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How To Tap Into The Hidden Job Market

A decade ago, along with most career counselors, I was pushing job hunters to tap into the hidden job market because, at that time, 80% of all jobs weren’t advertised. Enter the electronic age where we now have massive job board listings, and so many believe these are all the jobs out there, which is not accurate. Hannah Morgan, Job Search Strategist who writes a terrific blog each week, said, “Historically, the hidden job market was about unadvertised jobs. Fast forward to 2020, and you’ll find that the process is still about getting to hiring managers and recruiters early in the process, ideally, before the job is posted or engaging with that employer as soon as a listing goes up. Morgan says the secret today is about getting to the job opening early in the process so you can get looked at. “Getting a jump start in communicating with employers before the crowd arrives is critical.” More than 250 people typically apply for a listing – many more if it’s a prominent or popular company. “The earlier you get your resume in, the more likely you are to be looked at. Applying ASAP is a key strategy and a better way to get looked at and secure an interview. People typically are good at looking for jobs on the search boards but not through relationships. When you are actively networking and being strategic, you will be more successful,” says Morgan.

What is this hidden job market? Morgan used an analogy to explain. She asked you to imagine an iceberg. “On the surface, you see only the ice berg’s top. Equate that to the job market, and you only see a small portion of the jobs advertised. The massive amount of ice under the water is the entire word of mouth process companies and hiring managers go through to fill an opening. The manager knows about this opportunity long before the job gets listed, and the HR recruiter posts it. The hiring manager is telling everyone they know about the job and passing the word before it’s publicly announced. Many people are found early in this stage, often on LinkedIn. The recruiter is actively sourcing out good candidates based on your profile and its keywords,” says Morgan.

Tapping into connections in a new way Focus energy on building relationships to help gain access to inside information about job opportunities that may not have been posted publicly yet. You can start with people you already know — even if you have lost contact with them over the years. Reach out to a former classmate by merely saying you’d like to catch up. Send them a family picture, that often starts conversations more easily. To be found, you must start with a complete and highly effective LinkedIn profile. (For direction, follow this self-directed LinkedIn Profile Creation Guide published by Forbes.

Job hunters almost always overlook one strategy Morgan loves. “Job hunters use LinkedIn but overlook Facebook. Yet, the reality is that people are glued to Facebook daily.” Facebook added over 100 million users during the Spring of 2020. Our Facebook page is usually filled with family, friends, relatives – people you know rather well. “Network on Facebook to look for work – it’s a smart move,” said Morgan. “You have your personal network that is eager to help you if you ask. Ask, but be strategic about it. The worst question to ask is, Do you know about any jobs? Better to inquiry about how they are doing now handling Covid. Personal connections need to be made first before you ask for job search help. Then utilize the following steps to get networking assistance.” Create a list of companies you want to work at, targeting 20-25. Go to your Facebook page, and at the top, search for a “company name.” Select the “People” tab. Then turn on the Facebook button that says “friends of friends.” This allows you to see your 2nd connections and who is connected to who. Plus, no one ever knows you looked at their profile. To privately network, you can use Facebook Messenger to ask for help. “December is a great time to connect with others,” suggests Morgan. “People spend more time on Facebook during the holidays. Build relationships inside your targeted companies. Look for anyone you might have something in common with. Any employee inside can pass on your resume no matter what job they hold. They may also be able to introduce you to the HR or the hiring manager. Since they likely work in another department, ask Why do they like working there? What is the culture like? How has COVID changed things? That person, if they like you, can send on your resume or introduce you.” Morgan stresses that there is no such thing as a BAD networking contact. As long as they are employed inside a target company, they are a valuable asset to you. And if you get an interview, that contact can help you by providing useful insider information.

How to get there first? POST MORE STUFF! Make yourself known on LinkedIn. Share at least 2-3 times a week. Morgan recommends you be very proactive in your job search by building online content for LinkedIn, blogs, and video posts to keep you visible. How? “Write some posts, share articles you’ve read, ask a question of your network, and comment on connection’s LinkedIn posts. As you get active, you are building a professional reputation to attract attention,” she noted. Interact and comment on connections’ Linkedin and Facebook posts. Seeing your name frequently brings you to the top of their mind. Likely, all your contacts don’t know you are looking for a job. Be clear about the job title you seek, the type of company or industry too. Always be specific when you make any request. Morgan says that your weekly job search time should be about 30 hrs/wk. Spend 10 hours do an online search for job listings. Use the other 20 hours of networking, building, and posting helpful content reaching out to connections. If it is taking your 4-5 hours to apply for one job – get better at it. One-hour max and move on. Get a referral — that has the most impact on your success.

What is stopping you? Many people hate to network. Are you embarrassed? When people are unemployed, they feel like they are less, which is just not true. Many people have lost jobs because of the pandemic. They have more empathy for your situation than ever before. Think about this. A friend tells you they were job hunting. Wouldn’t you want to help your friend? Of course, you would. And your connections feel the same way about aiding you. Other people want to do something now, and if they can help you in your search, it makes them feel better about themselves. Maybe you are an introvert and find networking a very challenging task. My client, Saiyid, said to me this morning, “I am used to people connecting to me, but I’ve always been reserved and lack networking skills myself. Being introverted makes this a hard task. Necessary, I know, but still hard.” Morgan confessed that she is an introvert herself. Her advice was this gem. “Find a couple of extroverted friends who are out and about as extroverts love to be. Plant your job search message with these extroverted friends, and they will help you spread the word for you.” Also, right now, people WANT to help others in difficult times so ASK.

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