Hidden Job Market – really?

What’s behind all the hype and buzz of the so called hidden job market?

Where are all these jobs and how can you access them?

Part 1      Seriously what is it about the mystery of the hidden job market that has us enchanted and eager to cling to a belief that there is sea of undiscovered job opportunities out there somewhere? I am sceptical that we are missing out on 80% of the jobs out there so I’ve done some digging and here is what I have found for you.

 

The so called ‘hidden job market’ is one of the biggest of buzz phrases for job seekers in Australia & New Zealand and I have to say that it’s pretty annoying to constantly read about the so called magical 80%. You can go online or visit your favourite professional social network website or ask your forum professionals and it won’t take long before another ‘expert’ tells you about the hidden jobs. Dig deeper and you will soon realise that it is hard to obtain any real documentation or evidence to back this 80% statement up.

 

So where are all these jobs and why do these guys continue to reference the 80% and how can you access them?

I am not claiming to be an HR or recruiting expert, but job seeking and good HR practises are my personal passion and what I’ve learned is that the ‘hidden job market’ is nothing more than an elaborate marketing hoax! Now – don’t worry , this might be a harsh statement , but there is actually some good news behind all this so please read on…

Feel free to disagree but I’m telling you, there is no such thing as the hidden job market.

 

I have been in Sales & Marketing nearly all my professional life and my take on this buzz phrase is that it is being used to make you spend money.  It’s used to entice you into alternative job hunting methods or, unfortunately, to draw your attention to commercial offers from career counselling services, book publishers or other entrepreneurs who know how to tease you to spend your hard earned dollars on their services.

 

That said, if you are a Career-Explorer or Job Seeker please note, that there are, of course, some very notable exceptions from genuine experts who have solid and well researched advice such as the publication from Career Guru Richard Bolles, What Colour is Your Parachute?, a book that has been published in 22 Languages, or the great advice from the Melbourne based HR & Career Expert, Anthony Ranieri, How to Find a Job in 6 Weeks.

I strongly suggest that you read one or both of these books.  You will discover that the hidden job market is really the opportunities which you un-earth via well organised, disciplined and structured networking and a dose of good fortune.

Oh and if you are a Hiring Manager or Business Executive in charge of a number of people, than  there is also some very great genuine content from one of my favourite Australian Management Coaches James Adonis , the author of three excellent books on the subject of good employee engagement and trust in business.

 

It is all about networking while you have a job, when you need a job and when you are back in business. That is the essence to your success – nothing more and nothing less.

I would like to point out the key findings that I have taken away from all my reading, hard learning and personal practice.  So, give it a try and start with the basics and if you are hungry for more, go back to these two books or re-visit my blog as I will continue to write about Australian and New Zealand based Job Seeker insights and tips.

Ok, let’s get cracking…

Intention

There are many employers out there who may decide not to publish a position at all. Some don’t want to be deluged by large numbers of resumes. Some businesses conduct a stealth search to avoid tipping off the competition about changes or plans in the business.  Some may have plans to replace an underperforming worker and want to keep these intentions quiet.  Many small or medium sized business owners approach their own network to see if someone knows anyone who is good at ‘whatever’. The list of reasons goes on and I am pretty sure you have experienced or noticed some of it yourself if your radar is at least partially functional.

 

You never know in advance who might be ‘in the know’, who has advance knowledge of a job opening, or who is looking for someone without advertising it. But you need to get out there – by actually getting out there. This means you need to interact with others through a whole range of activities, both informal and formal networking, including the most dreaded ones of opening up to your family and friends. This will increase your chances of finding that ‘hidden’ opportunity. Nothing else!  I call it, moving yourself from the ‘being space’ to the ‘doing space’.  Or, in simple terms, don’t just talk about networking – go do it!

 Good Timing

Job Seekers come in all sorts of shapes and conditions, so no matter what type of “seeker” you are, it is important that you start networking now. Seriously, don’t waste another day.  Whether you have a job or not, start now and keep it up!  Don’t worry about the potential mistakes along the way or the perception of your networking performance.  You will get better at it and people who care will remember you.

 

Some experts say that ‘networking’ is not necessarily a ‘job search’ activity. This is because you cannot suddenly find yourself out of work and immediately ‘network’ your way into a new opportunity if you haven’t already been networking all along. Networking is hard work and it is dreaded by most job seekers.

