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10 Bold Tactics to Tap the Hidden Job Market

Career Professionals employ many strategies and approaches to guide clients to access the hidden job market. The “hidden job market” is a broad term used to describe jobs that aren’t posted online or in advertisements. With more than 80% of positions being filled by direct and indirect job leads, clients need to go beyond online job boards and search engines to find their next opportunity. I recently facilitated an online discussion with members of Career Professionals of Canada. My colleagues agreed that the number one way job seekers can tap the hidden job market is by using their networking connections to help find unadvertised job openings. Here are some tactics that you can use to effectively coach your clients to job search success by leaving online job boards and venturing into the hidden job market.

The Basics

  • Tell Everyone You Know. “I often suggest to my clients to make sure everyone they know, knows they are looking for work and the types of things they are interested in – family members, sports teams, schools etc – this helps them to grow their networks, especially if they are in a regional centre.” – Julia Perryman

  • Do Your Research. “Many of my clients have the most success with networking by with doing research and then honing in on one person to talk to. Many people are willing to chat if they feel that they have been selected intentionally.” – Kristin Vandegriend

Bold Tactics Some clients will benefit from going beyond networking. Here are a few examples:

  1. Make Your Own Luck. “Think about what you want to accomplish, long term, then devise a strategy that focuses your ambitions. When you define what you want with certainty, pursue it with determination and focus. This will prevent you from mis-stepping and ensure you achieve results aligned with your purpose.” Maureen McCann

  2. Help Others Out. “When you are networking, it is important to provide ideas, suggestions, etc. and/or listen to people’s problems and if you find a good resource later on to forward on to your contact. It gives you another reason to connect and remind them of your earlier conversation.” – Elaine Piper

  3. Use Your Connections to Open Doors. “A workshop attendee told me that she wrote an email to someone in her field after reading a magazine article. I happened to know someone in the company, facilitated an introduction, and the client ultimately got a job there.” – Lise Stransky

  4. Go where the Jobs Are. “We had a client wear a sandwich board by the MacDonald Bridge in Halifax, saying he was looking for work. He got a job offer later that day from a local business.” – Elaine Piper

  5. Feature Your Head-Shot. “For my very photogenic and sociable niece, I suggested she add a photo to her business card. She was looking for a job in hospitality and her face got her the job. She looked like someone any customer would feel comfortable approaching.” – Cathy Milton

  6. Write About Things You Know. “Contact magazines, newspapers, and other publications that target the industry or market you want to work in and offer to write a free column.” – Lise Stransky

  7. Comment on Influencer Posts. “There are plenty of ways to network online from social media to professional organizations and associations. Responding to posts from “important” influential people in the field or organization is very helpful. Even just commenting to a blog post might open up the door for a conversation with someone.” – Sharon Graham

  8. Look Around Your Field. “Take a job outside your field, but one that puts you in contact with your industry. For example, I knew someone who got a job downtown as a Barista at Starbucks because that’s where all the oil and gas execs got their coffee.” – Lise Stransky

  9. Use Out-of-the-Box Ideas. “I’ve heard a lot of great stories of marketing individuals who do really cool stuff. This guy designed a donut box and delivered donuts to a potential employer with a punchy saying about himself on it. You can bet it got attention!” – Kristin Vandegriend

  10. Hold a Contest. “Start an email chain that includes your resume, videos you have made, links to your website or blog an anything else you’ve done to promote your career search, and send it to friends, family, and others in your network. Offer a prize.” – Lise Stransky

By mastering these tactics and using them in combination, clients can create successful outcomes. For example, in David Perry’s Guerrilla Marketing for the Job Hunter 3.0, he discusses the Coffee Caper, where a client created a personal website, then an image of himself with a sign that had his website on it. He sent a letter of introduction, the image, and a coffee mug by FedEx to several top companies. He tracked the delivery of the mugs, waited to see the views on his site go up, and contacted the CEOs directly to say hi. As resume writers and career practitioners, we need to get CREATIVE and BOLD, and teach our clients to do things differently so that they can stand out in a professional manner. If we can help clients to engage with their target audience and WOW this audience, they are guaranteed to stand out.

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