What is the Hidden Job Network?

The hidden job network, or job market, is and isn’t what it sounds like. Confused? That’s because “hidden” is a bit of misnomer.

On one hand, it’s not hidden in the sense that you might see an opening for it on JobGetter or other job boards. On the other hand, it is hidden because lots of people (employers, recruiters, friends) know about it and might already have filled the position.

Hidden Job Network = Un-Publicised Job Market

A more accurate term would be not-published or un-publicised job market. If there are as many jobs as people say not being advertised, how would employers be getting to job seekers? If 80% of jobs were actually hidden that would mean that for every hundred job ads there are another 400 employers easily filling positions by word of mouth. 

A better way of thinking of the hidden job market is that employers are advertising positions but they are primarily using their networks to fill in gaps in their hiring process. They may have already tapped someone on the shoulder, have an internal hire raring to go, or know a previous applicant from an old job ad that would be a great fit.

Instead of a cabal of employers conspiring to keep open positions a secret, employers are relying on their contacts or the contacts of people within the business to fill the position.

Why Would Employers Do This?

When a job is posted, employers often attract hundreds of applicants. While some will be highly suited and will have tweaked their resume for the role, others will be giving them their stock standard application. These blank canvas applications might be totally inappropriate for the role. Every extra application takes time away from the hiring manager.

By relying on recommendations from employees, hiring managers and employers are able to get a list of dedicated and engaged applicants. These recommendations are also valued because they come from trusted sources who understand the business. Since the employer already has a decent shortlist they can quickly sift through the applicants who have come via the open advertisement.

Some Actually Are Hidden

Before you can get too comfortable, I have a bit of bad news. Some positions may actually be hidden in the truest sense. Companies can (and do) hire people without advertising it. However, and a bit of good news for job seekers, it usually won’t be for low or medium level roles. There are a few possible reasons to keep the hiring process as quiet as possible. The business could be:

  • Trying to to maintain corporate secrecy and avoid people knowing about employee turnover
  • Launching a new project and don’t want their competition to know what type of they are looking for
  • Replacing a current employee that isn’t working out and don’t want to give away their position early

Here One Minute, Gone The Next

The main reason that an entry level or middle level role would be open and on the hidden market would simply be because until that person arrived there was no opening. Imagine you approached an auto workshop and asked if there was an available position for a new mechanic. The head mechanic thinks about the amount of work the shop has to deal with and realises that another worker would help speed up the team. He decides to take you on for a bit to see how you go. Suddenly a job that didn’t exist five minutes ago has been created and given away without ever appearing on a job board.

Whatever the reason, be prepared for the hidden job network to hang around.

Be in the Know

Networking is one of the keys to tapping into the hidden job market. It’s also a skill that’s in high demand. The connections you make while networking can help take you career in a new, exciting direction. It can put you into contact with people that would be impossible to meet otherwise.

Networking can sometimes feel forced or fake. All those people meeting each other trying to get something for themselves. However, if you go into it with honesty and with the goal of demonstrating what you can do to help people it can be rewarding. The people you are talking to will also find your genuine, thoughtful approach a refreshing change from the me, me, me approach of others.

Want to find out more about how networking can help you find the hidden job network? See JobGetter’s top 11 networking tips in this post…

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