10 Tips To Tap Into The Hidden Job Market
I often heard the term "Hidden Job Market" related to job search. To me, this term refers only to "Job Positions That You Don't Know About ... Yet!". :-) Here's my perspective on this topic:
1. Stop thinking "There are no jobs in my field" or "The economy is down"! Just because you didn't find one yet, doesn't mean there are no jobs available or companies that don't need someone with your skills! From a coaching perspective, having such thoughts will only limit yourself! By believing them, you (unconsciously) tell yourself: "Why bother to search if there are no jobs available?!". And you will not take the right actions or not have the right attitude that will lead to employment!
2. Start networking! The recruitment process is pretty costly for a company and comes with its own risks. In their way to minimize these costs and risks, many companies encourage internal referrals based on trust. That's where networking comes in! But it's not "I know you, you give my resume to the HR department, and I'm hired!", like many people might think. If your resume gets to the hiring manager this way, the selection and interviewing process still takes place, having the company's interests in mind: to become productive as soon as possible and to fit the organizational culture. Networking gives you the chance to meet people that might be willing to pass your resume to their employer or other people they know, so you increase your chances to find out about a position you didn't even know about otherwise. You don't even have to be out of the job to start networking, because you never know when you'll need someone's help. Networking takes time, and it's efficient when you build trust through your behaviour and actions. I see it as a life long game, instead of "hit and run"! :-) Check out these 12 networking tips I wrote some time ago, they are not only for business owners. When you look for a job, you're in a similar position to a business owner (your "products" or "services" are your skills and experience).
3. Increase your visibility! No one will knock at your door to offer you a job if they don't know you exist!!! That's another reason why networking, information interviews and cold calls could be beneficial. If you didn't notice yet, these methods don't start with finding a job offer on the Internet and sending your resume! The human interaction takes place first, so you "show up" in a way that's closer to who you really are than that piece a paper called "Resume"! And if the communication goes well, chances are the other person might give you tips, advice or even names of people or companies you can further approach. This is valuable information because it already went through the filter of your interlocutor who now knows a little better who you are, and what you're looking for. It makes your job search easier if you follow through the information received or approach the people they recommend. Have the resume handy, you might be asked to show it or send it right after the discussion This is a way to "attach" a face and personality to your resume, to stand out from the crowd! By using these methods, one step at a time, you unfold your own customized job search strategy!
4. Think in terms of quality and effectiveness, not only quantity (number of resumes sent). You might believe the methods listed above take too much time. Since the hiring process is based on interpersonal communication, they could be more effective than sending hundreds of resumes to "Dear Hiring Committee"s (lending in piles of hundreds of other pieces of paper called "Resume", and being evaluated only on how the resume looks like).
5. Use LinkedIn proactively! Having a LinkedIn profile means only that you're one of the millions of professionals with a LinkedIn account. Even with a free membership, there are many ways to connect with people from the companies you're interested in, or professionals having similar positions with what you're looking for. It's the easiest way to reach out to people that you otherwise wouldn't connect with, and ask for informational interviews. Some people will accept, some won't ... but with so many professionals on LinkedIn, if you hear a "No" from someone, say "Next!" and look for someone else. :-) I heard many people saying that informational interviews are the best job search strategy, and it worked for me too. So why not combine strategies based on virtual and real-world?! Information interviews could also lead to positions that were not even advertised or created. Believe me, it happened! When people see you and your skills, and they need someone like you, unknown (to you!) doors could open with minimal or no competition!!!
6. Be open, trust yourself, adjust and don't give up! Should I say more?! :-) I've met people with those attitudes of "I know it all", "I've already tried, and this doesn't work" or "I don't get a job because ...". Having a fixed attitude is not only blocking you to see new ideas and opportunities that might lead to a job, but it also pushes away people who otherwise might help you in a way or another. Being open to question your own thoughts and beliefs could be beneficial, it helps you understand what's not working in your job search and what adjustments to make. Also, having an open mind will welcome other people's ideas (that don't match yours), and by trying them out you could learn something new about yourself and how to conduct a more effective job search. Be open to feedback from others.
7. Be curious and combine different job search strategies. This is my favourite! When you're in a curiosity mood, you push yourself into finding ways to move forward. It's a mood that empowers, compared to powerless and lack of motivation that are usually associated with sending resumes and waiting to be contacted. Decide what percentage of your time you will allocate to register with different recruitment firms, networking, search and apply to jobs online, do information interviews, reconnect with people you already know, try new strategies inspired by others, use company directories (like Industry Canada, LinkedIn) to find companies that could benefit from your skills and expertise (cold call or send resume & cover letter by mail to the manager of the department you're interested in), think of what problems or challenges you can solve and contact companies that might have those problems, interact with people online, publish articles (to increase your visibility), etc. Make your own mix of job search strategies, and have fun with it! :-)
8. Adjust your strategy mix to your personality and situation. People have different personalities, and what works for some might not work for someone else. For example, an extrovert might be more inclined to go to events to meet new people, while an introvert might use the Internet to connect with someone first. Some tips for introverts from "Self-promotion for introverts" by Nancy Ancowitz. Some people prefer to communicate by phone, others by email or in person conversations. Also, be flexible to adjust your strategies to how the situation evolves in time: what's urgent, important, filter/ include the new information received, etc.
9. Measure your progress in terms of midterm goals achieved, not the "final" goal (find a job). A job search is a full time "job", and staying motivated throughout the process is important. Line up in time your mix of job search strategies (some could even work in parallel), set short and midterm goals, and congratulate yourself (even celebrate!) when you achieve each short or midterm goal. Example of such goal could be "having 3 new information interviews per week". This will give you energy and motivation to continue until you reach your "final" goal: find a job. Focusing only on the final goal will make you lose your motivation in the process if the results don't show up soon. I put "final" in quotes because even after you find a position, you should continue to increase your network, and think about what could be next for your career. As you know, things work much better when you prepare in time than when you're suddenly forced into a situation like losing a job.
10. Hobbies and interests. Don't forget to connect with people who have the same hobbies and interests! It's a great way to tap into the hidden job market while having fun and meet interesting people! Hobbies are not taking you away from your job search. They could give you more enthusiasm and energy to continue, and open up communication with people that are more willing to help because you have something in common. Don't underestimate the power of networking in non-formal environments!