Kick-Start Your Job Search: The Hidden Job Market

Kick-Start Your Job Search 2016: The Hidden Job MarketWe have one week to go our Kick-start Your Summer Job Search 2016 Summer Session. In this week’s lesson we are going to cover the hidden job market – a great way to find out where the best jobs are and are not. If you’re just getting started with our Kick-start You Job Search 2016 Summer Session program, here’s a quick recap of all the lessons that we’ve covered so far:

Lesson 1) Professional Reputation Management – How to get your online life in shape for a search

Lesson 2) Beyond the Resume – Ways to present your professional profile beyond the typical resume

Lesson 3) Making a Target Employer List – Why you need one and how to build it BONUS: Career Q’s

Lesson 4) Researching Employers – How to get the scoop on a company before applying

Kick-Start Your Job Search: The Hidden Job Market

What is the hidden job market?

The hidden job market consists of current job openings, positions a hiring manager anticipates needing to fill and career opportunities that are crafted uniquely for a premiere candidate that are not advertised. In short, these are the jobs that get filled long before the average jobseeker ever learns about them via a job board or company website.

How do you find the hidden the job market?

You can find the hidden job market using multi-pronged approach: tapping into your current network, network expansion and conversion and by working with retained-search recruiters.

The Hidden Job Market – Tapping Into Your Current Network

Tapping Into Your Current Network: These Are Your People, Your Network

Your current network are the people that you’ve worked with in the past and those that you work with today – colleagues, managers, bosses, clients, vendors and industry contacts. In short, it’s anyone who knows you, knows your work and whom you’ve built a working relationship with. It can also include your friends and family members and any mutual connections that your may share that also know you and know what you do. A good network is broad, varied and has relationships that are all in good standing.

Just what do we mean when we say “good standing?” Ideally, you’ve nurtured your relationships with those in your network throughout the years, whether connecting with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, or another social channel; engaging at industry events, dropping them an email, or making time to catch up over a call, video chat, coffee, lunch, or happy hour. The point is, connecting with them and keeping the lines of communication open. Just being connected on LinkedIn and Facebook is not enough. Real relationships require some level of human interaction beyond a screen.

If you haven’t, now is as good as time as any to rekindle relationships. You don’t want to ask someone in your network with whom you haven’t spoken to in months or even years for professional help (such as a job lead or referral) and risk coming off as desperate, needy, or just a “user.” Most people are willing to help, but are not as willing to help those they only hear from when they “need” something from them.

Tapping Into Your Current Network: The Right Way To Ask For Help

When it comes to a private or public job search, your network can be an invaluable resource of potential leads and referrals for professional opportunities in the hidden job market. As the saying goes “everyone knows someone who knows someone” and all those people combined can bring the hidden job market right to you.

If you’re conducting a private job search, it’s best to reach out to people via a phone call, video chat, or a face-to-face first. Email works too, but it’s absolutely critical that you make them aware that the topic and your communication with them be kept strictly confidential. You don’t want to risk your current job for one you haven’t even secured yet.

If you do decide to send out an email to your network, make sure to place the email addresses into the BCC (blind carbon copy) line and DO NOT send the email from any work-related email accounts! Make sure to include yourself in the “To:” section. Below is an email template you can use to ask members of your network for help and customize easily if your search isn’t confidential in nature.


Subject: Update on [Insert Your Name]


“The chances we never take are the ones we regret in the end.” ~ Unknown

The person who came up with that quote really hit the nail on the head, didn’t they? Life is all about taking chances and I’m excited to share an update with you. 

I’ve decided to take a big chance in my professional life by pursuing a new [job | career | venture] and by reaching out to you for any thoughts or suggestions you might have. I understand that we are all busy these days and asking you for a moment of your time may come with a “no,” but I’m hopeful that won’t be the case and you’ll decide to take a chance on me.

Confidentially speaking, I’ve been looking at opportunities with [insert names of target companies] specifically in their [insert name or names of departments or practice areas you’re interested in], in addition to learning about any other great organizations you know of or would suggest.

I’ve had the great privilege of working on many projects and initiatives with my current employer including [insert 1-2 accomplishments, ex: launching a new product]. While these efforts have been both challenging and exciting, I know it’s time for me to broaden my horizons and consider other opportunities that will allow me to [insert 1-2 sentences about what you’re looking to achieve and what you’re seeking in your next role – ex: lead and develop a team at a distributed company].

