How to hack into the hidden job market
Job hunters focus primarily on searching job boards to find their next role. Little do they know, they are missing out on the hidden job market, a treasure trove of jobs that aren’t posted online. People unfamiliar with the hidden job market feel excluded from a secret pool of exclusive jobs that are not available to the average job seeker.
However, the reality is more mundane. Companies, for a variety of reasons, do not want to disclose certain vacancies. Discreet replacement of a manager, hiring from within, referrals to employees and not wanting to publish salary ranges make some job advertisements unavailable to the public.
The best ways to access the hidden job market
Find a recruiter
You want to find and connect with several top recruiters in your field. These headhunters maintain close relationships with business leaders, human resources and hiring managers. They are trusted to find the best talent for their open opportunities. Some of these roles are exclusive to the recruiter and not published to the public.
Discretion is needed in sensitive situations, such as replacing a high-profile executive or looking for an outsider to run a department rather than selecting an internal employee. Companies will contract with recruiters to conduct these stealth searches. The headhunters who have been selected are experienced in job requirements and industry. They have extensive experience and a database of suitably skilled candidates.
The recruiter will secretly contact on-target people who have the right background for the role. They will tell the candidate that the job is confidential and that the applicant must keep the information to themselves. If the executive recruiter has a solid reputation, the person will understand and comply. There will be some people who feel uncomfortable and politely bow out of contention.
Networks and social media
Using your network of friends, family, colleagues, former colleagues and bosses, college alumni, neighbors and other people to get potential positions is an effective way to penetrate the hidden job market.
Another effective strategy is to find a friend or a loose tie who works at a target company you want to work for and ask for an introduction to the right hiring staff.
You want to stand out on the social media platforms that suit your job and career. For example, if you are a white-collar worker, LinkedIn is the right platform for you. Start by targeting the companies you would like to work for. Then send invitations to people who look like they’re involved in hiring to get on their radar screen. Create posts, interact with other people in your room, upload videos and write articles. This will position you as an expert in your field. Recruiters, hiring managers and corporate talent scouts will start reaching out to you.
Referrals to employees
Hiring managers love employee referrals. They feel that if an internal employee recommends someone, they must be good. Otherwise, if the person bombs, the person who referred the candidate will suffer the bad will of the boss. Some companies offer an attractive bonus if the referral joins the company.
To save money by not using the services of a recruiter and demonstrate that the current employees get the first crack at newly opened internal jobs, human resources will first look for talented insiders. The company will not post an advertisement for this job as they want to focus on the people who are already working in the organization.
If there isn’t a current employee with the right experience for the job and you can figure this out, you can send an unsolicited CV. Since no one outside knows about the opening, you want to stand out.
Why companies keep jobs hidden
There are cases where a manager is on a performance improvement plan and may be at risk of being let go. The HR department does not want anyone to know that the person may lose their job. If the company posts a job description, there is a good chance that the targeted person or someone who knows them will infer that the job posting is for the company and specifically to replace the manager.
Another similar example is when a new role is created, but the company feels that no one in the unit possesses sufficient skills to be promoted. The company will want to keep recruitment secret so as not to incur the wrath of the team. If workers recognize the job description, employees will angrily confront the boss and demand to know why they weren’t even offered an interview and went straight to find an outsider.
Companies must disclose salaries and salary ranges with the new laws on salary transparency. In the short time it’s been enabled, companies have already gamed the system by offering ridiculously wide ranges, say $50k to $300k. Instead of playing this game and being called out for it, more jobs will be placed in the hidden labor market.