Many people have heard about the hidden job market by now but most people don’t understand the concept and what to do with it. This is why I decided to write this article and bring some light and clarification into it and show you how it works.
The Hidden Job Market
The hidden job market is the place with all the job openings that you can’t see publicly. They are not advertised on job boards.
“At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published, […] and yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances [and] realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.”
You Get a Job by Talking to People
Based on my own experience, this has always been the case. I have never found a job in my corporate career by sending in my CV to a job advertisement, it was always because I knew people or because I talked to somebody at the company who knew somebody I know.
Try this: Ask around in your network how people found their current job and see for yourself how many people actually used any form of a relationships or connection to get this job.
Re-active vs. Pro-active
I believe that today’s job seekers must have a pro-active approach to succeed in their career transition. It used to be that you can be very successful if you only reply to job postings, but not anymore. Today, you have to take initiative and get out of your apartment or cubicle to get results. You can no longer hide behind a wireless router that protects you from talking to people.
Simply sending your resume in for job openings is probably the most ineffective thing you can do to get a job. Reaching out to your network, people you don’t know, people who might say “No” and overcoming the fear of doing something wrong is essential for career success today.
“The hidden job market is a job you can’t see. […] If I can hire somebody without posting the job, I’m going to do that 100% of the time.” Given the choice of sorting through hundreds of difficult-to-distinguish applications, and taking the recommendation of a contact, or considering an applicant who has demonstrated initiative and enthusiasm by getting in touch directly, most hiring managers will take the most efficient path. “It’s like the dating rule, […] you’re more likely to date someone introduced to you by a cousin. The same thing happens in hiring.”
Understanding the Concept
What I realized over the past few months when I was talking to my coaching clients was that many people don’t understand how the concept of the hidden job market works. It seems to be very unclear, mysterious and incalculable. I believe this lack of understanding comes from having so much structure in a job where most successes are calculated outputs. If you do A, B will happen with a certainty of 98.6%. A well planned project has a clear output, it either succeeds or it doesn’t. If the project is only at 70% at the date of the deadline, it’s no part-success.
The hidden job market works differently. It can be and should be planned, but it has much more of the “soft factors” involved than your daily tasks in a job these days.
When you talk to a hiring manager and you don’t succeed in securing a job immediately, there are many other positive aspects of simply taking the initiative. It trains you in approaching people directly, the hiring manager might remind you next time a job opens up or even recommend you to one of his peers, you put a voice to the application, etc. All of these aspects have a very positive effect and are cornerstones on the way to success.
On the Executive Level
The higher up you go in the hierarchy, the less positions are available. This seems to be obvious. The pyramid of every organization ends at the top with one person or maybe a few in some cases. However, no company that I know needs more than one CIO or CFO. Therefore these positions are very rare. The fact that even more than 80% of these positions are never advertised, makes the situation not easier for the executive in career transition.
On an executive level, you have almost no other choice than building strong relationships and always stay on top of your industry. You need to make sure that you are ready to leverage your connections before you decide to jump ship or get fired. It takes time to build and nurture real relationships and build a network that can support you in your career transition.
3 Actions to Build and Strengthen Your Network
1. Let your immediate network know about your situation
Your situation does not have to be an immediate need for a new job. It can simply be your openness about taking the next step in your career (who isn’t open to that?!) or even more importantly, so people know they can always come to you if they need help. This provides value to your connections and strengthens your relationships.
Make a list of people in your network who work at your desired companies and go for lunch or dinner with as many of them as possible. This is a great opportunity to get to know the company culture better and strengthen your relationships with the people in your network at the same time. You also want to do this if you are not immediately looking for a new job. What if your friend knows about an opening at his company one level above your current position and can recommend you to the hiring responsible? Do you think that would give you a boost and put the odds in your favor?
3. Ebook “Career Excellence Through Relationships”
I recently published my book on “How to Build Your Network in Switzerland for Career Success”. It is a very practical and actionable Ebook with exercises and actions steps to guide you along the way and keep you on track to build a strong network in Switzerland.
You can download the 1st chapter of the Ebook for free by signing up at the end of this post.
3 Great Books to Move You Forward
I have been reading a ton of books in the past about professional relationships, networking, the hidden job market and unconventional wisdom in business. The three best that I have read around these topics and can highly recommend are the following:
1. Never Eat Alone from Keith Ferrazzi
2. Cracking the Hidden Job Market from Donald Asher
3. The Thank You Economy from Gary Vaynerchuck