I would welcome any thoughts or suggestions you might have for me and appreciate your time and consideration. I hope you’ve been doing well and that we can connect and catch up sometime soon. Please make sure to respond by emailing me directly at my personal email above, or feel free to call or suggest a time for a video chat session that works well for you.

Kind Regards,

[insert your name]

You will find that most people will be happy to help you, especially if you’ve provided a clear and easy way for them to do so.

Homework assignment: reach out to the people in your network using the email template above, or with your own template or personal approach. Take the opportunity to learn more about the companies suggested to you through Employer Research and where appropriate, add to your Target Employer List.

The Hidden Job Market – Network Expansion and Conversion

When it comes to a private or public job search, your network can be an invaluable resource of potential leads and referrals for professional opportunities in the hidden job market. As the saying goes “everyone knows someone who knows someone” and all those people combined can bring the hidden job market right to you.

Once you’ve reached out to your current market and if your search is public, you can easily edit the above email to let the recipient know that you’re okay with them forwarding your email on to someone they might know who could possibly assist you, or them providing you with their contact information.

For public searches, you can also edit the email template accordingly (provided you’ve already left your current role or have an arrangement in place which makes such a post appropriate) and use it as a status update on LinkedIn and Facebook. Just make sure to let people know to message you directly. Don’t go into the details surrounding your departure, just keep it on task and light – especially if your departure was not mutual. Focus on the future and projecting optimism for your next chapter.

You can also join and attend industry affiliations, attend networking or other social events too, such as a Meetup. For all the new people that you meet, make sure you get their contact information and connect with them on the appropriate social platform (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) After meeting new people, send a follow-up message letting them know you enjoyed meeting them and look forward to connecting with them further – and DO. Look for opportunities to be helpful and let your new additions to your network know that you’re thinking of them and they will be more likely to help you.

Homework assignment: expand your network by attending at least 1 social event each week associated with your line of work, or just for fun. Connect with the new people you meet on appropriate social platforms and send your follow-up message. Try to send an email or message once a month that includes something that might be of interest to them (an article, info about a related interest event, etc.) 

The Hidden Job Market – Working With Retained Search Recruiters

Retained Search Recruiters are often tapped by top organizations when they have a position need that they do not wish to make public. (You can learn more about the different types of recruiters here.) These types of recruiters are paid a fee by their client to source, screen and submit the best talent for the position that needs to be filled. They often have deep relationships with the companies that they are conducting the search on behalf of. Their fee typically include a percentage of your first year’s salary, which is paid by their client.

Never submit your resume to just any retained search recruiter though! Recruiters will screen you and likewise, you should screen them. In addition, you’ll want to make sure they get your written permission BEFORE submitting you to an opening. The last thing you want is your resume all over town, especially if you’re conducting a private search.

Here are some questions to ask to get a feel for any retained search recruiters who contact you or who you might decide to do business with on your own:

  • How many direct-hire positions have you filled in the past year?
  • How many positions have you filled with this particular employer? (If they contact you about a particular job.)
  • What is your background? How long have you been in the search business?
  • How do you handle confidential searches if I am to work with you?
  • Before my resume is submitted to an opening, I would like for you to get my written consent. Will this be a problem for you?
  • I’m looking for [insert type of position]. Are you working on any opportunities like that currently?
  • Is there another retained search recruiter or firm you’d recommend that I speak to as well?

Reputable recruiters won’t shop your resume all over town looking for bite as a way to do business with a client they haven’t worked with before. They will take the time to discuss an opening with a candidate and learn more about they’re seeking and get their permission before submitting their resume for a role. Retained Search Recruiters can be a great resource for you as you embark on your job search. Make sure to get to know each professional who reaches out to you, or who you might be interested in working with.

Homework assignment: research at least 5 retained search recruiters or recruiting firms via LinkedIn and Google. Make contact and ask them the above questions to screen out the best. Connect on LinkedIn with the ones that make the cut.

Final Thoughts: The hidden job market only remains “hidden” to those who don’t tap into the power of their network and put in the effort required to nurture and grow it. Retained search recruiters can be a powerful ally in your search and help you gain access to non-advertised jobs with their clients, in addition to broadening your job search reach.

Be sure to join us for our final lesson next week as we cover resumes and do a final review before you kick-start your job search.