Uncovering the Hidden Job Market

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By Leia O’Connell, MSW, GCDF
Contributor, Career Coach

Do you ever wonder how some people just seem to find jobs so easily? They transition from one role to another without breaking a sweat. How are they doing this? They might tell you, “Oh, I’ve just been lucky. Roles just seem to fall into my lap.” Or “I was in the right place at the right time.” I recently had someone tell me that a position was created just for them. So, the question is, how do YOU get to the right place at the right time?

The hidden job market is often defined as jobs which aren’t even being posted. The hiring manager already knows who they’re going to have in the role, and they can fill it without advertising (saving time and money for them).

I’ll tell you the secret right up front: you need to know people. I know what you’re thinking, “Here we go again – networking!” Don’t stop reading now – you can do this. Broadening your network and maintaining relationships is everything to discovering the hidden job market.  We’re talking beyond networking here; we’re talking about a change in your lifestyle.

Maintaining Relationships

Take a moment right now to assess your network: family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, community members, social media connections, and acquaintances. How well are you maintaining these relationships? Do you make the effort to reach out and engage? How long has it been since you’ve spoken or caught up?

Part of uncovering the hidden job market is actively investing in relationships. You’re investing not only because you want something from those people; but, because other people can often be the best part of life. One of the hidden benefits of maintaining relationships is that opportunities can arise when you least expect. I can think of multiple instances in my life where investing in relationships (simply because I enjoyed the company of the other person) led to a career opportunity.

The more people you know, the more hidden opportunities will present themselves. But


Building Relationships

The more people you know, the more hidden opportunities will present themselves. But, expanding your network isn’t always easy and sometimes…can be downright terrifying. Start small, join some groups on LinkedIn and participate in conversations. Prefer in-person? Volunteer at a local nonprofit which really excites you. Worried about finding the time? Did you know you can use www.volunteermatch.org and search by virtual volunteer opportunities?

To find out about hidden opportunities, you have to talk to people. Just the other day I was chatting with an acquaintance at the park while my son was on the playground. Within 15 minutes she mentioned two different opportunities her company was hiring for. It doesn’t always take much; but, you need to get out there!

Work Ethic

Your work ethic matters, always.  People always notice hard workers and keep them in mind as opportunities arise. Whether you’re in class, volunteering, or at your job, it matters. Your attitude in life and in social media will help others identify the type of person you are. Think about your own life; when you need help, who do you go to? It’s likely the answer is your most trusted friend or family member, who you know you can rely on. Make sure you’re that person for others as well!

Entering the hidden job market can be difficult at first. As you start to build your network and put effort into your relationships (both in-person and virtual) you might find that opportunities you didn’t even know were out there, suddenly become available.

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