Searching for jobs is a skill in itself. Are you simply browsing online for the jobs that are presented to you in nice neat packages or are you digging a bit deeper? The hidden job market is a huge slice of all available job opportunities, so it pays to develop the skill of unlocking it.
We’ve discussed what the hidden job market is and touched on the subject of how to find the jobs within it. But let’s take it a step further and give you a robust, repeatable strategy to make the most of these lesser advertised job opportunities.
Unlocking the hidden job market will help you in the short term as well as the long term so it is well worth the investment of your time and efforts upfront. This strategy will make the whole process that little bit easier.
Finding The Companies That Fit Your Roles
Rather than applying for the roles that are available to you at any one time, you’re going to be looking for the companies that fit the role you want and then finding a way in.
This may seem an unlikely way of finding a job, but allow yourself to follow the strategy and you’ll join hundreds of people that we’ve helped find the perfect job in the hidden job market.
The starting point is the research stage. You need to identify the industries in which your role can be found. You should already have a good idea of this if it’s a role you’ve been doing for a while, but if it’s something you’re moving into or want to know a bit more about, it might take a bit more research.
At every stage of the hidden job market search, you should get comfortable with asking people for help, advice and information. The best way to really understand the industries available to you is to ask someone already doing this role.
These are called informational interviews and are very easy to do. Just get on LinkedIn and search for the role you want to do and you’ll find a big list of people in that role. Ask to connect with several of them and send a message with your request. Something like this is a good starter:
Hello [Their first name], It’s great to connect with you. I am very impressed with what I’ve seen of your work and I would love to find out more. Could I have 15 minutes of your time to ask a few questions? Kind regards, [You]
If you want to ask for a phone call or even a meetup in person over coffee, go for it! You might be surprised to find that people actually respond! Once you’ve talked to one person, ask them if there is anyone else they recommend you talk to. You can expand your network organically in this way and it will be so useful later on.
Once you know your industries, it’s a fairly simple step to find the top companies in an industry. This could be done through the contacts you’ve made already, or you can do a Google search.
When searching, think: “What would I put into Google to find the perfect person or company to work with?”
What kind of company would you like to work for? Where would you like to work? For example:
- Award-winning marketing companies.
- Top tech companies in London.
- Best architecture companies to work for.
- Engineering companies with good maternity leave.
- Most interesting software startups.
- Fast-growing industries.
Think of what your top priorities are and search for the top companies that fit them. You’ll be taking advantage of other people’s experience within these companies, combined with the recognition of the companies to market themselves in this way.
Gather the names that come up from your searches, their websites and any relevant contacts that pop up. Don’t worry too much about the contacts if they’re hard to find, you’ll be doing more of that later.
As you find these companies, try to investigate a bit further. If you end up working for one of them, you want to be sure it’s a good fit. Also, any further research will help you when finding a way in and with interviews later.
The aim here is twofold:
- Find the ideal companies that will provide your job opportunities.
- Expand your expertise and knowledge in the industries, companies and roles that you will be working in.
With a good knowledge of the industries, companies and roles you can start to prioritise the opportunities so that you’re concentrating your efforts on the best options first.
When prioritising, think of what they offer to you as well as what you can offer to them. If you are in a position to solve an issue for them then that is a strong position.
Also, look out for any relevant roles currently listed on their site. They might do this rather than listing on public job boards or with recruiters. If there is a role available and you like the company, this might be enough to bump it to the top of your priority list.
Getting Your Foot In The Door
If you do a thorough job with that last part, you’ll be laying some pretty solid foundations for your job search. But the real value is in reaching out to people within your top priority companies.
With your prioritised list of companies, choose the top 10 to concentrate on and work from the top down.
The first task is to find relevant people within the company that you can make a connection with. This is very easy to do in LinkedIn.
- Search for the company page directly in LinkedIn or search [company name + LinkedIn] on Google and their LinkedIn page should come up.
- Click on ‘People’ in the left-hand menu.
- Select, or filter by the location that is of interest to you.
Now go through the list and add names to two separate pots:
People that are highly relevant and/or interesting to you and the role you’re aiming for.
People that are of mild interest, but not immediately useful for finding your way in.
The latter group, just add as connections and send a template message, no need to personalise in any way. These will build up your connections in that particular company so that when you reach out to the more relevant people they will see that you are already connected to people in their company.
The first group are the people you want to be building a relationship with. In a similar way to how you reached out to people earlier, send them a message with your connection request. This time it is a good idea to ask for a meetup or call from the start to show your enthusiasm. For example:
Hello [Their first name], I would love to connect with you. I am very impressed with what I know of your work and I would love to hear some of your story. Might you have 10 minutes to spare at a time and place convenient to you, where I can buy you a cup of coffee and I hear more about your experience? Alternatively, a phone call would work really well. Kind regards, [You]
Don’t forget your existing network. When you find a relevant contact in a company, see if you already have a 2nd-degree connection to them from someone you know. If so, ask for an introduction. These are so much more powerful than reaching out yourself.
As you start to get responses from these reach-outs, you can plan what you want to talk about during a conversation.
You have your research for the company but also do your research on your contact. Are they active online? If you can find out about great work they have done, any awards they have been nominated for, recommendations from other people then this is conversation gold! Give them positive feedback on all of this because they might not be getting it from their colleagues.
Also, if there is anything you can bring up that you have in common, any serendipities between you, it is a great way to break the ice and build some rapport.
When you talk to them on the phone or in a meetup, the aim is to build up a networking contact and a relationship. Listen to them, show real interest in finding out about their journey and company.
Often it will naturally allow you to talk about yourself. The aim is to ask open questions, for example:
- “Your company is fascinating, how would one get into a company like this?”
- “Are there any people you could recommend that I speak to in this area?”
Your contact is already in the company and may well be looking for great people to work with. Your task is to make yourself look like a strong opportunity for them.
After a conversation, be sure to follow up saying how much you enjoyed it and pick out something you were impressed with to compliment them.
Don’t leave it there, keep in touch to gently remind them of you. If they are active on LinkedIn, comment on posts, share what they post, tag them in content you think they would be very interested in. Don’t go over the top, but be present in the feed. Now that you’re connected you will also show up in their feed if you’re engaging with other content, so you don’t have to be specifically engaging with them all the time.
Expanding Your Search
That’s just your LinkedIn strategy. There are so many more opportunities to connect with people in the companies you want to work in.
You’ll find that starting with LinkedIn will naturally lead to further connections outside of LinkedIn as you extrapolate from the people meet or talk to.
You can also increase your chances of making the right connections by putting yourself in the right places. Think of where you might find the people you want to meet.
- Industry conferences and events.
- Networking groups.
- Try Meetup.com for groups based around your industries or area of interest.
- If you’re going to a friend’s BBQ, watch out for any relevant connections. You never know!
Believe it or not, this is still quite a high level view of unlocking the hidden job market. There are so many ways you can go about it and you will discover these as you get stuck into the process.
By following the strategy here you will guarantee that you find opportunities in the right industries, companies and areas.
It may seem like a lot of work, but as you start making connections and meeting new people, you will find your network taking on a mind of its own. It’s also quite a fun process. You are basically creating an exciting network of like-minded people that you can tap into as and when you need.
Unlocking the hidden job market will help you out in the short term with a role that you’ve carefully selected yourself, rather than being the only one available that gave you an offer.
It will also help you out in the long term with the rest of your career and who knows how far it will help you within that. You might find a business partner, a lifetime friend or an entirely new career!
We’d love to hear your feedback on our hidden job market strategy that we teach to our clients, as well as your own hidden job market stories.