 

This doesn’t mean that you have to be attending industry conferences and swapping business contacts. What you need to have is a built-up set of professional connections who think highly of your work and abilities in your field and who would love to work with you or recommend you to others.

 

This is achieved through the genuine connections you make in school or Uni, while working, in your community or social club activities, and in the last few years, on social networks. It is accomplished through authentic interactions and it takes time to build a genuine and powerful network. Don’t think that sending out gazillions of LinkedIn invitations will set you up with a genuine network. Don’t become one of these LinkedIn or Plaxo or Facebook “lets connect” spammers.  They are so annoying plus taking this approach (i.e. doing it the wrong way) can have the adverse effect.  Connect as you would do in real life. More on that later…

 

I am convinced that the best time to look for new connections is when you already have a job. Make it clear that you want to connect because you have something to offer or because you are interested in a product, service or maybe even a pro bono service. Don’t connect just for the sake of connecting. 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.

 A few key points:

 

  • 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 about accomplishments and goals and what you have to offer, provided in a conversational manner. The last bit is the sales bit and it is very important. Employers can read about your past later in your resume. They are interested in the future. So, your pitch has to be about your potential contribution to their future. You can then always summarise 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 put yourself on the spot, so ‘clean up your online and social media act’.  I am currently writing up another post on that subject. You will be surprised how much info floats below the tip of the Iceberg about you and your online activities.

Lastly, on the subject of timing, 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.

 

 Seek Out Decision Makers, Influencers and Drivers

 

This is something that comes natural for Job Seekers who are familiar with sales and marketing. It is the ABC of moving to the top, but it’s hard and uncomfortable for people who are not accustomed with ‘hunting and farming’.  No matter who you are and what you do, you cannot ignore these two activities when you start your networking. So, attend to the essentials.

Research your target companies through business publications, search engines, or social media like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter, Facebook and so on. If you notice something about achievements or great results, wins or losses which are written up, send a note of congratulations, or if you notice something negative, consider offering some new leads or help or, as previously mentioned, maybe even some pro bono work.  Ask if you can have a few minutes of his/her time to learn more about what they’re doing and where they’re heading with their innovation, expansion, or business initiative.  Make it clear that you are not asking for a job, but that you are interested to find out more about the other person and their situation.

 

When you are successful in networking, you can then demonstrate your knowledge of, and interest in, the field in question.  In this context you can ask:

“Who are the other key people you think I could learn more from?”

Turn some of the gathered information into a personal encounter. Then try to turn the encounter into an informational interview.  Then try to turn one informational interview into a series of others. As the process goes on, at a minimum you will learn a great deal, and over time you will likely meet someone who is looking for you but just didn’t know it. This is the only potential way a hidden job will become revealed, and one of many ways for you to be at the head of the line of candidates to be considered.

Richard Bolles and Anthony Ranieri have great examples of these sorts of steps and they summarise them similarly so, as mentioned before, take a look at their publications.

 

 You are in Charge of Your Destiny

I know, this is another overused phrase, but one I strongly believe in. My view of destiny and control is based on how well you conduct yourself in life and how much you are prepared to do for others and yourself.

 

Job Seeking has many facets and you might be tired and worn out at the moment but don’t lose your energy and drive and keep in mind the concept of ‘Karma’. Unemployment periods are perfect for pro bono work. Use your skills and offer assistance. It will come back to you one day. Mingle, engage, participate and help and I am confident you will bump into  a ‘captain of the industry’ without even knowing it. They will discover you if you are genuine and if you bring real value.

 

The most important thing that a job hunter can do after creating a dynamic, achievement-based resume is to go about talking to as many people as possible. By engaging with other people in all aspects of your life, you can often make good things happen. So, get off your butt, go out there and look for activity and engagement above and beyond your Seek, My Career, LinkedIn, Facebook and other sites. Step out – it’s right outside in your neighbourhood or city, club or association.  I am sure you understand what I am talking about. Do it while you have a job and do it when you need a job. It is part and parcel of good networking.

 

 My personal networking philosophy:

 

You should be willing to help others as much as you can and 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.

So, I suggest you start to review some of my suggestions if you want to discover the myth of ‘the hidden job market’.  Try to digest it, maybe practice some of it and feel free to comment or recommend some of your own insights. Feel free to contact me if you disagree and keep an eye out for Part II with a list of Networking platforms and areas in Australia & New Zealand. In the meantime…

Hunt wisely,

Uli

 

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