The Hidden Job Market and How to Access It

Close-up of a hand holding a magnifying glass over a newspaper page about the job market Small Business

In January 1918, legendary magician Harry Houdini performed one of the greatest magic acts in the history of the art form. Called the Vanishing Elephant, Houdini was able to make a five-tonne, eight-foot elephant disappear in New York City’s Hippodrome Theater. But it never really vanished. In fact, the elephant was there the entire time; the audience just didn’t see it.

Well, that is how you can describe one segment of the labour market: the hidden job market.

By its appellative, you would assume that it comprises illegal jobs that no child should ever see and shall never be spoken of again. It is easy to believe that this segment of the market is performed underground, in the dark, and paid in cryptocurrency. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

So, what is it then?

What Is the Hidden Job Market?

Believe it or not, not every business that has a few open positions will scream to the heavens that they are hiring.

The hidden job market is a term to describe positions that are not posted on internet job boards or advertised in the classifieds section of print newspapers. (Should you so happen to still peruse the careers page of your local paper, then here is some advice: avoid vacancies that require you to be a fan of Richard Wagner, enjoy working 10 consecutive hours and be a smoker.)

You might find it strange that companies do this, but there are methods to the madness:

  • a corporation wants to keep it discreet as to not disrupt stock prices
  • a small business decides to save money on advertising, so will utilise other methods
  • a medium-sized enterprise will opt to find the right candidate through employee referrals
  • a startup may be hush because it might fill any of its vacancies overnight
  • an office is silent because it wants to find a replacement for an underwhelming staff member
  • the owner is networking to add talent to his or her payroll.

There are all sorts of reasons for the hidden job market.

Now, you might be thinking that locating these unadvertised positions is a lot more trouble than it is worth. But here is the thing that is important to realise: it is not hard at all. In fact, you will just need to add only a couple of new tactics to your overall career strategy, and you will be fine.

How to Access the Hidden Job Market

So, accessing the hidden job market doesn’t require a whole lot of arduous effort. By employing simple measures, you can be a professional who successfully navigates this part of the economy.

Here’s how:

1. Reach Out to Recruiters

Recruiters have a bad reputation of being elusive and will only reach out to you when they want something. But this is not the case; these career professionals are not as reclusive as you would believe. In fact, they are willing to interact and touch base with candidates, mainly because you can be added to their list of potential suitors for a role to fill with another business. The faster they are at tapping into talent, the better they will be perceived.

Plus, if there is an opening that is tailored to your skills, education and experience, then you would, in theory, be one of the first to be contacted.

2. Be Active on Social Media

Social media is not just a place to share photos of your dinner, let the world know that you are about to go to sleep or to stalk your ex – yes, he has moved on; and no, she still loves you. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all the other social networks can be utilised for your career advancement, not just enhancing your personal life and inflating your ego because you have 15 more followers than your friend.

But how do you properly use social media to get noticed for employment opportunities?

  • Create a professional profile that is designed specifically for your career.
  • Highlight your skills on social media by, for example, producing content and sharing it.
  • Interact with people in your sector of the economy.
  • Curate digital content and share relevant industry news with the online world.
  • Engage with companies in your industry.

These are ways to properly conduct yourself on social media, but what about things you shouldn’t do? Well, that should be simple enough, but here is a refresher anyway: do not be crude, uncouth or vile.

3. Attend Industry Conferences

This is big, especially if you live in a large city: attend industry events and conferences, even if you have to purchase a ticket. These are some of the best networking techniques because you’re meeting like-minded professionals, you’re gaining contacts of people who might work at a company that is seeking someone of your aptitude, and you’re potentially learning new insights about the industry.

Most important of all, your appearance is letting everyone know that you’re out there and available.

Here are a few pointers to remember:

  • Bring a lot of business cards and hand them out to as many people as possible.
  • Dress the part; you will want to wear professional attire, not your weekend beach garments.
  • Smile and be pleasant; don’t frown or look miserable because nobody will want to talk to you.
  • Engage, listen and converse, which is the opposite of ignoring, lecturing and talking at someone.

Yes, you want to show off how knowledgeable you are about the laws of diminishing marginal utility, but your fellow economists are attending the industry to be taught by some out-of-work stranger.

This is how you market yourself in the labour market.

4. Subscribe to News Alerts

An important characteristic of any professional is to stay up to date on any significant change that is happening in the industry. Now, it may seem difficult to read every single news report about the natural gas sector, Silicon Valley or financial services, but here is a trick: find a list of companies you would be interested in working for and subscribe to Google News alerts. This will keep you updated on any substantial changes in the business, whether it is expanding operations or shutting down its offices in Asia.

5. Join a Professional Networking Group

You can learn quite a bit from your fellow job hunters. Just because they are searching for employment, it does not mean they do not possess a wealth of information that you can benefit from.

And do not think for a moment that they will withhold what they have learned on this journey. Indeed, they are eager to inform their peers about resources, corporate rumours and organisations that assist specific individuals.

So, why would strangers in the same boat as you want to help? Because they most likely expect the favour to be returned – or perhaps they wish to be remunerated by the laws of the universe!

6. Contact Companies Directly

Sometimes, the simplest way to get a job is often ignored.

Do you know how you can access the hidden job market? Contact companies directly.

While it does take effort and it might be intimidating, simply telephoning a business and asking if they are hiring anyone now or in the immediate future can work wonders for you.

Who knows? Maybe this is how you will land your dream job, after all, and not by randomly browsing the online boards at 2am.

7. Peruse Your Alumni Association

Many veterans may pass on getting in touch with their alumni association, thinking that it will only assist with entry-level employment. But, believe it or not, the alumni association is a sublime resource for connecting with other experienced professionals, speaking with employers who may want to partner with the entity and attaining advice from those in the know.

The labour markets of the US and the UK are strengthening. Americans are enjoying a 49-year-low unemployment rate, while Britons are witnessing the lowest jobless rate since late 1974.

Put simply: the job market is roaring, wages are climbing, and the number of vacancies is approaching all-time highs. While a recession can strike at any time, if you’re seeking out employment opportunities, there may be no other better time than right now.

Does this include the hidden job market? You bet! Now that you have the tools to know how and where to look, it doesn’t need to be a secret anymore. Moving forward, you can find hidden jobs and take your career, or careers, to another level.

Do you have anything to add? Just the conversation below.