How to proactively access the hidden job market

We have been speaking to our Outplacement clients recently about their concerns that there are relatively few jobs being advertised. However, despite the apparent drought, there are always jobs out there and we have clients moving into new roles every week.

This is because many of these people are accessing new opportunities through the hidden job market, but even more importantly they are taking a ‘proactive approach’. Most of us understand that the hidden job market is larger than we might think and encompasses all of those positions that are not publicly advertised, but what most people don’t understand is how to best access these opportunities.

A proactive network approach

So how do you access this hidden job market proactively? You do this by leveraging your networks, but also by having your targets clearly in mind.

Everyone thinks about their network and who they can contact who might know of an opportunity. They call and get to see these people to let them know they are looking around and ‘if you hear of anything just let me know’. While it’s sensible to contact these people, what we find is most jobseekers get to the end of their contact list and think ‘what do I do now?’

A proactive network approach requires you to also think about who are the businesses and people that you are targeting. Who are the businesses and people that you really want to get to talk to and who in your network can connect you to them? Our targets are important as research shows us that in reality our ‘Primary Networks’ (people we know best) rarely provide opportunities – but what they can do is potentially connect you to the people who do have opportunities. This is the best way to extend your networks!

Yes your primary network is probably larger than you think – as well as previous colleagues and clients, it could include people you know from your social circle or extracurricular activities, family, friends, university contacts, people you meet through industry bodies, and many others. Through your networks you have credibility and referral capacity. Talking to people in your network about the job market in your field, where you are at, and asking for advice can help open the doors to the hidden job market for you.

A couple of great questions to ask them are:

  • Who else do you think I should talk to?
  • Do you know someone at this company, as I’m really interested to find out more about them?

Additional considerations

There’s plenty to consider in pursuing your proactive networking but here are a few tips for accessing the hidden job market:

  • Approach the conversation as gathering market intel, rather than asking for a job
  • Create a list of people who could help you and set up coffee dates. Think outside the box and look beyond just your professional network for this – people from your social or community circles may be just as useful!
  • Have a pitch ready – tell them what you are looking for and what you have to offer and ask for their advice (getting into or finding jobs in the industry, current trends, how to make yourself more attractive as a candidate in this industry)
  • Allow people the opportunity to think and provide you with contacts or networks, and then check that its ok to contact these new people and mention the referral.

If you are on the hunt for a job, make sure you are tapping into the hidden job market proactively as well as applying for advertised roles, to maximise your chances of success. You never know where that next opportunity might come from! Contact us to speak to a career coach.

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