7 Steps to Breaking Into the Hidden Job Market – An Alternative to Rejections from HR

In my last blog post I talked about 6 Reasons Why Executives Should Not Apply for Advertised Jobs. Here I would like to show you a not only valid but necessary alternative to applying for advertised jobs. Applying for job openings without calling first and not following up is like standing at the bar and waiting in a club to pick up girls, it’s an ineffective approach. Instead, try something new and start to act like a leader in your job search.

Many people have no clear idea about what exactly they want to communicate, therefore I created a 33-page workbook called Communication Excellence Workbook that you can download here for free. It’s crucial to get clear about what you want to communicate at each stage of the career transition.


1. Where to Start

When you decide to take a different approach to your job search, you should start listing companies you think you would like to work at in your target geographical location. Do some research on Google, read your industry news or ask some friends to come up with more companies you could be interested in. 


2. Find People Who Work There

When you have a complete list with companies you think could be interesting, start looking at your current network and find people who work there. Even if a person works outside of your desired country at a company you find interesting, write his or her name down. Make a list of these people in your network alongside with your company list until you want through your entire network. Think about co-workers, friends, neighbors, relatives, family, very good friends of very good friends, clients, vendors, business partners, alumni and simply anybody you can think of in your network.


3. Getting in Touch

Now start talking to the people you have listed. Email them, call them, lunch and dine with them and get together for coffee. Talk about your goals and that you are looking to learn more about the company they work at. What’s the company culture? What are the company’s growth plans for the next year? Are there major changes? Find out as much as you can about the company. The goal is to create your own personal map about the company and organize the information about the company in a structure that makes sense to you.


4. Refine Your Company List

Now that you know a lot about these companies, you can certainly cross out some of them and add new ones. You might have discovered that some of the companies do not match with your values and personality. Some of your contacts might have mentioned other organizations that do match. Refine your list until you only have the companies on there that you are really passionate about working at or don’t know enough to make a decision.


5. Get Introduced to Others at Your Desired Companies

Now it’s time to get your first introductions. I recently talked to a coaching client of mine and one of the companies he was interested in is a large luxuries goods corporation. He found out that one of his buddies with whom he plays poker on a weekly basis works there as an executive and could easily introduce him to a potential hiring manager within the organization.

Talk to your contacts and ask them if they know anybody at the company they could introduce you to. You can do this most effectively if you have a few names of people you want to get introduced to and ask your contact if he or she can introduce you to his person.


6. Digg Deeper

You want to find out as much as you can about the companies. Ask your contacts and the people they introduced you to as much as you can about important things like hiring activities, reorganizations, mergers, large changes, etc. The more you know, the better you can assess if this company is a match for your values and personality. If a company fails that match, kick them out of your list.

There is another major benefit from knowing the company in and out. If you get interviewed from a hiring manager or HR, they will ask you what you know about the company and why you want to work there. If you can talk about the company’s past, present, future, projects, clients, reorganizations and other important things, you are ways ahead of competing applicants. HR and the hiring manager will be stunned about your knowledge.


7. Going Outside of Your Comfort Zone

I don’t think the previous parts put you much out of your comfort zone so now it’s time. Make a list of events that are happening in the next 2-3 months in your area and industry where you could meet people working at these companies. The next step is attending them. Live events are a very effective tool for career transition, especially if they are leveraged the right way.

As mentioned before, the communication part is crucial, especially when you meet people in person. You only have one chance to make a first impression. If your communication is boring, unclear or all about you, you will lose. To avoid this, you can download the free Communication Excellence Workbook here.


That’s it for today, I hope you realize that there is a whole other world of opportunities out there that you can tap into if you use your creativity and think outside of the job board. 

In case you want to build your network in Switzerland further please join our LinkedIn group the Career Network Switzerland or connect with me directly on LinkedIn here.


How did you get your last job? Leave a comment below and share your experience with the community.