What Is The Hidden Job Market?

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Sounds mysterious, doesn’t it? It really isn’t. Most people will describe the hidden job market as the jobs that are not advertised publicly, but this doesn’t really give the full picture.

The majority of job seekers will conduct their searches through online job boards or recruiters or a combination of both. But employers are not always using these platforms to advertise their opportunities.

In fact, most job opportunities will start life being circulated internally before direct applications through employee networks are considered, followed by professional networks and, increasingly, social media. Only after these have been exhausted are the more common methods used.

Employers might not list a job opportunity on the most prominent forums for a number of reasons:

  • They don’t want too many unsuitable applications that will take time to process.
  • They don’t want to spend the money on advertising a role if they feel they can fill it internally, or through referrals or on their own website.
  • The role might not be official yet so they are only taking tentative applications.
  • The employer does not want to make public that they are hiring in a certain area.
  • The employer simply made a mistake and hasn’t advertised it when they were meant to.
  • It’s still early stages in determining the need for the role.

You might be wondering if not advertising a role publically is actually allowed, but the rules only stipulate that an employer must not discriminate in their advertising of a role. Where they advertise it is quite flexible. It’s also in their best interest to get some variety in their applications so that they can choose the best candidate.

To put it simply, the hidden job market contains the jobs that are not instantly accessible through online job boards or recruiters.

You’re going to have to do a bit of digging to find them.

The hidden job market is becoming the new normal and it is estimated that anywhere between 40% and 80% of all jobs are not listed in the usual places. This variation is down to seasonality, demand, economics and the survey methods. There is no way of getting a hard and fast figure, but it is a sizeable chunk.

If you’re still only going for the obvious listed job, you’re restricting yourself in a big way.

How Do You Find Hidden Job Opportunities?

I’m guessing that’s your next question!

I mentioned some figures for the percentage of the job market that is hidden and these oddly (or not so oddly) correlate to the percentage of jobs that are filled by networking.

Estimates vary wildly on the percentage of jobs filled through networking, but are always above 50%, even up to 85% [1,2]. The increase in hidden jobs and the growing importance of networking to find a job are happening hand-in-hand and are not likely to end in the foreseeable future.

It makes sense. If a job isn’t listed openly, then applicants outside of the organisation are only going to hear about it through word of mouth. Employers are perfectly happy with this because it means applicants come to them rather than having to chase them.

So you’re going to have to up your networking game. But it’s really not as scary as it might seem.

Break it down to a simple equation.

The role you want can be found by:

  1. Finding the companies you would like to work for that have that role.
  2. Finding someone in each company who is either doing a similar role or works in the same area.
  3. Making contact with them and striking up a conversation about their work.

Building relationships with several contacts that are working in the area that you want to work in, within several different companies, puts you front and centre if a role is available or if one comes up in any one of those companies.

You don’t have to do all this on LinkedIn. Every networking opportunity should be considered, whether it’s an industry conference or a BBQ around a friend’s house. Keep your ears to the ground and have your elevator pitch well prepared!

Use The Hidden Job Market To Your Advantage

If this way of finding work is new to you, it could seem daunting. But it just requires a bit of a change in perspective.

While the vast majority of jobs are on the hidden job market, by contrast, the vast majority of job seekers are not looking for work in the hidden job market. Simply by understanding that there is a hidden job market, you will be placing yourself ahead of most candidates.

The hidden job market is a good thing for you. It offers a huge amount of opportunities with much lower competition than you will find through online job boards and recruiters.

By exploring the hidden job market you will also be building a strong and long-lasting network that will help you throughout your career.

All you have to do is learn how to use it.

We’ll help you with that in our guide to unlocking the hidden job market.

[1] https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/resources/hr-and-recruiting-stats/

[2] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-survey-reveals-85-all-jobs-filled-via-networking-lou-adler/