The vast majority of job seekers conduct a job search by searching for job postings that are in their field and then applying to those jobs. But what most job seekers fail to realize is that 85% of positions available are never advertised! This means that most job seekers are only applying to 15% of the available jobs, which creates a ton of competition for those few jobs, while the majority of open positions go unnoticed. It will immensely help your chances as a job seeker if you take advantage of these unadvertised positions, also known as the "Hidden Job Market."

the hidden job marketCurrent social media trends and technology advances allow companies to find applicants without listing a position. Some companies don’t like to advertise on job boards because of the cost. And the ones that are free aren’t a great option, either.

Employers are finding that when they list an opening on a free job board, the number of unqualified applicants that reply overwhelms them, and they wind up spending untold hours and resources trying to screen each candidate. Therefore, it is much easier for them to look on social media platforms for good candidates for their open position. They can screen applicants on LinkedIn and Google+ and other platforms without excessive costs.

Finding those hidden job postings first, gives you a fighting chance because you get there before anyone else does. If this happens, you greatly improve your visibility and the opportunity of being considered for the position increases.

Here are 10 strategies for successfully penetrating the “Hidden Job Market.”

  1. Join industry-related groups - Join associations, Chambers of Commerce, meet-up groups, Toastmasters, etc., and start building contacts before you need them.
  2. Establish yourself as a source of information in your industry - Send each of your individual contacts within your network links to articles of interest once or twice a year. When you send these links, keep your email short: "Saw this and thought you might be interested…" This way, your name becomes associated with good information and you are seen as a valuable, well-read resource.
  3. Talk to insiders - Try to talk with executives in various companies and industries to learn what is happening in their spaces so you know where to align your career path as well as your job-search efforts. Your next great opportunity may be in a space you never thought possible, but you’ll never know if you don’t explore.
  4. Pay attention to the news - Stay on top of any local business journals and TV news for information on what’s happening with companies in your area. If you hear someone interviewed on news-radio, send them a note that you appreciated what they had to say and would like to get together over coffee to learn more.
  5. Search company “Careers” pages - Research and target companies you are interested in — most companies will post on their own website and never go to outside job boards or recruiters. In fact, many companies have internal referral programs in place, so existing employees make referrals and thereby eliminate the need for the company to conduct a formal search.
  6. Build and maintain relationships with recruiters - The best way to do this is to update your resume every few months so you can send the latest version to them.
  7. Use LinkedIn wisely - Keep your profile up-to-date, and refresh it regularly. Join groups and participate in discussions so people become familiar with your name and may seek you out. Remember, recruiters and companies often purchase memberships that give them a ‘back door’ to see who is active in their field and what they are saying, so be certain to keep your discussions positive and constructive.
  8. Target carefully - Pick the companies where you would like to work; do your homework on why you want to work there; and identify those things that you can relate to and like about the company.
    Then, do your research to identify the decision makers, or people high up enough in the company to know the decision makers, and connect with them on LinkedIn. Send them something of value: an article or anything that would help them, not you. And don’t ask them for anything in your first few communications.
  9. Volunteering - Provides wonderful opportunities to develop new skills, expand horizons and enjoy helping others in the community. Volunteering can help expand your network, strengthen your resume and give you strong personal satisfaction. This is very important to career transition and stay-at-home parents re-entering the work force. Volunteer work may be the only relevant experience you have when applying for a new job.
  10. Networking - Connect with a wide variety of individuals who may be able to help with your job hunt and career planning. Network with people at a higher level so you can find the type of jobs that might interest you. Discover which skills and experiences are relevant. Practice your interpersonal skills to increase your visibility in the field and uncover hidden markets. Ask questions and seek answers. Avoid staying hidden in your house. Get out often to meet new people. Jobs rarely come to the applicant. You need to listen and seize the opportunities wherever they exist.

To Your Success!

Lorraine Morris
Certified Career Development Professional
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 Information for this article was obtained through the teachings and writings of:
Marcia Bench – Founder and Director of
Candace Alstad Davies – Founder of
Jacquelyn Smith – Business Insider, The Financial Post