Photo Credit: roberthuffstutter via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: roberthuffstutter via Compfight cc

You’ve probably seen them:  postings for jobs that have a really short application window.  Can they really expect enough qualified applicants?  Or perhaps you’ve run across a posting that actually says “an internal candidate has been identified for this job.”  Can they really expect outsiders to apply?

These are signs of what’s called the “hidden job market” – a job market that doesn’t advertise widely, doesn’t post unless it has to for regulatory and legal reasons, and doesn’t reach out to ensure diversity of any sort.

The “hidden job market” is larger than ever before 2008. Because the job market continues to be very competitive, it is simply overwhelming for employers to wade through the piles and files of resumes submitted by people. Many applicants are complete mismatches for the position because they lack the required qualifications or experience.  So employers want to pre-screen as much as possible, especially for a “culture fit.” They know that employees or colleagues tend to refer people most likely to meet qualifications and fit into the company culture.

In addition to looking for referrals from people they know, employers and recruiters also are combing job sites and LinkedIn for people who have resumes containing plenty of relevant key words. If a job requires certain skills and experience, the search engines are now able to find those people among the many profiles and resumes posted on-line.

The net result:  Most people get jobs through their extended network connections.  Pre-2008, it was estimated that 60-75% of people got jobs through connections.  Now the estimate is closer to 90%.

How can you find the “hidden jobs?”

First, know what you want to do.  Create what I call an intention statement: the skills you want to use, the impact you want to have, and the field and/or type of company you want to work for. Being specific about your goals allows you to do a few things better than most other job seekers. You can:

  1. Tell people in your extended network – those people one, two or more degrees removed from your immediate circle – exactly what you are looking for. While they may not know of anything, they may be able to refer you to someone who does.
  2. Craft a resume and LinkedIn profile that emphasizes your core strengths and skills, shows off your accomplishments and impact, and positions you for what you want to do next. When you use the right keywords, employers can then find you.
  3. Search online for companies that could use someone with your abilities, and target them for introductions, informational interviews, and connections through your existing network. Maybe that company doesn’t have jobs open now, but you may be top of mind later if they get to know you and see how interested you are and enthusiastic about working for them.

Getting specific about what you want to do helps you rise above the rest of the people looking for jobs. It conveys self-knowledge, self-confidence, and a sense of the value you can really provide to an employer.  See my post on intention statements for more information about how to craft one.

(and see this earlier post on a different kind of Intention Statement that also can work)