimes though, you might know someone working in an industry or organisation you want to gain experience in, but they are not currently recruiting – openly. This is your opportunity to ask to meet an HR manager or team member for a coffee so that you can find about more about their company and what working there is really like. You do not need to directly ask for a job then and there, but you are starting to build a relationship with that organisation, so when there is an opportunity available in a couple of months, they are more likely to ask you first or at least say yes when your cover letter and CV land on their desk.
You can also reach out to people through Linkedin. By upgrading your account to a premium subscription (free for the first month, you can cancel it after that), you can directly message as many professionals as you like whose careers you’re interested in. Asking to arrange a video or phone call after a few emails can be a really helpful way to create rapport with someone when you don’t live in the same city. It may even be worth coming up with a list of people you would like to speak to on LinkedIn before upgrading your account so that you can maximize your impact for that month.
Work Experience & Work Shadowing
Depending on how much experience you have, asking for a few days’ informal work shadowing once the person has gotten to know you a little is much more likely to get a positive response than from an anonymous CV. If you have a bit more experience, this approach will mean you can get to know the person and the company better, and when a job does come around, they might well think of you before they advertise for it.
Building genuine relationships is key here though, this should not just be a one-off – you should make sure that you stay in touch by sending a friendly email every few months.
You can do this with as many people as possible, which will allow you to slowly build an entire network of valuable contacts. Whilst most won’t lead to an internship or job, some will, and when you do enter the workplace, your value will come not just from you, but from the people you know too.
I hope you have found this article helpful. Check out some of my other blogs on:
If you found this article helpful, check out my book for lots more advice (and a few adventures!). The Radical Sabbatical is a bestselling career guide that was named the Financial Times Business book of the month 🎉