Exposing the Hidden Job Market with Absolutely Abby
There is an elusive hidden job market – how do you find it and use it to your advantage? Absolutely Abby shares those secrets with John Adams’ group Always Be Connected Power Networking Group (ABCPNG) this week.
What is the hidden job market? The hidden job market is simply the jobs that are not posted or communicated to the open market. The hidden jobs are positions that managers have that get filled before there is any formal communication about the job opening.
These hidden jobs are not deliberately being withheld from you – the fact is you are just too late to be in the running because a qualified candidate was found very quickly. Let’s walk through an example that Abby shared where up to 15 people know about an opening before the job is posted or goes public.
When an employee leaves the company, the manager has an opening. The hiring manager (1) will have to get agreement from their Director (2) and VP (3) about replacing this person. If the company is small to medium-sized, the position may need the leadership team (4-7) to approve the position too. Everyone in the department knows that there is an empty chair, so they know that there is an opening (7-10). Human Resources (11) knows about the position because they did the exit interview and are involved in approving the replacement. Finally, the recruiter (12) gets involved when the position is ready to be sourced.
While the job is still in the hidden market, this group of 10-15 people has considered 100 or more people before opening the position up publicly. It is in the company’s financial interest to find someone without going public because they can avoid recruiter fees or advertising fees. How are they sourcing these people?
There are a number of approaches they might take to find the right person:
- Do we really need the position? There is the possibility the position can be eliminated or combined with other positions in the company.
- Can we promote someone or move them laterally into the position?
- Are there any past employees who we could bring back?
- Let’s ask around and see if someone internally can refer a good candidate.
During this discussion time, the hiring manager may be exposed to up to 100 people as potential back fill for the job before it has been publicized. Just think about how you can be one of those people!
Absent a stellar candidate for the position, the hiring manager develops a job description and posts the job internally and externally. Now the job is not hidden.
In reality the hidden job market is not hidden – it is just hidden from you. There is a lot of activity going on to fill the position even if it is behind closed doors.
How you Tap Into the Hidden Job Market
Since you don’t know where the hidden job market is, it is important to network broadly and let everyone know you are looking for employment. Let’s suppose in your networking activities you met with one of the leadership team members. When the hiring manager asks internal people if they have referrals your name may be recommended.
Let’s say you don’t have a strong network of the right people who would know about the positions. Where do you connect with them? You have to go where they are spending their time and that could be anywhere. A little research can go a long way in finding out where to meet them on neutral ground. You may find them in the following places:
- Professional Associations – Learning more about their areas of expertise is a top priority
- Seminars and events – Managers and leaders are always looking to advance their skills
- Chambers of Commerce – Look for local leader groups or business card exchange sessions
- Charities – Investigate where they make donations or serve on boards about the causes they are passionate about.
- Attend a stockholder session – Just buy one share of stock and you have ticket to the meeting.
- Informational interviews with people in companies you want to work for.
Any of these avenues can open the door to meeting and establishing a networking relationship with someone who may be able to help you uncover the hidden job market.
Let’s not discount the informational interview approach especially when you are targeting a specific company. Informational interviews are different from traditional interviews in that when you engage in the informational interview, you DO NOT ask for a job. The purpose of the informational interview is to learn about the person you are talking about. Approach the situation as if you were a report and remember – the focus is on them and not you.
When you set up an informational interview, set it up for 15 minutes. There is a good chance if you have them talking about their successes and interests they will invite you to stay longer. Before leaving, ask them: Are there any other key people who you may learn from? Asking this question opens the door to more introductions.
Put your Network to Work
Your current network has to know what you do and how to explain it. People who do not work in your area of expertise may have a hard time explaining or even understanding what you do. When they are not confident about it, the tendency is to stay quiet – because they don’t want to say something wrong.
To help your network, describe what you do in simple language so they get it. Once they get it, you will have lots of advocates and they their ears will perk up when they hear about jobs that may be a good fit in the public or hidden market.