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How to network your way into the hidden job market

There’s a myth out there that up to 80% of all jobs are “hidden.” While there are many reasons to believe that this is false and over-inflated, it is still safe to assume that a good portion of jobs go unpublished. For job seekers, that means there’s more to the job hunt than creating a job alert on Workopolis. You also have to be networking. As uncomfortable as that makes some of us, networking is the best way to tap into this so-called ‘hidden job market.’ As sad as it is to believe, you sometimes only get a real shot after someone has referred you. And how do you get a referral? From your network (AKA all those people you’ve worked with and for over the years). Set some clear career goals, and let your network know you’re looking for opportunities. Ready to get started? Here are some tips on how to network your way into the hidden job market.

Start now and keep it up You can argue that ‘networking’ is not necessarily a ‘job search’ activity, in that if you suddenly find yourself out of work, you can’t immediately ‘network’ your way into a new opportunity. You often need to have been networking all along. This doesn’t mean that you have to be attending industry conferences and swapping business cards (although doing some of that certainly isn’t a bad idea.) What you need to have is a built-up set of professional connections who think highly of your work and abilities in your field, who would love to work with you or recommend you to others. This is achieved through the connections you make in school, while working, in your community activities and on social networks. It is accomplished through authentic interactions, and it takes time to build a genuine and powerful network. Just as the best time to look for a job is when you already have one, if you don’t start your networking activities until you’re out of work, you will have a harder time making the connections that can land you your next job. So how do you do that?

Here are some networking essentials:

  • You should also be willing to help others us much as you can, as often as you can. Networking is a two-way street – and people remember those who went out of their way to help them in the past. Pay it forward.

  • Keep in touch with your network. People stop taking phone calls from someone who only contacts them when they need something. So update your connections with what is going on with you, and make genuine inquiries about how they’re doing.

  • Have a short ‘elevator speech’ ready. This is a short couple of sentences that describe your career accomplishments and goals in a conversational manner. It’s just enough for you to summarize your expertise and career path in a brief and friendly way should someone ask you to.

  • Make sure your social network information matches your resume. You don’t want to claim a degree on your application that your Facebook or LinkedIn profiles show that you don’t have. Employers have also been known to double check that the dates of employment you list in your resume match with your profiles.

Most of all, it is important to be genuine. Networking isn’t about collecting business cards and schmoozing. It’s about having a positive professional reputation and being in touch with lots of people who respect that about you. Another way to tap into a hidden job market is by having up-to-date professional online profiles and posting a searchable resume on Workopolis. Recruiters search our site 16,000 times a day for candidates – often sourcing for jobs that are never advertised.

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